Ryan Thompson & The Delicate Hounds “Waiting on a Ghost” (Independent, 2019)

The debut album from Sacramento-based Ryan Thompson delivers country-infused Americana that showcases his solid song-writing skills. In his own words, Thompson says: “I did not spend my twenties on the music scene, trying to make a name for myself.” Indeed, this selection of warm, mid-tempo songs is informed by a life lived and the time taken to discover his sound; years spent in indie-rock and honky-tonk bands have influenced and honed Thompson’s creative output. Continue reading “Ryan Thompson & The Delicate Hounds “Waiting on a Ghost” (Independent, 2019)”

Americana A-Z – Lindi Ortega

The Americana A-Z is sometimes a means to celebrate a legend of the genre or it is often a way of reminding readers of a forgotten gem. This week, for the letter ‘O’, we’re shining the light on a contemporary act who deserves an audience. Lindi Ortega has been releasing music for almost twenty years and has become known for a mixture of foot-stomping country and traditional balladry, all of which showcases her powerful vocals and great range. She deserves her place here because of the sophistication of her song writing and the manner in which she continues to explore and grow and develop artistically so far into her musical career. Continue reading “Americana A-Z – Lindi Ortega”

Kathy Zimmer “Sparkling Smile” (Independent, 2019)

Following the 2018 release of ‘White Noise’, Kathy Zimmer’s new EP, ‘Sparkling Smile’, continues to develop her self-styled cosmopolitan folk sound. Once again, she effectively pulls off the trick of sounding warmly familiar and yet entirely new, blending musical genres and layering instrumentation to create a sumptuous set of songs. Continue reading “Kathy Zimmer “Sparkling Smile” (Independent, 2019)”

Jim Allen “Where the Sunshine Bit You” (Hardcover Records, 2019)

‘Where the Sunshine Bit You’ is the first solo album from Jim Allen in many years and it finds him in a good-natured mood. A respected songwriter on the New York scene, Allen says that he’s: “not trying to be the next big anything.” However, after years pursuing band projects, Allen has plenty left to say on his own. Recorded live, the record has an authentic feel and there’s a joy in the composition and performance of this set of varied songs. Continue reading “Jim Allen “Where the Sunshine Bit You” (Hardcover Records, 2019)”

J.S. Ondara “Tales of America” (Verve, 2019)

The grand but elusive idea of the ‘American Dream’ is one of the USA’s gifts to the world. J.S. Ondara is, perhaps, the very personification of this ideal but his darkly poetic lyrics and tender confessionals expose the doubts, flaws and difficulties in chasing the myth, just like the pain to be found in the search for love. This is a timely piece of art, exploring the conflict of an outsider, with a deep affection for its culture and musical history, finding his place in modern America. At times joyous and at times bleak and haunting, Ondara’s inspiring debut album tells the story of his determination to pursue his dream of becoming a musician in a land far from home. Continue reading “J.S. Ondara “Tales of America” (Verve, 2019)”

Daniel Steinbock “Out of Blue” (Independent, 2019)

Daniel Steinbock’s first full-length release, ‘Out of Blue’, is a relaxing, calming and often beautiful reflection on love in its various forms. Throughout, there is a sense of hope and positivity, even finding the good in heartbreak and hard times. Steinbock sings: “When the heart feels broke open wide / It’s the beginning of the mend,” and this neatly summarises the mood of the whole record, which is a refreshingly upbeat take on life. After two self-released EPs, the Californian-native has developed a distinctive sound that is very easy to listen to. Continue reading “Daniel Steinbock “Out of Blue” (Independent, 2019)”

Charles Wesley Godwin “Seneca” (Independent, 2019)

Charles Wesley Godwin’s debut album, ‘Seneca’, is traditional country music in a very literal sense: these songs are tales of the rural landscapes and working people of his West Virginian home. Musically and lyrically, the album is an incredibly well-realised sonic picture of the Appalachians, almost an immersive concept album that transports the listener to the region’s mountains, valleys, creeks, mills and mines. The hard-working people of these narratives are: “…the backbone of a nation,” as Godwin sings on ‘Here in Eden’. This is their story. Continue reading “Charles Wesley Godwin “Seneca” (Independent, 2019)”

Jarrod Dickenson, Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, 7th February 2019

Nashville-based Jarrod Dickenson is increasingly popular here in the UK thanks to relentless touring, multiple festival appearances and that warm, soulful voice that makes his songs so distinctive. A number of the shows on this tour have been sold-out and the Norwich Arts Centre was certainly busy, with many audience members being returning fans, whooping noisily when Dickenson referenced previous shows here. As ever, the travelling Texan troubadour, with his trademark hat and gorgeous, honeyed vocals, delivered an engaging show. Continue reading “Jarrod Dickenson, Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, 7th February 2019”

John Kilzer “Scars” (Archer Records, 2019)

On the title track of his second album on Archer Records, ‘Scars’, John Kilzer sings: “…And may you learn to love the scars.” He may well have been singing about his own rich and varied life, which has followed a redemptive story-arc, from being signed to a major label in the late ‘80s, through substance abuse and addiction in the 90’s and then ministry and supporting others in their recovery in the 21st century. All this experience is in evidence in Kilzer’s wearied, characterful vocals and mature, emotional songwriting. Continue reading “John Kilzer “Scars” (Archer Records, 2019)”

Jarrod Dickenson “Under a Texas Sky” (Continental Records, 2019)

‘Under a Texas Sky’ is Jarrod Dickenson’s first set of new songs since the highly-rated ‘Ready the Horses’ in 2017. Thanks to a relentless touring schedule and multiple festival appearances in 2018, Dickenson’s soulful Americana, infused with blues and country influences, has been building a solid fan-base here in the UK. The Texan troubadour’s new EP pays homage to some of the fine artists hailing from Dickenson’s Texan home. In the first of a series of planned releases, Dickenson has been inspired by the likes of Guy Clark, Willie Nelson and Doug Sahm, taking their original songs and then re-imagining them in his own distinctive style. Continue reading “Jarrod Dickenson “Under a Texas Sky” (Continental Records, 2019)”