The Swamptruck Good Time Band “Swamptruck Good Time Band” (Independent, 2019)

This is the debut album from an established group of five musicians, based in Cambridge UK, well known at local festivals, and at The Cambridge Festival itself. They are much revered locally. ‘Good Time Band,’ the first track, sets the scene well and establishes the band’s appeal to an audience. As Alasdair Taylor sings, “It must have been the moonshine!” and his harmonica, backed by Graham Spink’s banjo, all capture the appeal of Swamptruck immediately. Continue reading “The Swamptruck Good Time Band “Swamptruck Good Time Band” (Independent, 2019)”

Libby Koch “Redemption 10 – Live at Blue Rock” (Berkalin Records, 2019)

Libby Koch (rhymes with Coke), from Houston, Texas, now with an established reputation, wanted to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the recording of her first album, ‘Redemption.’ Ten years ago, it was Libby, a guitar and a fine album. Now, an established artist, she has gathered around her a group of musicians including Patterson Barrett, who co produced ‘Redemption 10’ with Libby and who plays piano, organ, pedal steel and mandolin, with other members of the band: Bill Browder, lead guitar; Eddie Cantu on drums; Javier Chaparro on violin; and Glenn Schuetz on bass. Together they have produced a live performance recorded at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio, Wimberley, in central Texas hill country, south of Austin, an outstanding album! Continue reading “Libby Koch “Redemption 10 – Live at Blue Rock” (Berkalin Records, 2019)”

R.W. Roldan “Can You Feel This” (Allswell Records, 2019)

Ray William Roldan is based in Topanga CA. part of western Los Angeles. As an artist, he likes to be called R.W. Roldan. This album is memorable and remarkable. The first track, is just the right introduction to RW’s work: Here he is, telling a story of American life as it was and still is, picking the perfect protagonist, a singer, a girl, “a falling star/ Out behind a honky-tonk bar,” realising that the “Road to fame was too damn long,” and “Nothing felt right.” At his point in the narrative, RW is joined by Jenna Blake (from the group, Valley Shine from L.A.) singing harmony and backing up the idea of the hardness of a boarding house life where “Paradise can feel like hell/ When you’re waiting for the sound of that dinner bell.” Continue reading “R.W. Roldan “Can You Feel This” (Allswell Records, 2019)”

Foy Vance “To Memphis” (Gingerbread Man Records, 2019)

Foy Vance is from Northern Ireland, a native of Bangor, near Belfast. He recorded and co-produced, with Matt Ross-Sprang, this album, literally in Memphis. You can guess where the equally interesting companion album was recorded by its title, ‘From Muscle Shoals.’ Obviously, he is at home musically in Tennessee and Alabama! But beyond that, here is an insight into Foy’s ability to conceptualise clearly, musical and lyrical ideas. The strong appeal of this album lies in its ideas and its music.
Continue reading “Foy Vance “To Memphis” (Gingerbread Man Records, 2019)”

Rod Melancon “Pinkville” (Blue Élan Records 2019)

This is Rod Melancon’s fourth album, produced by Adrian Quesada and Will Walden and recorded in Austin Texas. Prepare to be astounded and moved by music that growls at you from The South. The title track is spoken by Rod against a haunting drum, cymbal, and Will Walden’s guitar. Vivid memories of his own childhood in Louisiana: “the Mermentau River,” “the old grey faded house,” and a man with PTSD, “walking back and forth in a daze,” as it turns out, a damaged veteran of the Vietnam war whose confused mind was still “far off in the burning villages of Pinkville.” Continue reading “Rod Melancon “Pinkville” (Blue Élan Records 2019)”

Hegsy and The Elements “My Truths” (Independent, 2019)

This is the debut Hegsy and The Elements album, a record where Mark Hegarty and his band tell and share movingly, with their audiences, stories that make you think and react. All the tracks were recorded at Shabbey Road Studios Cardiff and produced there by Al Steele. So, be prepared, to be taken down many interesting and unexpected roads. ‘Oh Sonni,’ the first track, is a captivating starter with Heulwen Thomas on violin providing, a foot-stomping background for the song of love for a son: “Oh Sonny, I’m by your side.” Continue reading “Hegsy and The Elements “My Truths” (Independent, 2019)”

John Jenkins and the James Street Band “Looking for That American Dream” (Independent 2019)

Here is a notable and established band from Liverpool. The reliability of John Jenkins’ work is demonstrated in the title track ‘Looking for That American Dream’ which begins the record and captures the listener’s attention immediately with its references to ‘The American Song Book, John Denver and Dolly.’ You are in safe hands. Look out for the outstanding promotional video by Phil Calland. The rest of the album follows in its wake. Continue reading “John Jenkins and the James Street Band “Looking for That American Dream” (Independent 2019)”

Greg Felden “Made of Strings” (Independent, 2019)

Already an established musician in America, where he is based in Los Angeles, this is Greg Felden’s full length debut album. His choice of producer here is significant – Al Sgro who began his professional career working with Gary Jules, touring the world on the success of ‘Mad World’. His experience shines through here, through Felden’s singing and songwriting and the support of known and respected LA musicians. Continue reading “Greg Felden “Made of Strings” (Independent, 2019)”

Chris Rawlins “Bring on The Rain” (Chris Cialdella, 2019)

Chris Rawlins is based in Chicago. This is his debut album, and significantly it has been produced by none other than Steve Dawson. So here is an unusual and remarkable record, in Chris Rawlins’ own words, “It’s a hawk that screeches in the winter wind.” Rawlins has written here songs about ordinary life, its personal nature, and how, very often, from different perspectives, it has differing effects on the people involved in the songs, and on an audience, or an individual listening. Continue reading “Chris Rawlins “Bring on The Rain” (Chris Cialdella, 2019)”

Eric Bolander “The Wind” (Eastwood Records, 2019)

Eric Bolander is from Garrison, Kentucky,where he is an art teacher by day and a singer-songwriter by night. This album was recorded in Lexington Ky and produced by Duane Lundy (Sturgill Simpson). Listen to the title track to see how you are captured immediately by this masterpiece as he sings, “Why don’t the wind blow me away?” Slowly, almost thankfully, always mellifluously, Bolander accepts what life presents to him, and here that sentiment is echoed perfectly by Trenton Jenkins’ soft banjo. “Tried and tested, but I’m here to stay,” sings Bolander, and one gets the feeling that he knows the score in every sense! Continue reading “Eric Bolander “The Wind” (Eastwood Records, 2019)”