AUK’s EP Round-Up – January 2024

artwork for Sam Jayne EP "'95".

So here we are, the first month of a new year and a new writer at the helm of the AUK’s EP Round-Up. Actually make that two new writers as my esteemed college Fred Arnold and I will be taking it in turn to pick up the quill so wonderful weaved by our friend Allan Fitter and deliver a monthly overview of the most recently released EP’s that shelter under the Americana music umbrella. So without further ado lets see what new music we have to banish the January blues.

First up is UK based Sam Jayne, who has previously performed under the pseudonym of Ramona Rose, and the curiously titled ‘EP 95’, which consists of just two tracks that both comfortably fall under the description of guitar driven rock flavoured Americana. The rather un-seasonal number ‘Rollerblades in Summer’, with its slide guitar intro and reflective laid back refrain of particular interest, suggesting Sam Jayne may well be one of the new names for the coming year.

Next up are Cash & Carter, another UK based outfit made up of Birmingham musician Shaun Smith (aka Stealth) on vocals and London based producer Ross O’Reilly on guitar and backing vocals. Taking their name from the legendary country duo their five track EP entitled ‘No Use Praying’, delivers a sound that inhabits the soft rock, easy listening side of Americana, full of pop sensibilities with a polished production. Standout numbers are the title track along with the uptempo ‘All Of The Way’, while they finish with a somewhat perplexing cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’.

With a vocal delivery that falls somewhere between Roy Orbison and Sharron Van Etten, Lola Wild’s debut EP ‘Get Up’, consists of four tracks full of promise and intrigue, with hauntingly beautiful melodies wrapped up in a mix of lush keys and jagged distorted guitars. Her musical landscape is not dissimilar to the likes of Angel Olson, Laura Veirs, and even Weyes Blood, with evocative vocals and lyrics of temporal vagueness creating a heady concoction that feels both energised and hypnotic. All four tracks are worthy of investigation in particular lead track ‘Rendezvous’, with its ode to pansexuality and sexual fluidity and ‘Here I Go’, a duet with americana folk musician Robert Chaney, that turns the spotlight on negative relationships. If the quality on offer from this EP is anything to go by then Lola Wild is a name we’re all going to be hearing a lot more of.

Lucas Pasley is an old time fiddle and banjo player from the mountains of North Carolina who delivers an intoxicating brand of Appalachian music with a strong emphasis on instrumental solos and harmony singing. This EP entitled ‘Blackberry Winter’, encompasses three songs and features rising country singer Kelsey Ray Copeland on the lead track, her hauntingly beautiful vocal delivery along with Kyle Dean Smith’s fiery fiddle playing combine superbly to mark this number out as a wonderful example of mountain music. Elsewhere ‘Never In The Sun’, slows the tempo with a gently picked acoustic guitar and melancholic refrain that amply displays that Pasley is much more than a one trick pony.

Eric Hagen’s latest album ‘Revival’, that was released early last year received a glowing review from AUK’s Michael Macy giving it a lofty rating of 9/10. This January sees the release of his new EP entitled ‘Memories Don’t Love You Back’, that carries on where the last album left off with five emotionally charged numbers that are as rewarding as they are challenging. Hagen’s strength lies in his minimalistic approach both lyrically, where the detail is deliberately left sparse encouraging the listener to fill in the blanks, and musically, where the arrangements remain uncluttered and unswerving, all underpinned by a heavy pulse. The tracks here are all worthy of attention, especially the opening number ‘Ponderosa Pines’, which sees Hagen’s passionate vocals infused with some stinging guitar lines that keeps the tension taught right to the final note. With two studio albums and one live album released to-date, this EP should finally see Hagen reaping the rewards his music so undoubtedly deserves.

The Light In The Forest is a solo project from Stockholm’s very own Arvid Krantz of which this EP ‘A Shadow Upon The Sail’, is the first official release, and a possible precursor to an album that will hopefully see the light of day later this year. The four tracks here drip heavy with pedal steel and lush melancholic overtones to create an atmospheric country noir that could easily work as a soundtrack to some dark Western movie, while the vocal delivery conjures up shades of Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. Of the four tracks available here, ‘The River’, the third track on this EP, is a fine example of where Krantz’s musical landscape resides, intense and yet vast, together but yet alone.

Last but not least we have The Teskey Brothers and their new live five track EP ‘The Circle Sessions’, recorded for the YouTube series of the same name. The EP follows fast on the heels of last year’s much lauded ‘The Winding Way’, which AUK’s very own Graham Bollands rated a 9/10, comprising of the band’s rendition of the Ray Charles classic ‘Drown In My Own Tears’, along with four tracks from their most recent album. Over the last few years, the brothers from Melbourne have built up a reputation for being among the finest exponents of soulful blues tinged Americana, with Josh’s stunning vocals and Sam’s understated guitar playing operating in a similar ballpark to likes of Chris Stapleton perfectly epitomised by these five live tracks.

 

About Graeme Tait 110 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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