The Lone Bellow + Tommy, St Pancras Old Church, London, 23rd January 2020

The charming and atmospheric St Pancras Old Church, dating back to the Norman era,  was a perfect setting for an intimate set by The Lone Bellow, the second of two sold out shows. Performing as a trio, rather than the augmented line up seen on earlier tours, the format for their set was mainly acoustic and unplugged, with amplification provided by a single microphone, ‘bluegrass style’, around which the band formed a tight grouping, with the exception of opening song ‘Wonder’ and set closer ‘May you be Well‘, which featured Brian Elmquist on piano. Continue reading “The Lone Bellow + Tommy, St Pancras Old Church, London, 23rd January 2020”

Torgeir Waldemar “Love” (Jansen Records, 2020)

‘Love’ is Norwegian troubadour Torgeir Waldemar’s follow up to the well-received ‘No Offending Borders‘ album released in 2017. Described by his publicists as (his) “most ambitious work to date”, and “inspired by Brian Wilson’s ‘Love and Mercy’” this ambition is perhaps the album’s downfall.
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Tim Holehouse “Come” (Aaahh!!! Real Records, 2019)

Tim Holehouse hails from Portsmouth, and boasts a musical journey reflecting a busy touring schedule and a variety of genres, from rock to the more acoustic guitar-led sound of this, his latest album, on which he creates a distinctive sound from diverse sources, including roots in the blues. Musically a number of influences stand out, notably Bill Callahan in his Smog days, both in his vocal style and tone, and arrangements, which focus on acoustic guitar and percussion, with prominent use of strings, augmented by keys, and electric and slide guitars. Continue reading “Tim Holehouse “Come” (Aaahh!!! Real Records, 2019)”

AmericanA to Z – The Flying Burrito Brothers

Fifty years after their seminal debut album ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’ was released in Spring 1969 The Flying Burrito Brothers shine out as Americana pioneers, their reputation based more on artistic reputation and credibility among their peers and successors, than commercial success. It was famously said of Velvet Underground’s output that  ‘The Velvet Underground didn’t sell many records, but everyone who bought one went out and started a band’ ( variously attributed to Lou Reed or Eno), similarly the influence of The Flying Burrito Brothers on bands that followed cannot be overstated. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – The Flying Burrito Brothers”

Scott H.Biram “Sold Out to the Devil: A Collection of Gospel Cuts by the Rev. Scott H. Biram” (Bloodshot Records, 2019)

Hailing from Austin Texas, Scott H. Biram brings a distinctive elemental country blues sound to his latest album, ‘Sold Out to the Devil: A Collection of Gospel Cuts by the Rev. Scott H. Biram’, on which he plays all instruments and provides both lead and backing vocals. As the title suggests, this is a collection of songs with a strong gospel thread, but we are in the realm of struggles for salvation more than simple praise for the Lord.
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Horace Holloway “Tin Foil Stars” (Dirtleg Records, 2019)

‘Tin Foil Stars ‘ is the debut five track EP by Florida based Horace Holloway, the recording alias of Jeffery Morrison, and a very promising debut it is too. Featuring strong support from players including Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown), Neil Franz (Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris) and Brett Williams (Mighty Joe Plum), the EP is characterised by strong song writing, often introspective but with a positive take reflected in mostly up tempo and up beat arrangements, which are at their strongest when augmented on the opening track ‘King of Diamonds‘ by Morrison himself on harmonica, by sideman Mark Robertson-Tessi who plays very tasty mandolin on ‘Paper Heroes’, and by pedal steel player Neil Flanz. Continue reading “Horace Holloway “Tin Foil Stars” (Dirtleg Records, 2019)”

GospelbeacH “Let It Burn” (Alive Naturalsound Records)

‘Let It Burn’  is the third studio album from GospelbeacH, the LA based band led by singer-songwriter, Brent Rademaker (formerly of Beachwood Sparks), and the follow up to ‘Another Summer of Love’ (Shindig! magazine Record of the Year 2017). Making a major contribution to the album is guitarist Neal Casal, best known for his work with Ryan Adam’s Cardinals, who sadly passed away aged 50 in August this year, having rejoined GospelbeacH for this record, and his virtuoso playing is a strong element of this album. Continue reading “GospelbeacH “Let It Burn” (Alive Naturalsound Records)”

Owen Tromans “Between Stones” (Sacred Geometry, 2019)

‘Between Stones’, the latest album from Owen Tromans, based in Hampshire, has one foot firmly in the folk/progressive rock genre, but also has echoes of Neil Young that take it closer to the home territory of Americana. The latter is best heard in the prevailing sense of foreboding in ‘Mark Pales Ghost’ and the moving ballad ‘Burying the Moon King’, but Tromans’ vocal style has a strong hint of Young’s delivery on many of the album’s tracks. Continue reading “Owen Tromans “Between Stones” (Sacred Geometry, 2019)”

Jason Hawk Harris “Love & the Dark” (Bloodshot Records, 2019)

Hailing from Houston, and now LA based, this is the first full length release from Jason Hawk Harris, and some first release it is. Though clearly showing its writers’ country and alt-country roots, a wide range of influences outside this core is evident in this exceptionally well produced album, with compelling vocals from Harris.
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Levees “Vultures” (Leveesfolk, 2019)

‘Vultures’ is the second album from Justin Mills, hailing from Dallas Texas, performing as Levees. The album features a stripped back sound on guitar and banjo, with sparse arrangements reminiscent of Willie Watson’s recent solo albums. Flagged as a concept/narrative album, it is the story of two runaways, with high hopes fading as their road trip crosses the western USA. Continue reading “Levees “Vultures” (Leveesfolk, 2019)”