Neil Young “Peace Trail” (Reprise, 2016)

Peace Trail is one of those Neil Young albums that it’d be easy to dismiss as a failure of Neil’s quality control process.  However, like those who dismiss Greendale, Fork in the Road or Chrome Dreams II, that’d be a mistake – Peace Trail on first listen may sound overly casual and unfocused but repeated listens reveal that Neil Young has actually turned in an album of extensive depth and thoughtfulness. Maybe with the odd clunker along the way, but nobody’s perfect all the time. Continue reading “Neil Young “Peace Trail” (Reprise, 2016)”

Chaim Tannenbaum “Chaim Tannenbaum” (Storysound Records, 2016)

Ah, the eponymous debut album marking the emergence of a new talent. Only that’s not quite it this time, Chaim Tannenbaum has been active in music, on and off, for more than forty years. When he hasn’t been distracted by his other love, that temptress the Philosophy of Mathematics, he’s been adding guitar, banjo, a little fiddle and vocals for the likes of the McGarrigle sisters and Loudon Wainwright III as well as contributing the occasional song of his own to their recordings. Continue reading “Chaim Tannenbaum “Chaim Tannenbaum” (Storysound Records, 2016)”

James McArthur and The Head Gardeners “Burnt Moth” (Moorland Records, 2016)

“Burnt Moth” is the second album from James McArthur, former drummer for Paul Weller’s touring band. It follows his well received “Strange Readings from the Weather Station”. And it is more of the same. This is a pastoral, proggy folk dappled with some beautiful embellishments in the form of some excellent strings and restrained melodies. It comes as no surprise that Joey Magill of Syd Arthur (the current riders of the crest of the prog mini revival) is in the very small roster of musicians that play on this interesting and sometimes arresting album. The album opens with 14 seconds and What The Day Holds, both reminiscent of Grantchester Meadows Floyd with strings to the fore on a bed of acoustic guitar and whispered vocals. Continue reading “James McArthur and The Head Gardeners “Burnt Moth” (Moorland Records, 2016)”

Osborne Jones “Only Now” (Continental Song City, 2016)

UK born and raised, Osborne Jones’ latest album “Only Now” is produced by esteemed West Coast (America) singer-songwriter musician Rich Shea (Dave Alvin etc).  Recorded and engineered by Mark Linett at Your Place or Mine Studio in Glendale California, the quality of music from David-Gwyn Jones (lead vocals) and David Osborne (electric guitar) strikes a new high for them. Accomplished songwriting is supplemented with a top set of players; for not only do they benefit from the playing of seasoned act Shea (acoustic, electric, pedal steel guitar, mandolin), but stellar efforts by David Jackson (bass, piano, organ, accordion), Jim Shirley (fiddle), John Palmer, Shawn Nourse (drums) and beautiful harmony vocals (Cindy Wasserman, Gia Ciambotti) plus guest slots by Pete Anderson on electric guitar (You Used To Be) and Jerry Donahue on electric guitar (The Bond) as icing on the cake. Continue reading “Osborne Jones “Only Now” (Continental Song City, 2016)”

SASO “The Levee” (Independent, 2017)

Texas raised singer-songwriter Jaime Saso (who plays, wait for this… acoustic, bass guitar, mandolin banjo, harmonica, melodica, Hammond organ, ukelele and percussion) provides music of a pop, rock and blues variety. Having travelled extensively, there are also worldly influences present – he has after all played Flamenco in the caves of Grenada, and sampled Eastern music while trekking in the Himalayas.On first listen I felt the album was nice enough, but in need of something to set it aside from the wealth of singer-songwriter fare available. Saso is able to lay claim to the fact, because the album is one of those that creeps up on the listener he is the business.    Continue reading “SASO “The Levee” (Independent, 2017)”

Pilote “Libero” (Micro Spiral, 2016)

Producer Stuart Cullen is Pilote and this is his 7th album of self penned ditties and tasteful covers all filtered through a folky country prism with plenty of waltztime melodies as well as banjos, harmoniums, fiddles and even spoons. It is, as expected, beautifully produced with some nifty touches – the electronica insert in Train on the Island and the rumbling back beat on Baby is a Hybrid which gives it a 70’s Moroder vibe despite the blue grass banjo and fuzzed guitar. Continue reading “Pilote “Libero” (Micro Spiral, 2016)”

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)”