Classic Americana Albums: Lyle Lovett “Pontiac” (MCA / Curb1987)

Lyle Lovett – Pontiac 1987

I am sure it is an apocryphal and familiar story, but it does have a point regarding Lovett’s surprising union with Julia Roberts. There was speculation about how the one might manage to live with the other being such a talented superstar spouse, but it was assumed that Ms Roberts would find a way to come to terms with her situation. The point being that Lovett is something of a Renaissance Man. A graduate in Journalism and German, an actor on both screen and stage and even something of a wiz at reining horses at the highest level being awarded the National Reining Horse Association Lifetime Achievement Award. That’s before you consider his musical, multiple Grammy Award-winning, career. Roberts, of course, was an actress of middling range if superior looks. Let’s be fair, she seems to do a lot of laudable charitable work. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Lyle Lovett “Pontiac” (MCA / Curb1987)”

Jennah Barry “Holiday” (Forward Music Group, 2020)

Phrases like charming, lovely or sweet are deemed as virtual insults these days – anaemic praise for something soft or unconvincing – but Jennah Barry’s new album, ‘Holiday’, deserves all these descriptions in the most positive way. This is music that will wash over you like the warmest and softest of blankets highlighted by her warm and smoky vocals. Continue reading “Jennah Barry “Holiday” (Forward Music Group, 2020)”

Letitia VanSant “Circadian” (Independent, 2020)

Circadian Rhythms are the natural cycles that occur, “Within a period of wakefulness and sleep, of light and darkness”, and it is this that informs Letitia VanSant’s latest collection of songs.  On first hearing they sound like they are more straightforwardly about relationships; starting with, ‘You Can’t Put my Fire Out’, relating the story of an abusive male; continuing with ‘Tin Man’, an account of yet another man having difficulties with, and the expression of, his emotions.  Farther into the album, we have themes of broken dreams, regret for things not done, laments for the complexity of modern life, loss of faith and the poisoning of VanSant’s father with Agent Orange. The title track, ‘Circadian’, explores the disruptions of modernity on the natural world and the loss of a simpler previous existence.  “The music the world made before / We drowned it all out with these machines”. Continue reading “Letitia VanSant “Circadian” (Independent, 2020)”

Support Your Local Venue: ‘Biddulph Up in Arms’

Today AUK launches a new feature about those small local venues that are the heart and soul of our music. Often run on a hand to mouth basis by dedicated individuals, sometimes at their own cost, and all for nothing more than a love of the music. Continue reading “Support Your Local Venue: ‘Biddulph Up in Arms’”

Darling West “We’ll Never Know Unless We Try” (Jansen Records, 2020)

Darling West are Norwegian duo Mari and Tor Egil Kreken, partners in life and music. A little research reveals quite a buzz about this pair who have spent considerable time Stateside with great success. This is their fourth album and a look through the back pages of AUK reveals an almost universal appreciation of their career thus far. Continue reading “Darling West “We’ll Never Know Unless We Try” (Jansen Records, 2020)”

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)”