Ben Glover “Shorebound” (Proper Records, 2018)

Ben Glover 2018

Northern Irishman Ben Glover is an artist who certainly sees the value in collaborations in song-writing having said recently that “navigating is always easier with fellow travellers”. This approach certainly paid dividends last year when he co-wrote the Americana Music Association’s International Song of the Year ‘Blackbirds’  with Gretchen Peters in 2017. ‘Shorebound’ sees Glover continue with this approach with ten of the twelve tracks being co-written with fellow artists, including Peters again. Continue reading “Ben Glover “Shorebound” (Proper Records, 2018)”

Charley Crockett “Lonesome as a Shadow” (Thirty Tigers 2018)

Like his famous ancestor Davey, Charley has certainly not taken the easy route to success having spent years hitchhiking and busking in the US and around the world. He then toured extensively throughout the US, gaining a reputation as a formidable live act as audiences grew. From there he recorded an album that paid tribute to his favourite Country and honky-tonk songs that gained critical acclaim and saw him likened to the likes of Bill Withers, Dr John and, of course, Hank Williams. Continue reading “Charley Crockett “Lonesome as a Shadow” (Thirty Tigers 2018)”

Lindi Ortega “Liberty” (Shadowbox Music Inc 2018)

Canadian singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega has deployed a new approach with a sound that moves away from her traditional roots-influenced sound into what can be described as a more cinematic sound. ‘Liberty’ has a big, sweeping soundtrack feel to it with lush arrangements and songs that quite simply don’t do what you would expect. There is nothing obvious about the melodies or chord progressions in this collection of smouldering vignettes. Continue reading “Lindi Ortega “Liberty” (Shadowbox Music Inc 2018)”

Louis Brennan “Dead Capital” (Independent, 2018)

Painful, searing lyrics, darkness so bleak you feel you’ll never find a way out, but then laugh out loud moments that are life-affirming in their intensity. Such are the contradictions in this offering, as rich and dark as Irish stout from this London-based Dubliner and just as satisfying for those thirsting for originality and individuality in recorded output. Having grown disillusioned with his job, Brennan quit and started to write songs based on the comings and goings he observed in Victoria Park, London. The emptiness of spirit he identified led him to the theme and title of this album, Dead Capital. Deep, simmering vocals eke out tales of self-loathing and despair, with an almost symmetric beauty to cushion the blow, as in opener ‘Airport Hotel’. Continue reading “Louis Brennan “Dead Capital” (Independent, 2018)”

Darlingside “Extralife” (More Doug Records/Thirty Tigers 2018)

Massachusetts based Darlingside combine an almost dystopian view of the future with intricate, four-part harmonies to present an irresistible package on ‘Extralife‘. Described by NPR Music as “literary-minded, baroque, folk-pop” and with a distinctive vocal style that is reminiscent of the ‘Sunshine ‘60’s’ yet utterly modern, this is a record that reveals new depths on each listen. Continue reading “Darlingside “Extralife” (More Doug Records/Thirty Tigers 2018)”

The Novel Ideas “The Novel Ideas” (Independent 2017)

The Novel Ideas are a country-folk four-piece from Brighton, Massachusetts and their self-titled album was released in the UK in November. Having been playing together for around six years and featuring three different song-writers in their ranks, the Novel Ideas certainly don’t lack experience or creativity and it shows in a mature album that demonstrates all that is good about the Americana genre. Continue reading “The Novel Ideas “The Novel Ideas” (Independent 2017)”

Langhorne Slim “Lost at Last Vol 1” (Dualtone Records 2017)

Langhorne Slim has taken a “step sideways” from 2015’s The Spirit Moves in order to move forward. The result is a more stripped-back offering that retains much of Slim’s defiant introspection albeit in a more lo-fi folk style than previously. Recorded at Stinson Beach, California where views of the ocean have inspired numerous artists, “Lost at Last” sees Slim channel his desire for individuality into thirteen tracks that may lack some polish but gain a raw authentic feel. It’s a collection of songs, recorded almost spontaneously with a backing cast of seasoned Slim veterans like bassist Paul Defiglia and drummer Malachi DeLorenzo who also takes producing credits alongside Mt Davidson of Twain who contributes pedal steel among other things. Continue reading “Langhorne Slim “Lost at Last Vol 1” (Dualtone Records 2017)”

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit, Albert Hall, Manchester, 25th October 2017

The resplendent setting of a former Methodist hall in central Manchester was a suitable venue to welcome Jason Isbell back to these shores and an expectant congregation of devotees were not disappointed by an evening that showcased perfectly the strengths of one of America’s finest artists and his excellent band. Continue reading “Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit, Albert Hall, Manchester, 25th October 2017”

Janis Ian “The Essential 2.0” (Sony Music CMG 2017)

With ten Grammy nominations, and being able to count the likes of Dolly Parton, Cher, Billy Joel, Johnny Cash (who apparently kept a book of her poetry in his library), Jimi Hendrix and Willie Nelson as fans, Janis Ian is entitled to be described as “the songwriter’s songwriter”. When you consider that her songs have been covered by artists such as Glen Campbell, Celine Dion and Roberta Flack it is clear that this is a seriously talented artist and as such, this career-spanning retrospective really is an “essential” listen. Continue reading “Janis Ian “The Essential 2.0” (Sony Music CMG 2017)”

Kathryn Rose Wood “In The Ashes” (Independent 2017)

This is a debut album. It is a challenging album and a difficult album, but it is also an absolutely beautiful album. Kathryn Rose Wood, a singer/songwriter based in New Orleans, is also a clinical music therapist with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and therefore well aware of how powerful music can be in healing and improving well-being. It is poignant then, that the album is comprised of six songs that she wrote while grieving the suicide of her younger brother Preston and which chronicle the stages of grief. Continue reading “Kathryn Rose Wood “In The Ashes” (Independent 2017)”