Nicole Atkins “Goodbye Rhonda Lee” (Single Lock Records, 2017)

It’s not unreasonable to wonder who Rhonda Lee is, and why the ex-queen of Asbury Park and new resident of Nashville is bidding her farewell. Nicole Atkins provides the answer – it’s herself, or at least her worst half. Having struggled with some sobriety issues in recent years Nicole Atkins took the pledge and this album is a tangible result of her abilities returning as her non-drinking days increased in number. Continue reading “Nicole Atkins “Goodbye Rhonda Lee” (Single Lock Records, 2017)”

Lord Youth “Gray Gardens” (Shellshock, 2017)

Creeping its way into your ears with a dirty, slightly otherworldy cha-cha that sounds like a wantonly peculiar outtake from a Richard Hawley record, Lord Youth’s ghoulish novelty-noir is brilliantly uncomfortable listening. Micah Blaichman’s dead-pan tenor, sometimes reminiscent of Johnny Dowd’s unnerving vitriolic intoning, drawls across a raft of 1950s style Americana that is full of creaking, wining guitar, junk-yard percussion and demented honky-tonk piano (nowhere more evident that on “Someone Was Singing Hi Ho Silver”). Continue reading “Lord Youth “Gray Gardens” (Shellshock, 2017)”

Robert Earl Keen “Walking Distance / Picnic” (Floating World, 2017)

Ever a songwriter of distinction, the reissue of two mid-period Robert Earl Keen albums prove a forceful reminder of exactly why Keen’s formidable reputation as a songwriter precedes him. Having not quite gained the notoriety of Steve Earle or the ‘legend’ label pinned so readily to Townes Van Zandt, Robert Earl Keen is no less deserving of your attention.  Continue reading “Robert Earl Keen “Walking Distance / Picnic” (Floating World, 2017)”

Jeremy Pinnell “Ties of Blood and Affection” (Sofaburn Records 2017)

A Northern Kentucky singer-songwriter, Jeremy Pinnell builds on the stark, soul-searching of his much acclaimed debut ‘OH/KY’ with a fuller sound and more relaxed delivery on this his second album. This work is still rooted in the classic country tropes of his debut but the songs feel more developed and rooted in the country tradition of the seventies rather than the fifties. The strong, classic voice tells tales of a working life and family all the while punctuated by some wonderfully sympathetic lap steel. Continue reading “Jeremy Pinnell “Ties of Blood and Affection” (Sofaburn Records 2017)”

Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer “Not Dark Yet” (Silver Cross Records, 2017)

For those that don’t know, and there can’t be many, Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer are sisters (Shelby was christened Shelby Lynn Moorer), Shelby Lynne being the elder by three years. Yet, despite both having been established performers since they were in their teens, this is their first album together. We should’ve been treated to this collaboration so much sooner! Continue reading “Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer “Not Dark Yet” (Silver Cross Records, 2017)”

Michael Nau “Some Twist” (Full Time Hobby, 2017)

Michael Nau had already been pretty busy over the years with his bands Page France and Cotton Jones, but having released a solo debut, Mowing, last year – which had been the result of working into shape a series of demos that had been knocking around for some time – he made the decision to not hang around on producing the follow up. Some Twist doesn’t feel hurried though, more it has a classic singer-songwriter feel particularly on a couple of reverb heavy tracks which bring the much missed Harry Nilsson to mind Continue reading “Michael Nau “Some Twist” (Full Time Hobby, 2017)”

Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real” (Fantasy Records 2017)

Lukas Nelson is, of course, the son of Willie Nelson and the Promise of the Real has been his band for the past 10 years at least; this is their first studio album since their epic stint as Neil Young’s backing band on his redemptive world tour of last year and the one before. I say redemptive because the youth and vigour was plainly infectious and Young mined his back catalogue with a delight and enthusiasm not seen for years. Continue reading “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real” (Fantasy Records 2017)”