Bobby Hawk “Lights On Kinks Out” (Independent, 2019)

Bobby Hawk (born Robert Hecht for those who have a hankering to know the detail) has been immersed in music for as long as he can remember. Born in central Illinois, his multi-instrumentalist father brought him to gigs throughout the Midwest and it was a natural progression for the talented fiddler to gravitate towards others with similar talent and a common interest in jazz, bluegrass and country. It wasn’t long before he became a full-time musician and with the bright lights of New York having tempted him to move east, he found himself playing with luminaries such as Abigail Washburn and Noam Pikelny. Continue reading “Bobby Hawk “Lights On Kinks Out” (Independent, 2019)”

Charlie Hager “Truth and Love” (Flour Sack Cape Records, 2019)

It’s always interesting as a reviewer when you get presented with an album from an artist you’ve never heard of and know nothing about. The good news is that it’s listened to with an open mind and with no pre-conceived notions about what to expect regarding musical style or quality. Such as it is with Charlie Hager and his second album ‘Truth and Love’.  Hailing originally from Nashville you could probably guess that his musical influences will be derived from traditional country and to an extent you would be right but there are tinges of bluegrass and the  judicious use of trumpet throughout makes ‘Truth and Love’ difficult to categorise – and that is the strength of the album in many ways. Continue reading “Charlie Hager “Truth and Love” (Flour Sack Cape Records, 2019)”

Friendship “Dreamin'” (Orindal Records, 2019)

Friendship is a Philadelphia based band headed by Dan Wriggins and currently comprising Peter Gill, Mike Cormier, Evangeline Krajewski, and Jon Samuels.  Their new album ‘Dreamin’’ is a follow up to 2017’s ‘Shock Out of Season’ and if you are not familiar with Friendship then don’t listen to this and expect some full-on, hard-driving Americana.  Nope, this is as laid back as it comes and when you realise that Jeff Prystowsky (of Low Anthem fame) helped with the album, then you can start to get some sort of feel for how this will pan out. Continue reading “Friendship “Dreamin’” (Orindal Records, 2019)”

Luke Tuchscherer “Carousel” (Clubhouse Records, 2019)

It’s a well-worn path.  Artist runs out of ideas and decides to re-hash some old material and produces an album that is at best mediocre and at worst downright boring.  Not in this case though, it’s truly excellent! Luke Tuchscherer has certainly dug deep into his back catalogue, with most of the songs dating back to the mid 2000s, but this is as far from dull, boring or mediocre as you could get – in fact it grips you from the opening few bars of the first track ‘My Darling England’ right through to the harmonica fade out on the last track ‘You Still Have My Heart’. Continue reading “Luke Tuchscherer “Carousel” (Clubhouse Records, 2019)”

Sammy Kay “civil/WAR” (Independent, 2019)

Sammy Kay has picked a stonking opening track for his new album ‘civil/War’. Straight from the off the gravelly-voiced New Jersey singer-songwriter grabs your attention with the superb ‘Silver Dollar’ and quickly backs it up with the excellent ‘Forgotten Ones’. ‘civil/WAR’ is an album where Kay seems to rediscover himself having been seemingly disillusioned with touring and the music business. Continue reading “Sammy Kay “civil/WAR” (Independent, 2019)”

Dori Freeman “Every Single Star” (Blue Hens Music, 2019)

Since she rose to prominence with her excellent self-titled debut album in 2016, Dori Freeman has been on a roll and with the release of ‘Every Single Star’ that momentum shows no sign of abating.  With Teddy Thompson still at the helm on production duty, the duo has yet again combined forces to serve up another musical treat.
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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)”