Joe Purdy “Who Will Be Next?” (Bread and Butter Music, 2016)

joe-purdy-2016Neil Young, around the time of his Living With War, bemoaned the absence of other, and younger, protest singers. This was never really true, the difference was the level of media attention such artists could attract – and to be fair to Ol’ Neil he recognised this by showcasing songs on his web site. This is all by way of saying that Who Will Be Next? sees Joe Purdy more than fill this gap. Continue reading “Joe Purdy “Who Will Be Next?” (Bread and Butter Music, 2016)”

Justin Wells “Dawn in the Distance” (August Music, 2016)

justin-wells-jpegLiving in these ‘post-truth’ times, after the disaster of the Brexit result and the uncertainty following The Donald’s recent election victory and imminent move into the White House, we have to take cold comfort where we can find it. Just in time, Justin Wells, has shown up with his new solo album Dawn in The Distance. Wells used to be a member of Kentucky based-band Fifth on the Floor until they split late in 2014. Continue reading “Justin Wells “Dawn in the Distance” (August Music, 2016)”

Dietrich Strause “How Cruel That Hunger Binds” (Independent, 2016)

"Dietrich-Strause-2016"With no prior knowledge of Strause, this album on its initial listening, harks back to a simpler era of music with nods to Gospel and R ‘n’ B and touches of Americana. The vocals are sweet and crystal clear, creating an image of a clean cut American teen idol singing his heart out on a 1940’s/50’s stage, wearing pressed trousers, a neat shirt and sporting a short and Brylcreemed hairstyle. The mixing has a faint echo on it, reminiscent of this bygone era and the use of a Wurlizer adds to the nostalgia. But it is fashioned with a modern edge and has a charming wistfulness about it. Continue reading “Dietrich Strause “How Cruel That Hunger Binds” (Independent, 2016)”

Doghouse Roses “Lost is Not Losing” (Yellowroom Music, 2016)


doghouse-roses-jpegDear Danny Boyle, if it’s not too late, you should consider some of the tracks from the new Doghouse Roses album for inclusion on the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack. Danny, I know that you know they’re from Glasgow (and not Leith Walk) and that Lost Is Not Losing is their third album. I guess you’ve already picked up on the buzz that Iona Macdonald’s voice has been creating way above and far below the Trossachs. But did you know that there are tracks on Lost is Not Losing that could have been tailor-made with Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie in mind? Continue reading “Doghouse Roses “Lost is Not Losing” (Yellowroom Music, 2016)”

The Coal Porters “No.6” (Prima Records, 2016)

coal-porters-2016On their latest studio album Sid Griffin’s alt-bluegrass rootsy Americana combo continue to do what they do best – proper bluegrass, there ain’t no drums in this here band boy, with a twist. No.6 finds the band in a reflective and slightly nostalgic mood with several songs that are like extended and expanded anecdotes which may, or may not, be completely true but certainly have elements of some kind of truth in them. Continue reading “The Coal Porters “No.6” (Prima Records, 2016)”

Sam Gleaves “Ain’t We Brothers” (Community Music, 2015)

"Sam-Gleaves-2015"Sometimes timing really is everything. The ‘Donald’ is everywhere. A man who, in the course of a presidential campaign unlike any other, managed to insult and denigrate just about every minority on the planet. And so it was, in the midst of the gloom and the bile emanating from across the pond, that a CD arrives from a young man from the mountains of Virginia who shouts, in his own understated way, of tolerance in the face of prejudice. Although released in the USA as long ago as November 2015 its relevance to the political discourse makes it feel current and relevant, and ripe for reviewing. Continue reading “Sam Gleaves “Ain’t We Brothers” (Community Music, 2015)”

John Renbourn & Wizz Jones “Joint Control” (Riverboat Records, 2016)

john-renbourn-wizz-jones-2016Neither of these guitarist should require any introduction – the one the commensurate master of folk, jazz, blues, early music and more, the other the master reinterpretor of others compositions as well as the folk and blues inspiration for a generation of guitarists, including John Renbourn. They hadn’t exactly been touring but the pair had been gigging together – with little clusters of dates appearing at fairly regular intervals – through 2014 and into 2015, in fact right up to John’s death. Continue reading “John Renbourn & Wizz Jones “Joint Control” (Riverboat Records, 2016)”

Natural Child “Okey Dokey” (Independent, 2016)

natural-childNC aren’t one of those bands that can be easily pigeon-holed. By turns here they resemble Ween, Can, a boogie-band or an experimental jazz rock combo. They can be perplexing, joyful or frustrating – you can’t settle into a NC record, it’s a switchback ride, where you crank up really high and then plunge. Thus ‘Self-Titled Blues’ creates a gorgeous simmering atmosphere full of somnambulist organ, relaxed guitar and harmony rich vocals. Then next up is the space-funk of ‘Benny’s Here’ which for six and a half minutes takes us on a trip through the work of Blue Note luminaries such as Grant Green. Continue reading “Natural Child “Okey Dokey” (Independent, 2016)”

Winter Mountain “I Swear I Flew” (Astral Fox records, 2016)

Winter-Mountain-2016I Swear I Flew is Winter Mountain’s first full album since his acclaimed self-titled, debut album in 2013. With a keen rhythm section in support, Cornish singer-songwriter Joe Francis (Winter Mountain) leads the listener through a set of songs perfectly suited for the genre aimed. Francis is not only carrying on a tradition ventured by such legends as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Neil Young but developing certain aspects as he ventures along the road, marrying his fine songwriting to his ability to seamlessly harness his energy. Continue reading “Winter Mountain “I Swear I Flew” (Astral Fox records, 2016)”

Bap Kennedy ”Reckless Heart” (At The Helm/Last Chance Records, 2016)

bap_kennedy_reckless_heartAs “Reckless Heart” was being created, Bap Kennedy was in a losing battle with cancer, a battle that he has very recently lost. As far as a legacy goes for such a rich and varied career, a single album is never going to do it justice, but “Reckless Heart” is a masterfully crafted record, filled with hope, despair, beautiful melodies and soaring musicality. With hints of Rock ‘n Roll, Blues and two-step country, this record is a beautiful blend of traditional American music styles. It is so rare for someone to encapture this musicality coming from foreign shores, but Belfast-born Kennedy does just that, sounding not in the least bit inauthentic, a great credit to an artist who has spent his career associated with legends such as Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler and Van Morrison. Continue reading “Bap Kennedy ”Reckless Heart” (At The Helm/Last Chance Records, 2016)”