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)”

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)”