Sound of the Sirens “For All Our Sins” (Independent, 2017)

The press release for the debut album from Exeter-based duo Sound of the Sirens paints a rather misleading picture of an (incredibly English) take on Americana. To suggest there is any parallel to be drawn between Sound of the Sirens and The Everly Brothers, George Jones or Tammy Wynette is simply bizarre and will have anyone with a penchant for vintage country raising at least one eyebrow, if not two. Championed by no less that Chris Evans and sharing stages with the likes of (dare I say it…) Rick Astley, the duo have certainly found favour in an increasingly fickle and frustrating industry, but country music this ain’t.  Continue reading “Sound of the Sirens “For All Our Sins” (Independent, 2017)”

Gerry Spehar “I Hold Gravity” (Independent, 2017)

During the 1970’s and up until 1986 Gerry Spehar was based in Colorado and had a thriving musical career.  He played as a duo with his brother George in the 70’s and in the Spehar Brothers Band with both George and brother Tom.  He then performed solo until meeting Bobby Allison whom he began writing and performing with in 1981. During all this, Spehar opened shows for the likes of Merle Haggard, Boz Scaggs and Townes Van Zandt. In 1986 Gerry made what he describes as the hardest decision of his life, turning his back on the music business to focus on providing a stable foundation for his family. Continue reading “Gerry Spehar “I Hold Gravity” (Independent, 2017)”

Lizzie No “Hard Won” (Independent 2017)


With Hard Won, Brooklyn’s Lizzie No has picked up the musical baton of greats like Linda Thompson and Sandy Denny, spread it thick with a shadowy relevance born of her New York background, and unleashed what amounts to a new sub-genre of folk with a country tinge. It is perhaps surprising that, at least musically, Lizzie has more in common with her British counterparts than her more docile Bowery relatives such as Joan Baez, but a shimmering voice reminiscent of those heady folk revival days of Fairport Convention is a lasting impression throughout. Continue reading “Lizzie No “Hard Won” (Independent 2017)”

Justin Townes Earle “Kids In The Street” (New West Records, 2017)

 

For his eighth album Justin Townes Earle has adopted some different approaches. It’s the first time he has worked with a producer (Mike Mogis -Bright Eyes and First Aid Kit) and the first album he’s recorded out with Nashville, travelling to Omaha, Nebraska to lay it down. On a more personal level Earle says, “Life has changed a lot for me in the last few years. I got married and am ready to become a father and this is the first record I’ve written since I got married… When I wrote songs in the past, I was looking in on what I was feeling but this record’s about looking outward on what’s happening.” One or all of these circumstances have certainly worked as Kids In The Street is as good as any of his previous releases but also its perhaps his most consistently entertaining disc. Continue reading “Justin Townes Earle “Kids In The Street” (New West Records, 2017)”

Sam Baker “Land Of Doubt” (Independent, 2017)

Sam Baker’s 2013 album, Say Grace, was a highly-acclaimed body of work, prompting one well known music publication to put in in the top 10 country albums of that year. It is difficult to see Sam’s latest offering, Land of Doubt, making that particular list. Not because it isn’t very good, because it is, but because this is such a unique album in musical terms that it defies easy genre pigeon holing.

Continue reading “Sam Baker “Land Of Doubt” (Independent, 2017)”

Colin Hay “Fierce Mercy” (Compass Records, 2017)

The latest solo album from prolific Men at Work frontman Colin Hay is a lesson in how deceptive appearances can be. The kitschy cover design looks like a collage of stock photos and clip art, and could suggest equally unpolished contents (to those unfamiliar with Hay’s oeuvre, anyway). Nothing could be further from the truth. Top-notch production values are on display from the opening bars of Come Tumblin’ Down. Satisfying Americana flavours of banjo, accordion, and a twangy Telecaster feature prominently in a rich and masterful arrangement. Continue reading “Colin Hay “Fierce Mercy” (Compass Records, 2017)”

Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017

Sixty seconds into show opener Rose Colored Blues and the famously hard to please Borderline feet were tapping. Quite an achievement for an Americana songsmith faced with a London crowd of semi-interested drinkers with a copy of Time Out in one hand and a pint of Pride in the other, but Andrew Combs cuts through mediocrity. There were certain factors on his side tonight for sure. The sound was as smooth as his Southern drawl. From my location at the bar it sounded like a band which blended together like a fine single malt. Continue reading “Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017”