Deer Tick “Deer Tick Volume 1/Volume 2” (Partisan Records 2017)

In what is a slightly unusual move, Deer Tick have simultaneously released two albums of contrasting styles, their first for four years. Whilst being massively diverse in sound, both records actually do sit together very well to offer a full insight into a band in full creative flow. Volume 1 is acoustic with some folk edges and opens with a full-on John McCauley vocal on Sea of Clouds that certainly shakes the listener out of any preconceptions that this may be the “quieter” of the two albums. Continue reading “Deer Tick “Deer Tick Volume 1/Volume 2” (Partisan Records 2017)”

Paul Kelly “Life is Fine” (Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl 2017)

‘Life is Fine’ as in ‘hanging by a thread’ rather than ‘great’, is a powerful return by Aussie songwriting royalty Paul Kelly. The Australian singer-songwriter is so pleased with it that he is about to embark on his first full band tour of North America to promote it. First listen to opening track Rising Moon will demonstrate why Kelly has such faith in “Life is Fine” as it’s a pretty irresistible R and B number and when the following tracks of Finally Something Good and the rocking Firewood and Candles kick in you can see how the variety of styles reflects the cohesiveness of the full band set up. Continue reading “Paul Kelly “Life is Fine” (Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl 2017)”

Dai and the Ramblers “Bon Bon” (Just Peachy Records 2017)

In 2014, debut album, the Zydeco-influenced “Duw Duw”, saw London-based Dai and the Ramblers gain widespread praise and this follow-up will be eagerly awaited.“Bon Bon” is a continuation in part of the style of their debut, but it also sees the sound evolve with elements of soul, country and even a hint of gospel in Up Above My Head. The album was recorded at a series of live sessions in Rupert Gillet’s Walthamstow studio and this definitely gives a vital edge to the sound. Song writer and front man Dai Price deals in tight and trim vignettes in a range of genres, all delivered in a rich vocal style and backed by an experienced team of musicians who have worked with the like of Van Morrison, Jeff Beck and Richard Thompson. Continue reading “Dai and the Ramblers “Bon Bon” (Just Peachy Records 2017)”

Kev Minney “Stories of the Sky” (Independent, 2017)

An astronomically-themed album cover heralds an interesting debut from Northampton-based acoustic virtuoso Kev Minney. Working closely with Mercury-nominated producer Jag Jago, Minney has crafted an album of dreamy soundscapes, often based around the themes of space. As an admirer of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Nick Drake, the songs are driven by personal storylines and given the precious time to develop and breathe. This is helped by an impressive range of contributing musicians and measured production that ensures the acoustic nature of the songs is never swamped. Continue reading “Kev Minney “Stories of the Sky” (Independent, 2017)”

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires “Youth Detention” (Don Giovanni Records 2017)

This is the album that, despite the title, sees the combative and essential Alabama rock outfit who are more ‘punk’ than many of the modern bands who claim to be, hit full maturity. It is also an album that goes beyond any “protest” label and instead paints a picture of a fractured society from within, albeit one that offers no little optimism. Continue reading “Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires “Youth Detention” (Don Giovanni Records 2017)”

Suntrodden “Suntrodden III” (Independent, 2017)

Austin-based Erik Stephansson releases the third of his Suntrodden collection. He describes this five track EP as being “about rediscovering your core and not succumbing to the distractions that put you at risk” which is a noble sentiment. Even nobler when you discover that Stephansson has eschewed much of the modern recording technology in favour of a stripped back lo-fi approach that lets the songs say it all. Continue reading “Suntrodden “Suntrodden III” (Independent, 2017)”

Paddy Nash “Gate Fever” (Mad Molly Records 2017)

Paddy Nash is a Derry-born singer-songwriter, more often seen kicking out with his seven-piece band The Happy Enchiladas, here releases his new solo album which sees him largely return to his folk roots. Nash who started out with the Derry Band Whole Tribe Sings, often described as “the greatest Northern Irish band who never made it big”, but who came very close after signing a US album deal and having their song “Happy” feature in Harp Lager’s US advertising campaign. However, “Gate Fever” finds Nash in a more reflective mode and this has enabled him to construct a fine body of work. Continue reading “Paddy Nash “Gate Fever” (Mad Molly Records 2017)”

Slaid Cleaves “Ghost on the Car Radio” (Proper Records 2017)

Slaid Cleaves releases his first album since 2013’s “Still Fighting the War” and it has to be said that the four-year wait has been worthwhile as “Ghost on the Car Radio” is an outstanding return. Born and raised in Maine but now a resident of Austin, Texas, Cleaves has clearly used the time wisely as this is an outstanding bunch of songs, full of insight and characters who are wrestling with the realities of modern life in small-town America such as the reflective tone of the amateur racer in Primer Gray who dwells on life’s changes as her relates his family’s connection to the sport. Or there are the changes that cause hardship to the family farm in Hickory as the narrator accepts that “you can’t stop the march of time”.  Continue reading “Slaid Cleaves “Ghost on the Car Radio” (Proper Records 2017)”

Kate Ellis “Carve Me Out” (River Rose Records, 2017)

Kate Ellis has trodden an interesting path to her debut album. Born in Louisiana, with a father who once played guitar for Hank Williams, she grew up in New York with a gift for classical piano and is now based in London and a qualified lawyer for good measure. However, the most relevant point of all is that Carve Me Out is quite simply a superb debut album and one that announces the arrival of a genuine talent.  Continue reading “Kate Ellis “Carve Me Out” (River Rose Records, 2017)”

Lil’ Lost Lou “Lil’ Lost Lou” (Bully Records 2017)

Lil’ Lost Lou may just have balanced out one of the most one sided stories in musical history. The Country/Rockabilly singer from Camden Town, aka Lou Psyche, has finally given voice to the eternal ‘other woman’, Jolene. I kIssed Your Man (Jolene) is as haunting a track as you will hear all year and one of a number of treasures on this debut album from this regular on the London Country/Punk scene. To record this album, Lou made a trip to Nashville to work with producer Billy Livsey, who has previously worked with the likes of Ronnie Lane and Kenny Rogers. Continue reading “Lil’ Lost Lou “Lil’ Lost Lou” (Bully Records 2017)”