Recently seen in the UK as a solo performer touring with Joe Purdy, Lydia Ramsey’s debut album Bandita is an enticing combination of folk and country that sparkles as modern Americana. Here backed by a full band Ramsey presents a collection of songs of crystal clarity, sung with such warmth and, more often than not, a vocal that conveys a half smile and a knowing wink – as on Springtime where she makes an offer that can’t be refused Continue reading “Lydia Ramsey “Bandita” (Independent, 2017)”
The Long Awaited Album is Steve Martin’s sixth and a half album of banjo music, his initial foray being the B-side of The Steve Martin Brothers way back in 1981, with the first full album being 2009’s all-star collaboration The Crow. This was followed up with
Rare Bird Alert, an album which also featured The Steep Canyon Rangers as his backing band – they’d been supporting him out on tour as well. Continue reading “Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers “The Long Awaited Album” (Rounder Records, 2017)”
Amongst the many fine songs on Lydia Ramsey’s most recent album, Bandita, this song Ghosts is a real stand out. A hypnotic guitar line, a little banjo and a gorgeous fiddle melody blend together to give the song a suitably haunting tone. It draws on Lydia Ramsey’s growing interest in her family tree as she explains “I began to learn of my roots in Appalachia and further back in Ireland, and how many of my ancestors shared a love of musical creation. I found it fascinating that this love of making music was passed on through generations, and now here I was, doing the same thing, picking tunes, loving it. I wanted to tell their stories”.
Nicole Atkins has had some turbulent times in recent years, but more recently found herself in a better place and able to record a new album – the rather excellent Goodnight Rhonda Lee. One old friend who encouraged her was Chris Isaak, who in the midst of all her soul-searching and soul-baring suggested that she write songs that emphasised the one trait that most sets her apart from the mere mortals of the industry, telling her, “Atkins, you have a very special thing in your voice that a lot of people can’t or don’t do. You need to stop shying away from that thing and let people hear it.” He was right – and the result was the instant classic A Little Crazy.
One thing that is certain, Miranda Lee Richards has created in Existential Beast an album of some astonishing beauty. Profound of lyrics, gorgeous in the playing, sung with a voice which embodies an unearthly allure. Every song has an emotional resonance, a soul satisfying lyrical depth, even as Miranda Lee Richards dances elegantly and effortlessly across styles, claiming each one as representing her own special musical affinity, before pirouetting to another with which she sounds as equally at home. Continue reading “Miranda Lee Richards “Existential Beast” (Invisible Hands Music, 2017)”
Is Happy Abandon the point where Mumford & Sons meet Mogwai ? Perhaps, but Severed Seams – the latest track to be released from Happy Abandon’s upcoming album Facepaint – is a stirring blend of banjo and drum indie-folk mixed with enormous crescendo hitting orchestral rock. However, Peter Vance (vocals & guitar) is quick to point out that Facepaint is not a breakup album. He explains “if the album were to have a subject, it would be the relationship a person has to loss and loneliness, which can manifest itself through breakups, homelessness, familial abandonment, and death”. In other words – it’s just the kind of cheerful stuff that’s food and drink to the Americana-UK crowd. The album is out on 25th August 2017 via Schoolkids Records.
Viper Central have been known as a first-rate Bluegrass band since their debut album The Devil sure is hard to please appeared in 2008, but this latest release – Viper Central’s third album – sees them heading off in some new directions. The Canadian quintet have taken the bold step to incorporate a more modern folk band feel onto several new tunes, as well as some western swing (the Mariachi trumpet infected Losing My Mind) and country-folk, it certainly makes for an eclectic mix and something quite different from their previous offerings. Continue reading “Viper Central “The Spirit of God & Madness” (Independent, 2017)”
Paper Dress Vintage is a relatively new venue in Hackney, downstairs is a vintage clothing shop cum bar, by day upstairs is more clothing and a yoga studio but by night it’s an intimate venue to catch a mix of new and upcoming bands as well as the occasional better known visitor. Like Rainbrother. Continue reading “Rainbrother, Paper Dress Vintage, London, 31st July 2017”
Minor Poet is Richmond (Virginia) based musician Andrew Carter who has recorded an album – And How! – which is a testament to the beauty of music found in the most unexpected places. It’s his debut solo album and was written, performed, and recorded entirely by him over roughly two months. Judith Beheading Holofernes is the first track to be shared – there are hints of the harmonies of the Beach Boys or The Zombies, and more than a touch of Josh Ritter in the lyrics. It’s lethargically melodic, and completely devoid of graphic descriptions of head removal (which is something of a bonus).
As reported in the truthful and successful New York Times, the recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass was announced last weekend as being Scott Vestal. Scott Vestal took to the music in the time honoured manner – from his grandfather, a fiddler, and began his professional career at age 18 playing with the bluegrass musician Larry Sparks. In the almost 40 years since, he has played banjo in a number of influential bluegrass bands. Continue reading “Scott Vestal Wins Steve Martin Banjo Prize”