Book Review: Clinton Heylin “No One Else Could Play That Tune” (Route, 2018)

If, like many of us, you’re hoping a copy of Dylan’s “More Blood, More Tracks” might be among the presents awaiting your attention under the Christmas Tree, I suggest you drop the fat man in the red suit a little note, requesting this stocking filler as a late addition to the Christmas list. ‘No One Else Could Play That Tune’ is an outstanding piece of rock history. Writer Clinton Heylin has left no stone unturned in his attempt to bring us the definitive breakdown of the Blood on the Tracks recording sessions that resulted in Dylan’s 1974 masterpiece – and which, in turn, created the latest release in the highly acclaimed Bootleg Series. Continue reading “Book Review: Clinton Heylin “No One Else Could Play That Tune” (Route, 2018)”

Pick of the Political Pops: 2nd South Carolina String Band “Bonnie Blue Flag”

This week we didn’t think things in the political spectrum could get any more farcical. But they did. We like to think that this particular column is read with a healthy dose of scepticism and that regular readers appreciate the (occasionally) satirical nature of it. Things have now gone beyond satire though we feel. Even a scant analysis of the ‘European Problem’ would point out that we are in the mess we are because of divisions within the Blues. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: 2nd South Carolina String Band “Bonnie Blue Flag””

Joe Bourdet “Seamist”- Listen

A first listen to LA singer-songwriter Joe Bourdet’s new single is likely to bring to mind ‘Wolfking of LA‘ or ‘Topanga Canyon‘, perhaps leaning more to the latter as Joe Bourdet has more of Skip Battin’s laid back and accepting attitude than John Phillips’ rather barbed view of life.  ‘Seamist‘ has a dreamy floating guitar line,  gorgeous backing vocals and a message of accepting a change of circumstances.  The single is out to download and as a Limited Run 7″ on January 5th.

Rodney Crowell “Christmas Everywhere” (New West, 2018)

At last, a grown up Christmas album which acknowledges the conflicting demands of the season, how to weather the commercial blitzkrieg, keep the kids happy and keep oneself sane. Rodney Crowell’s Christmas album has been some years in the making with the man himself admitting that it’s not his favourite time of the year but that he’d always indulged his kids by making up “silly little Christmas songs that we’d sing around the house.” It was hearing Hayes Carll’s ‘Grateful For Christmas’, back in 2011, which “tweaked my creative curiosity. I began mulling over the idea of writing an album’s worth of original Christmas songs.” And so here we have Crowell’s contribution to the season’s excesses although it has to be said this is lean and nutritious, food for thought indeed as he peeks behind the tinsel. Continue reading “Rodney Crowell “Christmas Everywhere” (New West, 2018)”

Americana UK’s editor chooses his picks for 2018

It’s always weird writing about yourself in the third person, the ego of me, but then headlines without the accompanying cheery picture might leave people mystified.  Anyway, there’s my excuse. What a year it’s been for music, so many great tours and a real vibrancy to the genre – I’ll talk about that more next week when we’ll reveal our collaborative choices for 2018 (and yours too of course). In the meantime, here’s my top albums of the last 12 months. Continue reading “Americana UK’s editor chooses his picks for 2018”

Cam Penner and Jon Wood “At War With Reason” (Independent, 2018)

You know an album’s made an instant impression when your first response on reaching the end of the last song is to immediately give the record a second airing, as well as committing to take the time to discover the artists’ back catalogue. Such is the case with Cam Penner and Jon Wood’s ‘At War With Reason.’ Almost impossible to pigeonhole musically, the whole ensemble makes more sense once you realise that Cam Penner listens almost exclusively to hip-hop, soul and electronica because he doesn’t want his creativity to be unduly influenced by other Americana artists.  Continue reading “Cam Penner and Jon Wood “At War With Reason” (Independent, 2018)”

George St Clair “Ballads of Captivity and Freedom” (Independent, 2018)

It is probably no surprise that singer-songwriters and balladeers will often draw their inspiration from the world in which they hail. Although now living in the UK, George St Clair hails from the high plains of Texas and, after twenty years as a professional archaeologist and anthropologist, it is those roots that is the stimulus for ‘Ballads of Captivity and Freedom’. Continue reading “George St Clair “Ballads of Captivity and Freedom” (Independent, 2018)”

Steve Brockley “A Fire, the Cold to Fight” – Listen

Drummer Steve Brockley relocated from Montreal to the mountains of British Columbia and set about making a stripped back folk-influenced rocking sound.  Thought obviously spring towards The Band, and there is some of that wide-open spaces, big vistas feel to this song which, paradoxically, celebrates a cosiness against the wilder elements of the world.  ‘A Fire, the Cold to Fight‘ is taken from the album ‘Is not was‘ which is out January 25th.