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)”

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)”