Billy Bragg “Bridges Not Walls” (Cooking Vinyl, 2017)

2017 was a tumultuous year, Brexit and Trump providing an endless spectacle of rancour and discord, right wingers on the march, reason stifled by media barons (aside from those accused of printing “fake news”).  Billy Bragg, a voice of conscience since day one, pondered, “What’s a singer -songwriter to do when events keep challenging the … Continue reading “Billy Bragg “Bridges Not Walls” (Cooking Vinyl, 2017)”

Billy Bragg builds bridges not walls – new album out next month

Billy Bragg, currently in North America for the first leg of his ‘Bridges Not Walls’ tour, has released his new single Saffiyah Smiles which you can see the video to below.  The song is a rousing Hammond-drenched country soul shuffle written by Bragg and was inspired by the bravery of Saffiyah Khan who smiled benignly in the face of the incensed leader of … Continue reading “Billy Bragg builds bridges not walls – new album out next month”

Charlie and the Rays “That’s Where You Were Born” (Independent, 2019)

Charlie and the Rays is a duo comprised of sisters Jordan and Rebecca Stobbe. The sisters hail from Seattle but this most recent record was recorded in New York and produced by Johnny Sangster (Mudhoney, Mark Lanegan, The Posies, Neko Case). The EP ‘That’s Where You Were Born’ also includes support from Gracia Bridges on … Continue reading “Charlie and the Rays “That’s Where You Were Born” (Independent, 2019)”

Sean McConnell, Manchester Academy 2, 29th September 2019

When Sean McConnell came on stage without fanfare – clad in denim and holding his guitar, testing his microphone before beginning – the audience weren’t prepared for the powerful performance he was about to unleash. Opening with the title track of his most recent album ‘Secondhand Smoke’ (which gained the rare distinction of 10/10 when … Continue reading “Sean McConnell, Manchester Academy 2, 29th September 2019”

Darrin Bradbury “Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs” (ANTI-, 2019)

It takes a keen eye to spot the profound wrapped up inside the everyday. Darrin Bradbury has a very keen eye and he puts it to good use. Others have drawn comparisons between Bradbury’s songwriting and the work of John Prine or Guy Clark. It’s probably worth throwing the likes of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kurt … Continue reading “Darrin Bradbury “Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs” (ANTI-, 2019)”

SummerTyne Americana Festival , Sage Gateshead, 19th – 21st July, 2019

Returning for its fourteenth year, one of the pioneers of the Americana festival scene continues its very relaxed mix of fun and music. When it started, the question was, “What is Americana?” but nowadays it is more,  “What isn’t Americana?” and certainly SummerTyne with its eclectic lineup suggests that if you have a vague connection … Continue reading “SummerTyne Americana Festival , Sage Gateshead, 19th – 21st July, 2019”

Izzy Heltai “Only Yesterday” (Sleeper Cave Records, 2019)

Izzy Heltai is an indie-folk, singer-songwriter from Northampton, Massachusetts. His new four-track EP ‘Only Yesterday’ tells tales of love and loss that perhaps belie his 22 years. Arrangements on this record are deliberately simple with layering of guitar, piano, trumpet and fiddle kept to a minimum: Heltai wanted to explore how uncomplicated instrumentation can support … Continue reading “Izzy Heltai “Only Yesterday” (Sleeper Cave Records, 2019)”

Sean McConnell “Secondhand Smoke” (Big Picnic Records, 2019)

It is probably too early in the year to think about what your album of the year is, but it would be safe to say that Sean McConnell’s new album ‘Secondhand Smoke’ will probably end up at the top of the list. The thirteen track album is pretty basic in terms of its production, everything recorded … Continue reading “Sean McConnell “Secondhand Smoke” (Big Picnic Records, 2019)”

Brent Cowles “How To Be Okay Alone” (Dine Alone Records, 2018)

The debut solo album from Brent Cowles, ‘How To Be Okay Alone’, follows two well-received records with his band, You, Me & Apollo. His personal narrative has included a strictly religious childhood, divorce by the age of just 19, the break-up of his band and homelessness. ‘How To Be Okay Alone’ was the question Cowles … Continue reading “Brent Cowles “How To Be Okay Alone” (Dine Alone Records, 2018)”