Sam Baker “Horses and Stars” (Independent, 2019)

Coming 15 years after his debut album, ‘Mercy’, Sam Baker has released his first live album and ‘Horses and Stars’ is a corker of a record that captures everything that is great about his live performances. Recorded at the Imagine Event Center in Buffalo, NY in July 2018, Baker, in his own inimitable semi-spoken style, weaves his way through a selection of songs that paint evocative pictures of abandonment, alcohol, drug addiction, car wrecks and (especially topical in these days) illegal migrant border crossings from Mexico into the US.
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Tenement & Temple “Tenement & Temple” (Thrum Recordings, 2019)

Monica Queen and Johnny Smillie first came to prominence in the ’90s as part of the Scottish Indie rock band Thrum.  During their initial, but somewhat short-lived incarnation, Thrum achieved critical acclaim, but only relatively modest commercial success and they eventually split in 1995. Monica Queen continued to make music as a solo artist, mostly produced by Smillie and is also recognised for her numerous guest appearances, most notably duets with Shane MacGowan, Snow Patrol and Belle and Sebastian, particularly on the latter’s early classic ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’. Continue reading “Tenement & Temple “Tenement & Temple” (Thrum Recordings, 2019)”

Native Harrow “Happier Now” (Loose Music, 2019)

Let’s get straight to the point.  This is a captivating, almost mesmeric album of the highest quality.  That last sentence alone will tell you what is to come during the rest of this review but let’s take the opportunity to fill in some of the blanks for those who maybe aren’t familiar with Native Harrow. ‘Happier Now’ is the third album from singer-songwriter Devin Tuel released under the nom de plume Native Harrow. Continue reading “Native Harrow “Happier Now” (Loose Music, 2019)”

The Brookses “Lucky Charm” (Independent, 2019)

‘Lucky Charm’ is the debut LP from Atlanta-based father-daughter folk duo The Brookses and a fine introduction it is too. Dad Jim is a veteran of the Atlanta music scene and he is joined here by daughter Meg, and together this pair have crafted a multi-layered album that slowly draws you in.  On first listen it all seems a little underwhelming, but stick with it and their music will slowly wend its way under your skin and reveal the nuanced complexity of their offering. Continue reading “The Brookses “Lucky Charm” (Independent, 2019)”

Dave Fidler “Songs From Aurora” (27.27 Records, 2019)

With his second album ‘Songs from Aurora’, Mancunian Dave Fidler has crafted 12 tracks of smooth, laid back music with evocative tales describing subjects as diverse as life in a Haitian women’s prison, to getting perilously trapped beneath a collapsed house in the midst of a Los Angeles earthquake.  Listeners inclined to search for comparisons will certainly detect similarities with Crosby, Still & Nash and possibly even Nick Drake, and Fidler’s ability to paint pictures with his words, allied to a stripped back production, makes for a consistently crafted album.
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Nick Lowe “Love Starvation/ Trombone” (Yep Roc Records, 2019)

He may be on the wrong side of 70 but Nick Lowe isn’t one for letting the grass grow underneath his feet and his latest EP is a case in point.  It may only be four songs long but his sharp lyrics and consistent ability to wrap the words around a catchy melody seems undiminished over time.  Supported admirably by the quirkily named (and even more quirkily masked and attired) Los Straitjackets, Lowe has penned three original tracks in the shape of  ‘Love Starvation’ ‘Trombone’ and the tender ‘Blue on Blue’ while the fourth song is a highly modernised cover version of the somewhat obscure Ricky Nelson track ‘Raincoat in the River’. Continue reading “Nick Lowe “Love Starvation/ Trombone” (Yep Roc Records, 2019)”

Amber Cross, The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 25th April 2019

Amber Cross was born to stir the emotions. That can be the only conclusion for anyone lucky (or smart) enough to witness her delightfully working through her 19 song set in the intimate setting of the upstairs lounge of The Blue Lamp in Aberdeen. Over the course of almost two and a half hours, aided by her husband James Moore on guitar, mandolin, harmonica and backing vocals, she enchanted the audience, not only with her wonderful music but also with a natural born ability to tell the stories that set the scene and provided the backdrop for most of her songs. Continue reading “Amber Cross, The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 25th April 2019”

Carrie Tree “The Canoe” (Wild Cedar Records, 2019)

‘The Canoe’ is the third album by Brighton based singer-songwriter Carrie Tree and with production and arrangements being handled by Markus Sieber (know for his ambient recordings as Aukai), you could predict with a high degree of certainty that this would be an album that is in an ambient folk vein. The pair worked remotely across a six month period, with Markus based in Colorado and Mexico, and Carrie in London and Sussex, they finally met ‘halfway’ in the spring of 2018 to complete the record in Greenhouse Studios, Iceland. Continue reading “Carrie Tree “The Canoe” (Wild Cedar Records, 2019)”

Todd Snider “Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3” (Aimless Records, 2019)

Well, this is something of a surprise.  After many years of crafting records which were much more in the style of Tom Petty, Todd Snider has gone back to his roots and created a full-on folk album in the form of ‘Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3.’  With a sizable stack of recently penned folk songs in his kit bag and a longing to make a folk record, it seemed almost fateful that Snider would then receive an invitation to play the 2019 Newport Folk Festival, an event he had never appeared at before and with that hefty dose of synchronicity pushing him along, ‘Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3’ was soon born. Continue reading “Todd Snider “Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3” (Aimless Records, 2019)”

Americana A-Z – Kasey Chambers

It would have been simple to have taken the path of least resistance and gone for Kris Kristofferson (and even had two K’s for the price of one), but no, here are at Americana UK we don’t do things the easy way and opted instead for a generally much less widely known artist in the form of Kasey Chambers. Continue reading “Americana A-Z – Kasey Chambers”