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)”

Scott Low “Burning Tires, Smoking Gun” (10 Foot Woody Records, 2018)

With his third solo album ‘Burning Tires, Smoking Gun‘, Scott Low, the former main man of Athens, GA based band Efren has produced a fine album that is simple in design, yet contains contemporary  messages that ponder many of the challenges in today’s society.  It’s nicely carried along by Low’s gritty and distinctive tenor voice and aided by a sparse arrangement that doesn’t get in the way of the messages being conveyed. Low is clearly a multi-faceted individual and he combines his musical career with running his creative retreat in the hills near the small town of Clayton in the north of the US state of Georgia, a safe and supportive place where creative and inquisitive minds can go and be, well, creative and inquisitive! Continue reading “Scott Low “Burning Tires, Smoking Gun” (10 Foot Woody Records, 2018)”

Sons of Bill “Oh God Ma’am” (Loose Records, 2018)

It’s been almost 4 years since we had an album release from Sons of Bill and it’s fair to say that the Wilson brothers, Sam, Abe and James haven’t let the grass grow under their feet. Their new offering ‘Oh God Ma’am’ sees them move away from their Virginia/Appalachian roots into a more Indie sound that at times is reminiscent (to this reviewer at least) of bands like Travis, especially on tracks like ‘Believer/Pretender’ and ‘Where we Stand’ (admittedly that’s a bit of a tenuous comparison as I’m pretty sure the Glasgow rockers never sung about the inspiring openness and greenery of Virginia, but you get the drift – hopefully!). Continue reading “Sons of Bill “Oh God Ma’am” (Loose Records, 2018)”

Findlay Brown “Not Everything Beautiful is Good” (Nettwerk Records, 2018)

Ambient/Psychedelic Americana is a genre not populated by many artists, but Findlay Brown continues to cut a groove that is somewhat idiosyncratic and to back this up, he even manages to sing about lovers living in separate dimensions who can only meet by travelling through a black hole. ‘Seven Hours’ definitely falls into the quirky storyline category. Don’t let this put you off though, there is certain poetic beauty to his fourth album ‘Not Everything Beautiful is Good’ and it continues in a similar vein to his last album ‘Slow Light’ as he explores many aspects of love, albeit with a somewhat melancholic tone as he searches for, in his own words, the “good wolf” in himself instead of the more self-destructive “bad wolf”. Continue reading “Findlay Brown “Not Everything Beautiful is Good” (Nettwerk Records, 2018)”

Trampled by Turtles “Life is Good on the Open Road” (Thirty Tigers, 2018)

The untimely passing of Tom Petty in October 2017 was an incredibly sad day and an enormous loss to the music industry, but it seems to have a been a catalyst for Trampled by Turtles to emerge from their self-imposed musical exile and the Minnesota sextet are back with an excellent album, ‘Life is Good on the Open Road‘. Having taken a break four years ago – always a risky thing to do after a lengthy, very successful recording and touring career – the band found themselves at banjo player Dave Carroll’s cabin at a very poignant time. Continue reading “Trampled by Turtles “Life is Good on the Open Road” (Thirty Tigers, 2018)”

Phil Cook “People Are My Drug” (Psychic Hotline/Thirty Tigers, 2018)

OK, no cheating now.  Who do you know with a musical career that encompasses being a recording and touring member of Hiss Golden Messenger, has collaborated with the Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray, performed with greats such as Mavis Staples, Bruce Hornsby and the legendary John Prine and still found time to both play with, and be a Musical Director for, The Blind Boys of Alabama? (The more astute among you may have looked at the title of this review and made something of a bold guess). Continue reading “Phil Cook “People Are My Drug” (Psychic Hotline/Thirty Tigers, 2018)”

Michael McDermott “Out From Under” (Pauper Sky Records, 2018)

Rarely can an album have been so aptly named as Michael McDermott’s latest effort ‘Out From Under’.  Now four years sober after 20 years of drink, drugs and even jail, McDermott has released a gem of an album that continues and even exceeds the high standard reached on his last release ‘Willow Springs’. Straight out of the blocks we get a glimpse into the dark underbelly of the addict with the self-destructive and nightmarish world that is so graphically depicted in the rhythmic opening track ‘Cal Sag Road’Continue reading “Michael McDermott “Out From Under” (Pauper Sky Records, 2018)”