Back in December Mr Alec Bowman wrote a piece for AUK exposing the shameful state of payments to artists from the streaming services. He said then “I love Bandcamp for being able to buy vinyl from smaller artists who make physical records, and I do buy MP3 albums… because I’m happy to throw a tenner at someone who made a great album then stream it.” And you should too. You can find better than half the albums reviewed at AUK on Bandcamp but here in no particular order is a selection of the Americana currently on Bandcamp that you might have missed.
As I write this in late January 2021 the number one Americana album on Bandcamp. What’s he doing on Bandcamp? Making a living. Part of a series of live albums he has put out on the platform. The rocking ‘Cumberland Gap’ that is available to stream will have you reaching for the pay button. Also, worth trying is the Live at The Ryman that features the version of the same song in this video.
When AUK reviewed her 2019 album ‘Gypsy’ our Gordon Sharpe called it “a varied and interesting set”. The same could be said of this 2007 album. The jazzy ‘High Shelf Booze’ is the highlight, but ‘Rich Man’s World’ and ‘Heartache Boulevard’ are the others to preview. You can buy her whole nine album catalogue for around £50, well worth it.
By way of contrast a mostly acoustic E.P. Featuring the violin of Abby Gundersen prominently throughout this dates back to 2009. The six gentle reflective songs here are certainly worth your attention. If you want listen to one try ‘Caroline’.
AUK featured her single ‘A Long December’ recently but this album from earlier in 2020 is just as good. ‘The Last Cowboy (at the Bowling Alley)’ a vaguely Spanish sounding song opens the album and sets the tone for a quality set of varied styles. The rockier ‘Tuesday’ and pedal steel of ‘Maybe You’d Hear Me Then’ are as good as anything released last year.
This album starts its musical journey with the Byrds circa ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’. Recorded at a local festival in Emigrant MT this is typical of the sort of treasure that can be unearthed on Bandcamp with a bit of digging beneath the charts. It’s never going to set the world alight but is absolutely worth the price of admission.
Searching “Folk” as well as ”Americana” on Bandcamp produces some gold. This 2017 album is North Carolina, by way of Galway folk and is one of those albums that when you have spent time with it you can’t imagine how you missed it first time round.
Scottish singer songwriter Drever has “a two hour primer of some of the greatest songs and tunes” from his catalogue released as an exclusive Bandcamp download item. Thirty songs for a tenner is a bargain. I wasn’t familiar with Drever but he’s turned out to be another great Bandcamp find.
While not entirely my cup of tea Field medic has worked away for a number of releases now. His latest describes itself as “Part mixtape, part album, part collection, part musical patchwork quilt.” And: “It’s a reflection of his unique approach to song writing and a creative drive that can’t be contained to the traditional album format”. As an illustration of the range of music being produced in loosely our corner of the musical forest you need to at least give it a try.
Further down the Americana rabbit hole is this 2016 album. Another USA with Irish roots record. ‘There is a Fire’. Not wildly original with a bit of Americana by numbers about it, this is still a good, fun listen that as a “name your price” download (that doesn’t mean grab it for free) has to go on the wish list.
We finish with another Scottish singer. Sturgeon’s album from October last year is part of an audio visual project based on a book by Nan Shepherd which was a memoir of her life in the Cairngorms. This is quite wonderful music, and when combined with the images is great immersive experience. Listen on headphones for the best effect.