Neal Casal “Too Far to Fall” – Listen

We leave you this weekend dear readers with a track from the late Neal Casal who died earlier this week at the age of 50. Americana has had its fair share of losses in recent months and this was one of the most painful. Neal Casal was part of what got me into americana in the first place after hearing a song on Uncut’s ‘New Sounds of the Old West’ compilation in the 90s and I remember being on holiday in France a couple of summers later where the only music I took with me was his. It was this track though from 2006’s ‘No Wish To Reminisce’ album which has stayed with me ever since I first heard it as one of my favourite songs of all time. God that man could write. RIP Neal.

Jeremy Squires “Poem” (Independent, 2019)

North Carolina’s Jeremy Squires has been battling his personal demons for the past few years by writing songs – they’ve helped him to overcome depression and anxiety. His previous releases, including 2017’s ‘Collapse’, have recounted his struggle with mental health issues, and his latest, ‘Poem’, which is his fifth album, also isn’t afraid to deal with the darker side of life. Continue reading “Jeremy Squires “Poem” (Independent, 2019)”

Best of Billy Bragg at the BBC due next month

A lot of Bs for one headline. Billy Bragg has announced the release of ‘Best Of Billy Bragg At The BBC 1983 – 2019’, a compilation of classic performances at the BBC from the early 80s through to the present, on digital,  CD (20 Sept) and vinyl (15th Nov) on the Cooking Vinyl label.  The album will be fully remastered and feature many previously unreleased tracks, includes selected highlights from sessions for John Peel, David Jensen, Janice Long, Phill Jupitus, Bob Harris and Tom Robinson. It promises to “offer a fascinating chronological perspective on the development of one of the UK’s most beloved entertainers.” Continue reading “Best of Billy Bragg at the BBC due next month”

Israel Nash + Leslie Stevens, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 26th August 2019

Coming to the end of a long series of tours promoting his latest album ‘Lifted’, Israel Nash and his road warriors are by now fully blooded and it showed tonight as they treated this audience to a magnificent 90 minutes of epic sounds. Freely trading on his Neil Young comparisons, Nash adds a splendid dollop of cosmic American music consciousness to his songs allowing them to spiral well beyond any accusations of being a mere copycat. There were moments tonight when the mesh of pedal steel, blissful guitar and glowering rythyms just about blew your head away. Continue reading “Israel Nash + Leslie Stevens, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 26th August 2019”

Joe Pug “The Flood In Color” (Nation of Heat Records, 2019)

In what is turning into a vintage year for quiet reflective music we now have Joe Pug’s new album ‘The Flood In Color‘. Don’t be fooled by the sleeve which looks like something from a 1970’s Blue Note album, this is sepia-tinted acoustic music. What Crosby Stills and Nash would have called wooden music. With only one song coming in over three minutes and several closer to two, this is an album of vignettes. Brief stories backed mostly by acoustic guitar and harmonica with splashes of colour from strings, Hammond organ and accordion. Continue reading “Joe Pug “The Flood In Color” (Nation of Heat Records, 2019)”

Pick of the political pops: Steve Earle “John Walker’s Blues”

In a week where it seems like there’s almost nothing new under the sun to say about Brexit that hasn’t been said a million times over, in today’s Pops we cast our minds back to the turn of the century. Steve Earle caused considerable outrage by writing a sympathetic song for John Walker Lindh, the infamous lone American member of the Taliban. “Twisted ballad honours Tali-rat,” was the headline in the New York Post, while Steve Gill, a Rush Limbaugh-style radio host, said that the song put Earle “in the same category as Jane Fonda, John Walker and all those people who hate America”. Earle told The Guardian that “I became acutely aware that what happened to him could have happened to my son, and your son, and anybody’s son. Nobody in my country wanted to admit that. It’s one of the most American stories I’ve ever heard.”

Stuart Smith “The Sun EP” (Independent, 2019)

Stepping into 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, not to take a tour but to actually record your own songs, takes a special kind of nerve. Yet as Stuart Smith points out on his website, “There’s intimidation in that for sure, but there’s also a freedom in knowing that nothing you do will ever compare. So you can just do you.” Indeed, standing where everyone from Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to Howlin’ Wolf and Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm stood can be overwhelming, but it’s undoubtedly inspiring. Continue reading “Stuart Smith “The Sun EP” (Independent, 2019)”

Justin Roeland “Desolation” – Listen

On ‘Desolation‘, taken from his most recent album ‘Doomed to bloom‘, Justin Roeland mixes Byrdsian jangle-rock with a fuzzed and phased up dream-like sensibility.   The song is imbued with the inevitability of change and development – w don’t have the luxury or even the option of staying as we are.  But hey, just remember that not all change is bad.

John Paul White returns to the UK for dates next week

Grammy Award winner and ex-Civil War-er (er..) John Paul White released his new solo album ‘The Hurting Kind’ earlier this year via Single Lock Records. Our reviewer kind of said “meh” to it but he may just have got out of bed the wrong side. In any case JP returns to the UK next week with a string of dates in London, Bristol and Canterbury, plus an appearance at The Long Road Festival. Continue reading “John Paul White returns to the UK for dates next week”