Classic Americana Albums: John Stewart “California Bloodlines” (Capitol, 1969)

It’s February 1969 and while Woodstock is yet to happen, the sixties have peaked, psychedelia is a busted flush and Dylan and The Band are leading a return to more traditional American music. Dylan in fact is recording ‘Nashville Skyline’ and in the studio across the street, John Stewart, a folk singer who has spent six years with The Kingston Trio, is recording his first proper debut album with his producer, Nik Venet slyly stealing players from the Dylan sessions as he pulls in favours. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: John Stewart “California Bloodlines” (Capitol, 1969)”

Tom Petty “You Don’t Know How it Feels (Demo)” – Listen

The Tom Petty estate has released an unearthed 1993 demo of ‘You Don’t Know How it Feels’ which is the first track to be taken from the long-awaited ‘Wildflowers’ archival project. The song was the lead single from the album and eventually reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Petty recorded the much more fragile, acoustic take at his home studio, providing a more intimate feel than the original, and it contains a verse that would later show up on the penultimate track on the album, ‘Crawling Back to You.’  The album reflects Petty’s failing 20 years plus marriage to his wife Jane Benyo. “I’m so tired of being tired,” he sings. “Sure as night will follow day/Most things I worry about/Never happen anyway.”

Video: Marin Patenaude “Cold Front”

There is excellent songcraft and musicianship on display in Marin Patenaude’s new single, ‘Cold Front’, taken from the new album, ‘Sight Unseen’.  The video- snowy landscapes contrasting with homely scenes – reinforces the delicate beauty of the song.  Patenaude reflects on the song: “I came home to my cabin one night and the window above the kitchen sink was broken. Continue reading “Video: Marin Patenaude “Cold Front””

The Jayhawks “XOXO” (Sham/Thirty Tigers, 2020)

For many people The Jayhawks were one of the initial gateway drugs to the Americana and alt-country scene particularly with their 1992 classic ‘Hollywood Town Hall‘ with its chiming guitars, extraordinary harmonies and classic songwriting and as time and events have reshaped them and the personnel they have still retained not only their originality but also their identity. This is a proper band with proper tunes and a back catalogue to die for. And a sound! No one sounds like the Jayhawks – think about it. Just like no one sounds like Tom Waits – it is or it isn’t  – simple as that.  Continue reading “The Jayhawks “XOXO” (Sham/Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

Josh Kimbrough “Slither, Soar & Disappear” (Tompkins Square, 2020)

A side effect of lockdown is how many of us have begun to notice nature either for the first time or perhaps just more than usual. If that curiosity extends to how these perceptions might be set to music then listen no further than ‘Slither, Soar & Disappear’ by guitar virtuoso Josh Kimbrough. Leading with his acoustic fingerpicking style backed by flowing strings and minimal percussion Kimbrough takes us into the woods and skies that lie beyond his North Carolina home. With the absence of any lyrics he strengthens that natural connection. Continue reading “Josh Kimbrough “Slither, Soar & Disappear” (Tompkins Square, 2020)”

Track Premiere: My Crooked Teeth “Something Decent”

My Crooked Teeth is the stage name of Oxford singer-songwriter Jack Olchawski.  His new single ‘Something Decent‘ is out this Friday, and acts as a companion piece to his last single ‘Something  Real‘.    From starting out on Oxford’s open mic circuit in 2014 My Crooked Teeth has  carried his folk-Americana as far as the Truck Festival in the UK and Tartu Indiefest in Estonia. Continue reading “Track Premiere: My Crooked Teeth “Something Decent””

Video: Ailbhe Reddy “Time Difference”

The Dublin singer-songwriter, Ailbhe Reddy, has released a personal song about the moment when you realise a relationship is ending and you’re beginning to move in a different direction from your partner.  The song came together in a Glasgow hotel room when the contrast of her own isolation and the bustling streets outside seemed to reflect her mood and relationship: a mixture of loneliness and excitement.  Continue reading “Video: Ailbhe Reddy “Time Difference””

AmericanA to Z: Jason Isbell

In Nik Cohn’s history of pop and rock Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, his chapter on The Beatles opens  “Next come the Fab Four, the Moptop Mersey Marvels, and this is the bit I’ve been dreading. I mean what is there possibly left to say about them?” And in Americana, these days, it’s easy to feel the same way when writing about Jason Isbell. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Jason Isbell”

Zach Phillips “The Wine of Youth” (Independent, 2020)

Noticing that his friends wanted something to listen to during quarantine, San Diego based singer-songwriter Zach Phillips decided to release ‘The Wine of Youth’ earlier than he first anticipated, but with his music described as ‘a hybrid of experimental roots and folk-rock, chamber pop and indie country’, you feel like this mismatch of styles don’t quite fit together throughout the album. Continue reading “Zach Phillips “The Wine of Youth” (Independent, 2020)”

Video Premiere: Our Man in the Field “Thin (I Used to be Bullet Proof)”

We are delighted to premiere the latest single from Our Man in the Field (also-known-as Alexander Ellis).  Ellis provides another lovely vocal performance on ‘Thin (I Used to be Bullet Proof)’, demonstrating his range, both musically and emotionally.  It’s the second single from the forthcoming debut album, due for release on 3rd July, and, once again, features fabulous performances from his brilliant band, especially the haunting pedal steel from Henry Senior.  Continue reading “Video Premiere: Our Man in the Field “Thin (I Used to be Bullet Proof)””