Simone Felice, Leaf, Manchester, 30th April 2019

Dressed in black jeans, black shirt and a crumpled black jacket; with unkempt hair and a greying, wispy beard, Simone Felice shuffled unceremoniously on to the stage to open the first of two sets he delivered tonight.  Accompanied for the evening by only his acoustic guitar, Felice gave a cursory nod to his audience before opening the evening with the familiar ‘One More American Song’ from the 2009 The Duke and The King album ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’. From the start, a hushed room hung on every note and every word and this remained the case for the remainder of the night. Continue reading “Simone Felice, Leaf, Manchester, 30th April 2019”

Old Lost John “Seers and Weathermen” (Independent, 2019)

Old Lost John’s albums have regularly gained favour on this site. His latest offering is not about to change that, in fact, it is arguably his best yet. If the name is new to you, then you’ve been missing out. Swedish troubadour, Tomas Thurnberg, AKA Old Lost John, recorded ‘Seers and Weathermen’ during the latter months of last year, in his flat in Malmo and at his parents’ house in the Swedish countryside. He also produced, mixed and mastered it himself. Thurnberg has decided to release it only via download and streaming “to save a little CO2”. Whilst this might be very laudable, his judgement might be questioned from a commercial point of view. However, that debate is for another day. Continue reading “Old Lost John “Seers and Weathermen” (Independent, 2019)”

Molly Tuttle + Ole Kirkeng, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th April 2019

Molly Tuttle has been creating quite a lot of noise recently and on tonight’s evidence she’s no empty vessel. Twenty-six year old Tuttle grew up in San Francisco and started to play the guitar when she was eight years old. Four years ago, she moved to Nashville, releasing a seven track mini- album ‘Rise’ in 2017. Her debut full album ‘When You’re Ready’ was released earlier this month to huge critical acclaim. No surprise really then to find a packed crowd in Manchester wanting to check out the live experience and they were not disappointed as they were treated to an enthralling evening of Tuttle’s songs along with some carefully selected covers and a display of folk guitar playing that stands up alongside the very best. Continue reading “Molly Tuttle + Ole Kirkeng, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th April 2019”

The Long Ryders + The Hanging Stars, Gorilla, Manchester, 10 April 2019

It seems that nearly everyone you speak to arrived at this thing we call Americana via a different route. One area of commonality though, is that The Long Ryders were an important step on that journey, or indeed, for some, the beginning of it. For this reason, the band continue to be held in high regard and with great affection by their loyal fan base. The demographic of tonight’s audience suggests that the majority are long-standing fans. Long Ryder’s shows in recent years have been hugely enjoyable nostalgia trips. This year, there is a new dynamic; the band have released the excellent ‘Psychedelic Country Soul’ album, to critical acclaim and no little commercial success (Sid Griffin took much delight in informing the audience that it had reached number one in the official UK Americana album chart). Continue reading “The Long Ryders + The Hanging Stars, Gorilla, Manchester, 10 April 2019”

Steve Gunn + Papercuts, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 8th April 2019

Over the last decade Steve Gunn has built his name as an innovative and accomplished guitarist. What’s not been so clearly highlighted is the fact that he is also a damn fine songwriter. Gunn’s 2019 album ‘The Unseen in Between’ certainly gave greater prominence to his songs, where in previous releases they sometimes seemed incidental to the music. Appearing in Manchester on the last date of his UK tour, Gunn’s set strongly reflected this change of emphasis. All nine songs from his new album were performed, sandwiched between acoustic opener ‘Wildwood’ and the final encore ‘Way Out Weather’, both taken from his 2014 album, of which the latter is the title track. Continue reading “Steve Gunn + Papercuts, The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 8th April 2019”

Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman “Stubborn Heart” (Lucky Number Music, 2019)

“Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman is a Jewish New York author. Readers here might be familiar with his account of the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue ‘On the Road with Bob Dylan.’ Sloman also wrote ‘Reefer Madness,’ a social history of the use of marijuana in the USA. He is a friend and collaborator with fellow Jewish writer and musician, Kinky Friedman. ‘Stubborn Heart’ is Sloman’s first album and one that he has wanted to make for a long time. Continue reading “Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman “Stubborn Heart” (Lucky Number Music, 2019)”

Grain Electric, The Peer Hat, Manchester, 16th March 2019

Stuart Warburton and Jamie Fildes previously worked together in the 1980s as members of the excellent Rhythmaires. When that band broke up, each went their separate ways; Fildes enjoying some minor success with the band Buchanan (who had an 8/10 album review by AUK back in 2010) and Warburton performing as a solo artist. Now they have reunited as the joint songwriters and front men of the newly formed Grain Electric. The Peer Hat, located in Manchester’s artistic Northern Quarter, is an established venue for new bands to find their feet, so it was a natural choice for the band to play only their second gig. Manchester folk are famously not unfamiliar with a drop of rain but this weekend’s deluge made even the hardiest of Mancunians think twice before pulling that old waterproof out of the cupboard. Continue reading “Grain Electric, The Peer Hat, Manchester, 16th March 2019”

Matthew Logan Vasquez “Light’n Up” (Dine Alone, 2019)

‘Light’n Up’ is the third solo album from Texas singer-songwriter and former Delta Spirit frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez. It sees him take a considerable turn in the road to follow a new direction away from the largely hard rocking approach of its predecessors. The album is far more lyrically driven and far more varied musically. It is a very introspective and personal album, written during a challenging time for Vasquez. Continue reading “Matthew Logan Vasquez “Light’n Up” (Dine Alone, 2019)”

Palmer T. Lee “Winebringer” (Team Love Records, 2019)

Palmer T. Lee is familiar as one half of The Lowest Pair. He, along with partner Kendl Winter, have released five commendable albums under that name since 2003. Now, the pair are taking a break from their day jobs to pursue solo projects. Lee’s is the first to surface and it surfaces with a real splash. Continue reading “Palmer T. Lee “Winebringer” (Team Love Records, 2019)”

Kalyn Fay “Good Company” (Horton Records, 2019)

Three years on from her 2016 debut album ‘Bible Belt’, Oklahoma singer-songwriter Kalyn Fay releases her follow up ‘Good Company’. In the ensuing three years Fay has moved to Arkansas to pursue a Fine Arts degree. It’s clear from the songs that she misses her home state, even describing the album as “a love letter to the place I love best”. Continue reading “Kalyn Fay “Good Company” (Horton Records, 2019)”