Sean McMahon “You Will Know When You’re There” (Blind Date Records 2019)

Here is a record that provides a tantalising glimpse of Americana in Australia. McMahon, from Melbourne, has a distinctive voice that resonates here – wistful at times, but always a winning, must listen to, and thoughtful sound. He has gathered around him, with producer Roger Bergodaz, a team of interesting Australian musicians including Kelly Day, Freya Josephine Hollick and Matt Dixon. Continue reading “Sean McMahon “You Will Know When You’re There” (Blind Date Records 2019)”

Suzanne Jarvie “In The Clear” (Wolf Island, 2019)

 Suzanne’s sophomore album follows confidently and precisely in the lines of her first album, ‘Spiral Road.’ Her family worries have now abated; her songwriting skills are powerfully varied and imaginative.‘In The Clear  demands your attention and moves you at the same time. ‘Headless Rider‘ is a perfect starter, traditional in its settings, “A lonesome switchback mountain road” and mysterious narrative: a woman on the stage being driven away, with a phantom, meaning to take her life. A gothic thriller then, with Jarvie’s voice holding you firmly with musicianship of the highest quality. Here are the Abrams Brothers providing violin and guitar echoing the narrative, and Burke Carroll’s pedal steel sustaining the thoughtful notes, with the realisation at the end of the song that “Everything she had it was burning away.” Continue reading “Suzanne Jarvie “In The Clear” (Wolf Island, 2019)”

Modern Hinterland “The Hoppings” (Label Fandango, 2018)

This is  Modern Hinterland’s first album. It is built around Chris Hornsby, who produced the record, wrote all the songs, and who sings and plays guitar. He is accompanied here by Tim Thackray on bass and Colin Marshall on drums. Try to listen to Hornsby’s single, ‘Helium’ which is taken from his first album. It is a taster for ‘The Hoppings.Continue reading “Modern Hinterland “The Hoppings” (Label Fandango, 2018)”

Philippe Bronchtein “Me and the Moon” (Independent, 2018)

PMe and the Moonhilippe Bronchtein comes from Madison, in Nashville, Tennessee. This is his fourth full length album, but the first under his real name; before this, he was Hip Hatchet. Check out the track, ‘Sun Can’t Walk’ from Hip Hatchet’s 2011 album, “Men Who Share My Name’. You will hear a taster of Philippe’s appealing and honest sensitivity. This new album was recorded at 2-Track Mind in Portland Oregon, Phil’s bedroom, and The Adrift Hotel’s band cabin in Long Beach WA. With him, singing and playing keys are two musicians: Jason Montgomery on pedal steel and dobro, and Anna Hoone harmony vocals. Be prepared to be moved by a portrayal with insight into everyday life. Continue reading “Philippe Bronchtein “Me and the Moon” (Independent, 2018)”

Tony Rose “Medicine Tunes” (Cannery Row Records 2018)

Tony Rose is from Glasgow and this is his first solo record. He has previously recorded as a member of Two Dollar Bash and has a career extending beyond Scotland, playing across Europe, jamming and swapping songs from Prague to Berlin and Amsterdam and all across Canada and the USA, promoting this important bluegrass related brand of music. What a force! And a what a joy to discover his style, and his ability, apparently, to overcome and record life as it really is. Continue reading “Tony Rose “Medicine Tunes” (Cannery Row Records 2018)”

Lyman Ellerman “I Wish I Was A Train” (Woodshed Resistance, 2018)

Lyman Ellerman is based in Bon Aqua, Tennessee and has written all the songs and, with Jason Morgan, produced this remarkable record. Listening and being drawn into the eleven tracks, one can’t fail to draw up a picture of the humanity of Lyman that makes him so remarkable. His voice, his guitar work, and the power of his lyrics just underline this presence. Bigger Plans,’ the first track, is a confident, thought provoking, and uptempo starter. You get the measure of Lyman straight away. His words are full of wise warnings of the vicissitudes of life. It’s no good being “bound and chained to your treasures” or “shackled to your fears.” The fact is you’ll never see what’s really coming. “Foundations will crumble,”  because you’ll never see what’s really coming, being “too busy making bigger plans.” And the message is swayed up by fine guitar work, here and throughout the album. Continue reading “Lyman Ellerman “I Wish I Was A Train” (Woodshed Resistance, 2018)”

Tami Neilson “Sassafrass” (Outside Music, 2018)

Born in Canada, now based in New Zealand, Tami Neilson, confidently presents her sixth album. Tami, part of a musical family, has had a  part in the writing of all the songs here, some with her brother, Joshua Neilson and one with her late father, leader of The Neilsons, a Canadian family band active in the 90’s with whom Tami played from the age of 12. Continue reading “Tami Neilson “Sassafrass” (Outside Music, 2018)”

Ash Gray “Chicken Wire” (Labelship Records, 2018)

Here is the second album from Ash Gray from  Austin, TX, now based in Sheffield, Yorkshire, the land of his forefathers. All the tracks here are written and produced by Gray himself. The title track demonstrates well how Gray orchestrates and startles with his music. This is a song, that under the influence of the pedal steel (James Shelton from Austin, Texas) and the saw (Jeff Johnston, also from Austin) is able to convince you, (with the rhyme of “cold desire” with the idea of “the fear of pain like a cat on fire / Caught in the chicken wire!”) how uneasy life and love can be. Listen to the song and the conundrum will become more clear. “Yeah! Caught in the chicken wire!” What an original, stark and compelling image. Continue reading “Ash Gray “Chicken Wire” (Labelship Records, 2018)”

Rod Picott “Out Past The Wires” (Welding Rod Records, 2018)

Rod Picott’s pedigree is prodigious and it shows in his music. In this album, produced by Neilson Hubbard in Nashville, he is framed by standout musicians: Will Kimborough, Lex Price, Evan Hutchings and Kris Donegan. His recent tour of the UK will have re-emphasised his stature. He says of ‘Out Past The Wires’ that it is “My most ambitious project of my seventeen year career.” And “The most satisfying recording I’ve made.” Those words stress how important this work is, and also how important our appreciation and understanding of it is, as well. Continue reading “Rod Picott “Out Past The Wires” (Welding Rod Records, 2018)”

Dean Owens “Southern Wind” (At The Helm Records 2018)

Dean Owens is a well known artist from Leith, with an established reputation on both sides of the Atlantic and here is a very special album. This review should convince you to take special notice of  his work. Recorded and produced in Nashville, with an array of notable musicians in support, you can “feel the wind blowing” through the music. On the title track, and throughout the album, you can hear Will Kimbrough and his all-round musicianship. He is a close associate and friend of Dean’s. Continue reading “Dean Owens “Southern Wind” (At The Helm Records 2018)”