Jonathan Wilson, Omeara, London, 19th March 2018

Omeara is a fairly new venue south of the river, not very far south, and in quite a hip area with a sizeable presence of pubs and cafes close by. Inside the performance space is bijou, with a capacity of around 350, and it’s well laid out with several slightly different levels ensuring pretty good sightlines. The decor is tastefully distressed – with the fresh paint work carefully replicating paintwork that has been scuffed up by the years of punters that have yet to pass through the doors. Continue reading “Jonathan Wilson, Omeara, London, 19th March 2018”

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers “Years” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)

Following on from their great success and widely-acclaimed debut ‘Sidelong’ released in 2015 which led to the band being signed to Chicago-based Bloodshot Records, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers have returned with their own sophomore effort ‘Years’. The record wastes no time in getting started with opening track ‘Good As Gold’ which is an upbeat number driven by acoustic guitar, rumbling drums and front-woman Sarah Shook’s unique, southern voice and with a true ear worm of a chorus, the right song was chosen to open up the record and set the tone for what is to follow. Continue reading “Sarah Shook & The Disarmers “Years” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)”

Bennett Wilson Poole, Betsey Trotwood, London, 22nd March 2018

Much has been written about “the power of three.” Apparently it’s something to do with the evolution of the brain and how much easier it is for humans to grasp the concept of ‘threes.’  This notion certainly endures in storytelling, whether it’s in The Three Musketeers, The Three Amigos, or The Three Stooges. Whilst there’s nothing slapstick about the Americana supergroup, Bennett Wilson Poole, there’s still plenty of between song humour and bonhomie with this trio, who are debuting their eponymous album over three nights (coincidence?) at the Betsey Trotwood. Indeed, there are times during the evening when the band appear to be having the time of their lives, riffing off each in humorous as well as musical ways. This magical collaboration have all made significant individual contributions to the UK Americana scene for a long time now – Danny Wilson in Grand Drive and the Champions of the World, Robin Bennett in the Dreaming Spires, Goldrush, and St. Etienne, while Tony Poole, producer supremo, used to play in the critically acclaimed but short-lived band, Starry Eyed & Laughing. Continue reading “Bennett Wilson Poole, Betsey Trotwood, London, 22nd March 2018”

Album premiere: Great Peacock “Gran Pavo Real”

‘Gran Pavo Real’ is the forthcoming LP from Nashville-based Americana outfit Great Peacock, The follow up to their 2015 debut ‘Making Ghosts’, it was recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium by industry stalwart Dexter Green (Jason Isbell, Elizabeth Cooke, Derek Hoke) and RS Country rated them as one of the bands you need to know last month. God they are bossy at RS. Lead singer Andrew Nelson told AUK: “The music for ‘Gran Pavo Real’, Great Peacock in Spanish, came together really fast. When it was time to record we didn’t have a full-time bass player, so we invited Tom Blankenship from My Morning Jacket to come in and record one song with us. He liked it so much, he stayed on and played on all the other songs too. After that, everything just kept falling into place and we landed a record deal with Rope-A-Dope. The feedback we have gotten so far has been amazing and such a thrill.”

Khari Wendell McClelland “Song Of The Agitators” – Listen

Taken from Khari Wendell McClelland’s new album ‘Freedom Singer’ which has re-arranged and re-invigorated a set of songs that were contemporary with his great-great-great-grandmother’s escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad.  Some are quite well know – like ‘No More Auction Block’ – but others are being dragged from historical obscurity and given a shining new coat of paint and presented once more as a reminder of just how hard life could be in the Land of the Free only 150 or so years ago.

Don McLean “Botanical Gardens” (BMG, 2018)

Is it possible to review any release by Don McLean without reference to the past and how long it has been since those classic songs that made his name? The answer, of course, is absolutely not. The curse of providing the world with classic songs is that everything will subsequently be compared to them. ‘Botanical Gardens’ is McLean’s 19th studio album and his first in eight years. Continue reading “Don McLean “Botanical Gardens” (BMG, 2018)”

AmericanA to Z: Acres and Acres

Half forgotten bands, albums that slipped away – that’s what this part of the site is about.  Canada’s Acres and Acres were one of the first bands, possibly the actual first, that I reviewed a CD for back in the distant days of Americana-UK (but not the dim and distant days – that was before my time). They were basically a duo of Kris Pope and Dave Scolten at the time, although they were ably supported by friends on their debut recording ‘All Nations’. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Acres and Acres”

Tar and Flowers “Indian Summer” (Independent, 2018)

A debut record from the greener, non-plastic reaches of greater Los Angeles. Principally it’s the musical labours of Taylor Hungerford, assisted by French born sidekick Wolf Kroeger. Between them, they’ve cooked up something quite noteworthy. Hungerford’s voice is a half-asleep, folky woozy drawl. There’s influence from a Fleet Foxes or Felice-esque vocal sound perhaps, though Hungerford brings his own distinct flavours to the party. Continue reading “Tar and Flowers “Indian Summer” (Independent, 2018)”

Louis Brennan “Dead Capital” (Independent, 2018)

Painful, searing lyrics, darkness so bleak you feel you’ll never find a way out, but then laugh out loud moments that are life-affirming in their intensity. Such are the contradictions in this offering, as rich and dark as Irish stout from this London-based Dubliner and just as satisfying for those thirsting for originality and individuality in recorded output. Having grown disillusioned with his job, Brennan quit and started to write songs based on the comings and goings he observed in Victoria Park, London. The emptiness of spirit he identified led him to the theme and title of this album, Dead Capital. Deep, simmering vocals eke out tales of self-loathing and despair, with an almost symmetric beauty to cushion the blow, as in opener ‘Airport Hotel’. Continue reading “Louis Brennan “Dead Capital” (Independent, 2018)”