The Orange Circus Band “Whistle in the Dawn” (Independent, 2020)

The Orange Circus Band are a Bluegrass/Americana collective based in Kent, but proclaiming roots in Virginia, USA, and this influence is plain to see in their new release ‘Whistle in the Dawn‘, which boasts an instrumental line up typical of the bluegrass genre, including guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin and fiddle, but augmented here by percussion, keys, pedal steel and harmonica. This is a spirited and uplifting album, with some rousing songs to get an audience on its feet, but its influences go wider into both traditional and contemporary folk, and folk-rock, contributing to a varied collection of original songs. Continue reading “The Orange Circus Band “Whistle in the Dawn” (Independent, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Guy Clark “Instant Coffee Blues”

Last week’s Chain Gang entry ‘Such Great Heights‘ by Iron and Wine leads me to a song featuring, alongside coffee to deal with its after-effects, the aforementioned wine. Guy Clark’s ‘Instant Coffee Blues‘ features on his 1975 album ‘Old No. 1‘, and is a classic song in the storytelling realm, as it takes us through a casual one night encounter, Clark singing in the first verse “And she took him home for reasons that she did not understand/And him, he had the answers but did not play his hand/For him he knew the taste of this wine very well/It all goes down so easily but the next day is hell.” Continue reading “AUK’s Chain Gang: Guy Clark “Instant Coffee Blues””

Layla Kaylif “Lovers Don’t Meet” (Canopus, 2020)

Layla Kaylif is a new kid on the block, in the Americana realm at least. With releases dating back to 1999’s ‘Shakespeare in Love‘, a pop success in the Middle East  and South East Asia, the British Emirati’s career has ranged from songwriter and recording artist to film scriptwriter and director for the 2018 movie release ‘The Letter Writer‘, in which she also had a leading role. Continue reading “Layla Kaylif “Lovers Don’t Meet” (Canopus, 2020)”

Classic Americana Albums: Ry Cooder “Into The Purple Valley” (Warner, 1972)

Ry Cooder has a unique and special place in the Americana realm, his reputation based on his consummate skills on guitar (especially slide, where many rate him among the world’s best) and mandolin, and as an arranger of roots and traditional music, from the USA and beyond. His musical legacy now spans five decades, 17 solo albums, as many collaborations again, including ‘Buena Vista Social Club’, and a similar number of movie soundtracks, most notably for Wim Wenders’ ‘Paris, Texas’. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Ry Cooder “Into The Purple Valley” (Warner, 1972)”

Kornastone “Spin Me The World” EP (Independent, 2020)

Spin Me The World‘ is the latest release from the Wolverhampton -based five-piece band Kornastone, following their debut album ‘Oh My Days’ released in  2018 and ‘Beautiful Day’ EP released last year.  The band is headed up by singer/songwriters Dave Lawrence & James Davey, collaborators since the late 1970’s, after an early band project writing songs and performing as a duo, often joining other artists on tour such as Raymond Froggatt. The other band members are Stuart Ward, Martin Ratcliffe and Keith Allen, with production by Gavin Monaghan. Continue reading “Kornastone “Spin Me The World” EP (Independent, 2020)”

My Girl The River “Cardinal in the Snow” (Independent, 2020)

Cardinal in the Snow‘ is the second album from duo My Girl The River, fronted by Louisiana native Kris Wilkinson on vocals and acoustic guitar and featuring her partner and bassist Joe Hughes, with contributions from their daughter Ruby, together with ‘A’ list session players from Nashville, where the album was recorded in 2019. The dozen songs on the album are all self- penned, with well-crafted lyrics, and Wilkinson’s fine vocals are the rock on which the collection stands. Continue reading “My Girl The River “Cardinal in the Snow” (Independent, 2020)”

Miracle Whips “The Art of Facts” (DevilDuck Records, 2020)

The Art of Facts‘ is the debut album from Portland, Oregon based band ‘Miracle Whips’. Described by the band as ‘porch music’, it is gentle and reflective, with subtle and well-crafted songs, featuring evocative impressionistic lyrics, often shading towards the apocalyptic, and musical arrangements introducing a variety of instruments and influences. Continue reading “Miracle Whips “The Art of Facts” (DevilDuck Records, 2020)”

Evan Uhlmann “Tea Lady” (Dog Legs Records, 2020)

Tea Lady‘ is the first album for 9 years by Evan Uhlmann, a 28-year-old Chicago based singer-songwriter. This self-penned record sits squarely in Bill Callahan ‘Smog‘ era territory, characterised by deadpan vocals, and mid-tempo arrangements, creating soundscapes, guitar-led, augmented by keys/synth, with lyrical themes around life, death and coming of age.
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Love Me In The Dark “Love Me In The Dark” (Independent, 2020)

Love Me In The Dark comprises of Steve McCormick and Heather Donavon, the two having met on stage five years ago in Venice, CA., each having had their own individual careers as songwriter/artists. This self-produced and released album is their first as a duo, but it has a maturity which reflects the closeness of their musical and personal bonds.

Continue reading “Love Me In The Dark “Love Me In The Dark” (Independent, 2020)”

The Birds of Ontario “The Birds of Ontario” (Independent, 2019)

For their self-released album of the same name The Birds of Ontario shamelessly dial the clock back to the 1970s, and a worthwhile trip back in time it is too. Opening track ‘She’s Got Time‘ references the Rolling Stones, driven by a fat riff, and very Jaggeresque vocals, while the second track  ‘Trick of Survival‘ has echoes of The Faces, and throughout the album nods to favourite sounds can be heard, including Mott the Hoople, T Rex and even early Status Quo. Continue reading “The Birds of Ontario “The Birds of Ontario” (Independent, 2019)”