Mark Olson “Spokeswoman of The Bright Sun” (Glitterhouse Records, 2017)

If the marvellously vague and broad church that is Americana incorporates a wealth of musical genres then the latest offering by the critically acclaimed songwriter and ex Jayhawk Mark Olson undoubtedly has its roots firmly in the world of American folk. Spokeswoman of The Bright Sun was recorded in the summer of 2016 at the Joshua Tree home of Mark Olson and his wife and musical partner Ingunn Ringvold and it is that desert environment that has provided the driving narrative behind this new album. Continue reading “Mark Olson “Spokeswoman of The Bright Sun” (Glitterhouse Records, 2017)”

The Last Dinosaur “The Nothing” (Naim Records, 2017)

“The Nothing” is the long-awaited follow-up to The Last Dinosaurs’ debut album and it is evident from the outset that, that time has been well spent. The record opens with the short, gentle acoustic track Atoms accompanied solely by the whispered vocals of the front man and brainchild, Jamie Cameron, and a beautiful string arrangement to add some depth to an otherwise sparse track. The opener is a good indication of the overall sound of the record in terms of the musicianship and the themes explored throughout and second track Grow takes that formula and builds on it adding drums and another whispered vocal. Continue reading “The Last Dinosaur “The Nothing” (Naim Records, 2017)”

William The Conqueror “Proud Disturber Of The Peace” (Loose, 2017)

William The Conqueror, a three-piece band from Cornwall, is the creation of former folkie, Ruarri Joseph. For those of us fortunate enough to have caught Mr Joseph in his former guise playing small, intimate venues, often with just an acoustic guitar for company, there was always the feeling that there was another rockier, harder edged version waiting to cut loose. Continue reading “William The Conqueror “Proud Disturber Of The Peace” (Loose, 2017)”

Heather Lynne Horton “Don’t Mess with Mrs Murphy” (At The Helm, 2017)

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch!” so Bette Davis remarked some years ago. Thankfully things have improved since then. Not so much third wave feminism, perhaps nearer to a new wave of alt-country, Heather Lynne Horton has championed the maxim – Women are equal to everything – for just as long as Lord Hale has. Continue reading “Heather Lynne Horton “Don’t Mess with Mrs Murphy” (At The Helm, 2017)”

The Travelling Band + Elle Mary & The Bad Men, Water Rats, London, 10th August 2017

So a Thursday night in King’s Cross for the Travelling Band’s album launch. First up though is Elle Mary and the Bad Men. Elle was born in Wales but is  now based in Manchester, something she shares with the headline act as well as being label mates. Their music is a bit hard to categorise although they’ve been described as ‘folk noir’ and Elle herself calls her songs ‘weapons grade lullabies.’ Continue reading “The Travelling Band + Elle Mary & The Bad Men, Water Rats, London, 10th August 2017”

Wilson “Old School, New Rules” (Independent, 2017)

This is a slice of well-crafted, Seventies-leaning pop that’s light on the power but heavy on the catchy melodies. West Country troubadour Steve Wilson is the writing hub of this four piece. Admittedly, they’re quite hard to define musically, but there are places to start. The harmonies (contributed by the band to most of the tracks) are unswervingly excellent, with echoes of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and 10cc. Whilst the music isn’t too heavy on guitar, Tom Petty is brought to mind on the opening two tracks, Long Road and Pretty Girl In A Small Town. Continue reading “Wilson “Old School, New Rules” (Independent, 2017)”

Rachel Baiman “Shame” (Free Dirt, 2017)

It’s been a while since Shirley and her illustrious Company castigated us (rather unjustly) for our collective inability, or flat refusal, to dance, declaring this to be a damn Shame, Shame, Shame. Anyone missing such admonishment should check out Rachel Baiman’s excellent new album. Shame may be on the agenda again, but this time the target of ire isn’t discotheque wallflowers, but the purveyors of organised religion: to be more precise, the tenets of the Church, which Baiman believes inculcate negative feelings of shame from birth onwards with concepts like Original Sin.  Continue reading “Rachel Baiman “Shame” (Free Dirt, 2017)”