Wayne Graham “1% Juice” (Hometown Caravan, 2020)

Wayne Graham, a musical partnership between brothers Kenny and Hayden Miles, badge themselves as an alt-country/Americana group, and this self-produced twelve-track album lives up to the billing, with a foot firmly in both camps. With roots in the music of East Kentucky, Central Appalachia, the band formed in 2010 and have half a dozen album releases to their name. Their latest release blends a wide range of influences, while never losing their Americana core. Continue reading “Wayne Graham “1% Juice” (Hometown Caravan, 2020)”

Classic Americana Albums: Ry Cooder “Bop Till You Drop” (Warners, 1979)

In his long and illustrious career Ry Cooder has cut out a unique niche with his reinterpretations of American blues and roots music, and never to greater effect than on his 1979 release ‘Bop Till You Drop‘, his eighth solo album. The album was also a trailblazer, as the first digitally recorded commercial release on a major label, setting a new standard for recording quality. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Ry Cooder “Bop Till You Drop” (Warners, 1979)”

Dawes “Good Luck With Whatever” (Rounder Records, 2020)

Nashville’s famed RCA studio A has a renowned roster of great recording sessions dating back to its birth in 1965, from the Beach Boys and BB King, to recent albums by Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton. The latest release from LA-based Dawes–their seventh studio album– shares production credits with Isbell and Stapleton, producer Dave Cobb having made Studio A his recording home. As would be expected from the six-time Grammy award winner Cobb, ‘Good Luck With Whatever’ features top-notch production, letting the all-original songs shine, with varied arrangements maintaining listener interest throughout the nine tracks. Continue reading “Dawes “Good Luck With Whatever” (Rounder Records, 2020)”

St. Lorelei “Beast” (Independent, 2020)

St. Lorelei is a new band fronted by Jo Morris, following on from her 2017 debut EP. Based in New Orleans, ‘Beast’ features her dreamlike and ethereal vocals on eight songs, all self-penned with the exception of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Snake Song’, and sitting in a place where Southern Gothic influences shade into David Lynch’s Twin Peaks oeuvre. And a very atmospheric place it is.  Continue reading “St. Lorelei “Beast” (Independent, 2020)”

James Edwyn and the Borrowed Band “Before We Go” (Independent, 2020)

Glasgow-based James Edwyn and the Borrowed Band impressed with their 2017 album ‘High Fences’, rated a 9/10 on this site, and described as ‘The first great album of 2018’, and a follow-up release was scheduled for this year. Like many other projects the current difficulties facing musicians both performing and recording have delayed plans to finish the new album, and this release plugs the gap, seven tracks recorded in three takes over the course of a session of only 90 minutes and flagged as acoustic demos. Continue reading “James Edwyn and the Borrowed Band “Before We Go” (Independent, 2020)”

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.

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

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)”