Ana Egge “Is It the Kiss” (SoundStory, 2019)

When you’ve shared the stage with the likes of John Prine and James McMurtry; when Steve Earle says that it’s like you’re telling us your “deepest darkest secrets”; When Iris DeMent shows up to help you cover a Diana Jones tune . . . you’ve been doing something right. After twelve years, ten albums, and a sizeable pile of awards and accolades, Ana Egge isn’t hitting her stride – she’s grabbing another gear. The songs on “Is It the Kiss”, her 11th album, exhibit a mastery of the craft even as she continues to push the boundaries of her own abilities as a songwriter.
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Nicholas Altobelli “Vertigo” (Dalton Records, 2019)

“My name Nicholas. I write sad songs”. It’s an honest salutation written by the man himself on his Bandcamp page. And if first impressions stick, it seems to be the light in which Altobelli feels comfortable being illuminated; read past interviews and a certain self-deprecating melancholy figures almost as much as people conversant with his music throw in Woody Guthrie as a comparison and reference point. Continue reading “Nicholas Altobelli “Vertigo” (Dalton Records, 2019)”

Forgotten Artists – Steve Goodman

Every so often the world of roots music will deliver an outstanding talent – a Robert Johnson or a Bob Dylan – someone who really makes everyone sit up and take notice, someone you know will be a game-changer. And, every so often, there will be a talent who never quite gets the acknowledgement he/she deserves, someone who might have been a game-changer but who leaves us before the big spotlight can properly illuminate them. One such talent was Steven Benjamin Goodman, an American folk musician and songwriter from Chicago. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Steve Goodman”

Padraig Jack “Minnie” – Listen

Born on the largest of the Aran Islands, multilingual Padraig Jack is a singer-songwriter who claims influences including James Taylor, Van Morrison, Paul Brady and The Eagles.  ‘Minnie‘ is a love song, of sorts, as the titular protagonist goes from an unhappy marriage to an older man through an affair with the narrator to finding real love when he gets cold feet. Continue reading “Padraig Jack “Minnie” – Listen”

Songs for the apocalypse: The Sadies “Northumberland West”

There was a time when Toronto quarter The Sadies used to tour the UK as regular as clockwork, which made them one of those bands you could see in venues that weren’t several train rides away, and also one of those bands I could take my dad to see as they occasionally did Motörhead covers. The track ‘Northumberland West’ was the opener to their stupendous ‘Favourite Colours’ album from around a decade ago (a title which reminded people they weren’t American) and arguably the finest Hank Marvin-esque instrumental in their back catalogue. If you’ve never seen the Sadies live you are missing out on one of the eight wonders of the world.

Clever Square “Clever Square” (Bronson Recordings, 2019)

Described as the Italian golden boys of American indie rock by their totally unbiased record label, Clever Square main man Giacomo D’Attore has pulled together a new band following the original version’s split in 2015. D’Attore is unambiguous in citing US indie rock as his inspiration and this eponymously titled new album certainly does take a nod in that direction. And all without a hint of an Italian accent. Continue reading “Clever Square “Clever Square” (Bronson Recordings, 2019)”

Book Review – Oliver Gray “Banjo On My Knee: Music Travels In The American South” (Sarsen Press, 2019)

Aside from being a music promoter and author, Oliver Gray is Americana UK’s very own version of Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent with his annual missives from Austin’s South By Southwest Festival. Surprisingly, for a man whose CV as a promoter is a veritable smorgasbord of vital Americana acts, Gray had never visited Nashville but on the occasion of his 70th year decided that it was time to attend the annual Nashville based Americanafest and follow that up with a road trip through the south taking in some essential sights and places. Banjo On My Knee is his equivalent of a “what I did on my holidays” report and is delivered in a fine, low key style, detailing his adventures but equally revealing on the foibles and phobias of this quintessential Englishman abroad. Continue reading “Book Review – Oliver Gray “Banjo On My Knee: Music Travels In The American South” (Sarsen Press, 2019)”

Josh Rennie-Hynes “Patterns” (Soundly Music, 2019)

After making a name for himself in his native Australia, Josh Rennie-Hynes upped sticks from his home in Queensland and – upon being granted the impressive Nashville Songwriters Residency grant by the Australian Council for the Arts – made Music City USA his permanent base and where he would record his third solo record. The opening lines of the album (from the track ‘Standing Still’) feel like Rennie-Hynes is speaking to himself of the importance of pushing his creative and geological boundaries: “Oh my love you won’t / Ever find the things you want / If you don’t trust yourself once in a while.” Continue reading “Josh Rennie-Hynes “Patterns” (Soundly Music, 2019)”

Mark Martyre “Wait” – Listen

Gravel voiced singer Mark Martyre opens this song from his new album ‘Light Years‘ with the words ‘snow blows sideways, I spend another season alone‘, which might seem unseasonable but with the weather we’ve had so far this summer, well, who knows?  Mark Martyre found that ‘Light Years‘ opened and closed with winter-tinged songs, although this was unplanned.  The song reflects on places Martre has called home, and on the love that was lost when moving on. Continue reading “Mark Martyre “Wait” – Listen”