Little Lapin “Wake Up With The Sun” (Independent, 2017)

Juxtaposing comparisons with Regina Spektor and Laura Marling against kind words from BBC Cornwall perhaps paints, somewhat immediately, a picture of rural English gentility. And quaint though this, Little Lapin’s third outing, undoubtedly is… unfortunately, it’s also a touch inconsistent. Continue reading “Little Lapin “Wake Up With The Sun” (Independent, 2017)”

Glenn Yoder & The Western States “Inherited Darkness” (Independent 2017)

Glenn Yoder’s been churning out top-class Americana for a dozen years or so, and is now managing to both move with the times while remaining true to his roots. Since 2013, he’s been working with The Western States, a band of no-nonsense harbingers of swing who know they bring out the best of each other in an environment conducive to foot tapping. Continue reading “Glenn Yoder & The Western States “Inherited Darkness” (Independent 2017)”

Beth Bombara “Map & No Direction” (At The Helm Records, 2017)

St Louis resident and punk rock refugee, Beth Bombara, might lack some of the credentials and accolades of her long-serving influences, Gillian Welch and Aimee Mann, but on this, her fifth album (sixth if you count her release with The Robotic Foundation), she delivers a collection of songs that strongly suggest that she deserves attention. Continue reading “Beth Bombara “Map & No Direction” (At The Helm Records, 2017)”

Jason Eady “Jason Eady” (Old Guitar Records, 2017)

Six albums in and Jason Eady goes eponymous… could there be a hint of self-reflection and insularity in the mix? This album is certainly a distinct departure from the overt twang and clatter of his previous work, and the subtlety and far more gentle vein prove a welcome relief. Acoustic throughout (pretty much without exception) and deviating little from the ‘original Nashville sound’ (think Willie Nelson meets Kris Kristofferson meets [albeit latterly] Lyle Lovett),  the record presents the artist as a purveyor of familiar musical staples – indeed there are no rules that come even close to being broken here. Continue reading “Jason Eady “Jason Eady” (Old Guitar Records, 2017)”

Nathan Bell “Love > Fear (48 hours in traitorland)” (Stone Barn Records, 2017)

What to do when you’re a singer songwriter who, after a an early shot at fame petered out, spent a lifetime grafting in business before returning to the music world and slowly carving out a reputation as a commentator on the current stare of the nation only to find that, overnight, the world was turned upside down? Nathan Bell was comfortably ensconced in the (somewhat) hermetic world of roots music with a set of albums (his Family Man Trilogy) which saw him rooting around themes of family, work and middle age and which were noted to be following in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, Dylan, Steve Earle, Guy Clark and Springsteen. Plans were afoot for the next episode with Bell wanting to delve into the intricacies of relationships and love surviving everyday issues but on November 8th 2016 it all went belly up. Continue reading “Nathan Bell “Love > Fear (48 hours in traitorland)” (Stone Barn Records, 2017)”

John Guliak “Fluke or Flounder” (Independent, 2016)

Dust, the first track on this outstanding album, is up there with the best of them. It has, all over it, the care and confidence of an expertly produced record. Here is homage to the dust and rain and the riven days on the Canadian prairies. John’s gentle voice centres movingly on the remembered details of small life there “where a girl’s eyes were the stars. /No need to look far for the sky”. Such understated storytelling, and simply expressed detail abounds in John Guliak’s songs. Continue reading “John Guliak “Fluke or Flounder” (Independent, 2016)”

Cheshire Carr “Odds And Ends” (Independent, 2017)

CC are a Montreal-based folk collective, with the collective aspect shown by the many different voices and the mix of styles and textures. The album has a kind of collective identity but also a compilation feel. At its best, it is a fine mixture of contemporary Americana. This Song, bristling with suppressed energy, has vocals redolent of Night Beds or even Perfume Genius, and contains both hints of modern pop while being deeply rooted in more traditional forms. Water Rising is mostly a traditional folk song using traditional instruments, but also manages to sound contemporary. Continue reading “Cheshire Carr “Odds And Ends” (Independent, 2017)”

The Weeks “Easy” (Serpents and Snakes Records, 2017)

It’s no surprise at all that The Weeks are on the Kings of Leon’s label – Talk Like That, the opening track of Easy, could be The Kings of Leon in full Southern Rock Band mode on this good natured assessment of a girl and the crazy things she says. Perhaps fortunately, considering how close Cyle Barnes’ vocals sound to those of the Kings of Leon’s main vocalist Caleb Followill, The Weeks soon open out their music to bring in a wider spectrum of southern rock sounds – a little swampy here, groovily soulful there. Continue reading “The Weeks “Easy” (Serpents and Snakes Records, 2017)”

Chris Shiflett “West Coast Town” (SideOneDummy Records, 2017)

Nashville based Grammy award winning producer Dave Cobb is hot. His work with the likes of Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson have garnered a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Thus, any work with his name attached demands our attention. So it is here, with his name as producer and player on the Chris Shiflett album West Coast Town. Chris may be better known as lead guitarist with The Foo Fighters but a few years back he set up a country oriented side project and released a couple of albums as Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants. His latest offering is a solo release but with a talented supporting cast that includes the aforementioned Dave Cobb on acoustic guitar. Continue reading “Chris Shiflett “West Coast Town” (SideOneDummy Records, 2017)”

Current Swell “When To Talk And When To Listen” (Nettwerk, 2017)

Already quite a big thing in Canada, Current Swell decamped to Nashville to record part of this latest album, with the remainder being finished at home in Vancouver. It’s their sixth full-length release, coming twelve years after their debut So I Say; these guys are clearly in it for the long haul. The four-piece band revolves around their songwriting hub of Scott Stanton and Dave Lang. Continue reading “Current Swell “When To Talk And When To Listen” (Nettwerk, 2017)”