Matt Owens “Scorched Earth” (Independent, 2020)

Take a large portion of Willie Nile, add a soupçon of Neil Young, a dash of Tom Petty and a pinch of The Pogues. Then stir in some folk, a little rock, a mournful harmonica, Celtic fiddle a funky guitar solo or two and an ethereal female voice,  some double-tracking and reverb, stir vigorously and add a little seasoning to taste. That should be the recipe for a great album but in the case of Matt Owens’ second solo record ‘Scorched Earth’, the sum isn’t greater than the parts and to beat  (pun intended) the analogy to death, it doesn’t really rise and falls a little bit flat. Continue reading “Matt Owens “Scorched Earth” (Independent, 2020)”

Ben Eisenberger “Soloists” (Plastic Miracles Records 2020)

There are some albums which are perfect summer soundtracks when driving to the coast and others are made for cold winter nights when you’re all wrapped up and want to stay home. Well Ben Eisenberger’s second album ‘Soloists’ is the perfect autumn album. From the cover where Eisenberger is walking alone in a grey, autumnal wood to the nine songs on the record, it just has that autumn feel to it – or as this is an Americana website – the perfect fall album.  Continue reading “Ben Eisenberger “Soloists” (Plastic Miracles Records 2020)”

Justin Farren “Pretty Free” (Independent, 2020)

Justin Farren is like an old-fashioned troubadour writing songs and travelling from town to town singing them and playing a battered, old guitar – in Farren’s case the Simon & Patrick model he’s had since he was a kid. On ‘Pretty Free’ only Farren’s fourth album in fifteen years, he’s got a lot to say, so much so that he doesn’t have time for choruses – there’s just a lot of wonderful narrative verses with intelligent and quirky lyrics that mark the songs of an enchanting storyteller. Continue reading “Justin Farren “Pretty Free” (Independent, 2020)”

The Marriage “Imagining Sunsets” (Independent, 2020)

Collins Dictionary says the meaning of the word pleasant is  “Something that is nice, enjoyable or attractive”. Then if you put pleasant into a thesaurus you get words such as lovely, nice, likeable, agreeable and pleasing. ‘Imagining Sunsets’ the debut album from The Marriage deserves all those adjectives and more but it’s so gentle that it’s a bit like a carnivore eating a vegan hamburger – it’s nice but you find yourself needing some meat not long after! Continue reading “The Marriage “Imagining Sunsets” (Independent, 2020)”

Two Bird Stone “Hands And Knees” (Soundly Music, 2020)

‘Hands And Knees’ is the debut album from Two Bird Stone which is a new band made up of some of Nashville and New York’s finest session musicians. The driving force behind the band is Liam Thomas Bailey who plays fiddle and banjo and is the lead vocalist as well as writing the songs. He’s aided and abetted by Bailey’s long-time musical partner (they spent 11 years together in Rodney Atkins’ touring band) Judd Fuller (bass, mandolin and vocals), Chad Kelly (accordion) and Rohin Khemani (drums). Continue reading “Two Bird Stone “Hands And Knees” (Soundly Music, 2020)”

Sarah Johnson “Volcano” (Independent, 2020)

Sarah Johnson wrote her first song when she was two and now three decades later, she’s released her first record, a six-song EP called ‘Volcano’.  Based in Dallas, Johnson has written six songs that are very personal and as she says, Everything is so autobiographical and based off real moments, relationships, and real-life experience.”. The most interesting song is the opener ‘Red Bandana’ in which the opening line is “Hey little lady what’s your name, I’m a rodeo man looking for fame but tonight I’m looking at you” but then the point of view of the song changes and we hear from the girl (Johnson?) as she sings “Now I’m back in Texas….thinking of the rodeo man who slept me away” – an interesting and unique way to tell the story. Continue reading “Sarah Johnson “Volcano” (Independent, 2020)”

The Annulments “Dead Preservations” (Independent, 2020)

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and the same goes for albums. The strange, broken abstract design on the cover of ‘Dead Preservations’  the second album from Irish band The Annulments would lead you to believe it’s an album full of angst and existential frustration but the band’s music couldn’t be more gentle and in the main, easy-going and delightful. Continue reading “The Annulments “Dead Preservations” (Independent, 2020)”

AUK’S Chain Gang: Uncle Tupelo “Anodyne”

The last link in the Chain Gang was Wilco’s delightfully mournful ‘Via Chicago’ with Jeff Tweedy singing at his very best about going home via that city. So, thinking about the next link, I realised I had gone somewhere via Chicago a couple of years ago when to celebrate my 70th birthday, we flew to the Windy City to start our drive south on Route 66. Our next major stop after Chicago was St Louis which as a city was a big disappointment and should be avoided at all costs! We listened to a lot of music on the radio driving along the “Mother Road” mainly on country stations and the most played was Florida Country Line’s ‘Simple’ but that’s not my link in the chain – it’s more New Country than Alt-Country! Continue reading “AUK’S Chain Gang: Uncle Tupelo “Anodyne””

The Texas Gentlemen “Floor It!!!” (New West, 2020)

Trying to describe the music of The Texas Gentlemen is akin to nailing a blancmange to the wall. Even in the press release for their second album ‘Floor It!!!’ (sic) it states, “The album contains woozy, brass-fuelled Dixieland jazz to slinky, chicken-scratch country funk to lushly orchestrated pop-soul balladry – all within its first ten minutes”. On the thirteen tracks there’s also a touch of The Grateful Dead, The Doobie Brothers, Little Feat, Van Dyke Parks, Harry Nilsson, The Monkees, Al Kooper, The Wrecking Crew and even The Beatles. There may be a lot of influences going on in The Texas Gentlemen’s musical make-up, but it can’t be denied that they’re quality influences. Continue reading “The Texas Gentlemen “Floor It!!!” (New West, 2020)”

Town Meeting “Make Things Better” (Independent, 2020)

‘Make Things Better’ is the third full-length album from the Boston based band and what a superb album it is full of fresh sounding, sublime harmonies and superb playing from a band that would be just at home in the back room of a bar or at an outdoor festival, although at the moment they’re a bar band without a bar and a festival band without a festival. Continue reading “Town Meeting “Make Things Better” (Independent, 2020)”