Something for the weekend: Taylor Swift “Betty”

Well that’s it for another week dear reader. It’s our last weekend of freedom here in the People’s Republic of Liverpool before we go into a local lockdown, but there’s so much exciting music coming up online the idea of hibernation doesn’t seem quite so dismal. We leave you anyway with an unusual name for Americana UK but it’s unusual to see Taylor Swift playing country these days so hey, we can make an exception, particularly when the song is this good. Swift performed ‘Betty’ to a more or less empty Grand Ole Opry at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards and her voice is in as fine fettle as it’s ever been. The song (not a tribute to Frank Spencer, what a missed opportunity) is taken from her recent indie-folk album ‘Folklore’ which was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner among others. Normal service will be resumed next week. Have a good one.

Interview: Norwegian Malin Pettersen on americana and Ella FitzGerald

Norway only has a population of 5.3 million people, but it has an impressive musical heritage which includes Norwegian folk, jazz with internationally recognised artists such as Jan Garbarek, classical and modern classical music ranging from Edward Grieg to Arne Nordheim and Norwegian Black Metal has been an international influence since the late ‘90s . All this goes to show there is more to Scandinavian music than just Abba. What may be surprising to those not in the know, is that the 2000 film, ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’, sowed the seed for a local americana music scene to develop. This scene has continued to grow over the years and now has it’s own sub-genre, Nordicana.  Malin Pettersen is one such artist. She started her career in 2018 Continue reading “Interview: Norwegian Malin Pettersen on americana and Ella FitzGerald”

Delta Spirit “What Is There” (New West, 2020)

This is a bit of a surprise. Delta Spirit released their fourth album, ‘Into The Wide’, in 2014 to general critical acclaim and  some commercial success. Since then, vocalist and co-founder Matthew Logan Vasquez has released three solo albums and it was assumed Delta Spirit were no more, though they had not officially announced they had disbanded.  It is not clear why the band have re-activated their career, though their publicity states that they brought “..with them the change of perspective and inspiration gathered from exploring other creative avenues” following their variety of solo work. Continue reading “Delta Spirit “What Is There” (New West, 2020)”

Americana Roots: Jon Stickley Trio

Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US. It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores. The Jon Stickley Trio, an acoustic-trio from North Carolina, delivers an inventive approach to bluegrass disguised with musical experimentation that straddles the chasm between the traditional and the progressive with a powerful grace. Continue reading “Americana Roots: Jon Stickley Trio”

Video Premiere: Matthew McDaid “Look Away Sun Child”

Matthew McDaid was born and raised in Northern Ireland but moved with his family to the Barcelona region in 2005.  In recent years, he has been building a reputation as one of the finest musicians on Spain’s Americana and folk circuit where his work is released on Joana Serrat’s Grand Canyon Records.  His debut full-length release, ‘Off the Beaten Track’, was well-received internationally and was shared at New York’s International Americana Music Show as one of the highlights of 2017. Continue reading “Video Premiere: Matthew McDaid “Look Away Sun Child””

Fay Hield “Wrackline” (Topic Records, 2020)

On her new release Fay Hield digs deep into folksong’s mystical world – the songs of spirits, usually malicious and malevolent, dark deeds and supernatural consequences. It’s a theme that is captured to perfection from the opening song ‘Hare Spell‘ which turns the magic of transmutation as recorded in Isobel Gowdie’s witch trial confessions of 1662 into a hauntingly rivetting song. With a directness free of shame or guilt Fay Hield sings of becoming various animals, with a confirming chorus “I go to the Devil in the Devil’s name / And stay ’til I come home again“. Continue reading “Fay Hield “Wrackline” (Topic Records, 2020)”

Pick of the Political Pops: Steve Earle “Amerika v6.0 (The Best We Can Do)”

Recently at Americana UK Towers we set up the cine projector and had our weekly ‘film night’ where we come together as one and enjoy a movie. We had a high old time each with their bottle of over strength spirit in one hand and vegan snack of meadow grass flavoured chickpea crisps in the other. It was truly remarkable – holding hands and disavowing the existence of an interventionist god as a precursor to the main event, smelling each other’s hands to check for ‘that’ hand sanitizer aroma and knowing therefore that we were free from virus spreading guilt and promising to love one another regardless of what we had said about our fellows via private messaging in the preceding days of the week. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Steve Earle “Amerika v6.0 (The Best We Can Do)””

Screaming Orphans “Sunshine and Moss” (Independent, 2020)

This Irish girl-band; Angela (bass, violin, vocals), Gráinne (guitar, vocals), Joan (Drums, vocals)  and Marie-Thérèse Diver (keys, accordion vocals), were formerly known as the Diver Sisters during the years they performed extensively with their mother, American born Kathleen Fitzgerald. The Screaming Orphans, as renamed in the mid-’90s after reaching their teenage years and deciding to go it alone, tour extensively throughout Europe and America where they are best known for their original brand of melodic and timeless pop songs. However, having been born and bred Celtic singers and musicians, the sisters easily step back into their traditional style and sound with a natural sentiment and effortlessly give their modern take on this collection of classic works. Continue reading “Screaming Orphans “Sunshine and Moss” (Independent, 2020)”

Jeff Karoub “Breathe for Those Denied” – Listen

Jeff Karoub has completed his lockdown project ‘Isolation Hymns‘, which he’ originally conceived as a four-song EP.  It’d cover some of the feelings and observations from the global health emergency.  And then things developed in the USA in ways that no-one had imagined, as spark after spark was lit for a completion of the equalisation of civil rights.  And Jeff needed another song. Continue reading “Jeff Karoub “Breathe for Those Denied” – Listen”

Frazey Ford announces livestream concerts – next week

Vancouver-based Soul-Americana artist Frazey Ford released her critically acclaimed album ‘U kin B the Sun’ earlier this year (which Q, rest in peace, described as “Magnetic enough to tilt the Earth’s axis”) and managed to play a handful of Canadian cities before everything went crazy. For the many people that have yet to catch the album in person, Frazey will be performing two virtual performances to be broadcast live from the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC on September 26th and 27th as part of Live Nation’s ‘Live From Inside” livestream series.  Continue reading “Frazey Ford announces livestream concerts – next week”