Classic Album Review: Cowboy Junkies “The Trinity Session” (RCA, 1988)

This is arguably the slowest album ever recorded. It is surely ironic, therefore, that it was recorded in (almost) a single session on 27th November 1987 with no mixing, overdubs or edits. The recording was made on a single Calrec Ambisonic Microphone in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. The church was picked for its natural reverb and the session was booked under The Timmins Family Singers for a Christmas special. Continue reading “Classic Album Review: Cowboy Junkies “The Trinity Session” (RCA, 1988)”

Americana A to Z – Neutral Milk Hotel

Americana is described as the “amalgam of American music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions”. You might therefore think it inappropriate when producing an article entitled Americana A-Z, to write about Neutral Milk Hotel, who are variously described as indie rock, psychedelic folk, lo-fi or fuzz-folk. Continue reading “Americana A to Z – Neutral Milk Hotel”

Fierce Flowers “Mirador” (Celebration Days Records, 2019)

A mirador classically offers an extensive outlook, which is undoubtedly consistent with the breadth of music produced by this trio from Paris. They have encompassed everything from European folk to Appalachian bluegrass. Many different musical references mix to create a panoramic soundscape. Despite this, the resultant sound does not jar as you progress through the album, the different compositions sit comfortably together to produce a harmonic whole. They have effectively combined professional musicianship across a broad range of cultural styles with outstanding close vocal harmony singing throughout in both French and English which is their undoubted strength. Continue reading “Fierce Flowers “Mirador” (Celebration Days Records, 2019)”

Gill Landry “Skeleton at the Banquet” (Loose, 2020)

Context in music is everything. The black gem of ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ has been followed by a slightly brighter point on a brooding personal journey. Relatively speaking this album demonstrates another step in Landry’s cathartic therapy of songwriting. The broken heart has been replaced by a degree more reflection, albeit one with a hefty residual of bitterness and cynicism still present. Continue reading “Gill Landry “Skeleton at the Banquet” (Loose, 2020)”

Pepe Belmonte “Live at the Royal Albert Hall” (Beatroot Rendevouz, 2019)

This live album was recorded way back in 2011. The songs are all from his debut album ‘The Hermit’s Waltz’ which was released that year and never had a follow up tour as a result of a serious accident that left Pepe in a coma. This recording captures a moment in his journey back from that experience and a certain fragility of sound is evident which contrasts with the more confident style evident on the original studio versions. This delicacy contributes significantly to the overall feel of the album. Continue reading “Pepe Belmonte “Live at the Royal Albert Hall” (Beatroot Rendevouz, 2019)”

The Band “The Band (50th Anniversary Edition)” (Capitol/UMe, 2019)

It could have been called ‘America’, but it is justifiably called ‘The Band’. Legend has it that it  was conceived as a concept album relating to different aspects of America and the Deep South. It is carefully planned and structured, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, awesome as those parts are. It still stands out in sharp contrast to almost everything else in the contemporary soundscape. Continue reading “The Band “The Band (50th Anniversary Edition)” (Capitol/UMe, 2019)”

Jimbo Pap “It Can Always Get Worse” (Fiesta Red Records, 2019)

The debut album from Jimbo Pap occupies the border territory between outright country and indie rock. Gram Parsons is name-checked in the first song and somewhere along the way, Wilco passes through the mix. Jimbo Pap went from a solo project to a regular band with the three core members providing the name (Jim, Bo and Pap). They bring a fine pedigree to the band and their respective backgrounds are evidenced in the overall style. The sound typically juxtaposes wry humour with a jaunty up-tempo country musical composition. Continue reading “Jimbo Pap “It Can Always Get Worse” (Fiesta Red Records, 2019)”

Tui “Pretty Little Mister” (Hearth Music, 2019)

Some music requires repeated listening and reflection to grasp the artist’s intent. This album is not one of those. It is simply a joy to listen to from the very first time you hear it. Whether this is because it is a well-selected compilation or because we are already so familiar with traditional music is unimportant. Tui have taken old-time music and made it at once fresh and vibrant. Continue reading “Tui “Pretty Little Mister” (Hearth Music, 2019)”

Bard Edrington V “Espadin” (Independent, 2019)

This is the first solo album by Bard Edrington V and it has the inescapable air of creative freedom. The written style encapsulates a strong sense of time and place and his storytelling approach is acutely observational, which when coupled with the range of musical styles he has mastered, intermingle to capture the listener and carry them with him on his journey. Continue reading “Bard Edrington V “Espadin” (Independent, 2019)”

Robert Forster “Inferno” (Tapete Records, 2019)

It has been four years since Robert Forster released ‘Songs to Play’ and he has, as ever, taken “time to do my thing”. This has resulted in an album that is constrained in style yet expansive in personal expression. Each song captures a distinct emotion through the use of the literal to detail a moment, acutely observed.

Continue reading “Robert Forster “Inferno” (Tapete Records, 2019)”