Alias Patrick Kelly “An Unclaimed Inheritance” (Independent, 2019)

If your thing is grunge-flavoured, rock-powered  Americana with a steely-eyed take on modern US  working-class life, then Alias Patrick Kelly’s ‘An Unclaimed Inheritance’ EP is almost certainly going to be right up your street. On the plus side, it’s a workmanlike six-track production which combines a heady mixture of social anger in its lyrics with solidly crafted, cohesive alt country and rocky sounds. On the downside, a couple of songs seem to get stuck in the musical equivalent of a low gear, and come perilously close to running out of steam altogether. Continue reading “Alias Patrick Kelly “An Unclaimed Inheritance” (Independent, 2019)”

Peter Bruntnell “King of Madrid” (Domestico, 2019)

Flicking through a back catalogue of reviews of Peter Bruntnell albums – and ‘King of Madrid’ is his tenth – a hefty proportion are seemingly dedicated to dreaming up new ways of insisting that the Devon-based singer-songwriter is British Americana’s best-kept secret, the sub-text of the argument presumably being that only the inexplicably fickle tastes of the record-buying public/international music industry/whichever gods secretly rule the universe of popular music have deprived Bruntnell of the star status he so richly deserves.
Continue reading “Peter Bruntnell “King of Madrid” (Domestico, 2019)”

Jake Xerxes Fussell “Out of Sight” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2019)

There are nine tracks on North Carolina folk musician  Jake Xerxes Fussell’s third album, ‘Out of Sight’, and in the sleeve notes meticulously explaining each one’s backstory, one adjective appears in all of them: traditional. But it’d be very wrong to assume that ‘Out of Sight’ simply picks up from where Fussell left off on his first two albums,  also made up entirely of  re-worked and often long-forgotten folk songs. That said, on his latest album, Fussell unearths songs from locations as diverse as County Offaly in Ireland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida and the Chattahoochee River separating Alabama from Georgia. Continue reading “Jake Xerxes Fussell “Out of Sight” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2019)”

Adam Thomas Brown “Another Lonely Ghost” (Independent, 2019)

Spoiler alert: the appearance of ‘Another Lonely Ghost’ will probably not shake the foundations of either psych folk, indie-rock or alt-country, the three genres Adam Thomas Brown’s debut solo album meshes together so efficiently and gracefully. But if maybe not groundbreaking, ‘Another Lonely Ghost’ does add a distinctive, if somewhat melancholy, voice to all three genres. Its a highly polished, guitar-heavy sound  that would sometimes do full credit to any self-respecting 1990s indy rock band (to this reviewer, the echoes of REM are all but unmistakable) and which sometimes meanders into gloomy acoustic folk troubadour territory in songs like ‘Carry On’. Continue reading “Adam Thomas Brown “Another Lonely Ghost” (Independent, 2019)”

An American Forrest “O Bronder, Donder Yonder” (Hearth Music, 2019)

If you ever needed a case study to argue that an album’s backstory is sometimes as striking as the music itself, then ‘O Bronder, Donder Yonder’ wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Forrest Van Tuyl – that’s the singer-songwriter who is An American Forrest – currently spends nearly six months of every year working in the Northeastern Oregon wilderness, much of it on horseback, guiding mule-trains over mountain trails. That off-the-beaten-track (in more senses than one) experience as a modern-day cowboy acts as the musical and lyrical backbone for ‘O Bronder, Donder Yonder’, melded into a sound with strong resonances of 1970s Outlaw Country, straight-up classic country music and – last but not least – the Appalachian bluegrass of Gillian Welch. (As Van Tuyl, perhaps slightly wryly, comments to AUK about Welch, “We tend to steal from a lot of the same places.”) Continue reading “An American Forrest “O Bronder, Donder Yonder” (Hearth Music, 2019)”

Bjarke Ramsing “The Doldrums” (Independent, 2019)

The title ‘The Doldrums’ is a fairly hefty giveaway that the fourth album by Danish singer-songwriter Bjarke Ramsing is  largely based around tales of the sea and seafaring lives, with its aim being partly, as the publicity blurb puts it, “to explore the many ways in which people find and create beauty from within the filth of modern western life.” But if such earnest content matter sounds like heavy going for, say, a mellow Saturday night’s listening, do not be deterred. In fact, ‘The Doldrums’ is an accessible, well-rounded mixture of classic and freer-form acoustic folk, with fragments of faster-paced jazz themes sometimes spicing things up,  and at other points streaked with deep melancholy. Continue reading “Bjarke Ramsing “The Doldrums” (Independent, 2019)”

Conor Donohue “Let Love Contaminate” (Digital Serving, 2019)

“Typically, the best albums are the ones you have to work at to get into”  Conor Donohue said back in 2012, when he was promoting his first solo album ‘Sway’.  Fast forward seven years in the career of this US singer-songwriter, and Donohue’s third and most recent album, ‘Let Love Contaminate’, which sits somewhere pleasantly indefinable towards the jaunty, tune-humming end of the Indy folk-rock spectrum, is a real case in point. For one thing, the lyrics on ‘Let Love Contaminate’ aren’t the typical Americana paeon to some semi-mythical, probably over-rated, rural or small town existence. Continue reading “Conor Donohue “Let Love Contaminate” (Digital Serving, 2019)”

Chatham County Line “Sharing the Covers” (Yep Roc, 2019)

‘Sharing the Covers’ is Chatham County Line’s eighth album, which means fans of this Raleigh-based fourpiece know by now they’ll likely be in for a faultlessly produced and smoothly performed collection of bluegrass music  – and they won’t be disappointed. And given this band’s proven ability to create an entire song’s lyrics  ‘Ringing in My Ears’  out of lines borrowed from Paul Simon, George Harrison, Willie Nelson et al, as well as their having versioned ‘I Shall Be Released’  way back on their second LP, a CCL covers album isn’t such a surprise in itself. Continue reading “Chatham County Line “Sharing the Covers” (Yep Roc, 2019)”