Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “Live From the Ryman” (Southeastern Records, 2018)

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit are rightly acclaimed as one of the best live acts doing the rounds today and it’s no surprise to find that they have released a live album in an attempt to capture the on-stage magic which is so beloved by fans.  Recorded over a six-night residency at that fabled auditorium in Nashville, ‘Live From the Ryman‘ is a collection of 13 excellent songs pulled from their last three albums (‘Southeastern’, ‘Something More Than Free’ and ‘The Nashville Sound’). Continue reading “Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “Live From the Ryman” (Southeastern Records, 2018)”

Paul Kelly “Nature” (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)

Who else but the seemingly ageless Paul Kelly could have dreamed up the idea for turning the timeless Dylan Thomas poem ‘And Death Will Have No Dominion’ into a brilliant and moving opening song for his new album?  Taking the three nine-line stanzas from that classic work, Kelly has created an enthralling piece of music that is fully in keeping with the intent of Thomas’ original words, whereby death has no control over the human soul.  More impressive still is that this is only one of twelve cracking tracks on a finely crafted piece of work. That’s a somewhat deep introduction to Paul Kelly’s latest release ‘Nature’ but actually it’s a perfect example of the raison d’etre of the entire album. Continue reading “Paul Kelly “Nature” (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)”

Nathan Bell + Doghouse Roses, The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 6th October 2018

For those who seek out excellent music in intimate surroundings the upstairs lounge in Aberdeen’s Blue Lamp is a place to check out. Tonight’s show, from the opening set by Scottish duo Doghouse Roses which was followed by almost two hours from the excellent Nathan Bell, proved that as venues and shows go they don’t come much better! For those not familiar with them, Doghouse Roses comprise Paul Tasker and Iona Macdonald who serve up, in their own words, “primarily folk music,” but that description doesn’t really do their art justice.  Between McDonald’s powerfully expressive vocals and Tasker’s high-quality guitar playing, you have a very talented duo who set the scene wonderfully for what was to come later.  Continue reading “Nathan Bell + Doghouse Roses, The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 6th October 2018”

Art Theefe “Dig Deep” (Stolen Heart Records, 2018)

Art Theefe is an Oxford-based 3 piece band formed and led by singer/guitarist Matt Sage with Josh Rigal on bass and Joel Bassuk completing the line-up on drums.  Aided by a successful Kickstarter campaign they have crafted their debut album ‘Dig Deep’ and it doesn’t disappoint. ‘Dig Deep’ is an atmospheric piece of work that seems to have been influenced by a variety of musical genres, ranging from folk to the blues and almost to Prog/Psychedelic  Rock on the instrumental ‘Steely Jam,’ but all of them conjuring up an image of being played in smoke-filled rooms of the type that wouldn’t have been out of place in Greenwich Village in its heyday. Continue reading “Art Theefe “Dig Deep” (Stolen Heart Records, 2018)”

Dawn Landes “Meet Me At The River” (Yep Roc, 2018)

Take an innovative Indie singer/songwriter with a crystal-clear voice and pair her with a legendary country producer and the result should be a great musical collaboration. That was the theory which led Dawn Landes to approach the legendary 87-year-old Fred Foster whose production history includes working with the greats such as Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson (with whom he co-wrote ‘Me and Bobby McGee’), to produce her latest album ‘Meet Me At The River’. Continue reading “Dawn Landes “Meet Me At The River” (Yep Roc, 2018)”

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters + Adriana Spina , The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 12th September 2018

The venerable Blue Lamp in Aberdeen is something of a hidden gem, its unassuming frontage concealing not just one of the city’s oldest bars but also an adjoining, intimate and atmospheric music venue. It’s been the locus for an impressive selection of Americana/roots acts who have ventured this far north over the past few years thanks in the main to the enterprising  Almost Blue Promotions  who seem to be able to lure class acts to the granite city. Continue reading “Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters + Adriana Spina , The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 12th September 2018”

Ruston Kelly “Dying Star” (Rounder Records, 2018)

Ruston Kelly may not yet be a household name but with the release of ‘Dying Star’ that may all be about to change.  Kelly spent his teenage years moving with his family across various US states before ending up for a while in Belgium before returning to the US and heading to Nashville.  He initially came to the fore as a songwriter, composing songs for the likes of Tim McGraw before beginning to establish himself as a solo artist in his own right. Continue reading “Ruston Kelly “Dying Star” (Rounder Records, 2018)”

Ben Fisher “Does The Land Remember Me?” (Independent 2018)

The editor here at Americana UK runs a very democratic ship and the poor staff writers never know from one week to the next what will be sent their way for review.  So, it was with some surprise and no little trepidation that a request to review Ben Fisher’s Folk/Americana album ‘Does the Land Remember Me?’ dropped into the in-box. Why the trepidation?  Well, it’s not every day that you get asked to review what is described by Fisher’s PR company as “an entire concept album” focused on the subject of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict!  Don’t let that put you off though. Seattle based Fisher, who has a degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, has crafted a simply brilliant and hugely moving piece of work. Continue reading “Ben Fisher “Does The Land Remember Me?” (Independent 2018)”

The Devil Makes Three “Chains are Broken” (New West Records, 2018)

The Devil Makes Three are back with a bang.  ‘Chains are Broken’ is their first album of original material in five years and it’s certainly worth waiting for with 11 strong tracks and thankfully no banal album fillers to simply make up the numbers. As an acoustic trio consisting of two guitarists (Pete Bernhard and Cooper McBean) and a string bassist (Lucia Turino), the Devil Makes Three are a somewhat unusual alt-country band. While deeply rooted in the blues and country music, they unashamedly incorporate elements of bluegrass and ragtime into their eclectic musical mix. Continue reading “The Devil Makes Three “Chains are Broken” (New West Records, 2018)”

Lucero “Among the Ghosts” (Thirty Tigers, 2018)

OK, let’s break the rules and get straight to the point – ‘Among the Ghosts‘ is a very good album.  No need to read through, or (heaven forbid) even skim over a few hundred words describing the songs, the background to the music to get to the summary.  No sirree! Here at Americana UK rules were made to be broken, so here it is again, right up front and in your face.  This is a very good album. With that out of the way, it’s back to normal service.  ‘Among the Ghosts’ is Lucero’s 9th studio album and after 20 years together they are showing no signs of slowing up and are still making mighty fine music. Continue reading “Lucero “Among the Ghosts” (Thirty Tigers, 2018)”