Swimming Bell “Wild Sight” (Adventure Club Records, 2019)

Swimming Bell is the solo project of Brooklyn based Katie Schottland, ‘Wild Sight’ the debut album following her ‘The Golden Heart’ EP in 2017. That this gentle music carries nothing of the metropolis is perhaps explained by much of its creation being in the UK with collaborator and producer Oli Deacon (Lowpines), including a spell in Leeds last winter. When Schottland was incapacitated by a broken foot in 2015, she picked up an acoustic and started to play by learning Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’, and some of these tracks are so spaciously produced that you can almost hear that brush on the village dance floor, a gust of wind in ‘Quietly Calling’ for instance. Continue reading “Swimming Bell “Wild Sight” (Adventure Club Records, 2019)”

Songs for the apocalypse: Loudon Wainwright III “Pretty Good Day”

In 1999 Loudon Wainwright released an album which was comprised of various topical and satirical songs, originally produced for National Public Radio and based upon then-current issues and events, such as the Tonya Harding scandal, the O. J. Simpson murder trial, and the lead-up to Y2K. The last track on it was perhaps the most evocative and it hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I heard it, a satire on the ordinariness of life without war which many in the West take for granted: “I turned the tap, there was cold there was hot. I put on my coat to go to the shop. I stepped outside, and I didn’t get shot. It’s a pretty good day so far.”  It still resonates today, perhaps more than ever in these frightening times.

Matthew Logan Vasquez “Light’n Up” (Dine Alone, 2019)

‘Light’n Up’ is the third solo album from Texas singer-songwriter and former Delta Spirit frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez. It sees him take a considerable turn in the road to follow a new direction away from the largely hard rocking approach of its predecessors. The album is far more lyrically driven and far more varied musically. It is a very introspective and personal album, written during a challenging time for Vasquez. Continue reading “Matthew Logan Vasquez “Light’n Up” (Dine Alone, 2019)”

Jim Lauderdale announces new record “From Another World”

Yep Roc Records have announced details of a new album from americana legend Jim Lauderdale ‘From Another World’ which arrives intergalactically on June 21st. It’s preceded by the first track to be taken from it ‘The Secrets of the Pyramids’ which you can watch the video for below, described as “a progressive take on traditional country, the mysteries of the human heart and the eternal, never-ending search for greater love and understanding.” The track includes harmonies from Third Man country singer-songwriter Lillie Mae and her brother Frank Rische, and the video co-stars Nashville-based singer-songwriter Elizabeth Cook and is directed by Australian filmmaker Jeremy Dylan. Continue reading “Jim Lauderdale announces new record “From Another World””

C2C Country To Country, 02, London, 10th March 2019

The passion for some forms of modern country music is well and truly alive in the UK. This touring festival of Country/Americana acts which travels to the UK and around the world once per year is a much bigger affair than I had imagined it to be. It is the perfect PR machine for the brand. The 02 is an impressive venue and the atmosphere was friendly and positive. These fans, many in checked shirts and hats, clearly love their music and in some respects this is a perfect opportunity to see some of the biggest names in Country playing in one of the UK’s largest venues. For those that attend C2C, country music takes many forms. The large majority of the acts are not country in the traditional form. What is on display is the genre in its more modern form – a sound that is both commercialised and tinged with pop Americana. The stories of the songs haven’t changed, however. The themes of the songs are still of the road, lost love, whiskey and women. Continue reading “C2C Country To Country, 02, London, 10th March 2019”

Megg Farrell “Megg Farrell & Friends” (Independent, 2019)

It’s easy to imagine you are listening to a live set in a smoky dive bar in the French Quarter, New Orleans when you hear ‘Megg Farrell & Friends.’ Led by Brooklyn-based Megg Farrell, the album is a mix of covers and originals set to a mix of jazz, ragtime and country. Farrell has a strong, bluesy voice reminiscent of Billie Holiday and it comes through in songs like ‘New Orleans Waltz’ and ‘New York Love Song.’  Obvious in both these song topics is her attachment to place and her bio indicates she’s travelled the length and breadth of the USA as well as living a while in Paris, France. Continue reading “Megg Farrell “Megg Farrell & Friends” (Independent, 2019)”

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul “Superfly Terraplane” – Listen

Steve Van Zandt – Little Steven – is what we like to call a legend.  See his body of work and despair at your own achievements.  At the moment he’s reviving his own band – the Disciples of Soul, they toured the UK last year, they have a new album – ‘Summer of Sorcery‘ – out the first week of May and they are kicking some on this song.  A proper rock band with a sizeable horn section for that soul sweetening, they power through this track mocking the squares as they go “My generation ain’t pussys we don’t need guns to have a blast, take that second amendment and stick it up your arse“.

Various Artists “3 x 4” (Yep Roc, 2018)

Ah, those heady days of the Paisley Underground, a music scene which even when observed from across the ocean offered an alternative to the prevailing pop-scene that dominated the UK music charts. ‘3 x 4‘ offers up a kind of re-visitation of those days, observed through a distorting glass, as the various artists – The Bangles (originally The Bangs), The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade – each take on a track originally recorded by the other three bands. ‘3 x 4‘ was originally released as a double vinyl LP set on Record Store Day 2018, so it’s not an entirely new release, but it’s a significant enough one that it is worth noting now that it has at last been given a CD release. Continue reading “Various Artists “3 x 4” (Yep Roc, 2018)”

Van Life – William the Conqueror

West country trio William The Conqueror have been making steady inroads on the Americana scene for a few years now with their latest album ‘Bleeding On The Soundtrack’ just released on Loose Music. Headed by singer-songwriter Ruarri Joseph, who released a number of albums ten years ago under his own name and was quite a favourite on the folk scene, William The Conqueror are altogether a different beast.  Blues-driven riffs, building beautifully to full-on glorious crescendos, this is a band that utilises all three musicians to their full potential. Their sound is simple yet completely mesmeric. There is a certain bond between these guys that has clearly been built on the road. Americana UK asks Joseph how things shape up as the miles pass.  Continue reading “Van Life – William the Conqueror”