Ten great John Prine songs

We’ve lost of one the truly great ones with the passing of John Prine, finally succumbing as he did to complications arising from Covid-19 infection.  When our editor asked who wanted to do a Top 10 John Prine Songs feature my hand shot straight up, “Pick me, pick me” or something to that effect I replied back to him on our staff forum.  Continue reading “Ten great John Prine songs”

Ruthie Collins “Cold Comfort” (Curb Records/Sidewalk, 2020)

Ruthie Collins second album ‘Cold Comfort‘ is a hugely contemplative affair that, while not devoid of upbeat songs, creates something of a melancholy vibe throughout its 11 tracks.   That’s probably not that surprising given the album arose hot on the heels of a somewhat agonising breakup and the pain is clear to see as Collins bares her soul.  The album wasn’t made some risk without though.  Having gained praise for the more country-tinged ‘Get Drunk and Cry’ this represents a subtle but clear change in direction which has been compared to seventies Laurel Canyon rather than modern country. Continue reading “Ruthie Collins “Cold Comfort” (Curb Records/Sidewalk, 2020)”

The Secret Sisters “Saturn Return” (New West, 2020)

Thankfully for us, it’s only been 3 years since Laura and Lydia Rogers released their last album and not the 29 ½ years it takes Saturn to orbit the sun.  Just like the astrological event it’s named after, ‘Saturn Return’ focuses on the fear you have to overcome and the subsequent strength and wisdom you gain from facing life’s challenges and as many will know, the sisters from Muscle Shoals, Alabama have had to face more than their fair share of life’s obstacles over the last few years. Continue reading “The Secret Sisters “Saturn Return” (New West, 2020)”

Thunder and Rain “Passing In The Night” (Independent, 2020)

Is it folk?  Country?  Bluegrass?  That’s not an unfair question to ask yourself when listening to ‘Passing In The Night’ the latest (and third) album from hard-working Colorado outfit Thunder and Rain.  Featuring main band members Ian Haegele on bass and with Dylan Mccarthy and Allen Cooke doing sterling work on mandolin and dobro respectively, they provide a great platform for the band’s main songwriter and singer Erinn Peet Lukes to showcase her vocal talent. Continue reading “Thunder and Rain “Passing In The Night” (Independent, 2020)”

Dave Goddess Group “Once in a Blue Moon” (Independent, 2020)

In an era where recorded music is often overproduced and over-engineered to within an inch of its life, it’s a joy to listen to an album that has been recorded with the minimum of studio wizardry and one where the musicians genuinely seem to be having fun and really enjoying themselves. With ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ Dave Goddess Group has that aspect of the process well and truly nailed and Goddess explains the rationale. “For me, the biggest challenge these days is not to make my recordings sound too perfect, with all the technology available, you can make the tempo precise and all the performances flawless. You can auto-tune the vocals. I think it’s important not to be seduced bythese possibilities, because in the end, your track will have no spirit and you’re left to try and figure out why it sucks.Continue reading “Dave Goddess Group “Once in a Blue Moon” (Independent, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Jason Isbell “Different Days”

For some reason I was late to the Jason Isbell party, I’m not sure why but I guess that’s how it goes sometimes!  However, better late than never and what better continuation of last week’s Chain Gang which featured Hannah Grace’s ‘Different Kind of Love’ than another different – ‘Different Days’ from Isbell’s best solo album ‘Southeastern’.  ‘Different Days’ reflects on his pre-sober life and the lyrics are clear and self-explanatory and this live version from the Ryman Auditorium 2017 is a gem.

Robert Vincent “In This Town You’re Owned” (Thirty Tigers, 2020)

There’s no reason to waste any time, so let’s get straight to the point.  Robert Vincent’s third album ‘In This Town You’re Owned’  is a corker (for those not familiar with this UK term, that’s a really good thing!) and from the moment the first notes of the opening track ‘This Town’ descend upon your eardrums, to the fade-out on the final track ‘Cuckoo’, the quality of the songwriting, the performance and the production never drops beneath a level that can only be described as outstanding. Continue reading “Robert Vincent “In This Town You’re Owned” (Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

Edward Abbiati “Beat The Night” (Harbour Song, 2020)

Edward Abbiati may not be a hugely familiar name to everyone but over the last 10 years this Hampshire born Anglo-Italian has been a significant contributor to the European scene as frontman for the prominent Italian Americana band Lowlands and now following the unfortunate breakup of the group, a career change as a solo artist beckons and Abbiati has released this rather fine debut album ‘Beat the Night’. Continue reading “Edward Abbiati “Beat The Night” (Harbour Song, 2020)”

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)”