William the Conqueror “Bleeding on the Soundtrack” (Loose, 2019)

Opening with the hugely anthemic and frankly Coldplayesque ‘Path of the Crow’ William the Conqueror, the band project driven by singer-songwriter Raurri Joseph, seem to be making their bid for the big time in a very grand fashion. It’s open sky music with squealing guitars and a huge peeling melody line. However, this is a false dawn as the listener is immediately wrong-footed by ‘Thank Me Later’ a funky, jazzy walking narrative with half spoke/sung lyricism. It reminds of Paul Simon or Lou Reed but it is neither as it builds and builds.  Continue reading “William the Conqueror “Bleeding on the Soundtrack” (Loose, 2019)”

Songs for the apocalypse: Richard Shindell “State of the Union”

Richard Shindell writes songs that often break your heart more than once before the song has ended – this track taken from his ‘Not Far Now’ album from 2009 is one of those classic folk storytelling pieces that involves you with the character as much as a Raymond Carver short story, with the grand climax of the song focusing on one of Bush Jr’s state of the union addresses from the last years of his presidency: “The President’s up there grinning that grin, Thinking he’s some kind of John Wayne, We’re howling and jeering all his talk about shooting, And drilling our way out of this.” Lest we forget.

Bear’s Den are back with a new album and UK dates in April – Listen

Bear’s Den have announced details of their third studio album ‘So That You Might Hear Me’ which will be released on 26th April in the UK. The new record was recorded at several studios in Seattle with the producer Phil Ek (The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty) and was mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Metronomy). Continue reading “Bear’s Den are back with a new album and UK dates in April – Listen”

Folk icons Dervish’s Rounder debut features Steve Earle

As one of the most renowned and imaginative interpreters of Irish folk music (and one time Eurovision entry for Ireland), Dervish have devoted the last three decades to gently reinventing the traditional songs of their homeland. On their debut release for Rounder Records,‘The Great Irish Songbook’, the Sligo-based band join up with over a dozen other acts across an eclectic range of genres, including Steve Earle, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Brendan Gleeson, Jamey Johnson, Kate Rusby, The SteelDrivers and Abigail Washburn. Continue reading “Folk icons Dervish’s Rounder debut features Steve Earle”

The Delines + Dori Freeman @Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 27th January 2019

It’s not often that there are more novels than discs on a merch table at a gig but tonight there was an author, Willie Vlautin, on stage, one part of The Delines who produced a magnificent set of songs suffused with southern soul and bleak outlooks, broken hearts and broken fingers, drifters adrift in a sea of loneliness. Vlautin of course has forged a second career as a wordsmith with a couple of his books plucked by Hollywood but we first heard his words via Richmond Fontaine and with The Delines he has created another fabulous band. The story is that he had a bunch of songs he didn’t feel comfortable singing so he asked Amy Boone to step in which she did so excellently on their first album, ‘Colfax’. Disaster struck soon after when Boone was seriously injured in a car accident requiring lengthy rehab for her injuries and the band was put on furlough. Now, with Boone recovered sufficiently, the second album, ‘The Imperial’, is out and the band are on fire. Continue reading “The Delines + Dori Freeman @Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 27th January 2019”

Shirley Collins “Wondrous Love” – Listen

Decisions, decisions – what to do when the Americana Music Association Awards clashes with a hen’s-teeth rare outing by Shirley Collins at The Roundhouse?  That is the dilemma before us all – the cream of the Americana scene or one of the leading lights of the folk revival and actual noted American Roots song-collector (with Alan Lomax).  While we ponder this problem here’s a track from Shirley that was re-issued last year on ‘The Ballad of Shirley Collins‘.

Alex Chilton “From Memphis to New Orleans” & “Songs From Robin Hood Lane” (Bar None Records, 2019)

Now here’s a real treat – not one but two albums of previously unreleased tracks and forgotten gems from one of the great counter-culture musicians, Alex Chilton. Chilton was a true original and a great example of a musician who followed his own star rather than pursue simple commercial success. Starting out as a teenager he experienced stardom as vocalist for blue eyed soul band The Box Tops, whose early songs included compositions by great country soul writers Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn and Chilton retained a working relationship with Penn for much of his early career, being the voice that Penn preferred to demo his songs. Continue reading “Alex Chilton “From Memphis to New Orleans” & “Songs From Robin Hood Lane” (Bar None Records, 2019)”

What is this Americana thing anyway…?

This month long-serving staff writer Paul Kerr gives us the lowdown on his introduction to Americana: Jim Reeves was the country crooner of choice in my household as I was growing up and it wasn’t until my pimply adolescence that Top of The Pops and Alan Freeman’s top 20 countdown entered my life. Continue reading “What is this Americana thing anyway…?”

What is this Americana thing anyway… an introduction

Anybody who is a fan of the genre – by which we mean you our dear readers – is bound to have been asked at some point: “What kind of music do you like?” Your reply will have been “I really like Americana”. You will all, no doubt, have been met by the same blank faces or quizzical looks or maybe the classic question “What the hell is THAT?”. We’ve all been there. In this, a new occasional series, we attempt to get to the bottom of what the genre is (if indeed it is one thing) and how our particular love for it as writers for Americana-UK came about. As usual, your thoughts, comments and observations are warmly welcomed.