Jeremy Ivey “The Dream and the Dreamer” (Anti Records, 2019)

Jeremy Ivey is probably best known to most Americana followers as the guitarist in Margo Price’s band and indeed, her husband of eleven years. The pair formerly worked together in the country-rock band Buffalo Clover. With only limited commercial success, Ivey decided to take a back seat and to back his wife’s career as a solo artist. In 2015 the couple sold or pawned many of their possessions (including Price’s wedding ring) to buy studio time to record Price’s debut album ‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter’ and the rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading “Jeremy Ivey “The Dream and the Dreamer” (Anti Records, 2019)”

Tyler Childers “Country Squire” (Hickman Holler Records, 2019)

Tyler Childers self-released his first album ‘Bottles and Bibles’ in 2011 aged 19. A bit rough around the edges maybe, but that release offered a glimpse of the potential that the young Kentuckian had. It also demonstrated a determination and single-mindedness that has not been eroded with the passage of time. Childers’ second and breakthrough album, 2017’s ‘Purgatory’ was produced by Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson and not only garnered widespread critical acclaim but also won Childers the ‘Best Emerging Artist’ Award at the 2018 Americana Music Association Awards. Continue reading “Tyler Childers “Country Squire” (Hickman Holler Records, 2019)”

Tough Old Bird “The Old Great Lakes” (Independent, 2019)

Tough Old Bird are a folk duo from Fillmore, New York State, comprising brothers Nathan and Matthew Corrigan. With two EPs and two previous albums of more traditional American folk music under their belts, ‘The Old Great Lakes’ is an attempt to expand their sound beyond their original confines.
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The Schramms “Omnidirectional” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)

Dave Schramm genuinely fits that over-used expression ‘a musician’s musician’. Perhaps he’s best known as the lead guitarist on Yo La Tengo’s first releases, including their acclaimed debut album ‘Ride The Tiger’. He has since returned to his old band to help them out on 1990 album ‘Fakebook’ and 2015’s ‘Stuff Like That There’. In addition, Schramm has done session work for The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Whiskeytown, Richard Buckner and Freedy Johnston, amongst many others. The one consistent element though has been his own band The Schramms.
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Michael Clancy “Songbird” EP (Independent, 2019)

Michael Clancy is an English songwriter from Colchester, Essex. Now before you click on to the next review, please read on a bit. His five-track ‘Songbird’ EP reveals him to be a very accomplished songwriter. The words, ‘simple’, ‘gentle’, ‘easy’ or ‘soft’, in many reviews might be used as terms of denigration.  Clancy’s songs possess each of those qualities but don’t let that fool you into thinking that they are bland easy listening. Like the very best songwriters, Clancy has the ability to write in an economic style whereby less is more. There a few obvious hooks, yet the songs are deceptively catchy. They don’t grab you instantly but rather they subtly work their way inside you. Continue reading “Michael Clancy “Songbird” EP (Independent, 2019)”

The Sheepdogs + Creatures, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 18th June 2019

The Sheepdogs may hail from Saskatoon, Canada but it’s clear that their musical roots lay much further south – The Allman Brothers and the whole early seventies ‘southern rock’ scene based around Capricorn Records in Macon, Georgia are clear reference points. However, The Sheepdogs are no revivalists. Like their forebears, their sound is guitar-based rock with liberal helpings of soul, blues and country. To this they add their own fresh ingredients to create a modern take on a well-established classic recipe. The show having been sold out weeks in advance, there was a palpable air of anticipation in the room as the stage was set up for the main event. This culminated in a huge roar as the band took the stage, long hair, beards and tassels giving a clue, if one were needed, as to what was to follow. Continue reading “The Sheepdogs + Creatures, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 18th June 2019”

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets + Sinead Burgess, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 9th June 2019

One dictionary definition of ‘perfection’ states that it is, “a state, variously, of completeness, flawlessness, or supreme excellence.” It is doubtful whether anyone at Nick Lowe’s sold out show tonight would have any hesitation in applying that definition to the man himself. From his earliest beginnings with Kippington Lodge and Brinsley Schwarz, it has always been apparent that Nick Lowe has a talent. His involvement with Stiff, and later Radar Records served to further underline that. However, the 1994 release of his ‘The Impossible Bird’ LP marked the beginning of a series of albums that have singled him out as one of the great British songwriters. Never one to stand still, Nick Lowe arrived tonight on the back of last year’s ‘Tokyo Bay’ single and this year’s ‘Love Starvation’ EP. On both releases Lowe is accompanied by Nashville instrumentalists Los Straitjackets and it’s they who are his current touring band. Continue reading “Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets + Sinead Burgess, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 9th June 2019”

The Hollering Pines “Moments in Between” (Independent, 2019)

‘Moments in Between’ is the third album from Salt Lake City band The Hollering Pines. It has a clear, crisp production, some nice harmonising by sisters Marie Bradshaw and Kiki Jane Sieger and even features pedal steel from no less than Greg Leisz. From the gentle, melodic opening of ‘He Don’t Understand’ to the rocking finale of ‘Keep it Light’ the album presents a series of well-crafted songs. The pick of them, ‘Out of Dodge’ has a slight indie feel added to its country-rock base, producing a Cowboy Junkies, Mount Moriah type feel. Continue reading “The Hollering Pines “Moments in Between” (Independent, 2019)”

Peter Bruntnell + Sophia Marshall, Gullivers, Manchester, 30th May 2019

Deciding whether to catch the support artist or not can be a bit of a lottery. Stay in the bar and you risk missing out on something special, roll up and you can end up shuffling around and feigning interest as some plucky trier tests the limits of your attention span. Tonight’s winners were certainly  those that abandoned their comfy seat in favour of catching  Leicester based singer-songwriter Sophia Marshall. Formally one half of the Havenots, Marshall possesses a captivating voice which she put to fine use in delivering some beautifully crafted songs. Drafting in her band, the set began with the acapella ‘Drunken Sailor’ which immediately served notice that this was no ordinary performer. There then followed a series of exquisite compositions that deserve to be heard on a bigger stage. With the ability to write such wonderful songs as ‘Beauty Sleep’, ‘Sarah’s Room’ and the superb concluding ‘Wasted Days’, it might be questioned as to why Marshall decided to include three covers in her short set. Continue reading “Peter Bruntnell + Sophia Marshall, Gullivers, Manchester, 30th May 2019”

Hayes Carll + Travis Linville, Deaf Institute, Manchester, 15th May 2019

Hayes Carll is in a pretty good place right now. His new album ‘What It Is’ is a triumphant return to form following two releases which some considered somewhat flat. In addition, at the start of an eight date tour of the UK in Manchester, he had some news to impart as he  announced that just three days earlier he had married his partner, Alison Moorer. This news was greeted with cheering and applause, something that was to be repeated regularly as the evening unfolded. Continue reading “Hayes Carll + Travis Linville, Deaf Institute, Manchester, 15th May 2019”