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.

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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)”

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)”