Interview: Brooks Williams

Brooks Williams is an elegant man. He has the air of being learned, of art from every pore – he’s charming and is the processor of a killer smile.  He’s also the owner of some serious guitar porn, and one hell of a player.  An American now residing in East Anglia, his last album, ‘My Turn Now’ melds James Taylor with Paul Simon and a resonator guitar. It’s a fine record. The man is old school cool. Like a classic V8, it’s all under the hood, where it matters.  AUK caught him after he was the highlight of Maverick festival. Continue reading “Interview: Brooks Williams”

Interview: Rodney Crowell

Houston-born singer-songwriter and longtime Nashville resident Rodney Crowell continues to lift his game as a songwriter, and his latest album ‘Close Ties’ (New West) qualifies as the most honest set of work he has ever done. Crowell has seen his songs recorded by countless people, ranging from his old boss, Emmylou Harris to Johnny Cash by way of blues legend Etta James, Bob Seger, George Strait, Steve Young, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw, and of course a man he co-wrote a few jewels with, Guy Clark. With Clark’s death in 2016 still very much in the mind of the singer-songwriter community, Crowell was keen to share his admiration with Maurice Hope. Continue reading “Interview: Rodney Crowell”

Interview: Jim Miller (Western Centuries)

Americana musician of long standing Jim Miller is breaking new ground with fellow creative minds Cahalen Morrison, Ethan Lawton and other members of Western Centuries as they bring a new and exciting, and slightly experimental sound to the table. “Weight of the World”, the band’s debut has been met with much praise, so much so people are already marking it down as one of the best of 2017. Maurice Hope spoke to Jim Miller. Continue reading “Interview: Jim Miller (Western Centuries)”

The past is never dead. It’s not even past – an interview with John Murry

John Murry’s 2012 album The Graceless Age was hailed by MOJO magazine with a 5 out of 5 rating, UNCUT called it a “masterpiece”, both magazines included it in their Top 10 albums of the year; American Songwriter put it in their Top 5 of the year and The Guardian included it in their best of the year as well. Written and recorded in the wake of a heroin addiction the album was candid in its depiction of his struggles and near death encounter, the grim tales delivered with an almost suffocating beauty concocted by Murry and his producer, Tim Mooney. On stage Murry seemed at times to be reliving the events described, his performances raw, an exorcism of sorts. The sudden death of his mentor Mooney and a marital breakup derailed whatever momentum was being achieved and although he has continued to perform and has recorded several EPs, many were wondering if he would ever record another album. At times Murry himself seemed to regard the album as a millstone around his neck. Continue reading “The past is never dead. It’s not even past – an interview with John Murry”

Interview: The Lowest Pair

Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee, collectively known as The Lowest Pair, made quite a splash last year when they released two albums simultaneously. Uncertain As It Is Uneven was a continuation of their previous releases as a banjo playing duo while Fern Girl & Ice Man employed other musicians to create a fuller band sound with both albums maintaining their interest in traditional American roots music. Both musicians had solo careers and backgrounds in playing with string bands but when they met up in 2013 they recognised their shared interest in traditional banjo techniques and started to share bills before formally setting up the band. Since then they’ve released five albums and toured relentlessly across the States and starting this week they embark on their first UK tour. 24 shows over the next month including a stint at The Shetland Folk Festival and a show at Edinburgh’s Tradfest along with a long sweep through England and Wales. Continue reading “Interview: The Lowest Pair”

Interview: Kelly Sloan

Although Kelly Sloan is new to these shores her 2016 album Big Deal was in fact her third following her 2008 debut Always Changes and 2010’s Kelly Sloan. Accomplished on both guitar and piano, her influences range from folk to country through vintage 50s & 60s pop rock. I caught up with the award winning Canadian singer-songwriter just before her final UK date of a European tour that will take in Italy, Sicily, Switzerland and Luxembourg.  Continue reading “Interview: Kelly Sloan”

Interview: Aimee Mann

If Stewart Lee is the comedian’s comedian, then Aimee Mann is the songwriter’s songwriter. The Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning singer is a hugely observant student of human behaviour, drawing not just on her own experiences to form the characters in the songs but tales told by friends, and her new album ‘Mental Illness’ (which you can now stream in its entirety courtesy of NPR music) shows off her rich, incisive and wry melancholia in an almost all-acoustic format,  with a “finger-picky” style inspired by some of her favourite 60’s and 70’s folk-rock records, augmented by strings arranged by her longtime producer, Paul Bryan. Mark Whitfield spoke to her about the new record, her feelings about the new era in US politics and what she thought about the ending of Mad Men.  Continue reading “Interview: Aimee Mann”