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”

Josh Gray “Songs of the Highway” (Independent, 2019)

Josh Gray 2019Josh Gray, born in San Francisco, raised in Maryland and resident in Nashville, stares out of the windscreen of his car with a weary look in his eye and a row of skyscrapers in a receding background. No prizes then for getting the message – ‘Songs of the Highway’.  Apparently 30,000 miles in 2015 and this disc is the result of his ruminations during that journey.
Continue reading “Josh Gray “Songs of the Highway” (Independent, 2019)”

Gillian Nicola “Dried Flowers” (Independent, 2019)

Gillian Nicola is a fledgling recording artist though apparently performing since she was 13. ‘Dried Flowers’ is her first full-length album though there have been two previous E.Ps, ‘No Place to Call’ from 2016 and ‘Chasing Winds’ from 2013. In fact, the final track of the former, ‘Stay’, could well be a standout in her career so far – worth checking out.
Continue reading “Gillian Nicola “Dried Flowers” (Independent, 2019)”

Massy Ferguson “Great Divides” (North and Left, 2019)

In January 2017, AUK colleague Dave Cowling posted a positive review of a previous release by Massy Ferguson, ‘Run it Right into the Wall’, and came to the following conclusions: “‘Into the Wall’ encapsulates everything that is both good about them and this genre …. MF are the kind of band that are the bedrock of this genre…. they make records that are beautifully crafted and worthy of a wider audience but are destined only for diehards; which is a shame.” Continue reading “Massy Ferguson “Great Divides” (North and Left, 2019)”

Jo Schornikow “Secret Weapon” (Keeled Scales, 2019)

This album raised two questions – what are the furthest limits of Americana and how do you review music that is not inherently to your taste, but is likely to appeal to someone, somewhere?  Both these issues led to some interesting discussion with AUK headquarters.  Beware of investing in this debut offering if you think it sits at the heart of what you might think of as Americana.  Of course it may not be intended as such and may just be the right music reviewed in the wrong place by the wrong person.  There are those who think it, ‘gorgeous bare bones indie-folk’.  You might struggle to agree. Continue reading “Jo Schornikow “Secret Weapon” (Keeled Scales, 2019)”