Jonah Tolchin “Fires For The Cold” (Yep Roc, 2019)

Jonah Tolchin grew up surrounded by music; his father worked at a record store in Mississippi, and Tolchin fell in love with the blues at a young age. As a teenager he met legendary guitarist Ronnie Earl, after which he became obsessed with making music himself. He hit the road straight out of high school, and  self-released an EP and an album before making his debut at the historic Newport Folk Festival in 2012. In the following years he signed to Yep Roc records and continued to produce music – his first studio release in 2014 garnering much praise from the Continue reading “Jonah Tolchin “Fires For The Cold” (Yep Roc, 2019)”

Here Be Wolves “Here Be Wolves” (Accelerator Records, 2019)

Here Be Wolves began in 2018, when Karla- Therese Kjellvander met Mikael Petersson. Kjellvander’s musical journey began in the Swedish hardcore scene of the 90’s, and has slowly made her way to folk music over the years whilst working with her ex-husband Christian Kjellvander, who also appears on the album. Petersson is a songwriter at heart, his lyrics often inspired by his deeply held religious beliefs. After the two met they quickly decided to work together, but had to find a way to Continue reading “Here Be Wolves “Here Be Wolves” (Accelerator Records, 2019)”

Dan Bern “Regent Street” (Independent, 2019)

Dan Bern has been relentlessly creating things for at least the last quarter of a century, very probably longer. Paintings, books, radio stations, and, most relevant to our interests here, songs. Twenty-five releases deep he shows no signs of slowing up; his latest effort, ‘Regent Street‘ is Bern at his prolific, sardonic best. Having lost two of his finger-tips in a snowblower accident at the beginning of last year, Bern was unable to play guitar for an extended period. Continue reading “Dan Bern “Regent Street” (Independent, 2019)”

Ida Mae “Chasing Lights” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)

Chasing Lights‘ is the debut album from this British-born duo, and what a debut it is; showcasing a depth and breadth of talent as well as a range of styles, from tender folk to swaggering rock and roll. Now based in Nashville, the pair have their feet planted firmly in the fertile soil of American roots music. Even their band name, Ida Mae, comes from an old Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee song, and this heritage courses through the record with dazzling vitality. Continue reading “Ida Mae “Chasing Lights” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)”

Harrison Whitford “Afraid Of Everything” (Screwdriver Records, 2019)

The opening track of singer-songwriter Harrison Whitford’s latest album starts off with some gentle strumming and tender, vulnerable vocal work. So far so average. Then the drums kick in, along with backing vocals, the fuzzy electric, and it all comes together. ‘Take a Walk‘, the opening track, sets the bar high. It lifts itself above the standard singer-songwriter dirge with some excellent production, instrumentation, and a chorus that sticks in your head.

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Daniel Norgren “Wooh Dang” (Superpuma Records, 2019)

The opening to ‘Wooh Dang‘, Swedish musician Daniel Norgren’s eighth record, drifts dreamily into focus. With a mixture of birds and ambient nature sounds, as well as strange sci-fi noises, it sounds like a BBC sound effect archive mash-up. Then, somewhere in the background, Norgren’s high pitched vocal and guitar playing seep in. Before you know it you’re snapped into the next track, ‘The Flow‘, and pulled along into this sun-soaked dream river of an album.

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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)”