Laura Fell “Safe from Me” (Balloon Machine Records, 2020)

It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a pretty tough year for all, so we might all be able to benefit from seeing a therapist right now; step forward London-based Laura Fell with her debut album. As a psychotherapist by day, she is sharing some of her wisdom, alongside her own journey of self-discovery – despite people assuming she already knows all the answers. Continue reading “Laura Fell “Safe from Me” (Balloon Machine Records, 2020)”

Classic Americana Albums: Joni Mitchell “Blue” (Warner Records, 1971)

Discovering ‘Blue’ by Joni Mitchell deserves to live alongside many other coming of age milestones for a particular kind of teenage girl: there is your first kiss, your first heartbreak, and then there is ‘Blue’. I found myself listening to the album when I was about 16-years-old – and still developing a taste for different styles – having come across the story behind ‘Little Green’ (which we’ll come to later), which I found so intriguing that I went and sourced the album it came from. When I did listen to the record, I found songs so rich, so giving, and offering so much that it felt rude not being able to somehow give something in return. So the following piece is me making some attempt at giving back, years later, in the best way I can. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Joni Mitchell “Blue” (Warner Records, 1971)”

Brent Cobb “Keep ‘Em on They Toes” (Ol’ Buddy Records, 2020)

Cobb is a surname familiar to fans of quality Americana, with famed producer (and cousin of Brent) Dave Cobb having worked with some of the most widely acclaimed artists of recent years (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlisle and John Prine to name just a few); it would have been the easy thing for Brent to fall back on his familial connections and procure his cousin to produce his fourth album, but he had a different vision, enlisting producer Brad Cook to get the specific kind of sound he wanted: sparse but deliberate in its quiet moments. That’s something he achieves and more, saying everything he needs to in a soulful tone that’s neither overwhelming nor preachy. Continue reading “Brent Cobb “Keep ‘Em on They Toes” (Ol’ Buddy Records, 2020)”

Danny Newcomb “Mackerel Sky” (Rock Candy Mountain, 2020)

Musician Danny Newcomb’s latest album sees him coming from an unusual perspective for someone whose life has been dedicated to rock ‘n’ roll: raising children, and sheep, on a farm on the pastoral Vashon Island. It’s an interesting shift for a man whose earlier career saw him be part of Seattle rock bands Goodness and The Rockfords (the former of which even featured guitarist Mike McCready who, as part of Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog, scores 10/10 as far as 90s grunge credentials go). But this isn’t a rock record, it’s softer around the edges, touching on folk, and it sees Newcomb using his place of relative solitude to look inwards and examine the human condition. Continue reading “Danny Newcomb “Mackerel Sky” (Rock Candy Mountain, 2020)”

Matt Woods “Mornings After” (Lonely Ones Records, 2020)

As a companion to his 2019 album ‘Natural Disasters’ – which was heavy with the best of Americana tropes: tales of the road, heartbreak and small town living – Matt Woods has released a new EP called ‘Mornings After’, which sees him amplifying and building on the quality material that he brought us on his aforementioned release. Continue reading “Matt Woods “Mornings After” (Lonely Ones Records, 2020)”

Gavin Skelhorn “Merseycana” (Independent, 2020)

Nashville may be known as the Music City of the US, but arguably the title of the UK’s own city most famed for its musical heritage could go to Liverpool (the bonus fact that AUK is based there obviously only helps bolster such a claim). Merseyside act Gavin Skelhorn is building a bridge between Nashville and Liverpool with his new album – aptly titled after his own brand of Americana – ‘Merseycana’. Continue reading “Gavin Skelhorn “Merseycana” (Independent, 2020)”

Brendan & the Strangest Ways “Are We Sure The Dawn Is Coming?” (Independent, 2020)

Brendan Shea – the man who creates music under the moniker of Brendan & the Strangest Ways – had a tough time over the four years it took him to record ‘Are We Sure The Dawn Is Coming?’: he went through more than one messy breakup, difficulties keeping a band together, financial struggles trying to survive as a musician, and even issues with sobriety. So, it makes sense that this is as much of an album as it is a confessional collection of his trials and struggles. Continue reading “Brendan & the Strangest Ways “Are We Sure The Dawn Is Coming?” (Independent, 2020)”

Red Sammy “That Raging Heart” (Independent, 2020)

The band Red Sammy – fronted by Baltimore, Maryland native Adam Trice – bill themselves as a rock band, but their eighth studio album sees them working in a more soulful frame of mind, with influences coming from Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, among many others. These influences are heard on a collection of songs that, as the album title suggests, rely heavily on the tried and tested themes of heartbreak and love. Continue reading “Red Sammy “That Raging Heart” (Independent, 2020)”

Bedroom Ceilings “Another Bulb Burned Out” (Independent, 2020)

For their second album, Michigan duo Bedroom Ceilings chose to create a concept album of sorts, based around a protagonist who is struggling with the relatable themes of their place in the modern world, their happiness, along with the feelings that they are undeserving of success. These are big existential issues to handle, but the band do it by injecting a healthy dose of their indie-rock sound into confessional lyrics.  Continue reading “Bedroom Ceilings “Another Bulb Burned Out” (Independent, 2020)”

Thomas Eltorp “Extended Play 3/3” (Mani Records, 2020)

Danish singer-songwriter Thomas Eltorp set himself a lofty goal five years ago: to write, record, and release three EPs of “American inspired music”. ‘Extended Play 3/3’ is the last of these three Americana inspired EPs, which – unlike its previous counterparts – consists of songs performed live in-studio in a single take; no do-overs or re-recording allowed. Continue reading “Thomas Eltorp “Extended Play 3/3” (Mani Records, 2020)”