The Handsome Family, The Union Chapel, London, 2nd March 2017

Brett and Rennie Sparks brought a four-piece Handsome Family to The Union Chapel for one of those rare evenings that truly deserve the accolade “magical”. Demonstrating the ability for even a little television exposure to change the size of an audience The Handsome Family have stepped up to a considerably larger venue than on previous tours, and one that couldn’t be more in keeping with their music – on an early March evening when the shadows draw in quickly there could have been no better frame for their musical paintings of the strange, mystical and plain bizarre in American life. Continue reading “The Handsome Family, The Union Chapel, London, 2nd March 2017”

Sufjan Stevens and Patti Smith Band perform Star Spangled Banner

News from Pitchfork this morning: “Last night, Sufjan Stevens performed at Tibet House’s 30th annual benefit concert, which doubled as a celebration of Philip Glass’s 80th birthday. He joined the Patti Smith Band to perform his version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” “My prayer is that we begin to move our hearts, our minds, our bodies in the direction of love, wisdom, and common sense,” he said, by way of introduction. “Until then, we’d like to sing a theme song for this present darkness.” Watch video below. Stevens also performed “Happy Birthday Song,” and joined Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Tibetan monks, and many more for “People Have the Power”—watch that here.  Continue reading “Sufjan Stevens and Patti Smith Band perform Star Spangled Banner”

Mark Eitzel “Hey, Mr FerryMan” (Decor Records 2017)

Eitzel is an arresting cove. A lounge room crooner with impeccable Americana credentials and instincts. Beyond that an entertaining, erudite man with much to say and a lot to share. This album marks a massive up swing in his profile as in the company of Bernard Butler he aims for the kind of mainstream breakthrough that similar artists such as John Grant and Jason Isbell have enjoyed; critically acclaimed solo material released after leaving loved but not massive bands (in the case of the Czars the band had folded). Originally conceived as a stripped down set by Eitzel the instinct of Butler as producer to widen and fill out the production has paid enormous dividends as Eitzel has delivered his most consistent and musically assured album yet. Continue reading “Mark Eitzel “Hey, Mr FerryMan” (Decor Records 2017)”

The Stands main man strikes out on his own

Howie Payne, formerly of Liverpool band The Stands has announced his first solo tour with his live outfit The Band of The Sun and the release of ‘The Stands, Recordings 2003-2005’, a boxset collection of rarities, B sides and demos, gathered on heavyweight coloured vinyl in June. With fans including Noel Gallagher and Bill Ryder-Jones The Stands burnt brightly but briefly during their 2002-2005 lifespan, spawning a string of five UK top 40 singles. After splitting the band, Howie Payne began his solo career, recording acclaimed debut ‘Bright Light Ballads’ with Ethan Johns.  Howie also released a new version of rare early Stands track, ‘She Speaks of These Things’as a precursor to the retrospective.  Continue reading “The Stands main man strikes out on his own”

Ryan Adams “Prisoner” (Virgin/EMI 2017)

A comeback, break up album – what could be better for the record buying Americana fan? Ryan Adams, the quintessential wounded troubadour, back ‘on form’ with a searing examination of a highly personal life event. Surely this is cause for celebration but in the name of good taste a muted one as we empathise with our poet songsmith? Well yes and perhaps more pertinently no. This is a bright shiny production with some strong songs and Adam’s voice sounding in fine fettle but songs such as Doomsday and the opener Do You Still Love Me have a very eighties feel to the sound which make the record sometimes feel soulless. Continue reading “Ryan Adams “Prisoner” (Virgin/EMI 2017)”

Campbell Woods “Oxford Street” (Independent, 2017)

Oxford Street, in this case, is not the glitzy miles long street of vast temples of consumerism, awash with gee-gaws and superficially attractive but ultimately empty and worthless baubles. No, this is an Oxford Street of attractive clapboard houses – maybe in Halifax or Victoria, but definitely anchored down in a small Canadian city, with easy access to wider country around. That suits the songs – intimate and civic, rooted in relationships, but with an open and expansive feel to them. Continue reading “Campbell Woods “Oxford Street” (Independent, 2017)”

Hear track from new Dylan album – Listen

Which never ceases to be an exciting thing! Paste report: “Bob Dylan  has just released “Stardust,” the third track from his forthcoming triple album Triplicate, a continuation of his grizzled take on popular jazz standards. The single has just the right amount of swing and country shuffle, and it might be the best that Dylan has sounded in the recent jazz releases. “Stardust” follows previous singles “My One and Only Love” and “I Could Have Told You” leading up to the release of the full album. Continue reading “Hear track from new Dylan album – Listen”

Interview: Bronwynne Brent

Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Bronwynne Brent has recorded two albums, the 2011 Deep Dark Water and 2014’s Stardust. Her music and songs have an air of self-confessed melancholy that are delivered with a wonderfully distinctive voice that has been described as sounding like Southern sunshine. Bronwynne topped the female artist category in both 2015 & 2016 Americana-UK polls beating off the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Lucinda Williams so she certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed over here.  Continue reading “Interview: Bronwynne Brent”