Doug Schmude ‘’Ghosts Of The Main Drag’’ (Independent, 2017)

The great thing about music, and particularly Americana, is that it comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. Songs to make you cry, to make you drink, to get you off your seat and to jam to. Doug Schmude is no different, and I haven’t quite heard much like him in the genre. Comparable to bands like Blink 182 or All American Rejects, he has added a deal of twang and instrumentation, as well as lyrical depth, making an interesting, messy and worthwhile album. Continue reading “Doug Schmude ‘’Ghosts Of The Main Drag’’ (Independent, 2017)”

Arty Hill “Live: Church on Saturday Night” (Independent, 2017)

Oh yes, this’ll get the party started! If you like your Honk with a fair bit of Tonk – and vice versa – then Arty Hill’s new live album is going to be right up your gardenia lined Avenue. This is what a live album should be, gritty and down to earth; you really feel like you’re at a Saturday night gig. Arty’s sound is a little bit Nashville but with a lot of that Bakersfield earthiness thrown in – a bit reminiscent of Buck Owens or his modern day disciple, Dwight Yoakum; so it was more than a bit of a surprise to discover that Arty Hill and his excellent band, The Long Gone Daddys, hail from Baltimore. Continue reading “Arty Hill “Live: Church on Saturday Night” (Independent, 2017)”

Tyne Darling “These Ghosts” (Hope Parade, 2017)

Tyne Darling is not a real person but the musical and stage moniker for Tommy Vollman, a writer and artist and it appears the subject matter of a forthcoming book. The songs apparently are a companion to various short stories that Vollman has written and cover a range of ambitious but somewhat ambiguous subjects. For example the promotional material provided suggests that Red-Letter Holiday and Come All You Ghosts offer “a no holds barred examination of the nature of rebellion and its polemic resistance.” Quite.
Continue reading “Tyne Darling “These Ghosts” (Hope Parade, 2017)”

Greg Wickham “If I Left this World” (Thirty Days Records, 2017)

Greg Wickham was a member of Hadacol, a rootsy “alt country” band who released two albums at the turn of the century and If I left This World is his first release in 15 years. Reuniting with band members Richard Burgess and his brother, Fred, Wickham was lured back into a studio as he felt the need to leave a musical message for his kids, something they could listen to when he was no longer around. Although he appears to be in fine health, the album is peppered with allusions to mortality and colleagues who have shuffled on, most notably the late Lou Whitney (who produced Hadacol) while there’s a sound clip of his own father singing a snippet of Big Iron. Continue reading “Greg Wickham “If I Left this World” (Thirty Days Records, 2017)”

JD Fox & The Velvet Street Band ‘’A Tribute To Donnie Fritts’’ (Independent, 2016)

The interesting thing about a lot of tribute albums is where the new artists take the songs. Donnie Fritts was a session musician for Kris Kristofferson for 40 years, and a pioneer in the music emerging from Muscle Shoals. JD Fox, or real name Jan De Vos, is a Belgian artist inspired by the roots music emerging from America, previously having recorded a tribute to Spooner Oldham, another pioneer from Alabama. The cross between Belgium and Muscle Shoals really does have the potential to be interesting, reinterpreting these classic American songs for a European audience perhaps not as familiar with the style as those growing up in the rural south. The record is certainly crafted with love, with a groovy backing well done using traditional instrumentation. Having said that, it does feel that JD’s vocals are separate from the backing, rather than being all part of a greater whole as often happens in live recordings. Continue reading “JD Fox & The Velvet Street Band ‘’A Tribute To Donnie Fritts’’ (Independent, 2016)”

Sam Outlaw “Tenderheart” (Six Shooter Records, 2017)

‘Tenderheart’ is the follow-up to Sam Outlaw’s well-received 2015 debut ‘Angeleno’ and Outlaw picks up where he left off to expand on his laid back, So-Cal country sound. Opening track Everyone’s Looking For Home chronicles the sacrifices and decisions made in pursuit of a music career kicking off with a soft vocal and building into a lush string arrangement and from here onward, you can really hear an artist that has found his sound and hit his stride. Continue reading “Sam Outlaw “Tenderheart” (Six Shooter Records, 2017)”

Carrie Elkin “The Penny Collector” (Independent, 2017)

This is a highly personal and emotional album from Texan Carrie Elkin. Named in honour of her father who passed away over a year ago and who was a lifelong collector of pennies it is one of those pieces of work that is a slow grower that demands attention but one which leaves the listener richly rewarded. Elkin has pedigree, learning her craft from many years of touring and working with a number of musicians including the great Sam Baker. Whilst Baker does not appear on this album he is credited with helping to get the songs together. Continue reading “Carrie Elkin “The Penny Collector” (Independent, 2017)”