Various “13 Days Of Xmas” (Bloodshot Records 2017)

Christmas comes but once a year and for the country community it’s the perfect excuse to drip an extra tear into the beer and mourn another year of lost love and lonely hearts. 13 Days Of Xmas is a compilation of artists with one thing in common – the festive season blues. The relish which Bloodshot Records upholds the tradition of good ‘ol guys and gals in the gutter certainly stays true to the Western character. Bloodshot have served the alternative music community out of Chicago since 1994 and are this year offering up an Americana album of various label family members along with their usual festive bargains. It’s touted as a “Thirteen-song compilation of off-kilter original Christmas songs and unlikely covers” and the darkness is there for all to see (sic). Continue reading “Various “13 Days Of Xmas” (Bloodshot Records 2017)”

Ian Felice + Gill Landry, The Borderline, London. 27th November 2017

Pretty much a sell out at the revamped Borderline for Ian Felice’s first solo foray to these shores. It’s been a busy period what with a new baby, propping up the excellent Conor Oberst’s album and tour and now an excellent new album full of image soaked Americana and a tour to support it. The crowd ( including Loose alumni Danny Champ and label boss Tom – here as a fan as much as management) can’t wait, but they have to for tonight it’s no tacked on support but a full blown talent in his own right. Continue reading “Ian Felice + Gill Landry, The Borderline, London. 27th November 2017”

Rhiannon Giddens + Kaia Kater, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 21st November 2017

Sometimes the frequent gig goer gets lucky and catches a big performance with a full band in a smaller, more intimate venue that results in a truly fabulous night.  Rhiannon Giddens, on her latest tour, was clearly playing to 1000+ venues with a 7 piece big name band which must have made very little economic sense in the 400 seat Stables.  Built by Cleo Lane and Johnny Dankworth as an intimate jazz venue with phenomenal acoustics, The Stables is a really enjoyable place to see live music – lots of parking and friendly volunteers who staff the hall make it a warm and comfortable music lover’s delight. Giddens has had an amazingly busy year with almost nonstop touring building on the huge success of her Freedom Highway album which was produced by T Bone Burnett and which cemented her departure from the far more roots based Carolina Chocolate Drops.  She has really spread her wings and soared, winning multiple awards and even a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Foundation worth $625k. Continue reading “Rhiannon Giddens + Kaia Kater, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 21st November 2017”

Imelda May, Royal Albert Hall, London, 22nd November 2017

On the last night of her UK tour Imelda May walked onstage to rapturous applause for her first headline gig at the Royal Albert Hall and performed a stunning stripped back rendition of Call Me.  This immediately demonstrated both her confidence and her clear and strong vocals.  The respectful silence showed that the crowd were spellbound which was confirmed by the reception she received once the song had finished. Her latest album Life. Love. Flesh. Blood, produced in Nashville by the legendary T Bone Burnett, has been the most successful and critically reviewed of her career. She showcased many tracks from the album and it was easy to see why she has won several awards this year and been nominated for International Artist of the Year for the UK Americana Awards 2018 Continue reading “Imelda May, Royal Albert Hall, London, 22nd November 2017”

Johnny Cash “Greatest Hits – The Sun Records Years” (Charly Records, 2017)

Ho hum. Another Cash (in) collection I hear you say. Well, yes, it is a compilation of songs that any self respecting fan will already have, probably several times over. However these 20 songs arrive encrypted in vinyl, shiny black vinyl, and when spun the sound is as vibrant as the yellow Sun Records label surrounding the spindle. Continue reading “Johnny Cash “Greatest Hits – The Sun Records Years” (Charly Records, 2017)”

Rachael Yamagata + Brandon Jenner, Islington Assembly Halls, London 21st November 2017

“Oh, you need to get up here” says Rachael Yamagata. The young man in middle of the sixth row needs no more encouragement as he skips out of his seat nimbly and bounds up on to the high stage to join her on Let Me Be Your Girl, arguably her most commercial and instantly catchy song to date. Think Al Green’s Sha-La-La, or Barbara Acklin’s Am I the Same Girl? and you get a flavour of this. Continue reading “Rachael Yamagata + Brandon Jenner, Islington Assembly Halls, London 21st November 2017”

Jeff Crosby “Postcards From Magdalena” (At The Helm Records, 2017)

This is the fourth full-length album from Jeff Crosby, a well travelled Gent originally from Idaho – and a cracking slice of proper Americana it is too. Crosby has taken inspiration for this album from his travels and the description of why the album is named Postcards From Magdalena is worth repeating here. The opening track The Best $25 I Ever Spent was written in Tanganga, Magdalena in Columbia and Crosby refers to an urban dictionary description of the term Magdalena as “a girl who is sophisticated, gorgeous and down to earth. A Magdalena is a person who is a modern hippie, loves the beach and smoking joints. You can find her dancing in the rain.” Continue reading “Jeff Crosby “Postcards From Magdalena” (At The Helm Records, 2017)”