Stephen Fearing “Every Soul’s A Sailor” (Lowden Proud, 2017)

Seasoned singer-songwriter, guitarist Stephen Fearing is one of those acts who radiate quality and great depth; a real professional Fearing has honed his talent to the zenith degree. Nothing is surplus. Everything dovetails perfectly into place. Canadian Fearing performs with a driving rhythm complemented with sensitive ballads where you could hear a pin drop – a good example is the mellow, effortlessly drifting classic Red Lights In The Rain that’s awash in lyrics to study.  Continue reading “Stephen Fearing “Every Soul’s A Sailor” (Lowden Proud, 2017)”

Finlay Morton “Only Half A Live” (Stoneroom Recordings, 2016)

Morton is yet another one of those Scotsmen who can deliver a well-crafted version of bluesy rock (see Tam White, Stevie Agnew, Jimmy Barnes), it’s in their working class bones you see. Well, that’s one myth that was popular at one point but it’s probably more likely that the 50ish long haired Morton spent his youth in Aberdeen listening to Cream, Rory Gallagher, Stone The Crows before moving on to Dire Straits and Chris Rea and to this day still spins discs of a similar nature. Continue reading “Finlay Morton “Only Half A Live” (Stoneroom Recordings, 2016)”

Tahoma “Hideaway” (Independent, 2016)

A five-piece band from Austin Texas Tahoma tread a melodic soft-rock path. While they mention the classic 70’s sounds of Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and the Eagles in their brief bio as influences much of this album seems to be more akin to the current slew of young male chart toppers.  Now this may be doing Brandon Aguilar, singer and chief writer for the band a disservice and indeed the album is spikier than the likes of Ed Sheeran but despite the band tag here Aguilar is front and centre throughout and there is a tendency to slip into a soft soul bag on several of the songs. Continue reading “Tahoma “Hideaway” (Independent, 2016)”

David Crosby “Lighthouse” (Verve, 2016)

David Crosby’s new release is only his 5th solo album, a number that would no doubt be higher if it were not for the intervening CSN, CSN&Y, and Crosby-Nash albums that have appeared over the last forty eight years – not to mention the derailing of his musical talents in his bleak lost decade. It does represent an upswing in productivity though, appearing a mere two years after his last solo offering Croz. And if Croz seemed very much like a CSN album without the S and the N, but with such longtime musical associates as Leland Sklar, James Raymond and Shane Fontayne, then Lighthouse has the light jazzy feel that cropped up a lot on the last Crosby-Nash album (the imaginatively entitled Crosby & Nash). This is hardly surprising since Snarky Puppy bass man Michael League here contributes all kind of guitars, as well as being credited on most songs for music or lyrics or both, helmed the album as producer and adds vocals that are so very close to Nash that a couple of times the ear could be deceived. Continue reading “David Crosby “Lighthouse” (Verve, 2016)”

Various Guises “Tide Take Him” (Independent, 2016)

Various Guises are modern folkies – a duo featuring Blanche Ellis and Maya McCourt. ‘Tide Take Him Out’ is their debut EP. A short glimpse into a world of gothic flecked acapella suffused with sparse instrumentation. There is mournful cello beneath the intimate vocal harmonies and gently strummed guitar on the second track Green. Willow follows the same template with strong vocals and lyrics coloured by the cello played with a fierce verve. But this is not enough to develop these songs. There needs to be more of a palette to properly reflect the songs. Continue reading “Various Guises “Tide Take Him” (Independent, 2016)”

Jessica Rhayne “Song in Me” (Self Released, 2016)

You’d swear it was going to be Joni Mitchel from the opening bars, its achingly beautiful mid-tempo lament, with a china gong flourish landing like tears dropping in to a quickly emptying whisky glass – you know something special has landed.  It’s a record of the flourish, gorgeous embellishments that set this record apart, built like an old Merc, all hand finished leather upholstery and sweet tuned blocks.  Rhayne has gone that next step, great songs, great delivery, but with an ear that has fostered enough twang to feel Americana enough for the purist and pop enough to garner her widespread appeal. Continue reading “Jessica Rhayne “Song in Me” (Self Released, 2016)”

AJ Hobbs “Too Much Is Never Enough” (Independent, 2017)

Too Much Is Never Enough may be California-born and raised singer-songwriter AJ Hobbs’ debut full-length album but he also has two EPs to his name. His first Shit Just Got Real was released under the pseudonym of Carl King, and the second The Den Sessions was recorded in one day at musician, producer Ted Russell Kamp’s studio. Continue reading “AJ Hobbs “Too Much Is Never Enough” (Independent, 2017)”