Sunfields “Mono, Mono” (Exit Sign Music 2017)

Hailing from Montreal Sunfields is a group of four although their undoubted leader is Jason Kent who wrote all eleven songs on this album which is credited as being produced by the whole band. An antidote to the winter blues and dare it be suggested those who may not wholly take on board the Christmas spirit this is an uplifting and fun piece of work full of jangly guitars and addictive harmonies. Continue reading “Sunfields “Mono, Mono” (Exit Sign Music 2017)”

Rebecca Clamp & Hans Wessels “Lit Up with Sorrow” (Folkwit Records, 2017)

Rebecca Clamp – here collaborating with her partner Hans Wessels – writes songs that are like three minute windows into her life, with subject matters relating to her feelings in a particular instant, summaries of conversations at cross-purposes, pencil sketches of friendships and relationships. Her unrhyming verse is accompanied by knowingly quirky arrangements leaning predominantly on piano and ukulele and expanded with splashes of electronica.  Continue reading “Rebecca Clamp & Hans Wessels “Lit Up with Sorrow” (Folkwit Records, 2017)”

Richard Warren “Disentangled” (Hudson, 2017)

Those of you familiar with Richard Warren’s previous solo records will know what to expect from this fourth album – Disentangled.  You won’t be disappointed either. Sounding like a stoner/psychedelic happening featuring Duane Eddy on guitar and Richard Hawley on vocals; it’s equal parts weird, hypnotic and excellent. Welcome to the fertile outer edges of Americana. Continue reading “Richard Warren “Disentangled” (Hudson, 2017)”

Blitzen Trapper “Wild And Reckless” (Lojinx, 2017)

The thing which saved Blitzen Trapper from being run of the mill was their embracing of risk: they can be joyous and frustrating, and on this record they are no different, only, in common with their recent releases, less so. They start with the blue-collar Americana of Rebel and then they hit paydirt of sorts with the title track which hits the spot somewhere between the Drive By Truckers and Bryan Adams, which is not meant to sound snide. The song is a fist-pumper, balancing a strain of nostalgic melancholy with an uplifting chorus that cuts straight to the point. It should be the sound that pours out of a thousand convertibles. Continue reading “Blitzen Trapper “Wild And Reckless” (Lojinx, 2017)”

James Summerfield “Doubt” (Say AARGH Records, 2018)

Birmingham man James Summerfield’s sixth album both conforms to and belies its title. Conformity comes from the earlier songs, where he explores and, I fear, chronicles from personal experience, struggles with mental health. But as things progress one, two, more cracks appear and the light gets in so that by the end things look, if not rosy, certainly distinctly more positive. Such subject matter might appear unpromising and the fare on offer here is certainly not light but it is uplifting and inspiring, in both its honesty and its hope and the music, regardless of the subject matter, is simply glorious. Continue reading “James Summerfield “Doubt” (Say AARGH Records, 2018)”

The Wailin’ Jennys “Fifteen” (True North Records,2017)

Six years after their last album The Wailin’ Jennys (Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody, & Heather Masse) reconvened for a five day recording session. The title? Well – it’s fifteen years since the original trio (Carla Luft had the gig before Heather Masse) got together for a one-off show in a Winnipeg guitar shop. Once they realised just how well their voices blended in gorgeous three part harmonies it made more sense to carry on performing together – a decision that led on to two Juno awards and a clutch of well received albums. Continue reading “The Wailin’ Jennys “Fifteen” (True North Records,2017)”

Martin Rὅssel. “Don’t Blame Me” (Erik Alx Sund Records, 2017)

For an album that’s been ten years in the making, Sweden’s Martin Rὅssel’s Don’t Blame Me turns out to be a relatively taut affair. Turns out that Rὅssel is an in demand producer in Sweden and elsewhere and was continually sidetracked by various projects. As he says in the liner notes, “Deadlines are tough but sometimes good, and I had none.” However he eventually had the songs in ship shape order and managed to recruit an army of around 30 musicians (including Marty Wilson-Piper on guitar) for the recording. Despite the plethora of players Rὅssel turns in a tightly wound selection of songs with several of them saluting the bands and artists he grew up hearing. Continue reading “Martin Rὅssel. “Don’t Blame Me” (Erik Alx Sund Records, 2017)”