The Mavericks “En Español” (Mono Mundo/Thirty Tigers, 2020)

The Mavericks, in keeping with their name, are a band that has consistently denied attempts to pigeon hole their music, which has blended a wide variety of styles since their birth as a band in Miami in 1989. After a heyday in the 1990’s, which brought both commercial and critical success, including a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Group for ‘Here Comes the Rain‘ in 1996, the band split in 2003, reforming in 2012. Latin stylings have always played a big part in their sound–as in their most successful UK hit, ‘Dance the Night Away‘ from 1998–reflecting the bands Cuban-American roots, but their latest release, ‘En Español’, is their first album exclusively in the Spanish language.

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Jack the Radio “Creatures” (Independent, 2020)

As a band Jack the Radio do what it says on the tin–their new 14 track release ‘Creatures‘ is radio-ready, ideal accompaniment to a road trip with the radio blasting out. With roots firmly in southern rock, but with added edge from some tasty steel guitar the band bring a fresh sound and well-crafted songs with memorable choruses. Continue reading “Jack the Radio “Creatures” (Independent, 2020)”

AmericanA to Z: Old Crow Medicine Show

I was privileged to see Old Crow Medicine Show as an unknown emerging band in the UK, when they stole the show at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2004. I caught them at the Mojo press tent, doing a busking set, at that time they weren’t on the festival bill, their high energy set drew an enthusiastic crowd, and they went down a storm. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Old Crow Medicine Show”

Lynn Miles “We’ll Look For Stars” (Independent, 2020)

‘We’ll Look For Stars’ is the 15th album from Canadian singer-songwriter Lynn Miles, who featured last month in our ‘Forgotten Artists’ feature. Perhaps overlooked rather than forgotten, as our writer suggested, this album demonstrates again what a great songwriter Miles is, deserving of much wider attention. Lovers of beautifully crafted songs written from the heart will immediately warm to the latest release from an artist who has been recording and touring since the early 1990s. A talented multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, piano, flute, violin and mandolin, Miles won a Juno award (Canadian Grammy) in 2003 for Roots Traditional Album of the year, and went on to be nominated in the same category in 2006 and 2011. She is also the recipient of six Canadian Folk music awards including three for songwriter of the year, and as half of the duo THE LYNNeS with Lynne Hanson for songwriters of the year and ensemble of the year at the 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards. Continue reading “Lynn Miles “We’ll Look For Stars” (Independent, 2020)”

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)”