Interview: Andrew Combs on new album, politics and how fatherhood is shaping his future

Tennessean Andrew Combs, an artist who has managed to make big strides  both in the indie and Americana worlds over four beautifully crafted albums, is an increasingly regular visitor to these shores over the last few years. His excellent live shows are perfectly accompanied by albums that resonate soulfully, emotionally and politically. With ‘Ideal Man’  just released on New West, Coombs again pushes the envelope that little bit further in terms of approach and sound. Americana-UK’s Gordon Sharpe caught up with Andrew pre-show on a recent UK tour to discuss everything from babies to Woody Guthrie!  Continue reading “Interview: Andrew Combs on new album, politics and how fatherhood is shaping his future”

Timothy Alice and the Dead Star Band “SpaceStation AM 500” (Independent, 2019)

The clang of guitars and gruff manly vocals do not always fill me with excitement but in this case, the more I listened to Timothy Alice and the Dead Star Band the more I heard and the more I liked. Alice (who changed his name from Henderson when he realised he was not unique in being a performer so named) hails from Buffalo, New York, and is accompanied by Matt Distasio bass, Alexander Crumlish drums and Andrew Kothenon who produced the album along with Alice. Continue reading “Timothy Alice and the Dead Star Band “SpaceStation AM 500” (Independent, 2019)”

Casati “This is Just to Say” (MAPL, 2019)

Casati, Canadians from Manitoba, started off as the Grace Hrabi Trio in 2014 playing Jazz standards and this is their second and latest album. The name Casati derives from “The patron saint of infinite variety the Marchesa Luisa Casati who fearlessly followed art across every style and medium” and the band hope to match that approach with their classically trained musical background, seeing themselves as a ‘folk trio with an open mind’.   Continue reading “Casati “This is Just to Say” (MAPL, 2019)”

Joe Henry “The Gospel According to Water” (Ear Music, 2019)

In his 30 year plus career, Joe Henry has achieved a great deal. He has just released his 15th studio album ‘The Gospel According to Water. He has produced artists ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Solomon Burke. He has collaborated with a range of top-class Jazz musicians including Ornette Coleman, someone who qualifies for that overused epithet – legend.  He has co-written a book about Richard Pryor and he has partnered with his sister in law Madonna.  Hats off to a CV like that.
Continue reading “Joe Henry “The Gospel According to Water” (Ear Music, 2019)”

Sarah Lee Langford “Two Hearted Rounder” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2019)

Hopefully one of the benefits of a review is that it can tell you something you don’t know – usually about the artist, the subject matter or the musicians involved.  In this case I am going to struggle.  Having applied my usual due diligence I have failed to come up with much – not even being able to dig up the lyrics; so apologies if I have missed something about the artist Sarah Lee Langford. Continue reading “Sarah Lee Langford “Two Hearted Rounder” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2019)”

The Long Farewells “Only the Stars” (Beartrap Spring Records, 2019)

Whatever else, you have to admire Aaron Rester’s style and imagination. His previous offering, ‘Americayana’, was reviewed in AUK in 2017 and praised for its originality in mixing country music and Hindu mythology in a concept album. ‘Only the Stars’, the current album shows the same imagination in offering a concept album examining events of the second decade of the American 20th Century – a decade sometimes overlooked but full of the vim and vigour of American life and politics. Continue reading “The Long Farewells “Only the Stars” (Beartrap Spring Records, 2019)”

Ben Davis Jr. and the Revelry “Suthernahia” (Broken Jukebox Media 2019)

Ben Davis 2019Ben Davis is a native of Ohio and lives close by the river of that name – which features prominently in the penultimate track of his new album ‘Suthernahia’ (Suthern-a-hiya). Davis is described as a veteran performer though as far as I can gather has only two releases namely, ‘The Day After Payday’ and ‘Leaving Cincinnati’ prior to this offering.  The current batch of songs are performed in conjunction with The Revelry his current touring band, though as names go, the previous incarnation, The Dirt Poor Troubadours, takes some beating. Continue reading “Ben Davis Jr. and the Revelry “Suthernahia” (Broken Jukebox Media 2019)”

Eilen Jewell “Gypsy” (Signature Sounds, 2019)

Press releases can be a little overblown at times but in listening to Eilen Jewell’s new release ‘Gypsy’ I would agree with one thing: it’s varied. The subject matter is widespread and the arrangements, instrumentation and vocals vary from track to track – which makes for interesting listening. It’s the eighth studio recording in Jewell’s career and her first of original material since 2015. Continue reading “Eilen Jewell “Gypsy” (Signature Sounds, 2019)”

Carly Dow “Comet” (Independent, 2019)

One thing that reviewing for AUK has taught me is that there are any number of great female vocalists out there. Carly Dow is one such and her album ‘Comet’ is beautifully sung from beginning to end. Dow is based in Manitoba and this is her second release after 2015’s, ‘Ingrained’.  ‘Comet’ is apparently the first to use a group of musicians, and it has to be said that they serve her well.  From what I have heard of her earlier material this is a move from pared down and minimal to a fuller sound.  If the prevailing mood is one of subtle mid-tempo then each track has its own little instrumental highlight.  Her Banjo is often to the fore; there’s a nice bass motif at the start of, ‘Like Coyotes’ and the Accordion distinguishes itself on, ‘Cut and Run’.  There are instrumental contributions everywhere that reward close listening. Continue reading “Carly Dow “Comet” (Independent, 2019)”

Forgotten artists: Leon Russell

Elton John, surprisingly to me, declared great respect for Leon Russell as Russell’s career and life were coming to an end. Indeed I felt a bit affronted that the king of tinsel, both visually and musically, could be associated with a talent like Russell. However if you consider John’s early incarnation as an honorary west coast singer-songwriter on albums such as ‘Tumbleweed Connections’ (‘Ballad of a Well Known Gun’, for instance) then it made much more sense.  Continue reading “Forgotten artists: Leon Russell”