Ed Romanoff “The Orphan King” (PineRock Production, 2018)

Ed Romanoff is a storyteller, his songs vehicles for the narratives, and stories we get whether they be ghost Miss Worby’s Ghost, the freak show Elephant Man, crime The Ballad of Willie Sutton, and of course at heart all of these are love songs. Along with the switch of genres the songs also meld into other genres from the basic folk beginning, so A Golden Crown throws in some Celtic fiddles and elsewhere there are snatches of gospel, blues and some country soul. Knitting it all together is Romanoff’s deep vocals that inhabit his characters and keep everything centred. Continue reading “Ed Romanoff “The Orphan King” (PineRock Production, 2018)”

Deer Tick, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 30th January 2018

Like any band that has been playing together for over a decade Deer Tick have seen an evolution of their music, most strikingly laid out on their recent eponymous twin album release which share common artwork of a pair of condiment jars, with the mood of the two albums split between the folkier and more acoustic “ketchup” and the electric flair of “mustard“. New albums always shape a band’s set, even more so with a double albums worth. Deer Tick’s solution to keeping a balanced set list when they have so much new material also shapes the structure of the gig itself. Continue reading “Deer Tick, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 30th January 2018”

The Mavericks + The Strange Blue Dreams @Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 4th February 2018

It’s the last night of Celtic Connections and the big guns are wheeled out for this packed show at The Old Fruitmarket. The doors opened one hour before the support band were due on and by the time your scribe arrived there already was a good crowd packed up front, camped out as it were in order to get a close up view of The Mavericks, and an odd crowd, not one you’d expect at a Celtic Connections gig. Although there were no pink Stetsons on show this was the type of crowd you’d get at a Dolly Parton concert, star quality drawing in the paying public who want a good time and a good time was what the headliners delivered tonight. Continue reading “The Mavericks + The Strange Blue Dreams @Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 4th February 2018”

Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 31st January 2018

Supporting the always excellent Mary Gauthier, East Nashville native Aaron Lee Tasjan promoted his excellent ‘Silver Tears‘ album with a troubadour’s turn here. Just him and his guitar….and what a revelation. ‘Silver Tears‘ is a great album and it is beautifully produced couching some great songs with some strong instrumentation and harmonies but here, stripped back, they sound wonderful, unadorned and spontaneous. This is enabled in no short measure by a fabulous set of pipes which Tasjan uses to full effect. Holding notes and bending melodies in a style not unlike Arlo Guthrie or on occasion John Sebastian of whom there is a hint in the sartorial style of embroidered waistcoat, jeans and some killer boots! Continue reading “Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 31st January 2018”

Buffalo Road “Whole New Silence” (Backwater Records, 2017)

Buffalo Road’s third record “Whole New Silence” is described as something of a “lost album” by their record company, having first been completed in 2016 while only seeing the light of day last November. Meanwhile, the band are currently said to be “pursuing separate ventures”, having split up due to work commitments. The band have some longstanding pedigree given that this Ipswich-based act released two previous albums in 1993 and 1995, so their third comes after a hiatus of some 22 years. Continue reading “Buffalo Road “Whole New Silence” (Backwater Records, 2017)”

Colter Wall + Tyler Childers @Celtic Connections, The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 3rd February 2018

Tickets for this Celtic Connections show sold out almost as soon as the gig was announced with both artists noted as the up and coming guys to watch. Wall’s debut album was helmed by the current in vogue producer Dave Cobb while Childers’ debut is produced by a man who has benefitted from Cobb’s studio craftwork, Sturgill Simpson. With both men playing solo sets it was instructive to see their very different approaches to country and folk music and while Wall was the headliner it was Childers who folk were talking about afterwards. Continue reading “Colter Wall + Tyler Childers @Celtic Connections, The Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 3rd February 2018”

Alela Diane “Cusp” (All Points, 2018)

Since her last album in 2013 (About Farewell) Alela Diane has remarried and given birth to two daughters. We mention the daughters as Cusp is, above all, an album about motherhood, even the album cover can be seen as an update on Whistler’s Mother. Diane sings of her own experiences as a mother while some songs are written from a mother’s perspective. She’s moved on from her early days when she was linked to the freak folk movement, Cusp is an assured and mature set of songs. Continue reading “Alela Diane “Cusp” (All Points, 2018)”

Dean Owens & The Whisky Hearts + The Jenny Sturgeon Trio @Celtic Connections, Drygate, Glasgow, 2nd February 2018

Launching his new album, Southern Wind, Edinburgh’s Dean Owens gathered together his regular band, The Whisky Hearts, to play a sold out show in this east end brewery. The album, recorded in Nashville with an all American line up, has more of a Southern swampy sound then Owens’ previous efforts but the band, well versed in his Celtic Americana, were more than able to muddy their hands with some Mississippi grit as they played several of the songs from the new album. Continue reading “Dean Owens & The Whisky Hearts + The Jenny Sturgeon Trio @Celtic Connections, Drygate, Glasgow, 2nd February 2018”

Courtney Marie Andrews @Celtic Connections, O2 ABC Glasgow, 31st January 2018

Despite being spread over 18 days Celtic Connections still throws up gig conflicts. Tonight Willie Vlautin is appearing up the road promoting his latest book, normally a must attend for Americana fans. However, we’ve plumped for Courtney Marie Andrews on the back of her last appearance in Glasgow when she and her band were in magical form. It’s a mild disappointment then to find out that this is a solo show but that’s a bit like saying that only winning a couple of million on the lottery instead of tens would be a disappointment. Continue reading “Courtney Marie Andrews @Celtic Connections, O2 ABC Glasgow, 31st January 2018”

I’m With Her, Bush Hall, London, 30th January 2018

In the intimate setting of Bush Hall, I’m With Her (Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan) gathered around a single microphone; the only amplification used during the show, and opened their show with Little Lies from the EP of the same name. The attentive audience were immediately captivated by the haunting fiddle opening played by Watkins, then the delicate vocal of O’Donovan and then the harmony of the band singing together.  You could have heard a pin drop until the song finished and the room was then filled with applause. Continue reading “I’m With Her, Bush Hall, London, 30th January 2018”