Ady Johnson “London Songs” (Independent, 2018)

It isn’t often that a record reminds the listener of Ray Davies, Mark Linkous and Tom Waits, as this one does. It has the lyrical sensibility of Davies, the clatter and oomph of Waits at his most extravagant and it has the shifts in tone, the juxtaposition of the abrasive and the beautiful as mastered by Sparklehorse. This eclecticism raises it above the usual level, enabling him to use bold swipes like the way the brass slashes across ‘Problems of Your Own’, changing the arc of the song. And how many are brave enough to use the bullfrog rumble of the tuba as Johnson does on ‘Put the World on Standby.’ Continue reading “Ady Johnson “London Songs” (Independent, 2018)”

Pick of the Political Pops: Marty Robbins “Big Iron”

Lately we were horrified to find that Americana-UK Towers had been visited by a host of unwanted visitors. In short we had a vermin problem. Rats. Big ones. Big, horrible nasty, sharp teethed Johnnies with scaly tails and a poor attitude to other people’s personal space. We presented the problem to The Editor and his “brilliant” solution was to send in more rats so that all the rats could kill the rats and then there would be no more rats. We were uncertain of his logic and indeed the state of his mental health so we hired the services of local Pest Controller Donny John who was happy to go in and tackle the problem. So gung ho was he that he insisted in going in without so much as a sharp stick to defend himself. Eventually we persuaded him to at least take a shotgun borrowed from the organic farmer up the road. All was well and the only payment he required was a pint of sweet sherry and a rendition of this on our jukebox.

New Josh Rouse out next month, new track out today

Josh Rouse today releases ‘Salton Sea’ online (listen below dear reader), the third track off Rouse’s new album ‘Love in the Modern Age’, which comes out April 13th on the Yep Roc label. Calling the album “a sterling collection that is joyous, upbeat and, most importantly, feels completely authentic,” Forbes website said: “There is no retro gimmick to Love in the Modern Age. This is a masterful storyteller celebrating the nostalgia of his youth with his own feel.”  Continue reading “New Josh Rouse out next month, new track out today”

Arcelia “Building On The Land” (How Now 2018)

In Old Spanish, Arcelia means “treasure chest” which is a good way of describing the outstanding musicianship and variety of this album. Arcelia are a trio consisting of Gavin Alexander on guitar and vocals; Teresa Gallager on vocals; and Simon Foster on keys, cajon and vocals. They are supported, mostly, by Perry White on piano and Martin Elliott on bass. The first track, ‘Fallen,’ written by Gavin Alexander and Cat Bloomfield, with whom he has penned many songs, sets the tone perfectly for the collection. The implied depth of meaning “Fallen, fallen, but got up again” has a sustaining force, maintained by its harmonies. Continue reading “Arcelia “Building On The Land” (How Now 2018)”

Jane Allison “Methylene Blue” (Horus Music Limited 2017)

Just occasionally, an album comes along where almost from the first note the music just reaches out, wraps itself around you and reaches deep into your very soul. With her second album, Methylene Blue, Aberystwyth born Jane Allison takes the foundations laid down in her earlier music and has crafted an album of unexpected maturity and simple beauty that enchants and delights from start to finish.  Continue reading “Jane Allison “Methylene Blue” (Horus Music Limited 2017)”

Rich Hall’s Hoedown, Cambridge Corn Exchange, 27th February 2018

Now in its second year the City Roots Festival continues along a path already taken by its elder sibling the Cambridge Folk Festival in that it takes a fairly broad definition of what represents Roots. And music. On the opening weekend there had been a World Music opener – with Sona Jobarteh and then Chouk Bwa Libete and on the same night as Rich Hall the folk music fan would have been torn by the knowledge that McGoldrick, McCusker and Doyle had hot footed it from their recent touring with the Transatlantic Sessions and were playing just a little way down the road from the Corn Exchange. It’s a truism that if one didn’t have to pick then it wouldn’t be a really good festival line-up. Continue reading “Rich Hall’s Hoedown, Cambridge Corn Exchange, 27th February 2018”

Ivan Moult “Lay Me Down” – Listen

When Winston Churchill felt the heavy hand of depression falling on him he would bestir himself and build a wall – bricklaying was his distraction. And whiskey in copious amounts.  Ivan Moult has a different cure for the “black dog”:  the pursuit of vice and philandering.  The second single from Moult’s upcoming album ‘Longest Shadow’ deals with this bleak subject matter – whilst trying to recall that there’s light around the corner in even the darkest of times.


Folk heroes Alvin and Gilmore unite for new album – June

Friends for over three decades, it took Dave Alvin, the founder of seminal punk roots band Alvin and the Chipmunks The Blasters, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, of the pioneering country-folk trio The Flatlanders, until last year to collaborate at long last. Embarking on a spontaneous twelve-city tour, the two veterans of the road found a mutual love of New Orleans Rhythm & Blues, Texas and West Coast Country Music, traditional folk and early Rock n Roll. Their duo sets could drift from Merle Hagard to Sam Cooke to the Youngbloods, and the pair apparently had so much fun they began planning a record as soon as the tour wrapped. Continue reading “Folk heroes Alvin and Gilmore unite for new album – June”

Nathaniel Bellows “Swan and Wolf” (Independent 2018)

Polymath Bellows has released an album and accompanying art work designed to give the listener a whole artistic experience. This reviewer is fairly unimpressed. In order to arrest the attention of an audience, an artist needs to corral some fairly random items but principally we need decent songs and production that highlights the source material in an appropriate way which reflects the artist’s intentions and gives the potential listener a way of accessing the deeper meanings and understandings to be gleaned from the art. [this is possibly the longest sentence ever written on this site – Ed] Continue reading “Nathaniel Bellows “Swan and Wolf” (Independent 2018)”