AUK Shortcuts September 2023: Jeff Plankenhorn, The 19th Street Band, The Waymores, Andrew Rumsey, The Street Arts Project, The Two Tracks, Ludwig Wright and Bret Mosley

Our latest Short Cuts, a monthly feature where AUK casts a brief eye and ear on several albums we’ve received recently which just didn’t make the cut for a full review. Like most major music websites we can’t mention every album we get sent but we reckon the picks below deserve a nod. Click on the links to hear a song.

Jeff Plankenhorn enlists the esteemed Colin Linden to produce and play guitars on ‘Alone At Sea’, his fourth solo album. Although Plankenhorn is a fine multi instrumentalist, here he concentrates on acoustic guitar allowing Linden to show off on electric and slide, heard to best effect on the bluesy boogie swing of ‘Maybe It’s Not Too Late’. ‘Do A Little Dancing and ‘Flat Tyre’ both rumble along quite excellently with the guitars stinging and snapping but Plankenhorn can also deliver more introspective songs such as on the soul questing title track.

Irish/American combo The 19th Street Band combine strains of folk, rock and Americana on their third release ‘Near Perfect’ and it’s fair to say that the opening number here, ‘Night In The Veins’ is a near perfect song with its punk like snarl and sweeping folk rock delivery. While the rest of the album can’t match this, ‘Long Night’ has a fine Ronnie Lane like swagger and their cover of Phillip Donnelly’s ‘Living In These Troubled Times’ is a brisk romp with a Dylan like protest theme. Recommended.

The Waymores (married couple Kira Annalise and Willie Heath Neal) have a bit of a scoop on their hands having landed the legendary Shel Talmy as producer of ‘Greener Pastures’ (you can read about their collaboration here). A mix of original songs and covers (selected it seems by Talmy) the album finds the couple in classic country duet style and while their version of John Prine’s You Got Gold will get a lot of attention the title track is a great update of the George and Tammy tradition while ‘Don’t Worry’ is a great tears in your beer song.

It’s not often we get an album to review from a bona fide bishop but Andrew Rumsey is indeed the C of E Bishop of Ramsbury and aside from his songcraft he’s an acclaimed author. ‘Evensong’ was recorded in a church (of course) and finds Rumsey, accompanied on guitars by David Perry, in tune with that particularly English take on bucolic folk. It’s somewhat hushed and, dare we say, reverential but Rumsey’s voice and the laidback delivery are quite delightful and reminiscent of the heyday of lonesome folky troubadours. Have a listen to the opening song ‘Silberry Hill to get a flavour of the disc and then just relax as the album floats along like a meandering river journey.

If the river you are floating down happens to be the Avon you might come across The Street Arts Project, which exists to support vulnerable and isolated people in Stratford upon Avon. They run music workshops and ‘Recovery’ is their third release, featuring songs written and performed by members of the group assisted by songwriters and musicians Jack Blackman and Wes Finch. Full disclosure here, this reviewer wasn’t expecting too much when this landed in our email but it’s actually a gloriously warm and vibrant listen and a great example of empowerment. Again there’s a bucolic feel to many of the songs along with a dash of Beatle like melodies here and there. Top listen is ‘Dream Song which is quite amazing, sounding like The Unthanks at times. Do have a listen and support the project. You won’t regret it.

The Two Tracks are a promising band from Wyoming and on ‘It’s A Complicated Life’ they have their finger on the pulse of well played and well sung modern country rock. They open the album with the very impressive ‘Canyon Wren which has the grand romance of the American landscape embedded within it while a meaty rhythm section pumps up their attractive songs which range from the fiddle infused duet of ‘I’m Leaving’ to the Allman Brothers’ like guitar on ‘Still Gold In California’.

‘Turn of Tides Or Where the Waves Come From’ is the new album from Ludwig Wright an Anglo German songwriter. A collection of songs themed around the sea with Wright’s attractively light vocals rising over catchy folk arrangements, at times it veers to close to pop music for this listener but at its best on songs such as  on ‘How You Have Grown’ and ‘How Many Lands And How Many Seas Wright is quite poetic and alluring. Tucked in the centre of the album is ‘Lighthouse’, moody and dark and quite different in character from the rest of the album.

Closing September’s chapter there’s the rough hewn rock’n’soul of Bret Mosley, an artist AUK noted back in 2007. Since then Mosley has emigrated to Australia, an experience he describes as initially harrowing, “I was excruciatingly alone—contending with life-threatening abuse & battling to hang on. Isolation became the norm for me…this was years before social distancing became all the rage, mind ya…”Through The Fire’ is his redemptive tale, the songs seem autobiographical as he takes his leave of New York and lands down under. He opens with the sinewy ‘What You Feel’, something of a personal credo. It showcases Mosley’s ability to convey a great deal of soul within a song with its faint hints of Van Morrison and Bill Withers and he maintains this standard throughout the album. ‘Tell Me is an excellent song with excellent percussion and piano while ‘Through The Fire’ with its female harmonies reminds one of Birds Of Chicago (albeit a tougher version). Cream of the crop is ‘Calling Out’ which comes across like a cry for help from a very dark place but the whole album is quite terrific.

About Paul Kerr 407 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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