The Southern Fold “Bible Fear” (Independent, 2019)

If the artwork and name of Irish group The Southern Fold’s debut album doesn’t give you enough of a clue as to its prominent theme, then the titles of the songs surely will: ‘Blood of Life’, ‘Sunday Best’, ‘Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost (Not Taken in Vain)’ and ‘The Devil in Me’ are just a few of the thirteen largely religiously-themed tracks. Continue reading “The Southern Fold “Bible Fear” (Independent, 2019)”

Helen Jones’s Review of 2019

Reflecting on 2019, there has been a lot of quality music released – including fantastic records from Sturgill Simpson, The Highwomen and Tyler Childers to name a few – so much excellent music in fact that I must admit found the idea of writing this piece a little overwhelming. So I’ve decided to pare it back and focus on some smaller records that haven’t always had the press that they might have deserved, but ones whose songs have rattled around in my head for days at a time after many a repeat listen. Continue reading “Helen Jones’s Review of 2019”

Steep Canyon Rangers “North Carolina Songbook” (Yep Roc Records, 2019)

Live albums can often feel a pointless affair: a selection of songs you already know usually played to a lesser standard than the studio version, a crowd you weren’t part of, cheering in the background, and no way to witness the performance visually. With major label acts, the live album is often put out there as a money grab, or as a way for the artist to tick another one off the number of required albums in a recording contract. So it is a relief to see that the Steep Canyon Rangers have offered us something different in ‘North Carolina Songbook’. Continue reading “Steep Canyon Rangers “North Carolina Songbook” (Yep Roc Records, 2019)”

Wayne Hancock “Man of the Road: The Early Bloodshot Years” (Bloodshot Records, 2019)

“Got to make it day to night in El Paso / I’m going there as fast as I can go / I’ll take the road anyday / ‘Cause that’s the kind of life I’ve made / I’m drivin’ my young life away,” sings Wayne Hancock on the opening lines of this newly curated collection of his output from more than 20 years past. While the young part may not apply to the 54-year-old Hancock these days, the notion of him being road-weary does as he continues to hit the road “200 days a year”. Continue reading “Wayne Hancock “Man of the Road: The Early Bloodshot Years” (Bloodshot Records, 2019)”

Joshua Radin “Here, Right Now” (Nettwerk, 2019)

It’s hard to begin listening to a Joshua Radin record without it conjuring visions of the kind of melodramatic scenes that might feature in a certain breed of US television drama. Radin first found success in 2006 when actor Zach Braff had a hand in selecting one of his songs for his movie ‘The Last Kiss’, from which Braff got Radin’s songs featured on a number of episodes of his television series ‘Scrubs’. Over the past decade or so, Radin has gone on to become a familiar voice on American network TV, becoming one of a crop of singer-songwriters whose names became ubiquitous with a particular kind of heartstring-pulling drama (his songs were in multiple episodes of ‘One Tree Hill’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, for example). Continue reading “Joshua Radin “Here, Right Now” (Nettwerk, 2019)”

Sidney Lindner & The Silver Wilderness Collective “Summer Ghosts / Nightfalls” (Broken Sparrow and Burst & Bloom Records, 2019)

“Sweet brother moonchild / We’d talk til all hours / You told me about that time that you had all the power / You brought the sunlight / The rain brought the flowers,” Sidney Lindner sings of his late brother on the opening of the first album from himself with his Wilderness Collective. His haunting baritone, that rivals the likes of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, sets the tone for what turns out to be an ethereal set of songs. Continue reading “Sidney Lindner & The Silver Wilderness Collective “Summer Ghosts / Nightfalls” (Broken Sparrow and Burst & Bloom Records, 2019)”

Robert Ellis, Phase One, Liverpool, 22nd October 2019

Before Robert Ellis took to the stage tonight, a bunch of yellow roses were carefully spread out over the portable piano and the edge of the stage; this act would help set the tone for an evening from the man whose latest album is titled, unironically, ‘Texas Piano Man’. Continue reading “Robert Ellis, Phase One, Liverpool, 22nd October 2019”

Sean McConnell, Manchester Academy 2, 29th September 2019

When Sean McConnell came on stage without fanfare – clad in denim and holding his guitar, testing his microphone before beginning – the audience weren’t prepared for the powerful performance he was about to unleash.

Opening with the title track of his most recent album ‘Secondhand Smoke’ (which gained the rare distinction of 10/10 when it was reviewed here earlier in the year), his fantastic storytelling and powerful vocals went on to win over some new fans during the course of his opening set for country-rock powerhouse Ashley McBryde. Continue reading “Sean McConnell, Manchester Academy 2, 29th September 2019”

Kendra Amalie “Intuition” (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, 2019)

Musically, Kendra Almalie is someone who is hard to put in a box, but on her debut album she offers up an ethereal sonic richness that conjures up comparisons to the likes of PJ Harvey at her most unconventional. When discussing her music, Almalie has said that she comes up with the melody first and the words follow later, usually ending up being something akin to an interpretation of a dream. This composition choice feels evident in the sprawling rise and fall of the music along with the sparse lyrics (although some tracks are entirely instrumental). Continue reading “Kendra Amalie “Intuition” (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, 2019)”