AmericanA to Z – David Rawlings

David Rawlings is best known for his work with Gillian Welch, with whom he creates achingly beautiful and melancholy music. The couple were part of the Bluegrass Class of 2000 who suddenly found that they had mainstream appeal after the huge success of the Coen Brother’s ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?‘ At that point, Rawlings and Welch had already recorded two albums with legendary producer T Bone Burnett, who also produced the ‘O Brother…’ soundtrack. They weren’t exactly flying under the radar, but the impact on the Coen brothers film cannot be understated. The follow up documentary ‘Down From the Mountain,‘ followed the various artists involved in the soundtrack, including Rawlings and Welch, culminating in a concert at the Ryman in Nashville. This was wildly popular and paved the way for bluegrass-influenced bands like Nickel Creek to enjoy massive mainstream popularity in the early 00’s. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – David Rawlings”

Derek Senn “How Could A Man” (Independent, 2019)

California local Derek Senn took a weird and winding way into music, having a few early brushes with the guitar but not really picking it up seriously until his thirties. Armed with a sudden desire to write songs, he started working away diligently down in the song mine, the subject of the tenth track on ‘How Could A Man‘, his third album to date. The hard work has clearly paid off, because this is a heartfelt, funny, brilliant piece of work. Continue reading “Derek Senn “How Could A Man” (Independent, 2019)”

A Starving Viking “Semblance” (Resonating Wood Recordings 2019)

A Starving Viking is the stage name of singer-songwriter Matt Jarrett. A New York state native, he has spent a career in New York City working as a filmmaker and editor. A late-comer to folk music, he has taken Dylan and Nick Drake into his core and used music as a fresh outlet for his creativity. Continue reading “A Starving Viking “Semblance” (Resonating Wood Recordings 2019)”

Shovels & Rope “By Blood” (Dualtone Music, 2019)

‘I won’t fail you when I walk out on the wire,’ sing South Carolina natives Carry Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, AKA Shovels & Rope, and it’s not just talk; they really walk the walk. The husband and wife duo are veterans of a decade long career, touring, curating the excellent High Water Festival for the past few years, recording everything themselves in their home studio, and above all producing consistently brilliant music. Their latest offering ‘By Blood’ is no exception to this trend. Continue reading “Shovels & Rope “By Blood” (Dualtone Music, 2019)”

Brad Byrd “Phases” (Elusive Tiger, 2019)

This latest sonic offering from the journeyman songsmith Brad Byrd is somewhat middle of the road in places, but has charm, and moments of soaring brilliance. Describing his music as somewhere between indie-rock and alt-country, California resident Byrd has been writing songs his whole life, and that certainly comes through in the polished sound of ‘Phases‘, which is an album of self-examination. The songs take us all the way from Byrd’s childhood in Massachusetts to the sun-soaked hills of California where he lives today, exploring a number of elements drawn from personal experience. Overall, it’s a record which documents the ups and downs of life, and the strange melancholy experienced when reminiscing about a long lost past. Continue reading “Brad Byrd “Phases” (Elusive Tiger, 2019)”

Pete Gow “Here There’s No Sirens” (Clubhouse Records, 2019)

Pete Gow, veteran frontman of the acclaimed Case Hardin,  has recorded his first solo record ‘Here There’s No Sirens.’ Released on the same label as Case Hardin, Gow’s sound is a deliberate departure from the band’s usual fare. This album is stripped back, focused, and deeply personal. The songs are a mixture of an almost confessional style, with some character driven tracks and one good old fashioned story song, ‘Some Old Jacobite King’. Continue reading “Pete Gow “Here There’s No Sirens” (Clubhouse Records, 2019)”

Henry Derek Elis “The Devil Is My Friend” (Independent, 2018)

Henry Elis is a stalwart of the Los Angeles metal scene, fronting many bands over the years, and currently lead vocalist for the trash metal supergroup “Act of Defiance“, which was formed by ex-Megadeth memebers  Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover. Within the context of this background, the theatricality of “The Devil Is My Friend” starts to make sense. Clearly strongly influenced by heavier genres, Elis is pushing his own brand of dark ‘southern gothic americana’. We are invited Continue reading “Henry Derek Elis “The Devil Is My Friend” (Independent, 2018)”

Lucy Kitt “Stand By” (Wineberry Records, 2019)

Lucy Kitt has been writing and performing music as an independent artist for the last decade, and her experience really shines through on ‘Stand By,’ her debut record, which is a showcase for her consummate musicianship. Kitt first gained exposure by making it to the semi-final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk awards in 2006, which opened up a lot of gigging opportunities, supporting various folk stalwarts, including Cara Dillon and The Unthanks. She has also found success more recently with a number of internet sessions for Mahogony and Ont’ Sofa, among others. Continue reading “Lucy Kitt “Stand By” (Wineberry Records, 2019)”

William Tyler “Goes West” (Merge Records, 2019)

William Tyler, perhaps best known for his work with Lambchop and Silver Jews, has been quietly ploughing his own furrow for the last decade. This has culminated in ‘Goes West,’ his forthcoming album and fifth release on Merge Records, which is described by his friend M. C. Taylor (AKA Hiss Golden Messenger) as the best music Tyler has ever made. Continue reading “William Tyler “Goes West” (Merge Records, 2019)”

Bear Paw “Something More” (Independent, 2018)

With ‘Something More‘, Bear Paw have given us a wonderfully energetic piece of work; from the first strum to the last it’s an E.P. that crackles and pops with old-school indie energy. These four lads from the marshes of North East London grew up listening to a wide variety of music, and it shows through in the varied nature of the tracks. The folk influences come to the fore on the lead single ‘Santa Maria’. Inspired by old sea shanties, it’s a slow and melancholy number about dissatisfaction and longing which drifts and twists along nicely. Continue reading “Bear Paw “Something More” (Independent, 2018)”