Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul, Liverpool, 30th June 2018

For the second time in less than a year, ‘Little’ Steven Van Zandt is on-stage and in charge of Liverpool’s O2 Academy.   ‘Sweet Soul Music‘ has opened up the show and a five-piece horn section are breathing new life into the Arthur Conley/Otis Redding standard. The surefire opener sets the tone for the music The Disciples Of Soul will play for over two hours on this sweltering Saturday night. It maybe high summer outside, but it’s ‘Soulfire‘ – the title track of Van Zandt’s first solo album in nearly two decades – that is burning up the crowd in the venue.  Continue reading “Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul, Liverpool, 30th June 2018”

Frank Turner “Be More Kind” (Xtra Mile Recordings, 2018)

A lot of people think of Frank Turner as
‘the new Billy Bragg’. The thing the Hampshire-born songwriter mostly has in common with the aforementioned ‘Bard of Barking’ is that his idiosyncratic style marks him out as a musical Marmite: you either love him or hate him. There’s no middle ground with Turner, it seems. ‘Be More Kind’, his seventh studio album, is no different to its predecessors in many ways. These are songs with the importance of being earnest weighing heavily on their well-worn chord sequences and melodies. The lyrics, then, need to fly from the speakers and speak to the listener… when they do, all is well; especially on the the lilting title-track, with its lovely acoustic guitar figure and mournful strings. But, when the message is lumpen, the music carries all the gravitas of a Hallmark greetings card. Continue reading “Frank Turner “Be More Kind” (Xtra Mile Recordings, 2018)”

Nathan Evans Fox “Texas Dust” (BMI, 2018)

Nathan Evans Fox sounds like the truth. In the end, that’s what we go to songwriters for, isn’t it? That sense of themselves that reveals a glimpse of ourselves, too. Fox sings about his own family, grief and religion on these eleven songs. But he’s also singing about you. Opener, ‘Texas Blues No 7,’ is prime Tom Joad-era Springsteen with its austere and acoustic atmosphere – but it’s one minute and a half into the title track that a fiddle enters the picture and the music opens up as wide as the country Fox is singing about: “… and every smile that you sent me, had a Shreveport stamp.” Continue reading “Nathan Evans Fox “Texas Dust” (BMI, 2018)”

Great Peacock “Gran Pavo Real” (Ropeadope, 2018)

Jason Isbell and Dave Cobb may well be redefining ‘The Nashville Sound’, but Great Peacock aren’t paying any attention. “I’m a rolling stone, I can’t sit still,” sings lead singer and guitarist Andrew Nelson, on the masterful and melodic ‘One Way Ticket’, as his band combine the sounds of 70s rock and 90s alt-country to create an aural and lyrical landscape as old as the hills.  Continue reading “Great Peacock “Gran Pavo Real” (Ropeadope, 2018)”

Old Crow Medicine Show “Volunteer” (Columbia Nashville, 2018)

‘A World Away’ bursts out of the speakers sounding like another time and another place and all seems right in the world. Well, wrong, as it’s a refugee song… but you know what I mean. Old Crow Medicine Show are back – and this time there’s electric guitars!  There’s the usual rollick and roll, too, but ‘Volunteer’ sparkles and shines with more urgency than the greatest band Bob Dylan never had in a long time. Recorded at the historic RCA Studio A and produced by man-of-the-moment Dave Cobb, there’s an ache in the soul of ‘Volunteer’ that never truly reconciles with the recklessness and rhythms of reels like the auld time ‘Shout Mountain Music’ and ‘Elzick’s Farewell’. Continue reading “Old Crow Medicine Show “Volunteer” (Columbia Nashville, 2018)”

Interview: Simone Felice

A long time has passed since we witnessed a shirtless, sweating Felice clambering over a rickety drum kit hollering “Yankees In The House” at  The Basement in Nashville after an incendiary Felice Brothers show that was described on this very site as ‘the future of rock’n’roll.’ These days Felice is one of the golden boys on the Americana scene, a stunning, at times ethereal songwriter that is known for live shows that really leave a mark. His new album ‘The Projector’ is arguably his best yet, a poignant, lo-fi masterstroke of a record that will only enhance Felice’s reputation as a heart-breaker and soul searcher.   AUK’s Alan O’Hare talks to the New York songwriter ahead of May UK dates.  Continue reading “Interview: Simone Felice”

Andrew Sheppard “Steady Your Aim” (Wood River Records, 2018)

Records that sound like the journey an artist has travelled to make the music you’re listening to are few and far between these days. Andrew Sheppard’s backstory includes growing up in the high desert plains of Hailey, Idaho, through the hustle and grind of LA and to the honky tonks of Tennessee, and back to the heartland of America and his roots. You can tell.  Continue reading “Andrew Sheppard “Steady Your Aim” (Wood River Records, 2018)”

Interview: Courtney Marie Andrews

If ever there was a brighter star in the ascendancy then Arizona’s Courtney Marie Andrews hasn’t bumped into it yet. Over the last eighteen months the evocative and beguiling songstress has risen to the very summit of the genre, first on the back of her universally acclaimed – and utterly brilliant – ‘Honest Life’ album, released in the UK on the ever-one-step-ahead Loose Music, then a series of live performances that culminated in a beautifully understated appearance on BBC’s Later that ignited the smouldering fuse.  Releasing her follow-up ‘May Your Kindness Remain’ this month, Andrews returns to the UK/Eire in April for a number of shows including her biggest London headline show to date at Islington Assembly Hall on April 24th.  AUK’s Alan O’Hare took the chance to spend a few minutes of her time asking about the new album and current success. Continue reading “Interview: Courtney Marie Andrews”

Ronnie Fauss “Last Of The True” (New West, 2018)

“When I was working at the Saginaw paper mill… “ sings Ronnie Fauss on another Springsteen-esque standout from his third album and all seems right in the world. Electric guitars are raging, drums are pounding and a honky-tonk piano can be heard playing in the distance. So far, so good. The album mixes heartland Americana with barrel-house country and the pace doesn’t let up. Continue reading “Ronnie Fauss “Last Of The True” (New West, 2018)”

Interview: Willy Vlautin

The much-loved frontman of the now sadly defunct Richmond Fontaine and pivotal member of The Delines,  Willy Vlautin is a man of many talents. Not only an exquisite songwriter, guitarist and one of the good guys, Vlautin has established himself as a ‘must read’ novelist whose tales of life’s chancers and dreamers have been cherished by readers and critics alike. Over for a short visit to these shores promoting his new book, ‘Don’t Skip Out On Me’ AUK’s Alan O’Hare caught up with him for a coffee and short chat.

Continue reading “Interview: Willy Vlautin”