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)”

Exclusive AUK Mini-Gig: Jack Marion

For the latest in our mini-gig series to help keep us sane in lockdown, we bring you a solo offering from Jack Marion of the titular Jack Marion and the Pearl Snap Prophets. The North Carolina based group’s debut album ‘When the Well Run Dry’ was warmly embraced here receiving an 8/10 earlier in the year. Today we present you with two songs from that album, ‘Old House’ and ‘Family Funeral’. Continue reading “Exclusive AUK Mini-Gig: Jack Marion”

Lara Herscovitch “Highway Philosophers” (Independent, 2020)

The themes Lara Herscovitch covers in her songs are broad to say the least; they range from (literal and figurative) small things like caterpillar racing and tire pressure, to loftier topics such as the meaning of life and climate change. But with decades of humanitarian work across the globe in a broad range of fields under her belt, it’s no wonder she has such an interesting take on the world around her; and while she’s not reinventing the wheel, there is plenty in this set of vibrant songs to get excited about. Continue reading “Lara Herscovitch “Highway Philosophers” (Independent, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Iron & Wine “Such Great Heights”

As soon as I saw our last Chain Gang entry was a cover of The Band’s ‘The Weight’, one very specific thing came to mind: a Saturday Night Live sketch from 2007 with that week’s host, actor/director/writer Zach Braff. Random I know, but that’s the way my mind works: it picks up small and insignificant things and remembers them. Forever. This is sometimes more of a curse than a blessing, but I digress. Continue reading “AUK’s Chain Gang: Iron & Wine “Such Great Heights””

Joshua Burnside “Far O’er the Sounding Main” EP (Independent, 2020)

In these times of uncertainty, there is something to be said for the comfort of the familiar and traditional, and that’s exactly what Joshua Burnsides offers up on his latest EP, ‘Far O’er the Sounding Main’. While this collection of five traditional folk songs was recorded by Burnside at home during the COVID-19 lockdown, they still sound very much like fully realised recordings. Continue reading “Joshua Burnside “Far O’er the Sounding Main” EP (Independent, 2020)”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “Reunions” (Thirty Tigers, 2020)

Jason Isbell is the kind of artist who can always be relied on to draw from experience and speak the truth exactly as he sees it, so it’s good to see he’s sticking to what makes him stand out from his contemporaries on ‘Reunions’. But there is a different kind of introspection too, one that meditates on his current relationships – be it as a husband, father, or friend – and looks back fondly on childhood memories. Continue reading “Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “Reunions” (Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

Kathleen Grace with Larry Goldings “Tie Me To You” (Monsoon Records, 2020)

Kathleen Grace went into creating the album ‘Tie Me To You’ with the same feeling that has inspired so many before her: heartbreak. Her devastation was so deep that Grace was barely sleeping and drowning herself in music, when she enlisted the legendary keyboardist Larry Goldings to help her create a new kind of record that moved away from her jazz roots. Continue reading “Kathleen Grace with Larry Goldings “Tie Me To You” (Monsoon Records, 2020)”

The top 10 Lori McKenna songs

I first discovered Lori McKenna in maybe little of an unusual way: while you may only know Mandy Moore as an actress, or have a vague memory of her limited success in the UK as a teen pop singer in the late ’90s and early ’00s, she’s really turned into something pretty great musically. Her last four albums have been strong, Americana leaning records; with 2003’s ‘Coverage’ she covered songs from her heroes, with the likes of Joni Mitchell, John Hiatt, The Waterboys and Joan Armatrading amongst those in the mix. In 2007 she released ‘Wild Hope’ which saw writing collaborations with The Weepies, Rachel Yamagata, and yes, McKenna. This was a little after the time McKenna started to gain some mainstream success, but this was the first place I picked up on McKenna’s amazing writing talents, and then went hunting for her solo material. Continue reading “The top 10 Lori McKenna songs”

Teddy Thompson “Heartbreaker Please” (Thirty Tigers, 2020)

It’s been nine long years since Teddy Thompson last put out a solo album (in 2016 he did release a collaboration album with fellow singer-songwriter Kelly Jones – not to be confused with the Stereophonics frontman – the amiably delightful ‘Little Windows’), but with ‘Heartbreaker Please’ he’s finally back; and he’s on top form. Continue reading “Teddy Thompson “Heartbreaker Please” (Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

Classic Americana Albums: Jeff Buckley “Grace” (Columbia, 1994)

An ex boyfriend of mine once told me that a friend of his (whom I never met) got to see Jeff Buckley perform once. This was told to me years ago, yet I still sometimes find myself thinking enviously of this person whose name I don’t recall, which is a sure testament to the God-like level of worship Buckley brings when you hear his music. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Jeff Buckley “Grace” (Columbia, 1994)”