Gretchen Peters “The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury” (Proper Records, 2020)

Inducted into the Nashville Hall of Fame just six years ago after a twenty-year career in music, Gretchen Peters is a singer-songwriter who has enjoyed writing for many notable country artists including Shania Twain, George Strait, and Trisha Yearwood. ‘The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury’ – a collection of covers – is her tenth solo album since her debut ‘A Secret Life’ was released in 1996. Continue reading “Gretchen Peters “The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury” (Proper Records, 2020)”

Luke Sital-Singh “New Haze”(EP) (Raygun Music, 2020)

Americana is a broad church, one which warmly welcomes L.A. dweller and English ex-pat Luke Sital-Singh to its blended choir. Sital-Singh got his big break in 2017 writing a song that was used for Silent Witness and is now based in LA. His acoustic, almost lullaby, singer-songwriter style straddles dream pop and folk, but like most interesting music, defies strict generalisation. Continue reading “Luke Sital-Singh “New Haze”(EP) (Raygun Music, 2020)”

James Hyland “Western” (Independent, 2020)

James Hyland is from Texas. Like many from Texas, he is not just from Texas; he IS Texas.  Hyland started as a member of the South Austin Jug Band, a casual party bluegrass group with no jug back in 2001. Hyland has been releasing solo albums and live albums with SAJB continuously since then. However, a decade has passed since his last recording ‘Celestial Navigation’, and it shows in the sheer length of it. Continue reading “James Hyland “Western” (Independent, 2020)”

James Elkington “Ever-Roving Eye” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2020)

First of all, there must be apologies, as this review is late. However, this delay comes from Americana UK doing such a rare album justice. James Elkington crossed the pond in 2000, taking his guitar and voice and England’s loss was Chicago’s gain. Elkington has been a side-man for Jeff Tweedy and Richard Thompson, part of the band The Zincs, and has collaborated with many Chicago-based artists to produce some fine folk instrumental music. Continue reading “James Elkington “Ever-Roving Eye” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2020)”

Kiefer Sutherland, Cambridge Junction, 24th February 2020

As we get used to the lack of live reviews, a few AUK scribes have dug into their recent archives to offer a few belated reviews… Kiefer Sutherland, yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it is the same running-with-a-gun action star of ‘24′. Son of Donald, Kiefer, an actor turned country singer, is touring to promote his second album ‘Reckless and Me’. The first, ‘Down in a Hole’,  was the surprisingly positive outcome of a bet with a friend. Continue reading “Kiefer Sutherland, Cambridge Junction, 24th February 2020”

Classic Americana Albums: Woody Guthrie “Dust Bowl Ballads” (Victor Records, 1940)

Celebrating its whopping 80th birthday this year, Dust Bowl Ballads remains a prescient and relevant piece of musical reportage and remarkably unique. Woody Guthrie hailed from Oklahoma, settled in Texas, but made his mark in New York. He is well-known for his travels around the South-West in the 1930s, reinterpreting the blues of the area as a new folk troubadour. In this, his first work, he wrote about the plight of the people affected by the dust bowl, a series of droughts and dust storms that swept across the Southern Plains. It is a comprehensive 14 tracks, each one detailing a different aspect of the troubles. Lung and health ailments, buried tractors, refugeeing, crime, poverty, deaths, it is all laid out quietly and matter-of-factly. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Woody Guthrie “Dust Bowl Ballads” (Victor Records, 1940)”

Nicol and Elliott “My Heart Will Wait (EP)”(Independent, 2020)

Nicol and Elliot are Andrew and Rachel, respectively. A duo who met at Celtic Connections in their hometown of Glasgow. Two string musicians whose languid guitar and fiddle stylings perfectly correspond as much as their vocals contrast. Sadly, there are only four tracks to enjoy, but each note takes its time and makes itself worthwhile; there is no filler here. With two previous singles out on Electric Honey at the end of last year, they are songwriting quickly and well, which is a good sign. They are accompanied by fellow Glaswegian Attic Lights pedal steel player Tim Davidson on both ‘The Long Way Down’ and ‘So Long Ago’ which is a welcome addition on this dusty cowboy of an EP.  ‘So Long Ago’ echoes Nick Cave’s ‘Wild Rose’, with its dark harmonies and smoky strings but without being derivative, while the title track has the lazy trip-hop feel of Morcheeba’s ‘Part of the Process’.  Continue reading “Nicol and Elliott “My Heart Will Wait (EP)”(Independent, 2020)”

Stories of the West “Maybe That’s Good for You” (Young Ancianos, 2020)

Stories of the West is Tim Francis, a singer-songwriter from the Twin Cities, whose past is shrouded in mystery, or at least absent. There are no album notes, no bio, only a simple website to stream the album from making it apparent that the launch was sudden and probably independent. This means that the music speaks for itself, and it speaks volumes. Reminiscent of ’90s Alternative bands such as Better Than Ezra, and Ben Folds Five, ‘Maybe That’s Good For You‘ is excellently produced, and very well played. Francis has clearly been playing the guitar for a long time and in a variety of styles. Continue reading “Stories of the West “Maybe That’s Good for You” (Young Ancianos, 2020)”

Bart Budwig “Another Burn on the AstroTurf” (Fluff and Gravy, 2020)

Like many Americana artists, Bart Budwig is 90% cigarettes and beard, but unlike many, this one is 10% Hawaiian shirt. Mysteriously self-identifying as a “son of Idaho”, Budwig’s appearance is visually striking before the band even plays a note. Luckily for us, his voice is similarly striking but stylistically grounded.

Continue reading “Bart Budwig “Another Burn on the AstroTurf” (Fluff and Gravy, 2020)”

Sam Weber “Everything Comes True” (Sonic Unyon, 2019)

From North Saanich, Canada to L.A., Sam Weber is the musical ambassador for British Columbia. Touring since 2013, this talented multi-instrumentalist has written ‘Everything Will Come True’ both on the road and on his parent’s piano. Starting out at Infinity Studios in Victoria, working on Chris Ho’s ‘City of Dust‘, it is apparent that this, his third album, has been recorded by a producer’s producer. Acoustic guitar, pedal steel, slide guitar, baritone guitar, electric Spanish guitar, all blend effortlessly with flawless vocals, trombone, trumpets, drums, and mellotron. The fact that he still goes back to his first recording studio for additional production and continues to write in his parent’s living room is a testament to the importance of roots to Weber, even when the songs are about life on the road. Continue reading “Sam Weber “Everything Comes True” (Sonic Unyon, 2019)”