Interview with Alan Tyler

 

It’s no exaggeration to say that Alan Tyler has probably done more than just about anyone in the UK to keep the torch of americana music burning since the early ’90s. Alan and Steve Pulford of the Arlenes got some richly deserved recognition at the Americana Music Awards in January when they were awarded the new Grass Roots Award for hosting the ‘Come Down And Meet The Folks’ (CDAMTF) club that has been the undoubted beating heart of the scene for around 22 years now. Continue reading “Interview with Alan Tyler”

Tasha Robertson “Sweet Hearts EP” (Independent, 2018)

Sweet Hearts‘ is the debut EP from Essex singer-songwriter Tasha Robertson, and is made up of four tracks. Tasha Robertson’s music falls solidly into the ‘quirky-pop’ category, with a light dusting of folky arrangements. So, from the start, there are melodies on ukuleles, steadily beating acoustic guitar adding rhythm and Tasha Robertson’s own cultivated quirky singing style which lies somewhere between Bjork’s speaking voice and a gulping childlike breathlessness. Similar then to Lucy Rose and not so very far from Kate Nash. Continue reading “Tasha Robertson “Sweet Hearts EP” (Independent, 2018)”

Kin Hana “Long Hair” – Listen

Aaron Carroll Hodges is a musician, composer working in New York here he has previously created a body of work that straddles the line between dark-pop, krautrock, and ambient hum.  For his latest album ‘Au Sable‘ he ahs recorded under his great-grandfather’s name and taken something of a sidestep into beautifully textured folk inspired music.   Hodges recorded the album partly in his apartment in Brooklyn and also at a friend’s home studio:  it features supple fingerpicking, layers of guitar and piano, bright vocal harmonies as well as ominous drones and field recordings, which lend songs such as ‘Long hair‘ an expansive and epic feel.

Elephant Micah “Genericana” (Western Vinyl 2018)

As has been said many times before Americana is a broad church and thus many musical styles are accepted inside and indeed they add to its rich diversity. However, it is a challenge to consider this particular work part of the Americana genre whatever way you look at it. The PR provided with this music makes reference to the first track ‘Surf A’ as “a virtual holiday destination, where soft waves of AM static crash and synthetic gulls call to a hazy sun. A skeleton-thin drum loop jogs by but these lazy synth tones are just working on their tan. And then, just as the soundscape approaches maximum repose, a gnarly guitar band busts into the mix like an odd choice by a half-baked algorithm.” Make of that what you will but listening to the track itself will fail to make the situation much clearer. Continue reading “Elephant Micah “Genericana” (Western Vinyl 2018)”

Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, 2nd-5th August 2018

While there are several “specialist” Americana festivals like Maverick and Ramblin’ Roots, for the Americana fan Cambridge Folk Festival has for many years always had much to offer.  It rightly prides itself on its eclecticism – both Joe Strummer and Nick Cave have played there in the past – and interpreting “folk” very broadly and this year was no different with Patti Smith, Songhoy Blues and St Paul & The Broken Bones all performing. Continue reading “Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, 2nd-5th August 2018”

William Elliott Whitmore “Kilonova” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)

William Elliott Whitmore has spent the entirety of his 40 years on this planet living on the family farm in Iowa. As a singer-songwriter heavily influenced by the hardcore punk scene of that community, he has, on his six albums to date, fused this influence with a mix of blues, country and folk. For album number seven Whitmore has put the writing on hold in favour of celebrating some of the musical heroes who have inspired his career thus far. Continue reading “William Elliott Whitmore “Kilonova” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)”

Dusty Stray “Through the Atmosphere” – Listen

On first listen, the gentle, dreamy ‘Through the atmosphere‘ sounds like a lullaby – but the song is actually a reflection on mortality, death and the afterlife.  All set to a gently repeating acoustic accompaniment, it was inspired by a stroll in a forest taken by  Jonathan Brown who explains that he was “thinking about a good friend of mine who had recently passed away. I was somehow trying to communicate with her beyond the grave. As I was walking in the forest, I came across a tree with a small red sign nailed to it with a first name followed by a date of birth and death. I thought it was strange to find this deep in the ‘bible belt’ of Holland“.

 

 

James Houlahan “The Wheel Still In Spin” (Independent, 2018)

The “wagon-wheel effect” is an optical illusion where a wheel appears to be turning backward when, in fact, it is in forward motion.  Science journals argue over its cause, but some attribute the phenomenon – other than when caught in 24 frames – to a theory of perceptual rivalry when there are two different interpretations of the same scene by the brain. Continue reading “James Houlahan “The Wheel Still In Spin” (Independent, 2018)”

Anna Tivel & Jefferey Martin, The Green Note, London, 4th July 2018

Either one of these artists would be worth turning out for, even worth dragging into a heat soaked and sticky London evening, and wandering down the dust-blown streets of Camden Town. Yeah, even worth fighting with the recalcitrant and sauna like Northern Line. The first on stage, Anna Tivel, has been steadily building a reputation as simply one of the finest songwriters – her powerful songs, delicate of lyric, breathless of delivery are each perfect creations that can pull the listener up sharp. There are musings on the briefly observed lives of strangers, there are stories of broken hopeless loves, there’s self-destructive anger, there’s the final whispery tendrils of breath that close a life. Anna Tivel is not your everyday singer of boy meets girl under the silvery moon. Continue reading “Anna Tivel & Jefferey Martin, The Green Note, London, 4th July 2018”