White Owl Red “Afterglow” (Hush Mouth Records, 2020)

Less than a year after the release of ‘Existential Frontiers’, White Owl Red have released another album ‘Afterglow’ and unfortunately it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor. White Owl Red is basically singer/songwriter Josef McManus and some unnamed musicians who play the usual alt-country/Americana instruments such as Dobro, pedal steel, squeezebox, drums, bass and the occasional twangy guitar. Continue reading “White Owl Red “Afterglow” (Hush Mouth Records, 2020)”

AmericanA to Z – Old Crow Medicine Show

Over the past 55 years or so (yes I’m that old!), I’ve been to hundreds and hundreds of gigs from tiny venues in pubs to Wembley Stadium, with everything in between. I have very few artists on my bucket list but one of the bands I haven’t seen and would really like to, is Old Crow Medicine Show. Now this could be remedied in March as they’re playing at the O2 as part of the Country To Country festival but the thought of seeing a band that should be playing at somewhere like the late lamented Borderline or something similarly intimate, at the vast barn that is the O2 means I’m going to have to wait a little longer to see them performing live. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Old Crow Medicine Show”

Dana Maragos “October” (Independent, 2020)

Following on from her 2017 three-track EP, Dana Maragos has just released ‘October’, her first full-length album although with only eight tracks and a running time of just under twenty-seven minutes, it’s more like an extended EP – if there is such a thing! Maragos is a Chicago born and based singer-songwriter, but you’d never guess that from this album as it has all the feel of rural America rather than the big city. The songs are all about going on journeys, losing jobs, love, not belonging and they’re based in places like Virginia and Menomonee. The album has the sound and feel of the open road and a big sky – not the urban blues of Chicago’s south side although one track, ‘Come And See Me’ has a bluesy feel to it with slide guitar and harmonica providing a different texture to most of the other tracks on the album. Continue reading “Dana Maragos “October” (Independent, 2020)”

Neil Bob Herd & The Dirty Little Acoustic Band “Every Soul A Story” (Cattlecall Music 2020)

‘Every Soul A Story’ is the debut solo album from Neil Bob Herd, the former lead singer and guitarist of Alt Bluegrass band, The Coal Porters and an eclectic mix it is. Herd is ably backed by The Dirty Little Acoustic Band which consists of fellow ex-Coal Porter Paul Fitzgerald (various instruments), Glenn Lambert (bass) and Gary Smith-Lyons (drums). On some tracks they’re superbly augmented by Lucy Edwards (accordion) and Gemma White (fiddle). Continue reading “Neil Bob Herd & The Dirty Little Acoustic Band “Every Soul A Story” (Cattlecall Music 2020)”

Cox’s Army “New Richmond Town” (Independent, 2019)

As Ken Burns’ recent documentary series “Country Music” highlighted, bluegrass music was a big part of country music’s history – in fact without it, the genre probably would have sounded a whole lot different and might not have been born. So, the release of traditional bluegrass band, Cox’s Army’s second album ‘New Richmond Town’, couldn’t have been timelier. Continue reading “Cox’s Army “New Richmond Town” (Independent, 2019)”

Jeremy Johnson “Insecuriosity” (Independent, 2019)

If you saw the album’s cover and then just heard ‘A Song For Agnes’, ‘Unrelenting’ and ‘The King And The Thief’, the first three tracks of Jeremy Johnson’s debut studio album ‘Insecuriosity’ you’d think here was a traditional English folk troubadour following in the storytelling footsteps of the likes of Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, Ralph McTell and Clifford T Ward – even the titles sound like folk songs. However, when you get to the fourth track on the album ‘I Roam’, everything changes – the album throws the listener a curveball and there’s suddenly a funky bass intro, drums and a distinctly pop feel to the track. This continues with ‘Runaway Train’ which features drums, bass and electric guitar and ‘Predictable’ another track with a pop sensibility. Continue reading “Jeremy Johnson “Insecuriosity” (Independent, 2019)”

Wildwood Kin “Wildwood Kin” (Silvertone Records/Sony 2019)

‘Wildwood Kin’ is the eponymous second album from the Exeter based three-piece,   consisting of sisters Beth and Emilia Key and their cousin Meghann Loney. On the album, the band have co-written a number of songs with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin (‘Wake Up Sleeper’), Angelo Petraglia (‘All On Me’), Alex Davies (‘Signals’) and Ed Harcourt on the album’s opening track ‘Never Alone’, which he also produced. All the other tracks were produced by Ian Brimble. Continue reading “Wildwood Kin “Wildwood Kin” (Silvertone Records/Sony 2019)”

The Good Graces “Prose And Consciousness” (Potluck Foundation 2019)

‘Prose And Consciousness’ is the fourth full album from The Good Graces, a band that is basically Kim Ware and some backing musicians. Ware started out as a drummer but in 2006 found a beat up old guitar in an Atlanta flea market which she named Buzzy and it inspired her to become a singer-songwriter. Continue reading “The Good Graces “Prose And Consciousness” (Potluck Foundation 2019)”

Harvey Russell “Liquid Damage” (Independent, 2019)

If you listen to Harvey Russell’s new album ‘Liquid Damage’ on SoundCloud, then there are three hashtags: #Americana (we’ll come back to that), #honkytonk (lots of that on the album) and #alt-country. Well this album shouldn’t really be filed under that as the nine songs on the album are pure, traditional country – in fact it could be #country&western! Continue reading “Harvey Russell “Liquid Damage” (Independent, 2019)”

The Living Street “It Won’t Last” (Independent 2019)

If you only heard ‘Home On The Road’ the first track off The Living Street’s second album ‘It Won’t Last’ you might think you were about to hear the last great summer album of the year before autumn takes a firm grip. With its banjo, acoustic guitars and a little bit of what sounds like a penny whistle, you’d be yearning for some sun whilst warming yourself to the band’s delightful harmonies. However, the rest of the album doesn’t really live up to the opening track and the other eight songs disappoint a little in comparison. Continue reading “The Living Street “It Won’t Last” (Independent 2019)”