The Goat Roper Rodeo Band “Cosmic Country Blue” (Aveline Records, 2016)

goat_roper_rodeoThis North Wales trio show just what you can achieve with a couple of acoustic guitars, a stand-up bass and the voice of a pinch-faced Kentucky miner’s son. Turns out you can do an awful lot – they sound as though they’ve been pickled in moonshine for generations. The harmonies flow easily, the songs sound like standards, they’re that comfortable, that skilled and as authentic as a sweat-stained sun bleached John Deere hat. Continue reading “The Goat Roper Rodeo Band “Cosmic Country Blue” (Aveline Records, 2016)”

FELL “There Still Are Mysteries” (Nous Vous Press, 2016)

fellI’m sure that a lot of music is designed from the point of view of the listener, concentrating on what the listener wants, putting them at the centre and delivering a reassuring experience. I’m equally as sure that Nicolas Burrows doesn’t work that way, as Glaciers and now as FELL he makes music very much from his own point of view. This is considerably higher-fi than previous recordings – the songs are full of gently modulated atmospheres, though not sounding like, I’m often reminded of the American Analog Set. ‘Other Ways’ with its falsetto vocal and heat haze guitars puts me in mind of the slo-core Radar Brothers. Continue reading “FELL “There Still Are Mysteries” (Nous Vous Press, 2016)”

Ben Glover “The Emigrant” (Proper Records, 2016)

ben-gloverGlover was born and raised in Ireland and is domiciled in the US. He uses these experiences to power the sense of belonging or not, the rootlessness, the mixture of feelings that surround the transplanted. He does this via six traditional and four original songs, again posing another type of schism, the two sets of halves reconciled in mid-Atlantic. The songs are trying to balance the traditions of Irish folk music with the idioms of Nashville Country. ‘Heart in My Hand’ written with Mary Gauthier uses the reeling fiddle to give it that wind-blown Irish sheen, whereas at the heart of the song beats Nashville. Continue reading “Ben Glover “The Emigrant” (Proper Records, 2016)”

Reverieme “Straw Woman” (Absolute, 2016)

reveriemeThere are so many occasions where this record comes close to being beguiling that it’s a pity that there are only a few moments where the promise is completely fulfilled. Louise Connell has a lithe voice that wraps itself around words in a seductive manner whilst inhabiting the personality of the songs. I’m perfectly happy to get drawn in and lost in songs like ‘Plankton’ where her voice is matched against dark electronic tones and the flightier mandolin. When her voice is front and centre it dominates the song, the tremolo strums adding in some Twin Peaks atmosphere without detracting from the impact. Continue reading “Reverieme “Straw Woman” (Absolute, 2016)”

The Invisible World “Color/Echo” (Independent, 2016)

The Invithe-invisible-worldsible World suggests something hidden away, undiscovered, something mysterious – it’s a promise not borne out by the music on this second EP from the Kansas City band. It’s all surface, standard rock tropes, nothing is subtly smuggled in, just songs in search of an audience. They are amiable enough, the vocals try to develop a personality by introducing some interesting phrasing but they can’t disguise what they are, competent, that’s a word that can be used to describe this whole endeavour. Continue reading “The Invisible World “Color/Echo” (Independent, 2016)”

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry “Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad” (Cooking Vinyl, 2016)

Bragg anbilly-bragg-joe-henryd Henry recorded these thirteen railway themed songs whilst travelling for 65 hours along the 2,728-mile rail journey from Chicago to LA. The songs were guerrilla recorded at station stops along the way – the railroad is present at all times in the subject of the songs or adding ambient sounds to the recordings. These boho hobos have found a way to celebrate the railroad as a cultural icon without a hint of a blush; the songs are performed with such sincerity, affection and joy it becomes infectious – the morning commute never seems so romantic.  Continue reading “Billy Bragg & Joe Henry “Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad” (Cooking Vinyl, 2016)”

Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)

Landing somewhere between the Cramps and the Handsome Family, this one-off project creates its own feral sound. It’s a musical collage with a Gothic heart. It flirts with genre but shies away from commitment – instead it skids from one thing to another, the opener skitting between avant electronica, Morricone western soundtrack and something swampy. ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ makes a bid for coherence and ends up like Lee Hazelwood soundtracking a Roger Corman flick. Continue reading “Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)”

Heidi Talbot “Here We Go, 1, 2, 3…” (Navigator Records, 2016)

For aheidi-talbot-2016nyone who has heard Talbot’s voice, its power and expressiveness are givens – it is a thing of beauty, it sparkles, it could elevate the works of Jilly Cooper towards art. It is one thing to possess something beautiful and another to put it in the right setting, imagine casting Ingrid Bergman in an Adam Sandler film. Luckily for Talbot she has taken more control in this fifth release. It was recorded at her and her husband’s John McCusker, newly built home studio and she was involved in writing eight out of the ten songs which reflect a period of upheaval and show a growing maturity. Continue reading “Heidi Talbot “Here We Go, 1, 2, 3…” (Navigator Records, 2016)”

Jinnwoo “Strangers Bring Me No Light” (GFM Records, 2016)

Jinnwojinwoo-2016o (Ben Webb) dabbles in the kind of outsider folk that at one time would have been snared by the anti-folk brigade; it’s a mix of Lou Barlow (in Sebadoh and Sentridoh low-fi obscured by the process mode) the naivety of Daniel Johnson, some Viking Moses, R Stevie Moore and heap of Danielson’s off-kilter playfulness. He’s gathered a host of collaborators to provide or add vocals, or produce, his own voice is a pronounced witter and when it is stirred into an obfuscated fog of clanging instruments – it can be rather hard going. Continue reading “Jinnwoo “Strangers Bring Me No Light” (GFM Records, 2016)”