Russ Tolman “Goodbye El Dorado” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)

‘Goodbye El Dorado’ is the eighth solo release from True West frontman and founder Russ Tolman. Written in the midst of a sabbatical in Osaka, Japan, it is a love letter to his US homeland and is sonically rooted in American country standards. The primary issue here, however, is that Tolman does not even threaten to tread new ground. The record is a drab affair of simplistic melodies and lyrical content which has been covered a million times before. ‘405’ is an ode to an overlong bus journey that nobody needed to hear, with Randy Newman-esque observations (“you’re really gonna piss me off, I’m stuck and I can’t get off”), and ‘North Hollywood Dream’ is soaked in more clichés than the title suggests (“you’ll have plenty of time for dreaming, so dream for dreaming’s sake”). Continue reading “Russ Tolman “Goodbye El Dorado” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)”

Alex Seel “Spell On A Tin Drum” (Independent, 2019)

Wandering singer-songwriter Alex Seel has been from Devon to London to Ireland and back again, picking up on as many musical influences as possible along the way. On his second record, ‘Spell On A Tin Drum’, he went to the dysfunctional method of writing the majority of it in a caravan on the west coast of Ireland and recording under a bed in London. Continue reading “Alex Seel “Spell On A Tin Drum” (Independent, 2019)”

The Yawpers “Human Question” (Bloodshot, 2019)

Denver three-piece The Yawpers return with their third record ‘Human Question’. There are few acts around with a back catalogue as strong as they have over the space of two full-lengths, with killer rock n’ roll their speciality. This latest release takes the bona fida Yawpers sound and ramps it up infinite notches. Continue reading “The Yawpers “Human Question” (Bloodshot, 2019)”

Jared Henry “Running Wild” (Venison Records, 2018)

‘Running Wild’ is the debut album from Arkansas singer-songwriter Jared Henry – a collection of sun-soaked mellow acoustic jams, which evoke Jack Johnson at his most breezy. The result is a record which fails to inspire. Running at almost an hour, it is an overly-long set of mediocre melodies with little substance, in a style which has already been done to death. Continue reading “Jared Henry “Running Wild” (Venison Records, 2018)”

Radiator King “Roll The Dice” (SoundEvolution Records, 2019)

‘Roll The Dice’ is the latest release from Brooklynite Radiator King (aka Adam Silvestri). His first release since 2017’s ‘A Hollow Triumph After All’, Silvestri has established himself amongst the latest wave of earnest songwriters who have been brought up on punk, but perform Americana-inspired rock and roll and this latest EP is more of the same. Continue reading “Radiator King “Roll The Dice” (SoundEvolution Records, 2019)”

Ryan Farmer “Just Another Night” (Independent, 2019)

‘Just Another Night’, the debut record from Nottingham-based singer-songwriter Ryan Farmer wastes little time in giving the listener a precise idea of what to expect for the next forty minutes. Within the first sixty seconds of the excellently-titled ‘She Can Do Everything (But Fall In Love With Me)’, he ticks all the old-time country cliché boxes, as he sings of turning his back to Jesus, copious amounts of whiskey, and an elusive lover. The track is akin to the classic country sound which has been popularised by the likes of Joshua Hedley et al in recent times and despite the themes which have been heard before a million times or more, the track is charming enough to ingratiate itself amongst their standards. Continue reading “Ryan Farmer “Just Another Night” (Independent, 2019)”

Kaia Kater “Grenades” (Smithsonian Folkways, 2019)

‘Grenades,’ the excellent second record from Grenadian-Canadian Kaia Kater comes with an intriguing back story. The singer-songwriter decided to explore her father’s Grenadian roots and it sets an interesting platform upon which the record is built. Having fled to Canada following the US invasion of his home country in 1986, he recounts his experience on interludes throughout the record. These provide not only interesting context to his daughter’s lyrical content, but a damning indictment on US treatment of developing countries such as Grenada. His words are often hard-hitting, such as on ‘Death Of A Dream’ when he helplessly exclaims “to describe the invasion… it defies words”.

Continue reading “Kaia Kater “Grenades” (Smithsonian Folkways, 2019)”

Austin Lucas “Immortal Americans” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)

‘Immortal Americans’, the seventh studio album by Indiana native Austin Lucas, arrives on the back of several challenges and changes faced in his personal life. Having moved back to his hometown of Bloomington after a twenty-year absence, Lucas broke free from his record label, and also got sober. During this period, his partner discovered she had cancer, leading to an extended period in which he was the primary career for her. His songwriting, however, did not cease. The writing sessions on his acoustic guitar while his suffering lover was asleep in the next room has led to the more intimate feel of this calmed-down punk’s new record. Continue reading “Austin Lucas “Immortal Americans” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)”

Timber “The Family” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)

‘The Family’ is the debut release from Nashville-based Alabama duo, Timber. Formed almost by coincidence when Janet Simpson of the Delicate Cutters was recommended to Will Stewart of Willie & The Giant as a potential contributor, the collaboration went so well that they decided to write together, which led to the formation of this new project. The record begins promisingly with the melodic ‘Burying Ground’, as Stewart’s effortless croon combines with Simpson’s accompaniment on a beautiful chorus. The result is an alt-country classic in waiting. Continue reading “Timber “The Family” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)”