Dori Freeman “Letters Never Read” (Blue Hens Music, 2017)

If you’re looking for a vocal that’s as clear as a mountain stream then Dori Freeman has the vocal you’re chasing. On Letters Never Read she defines a modern form of Appalachian country – there’s no affectation here but there’s a lot of variety. Her back story is worth
recounting again – growing up in the Appalachian city of Galax (population 7,000) in a traditional music family she rebelled against these constraints by falling for the wildly modern sounds of Teddy Thompson going so far as to dropping him an email accompanied by a sample of her singing. Continue reading “Dori Freeman “Letters Never Read” (Blue Hens Music, 2017)”

Soft Fangs “Honey Colony” – Listen

Soft Fangs is the musical project of Brooklyn-based songwriter, John Lutkevich. Having previously released an EP and a debut album, Lutkevich’s latest release Fractures saw a change in the recording process, as he explains “The LP is a collection of songs that I wrote over the past year in fragments and then recorded in three days during a snowstorm in Maine…it’s the first album where I’ve enlisted the help of others to engineer, so I let my good friends Bradford Krieger & Chaimes Parker (Big Nice Studio) handle all of the recording aspects, and I just got to run from instrument to instrument.” The result is the place where pop meets hauntingly dark imagery and sounds.

Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings, Scala, London, 22nd November 2017

Those who still pine for the folk excesses of Bellowhead can take some comfort from Jon Boden’s latest outfit. After a solo tour Jon Boden has got the old band back together and is taking new album Afterglow out on tour with The Remnant Kings, backed up by the string trio that is the Remnant Strings. This makes the stage at the Scala impressively full with eleven musicians, and since most of them are also multi-instrumentalists an almost excessive number of instrument stands and microphone setups. Continue reading “Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings, Scala, London, 22nd November 2017”

Robin Jackson “Drifting At Sea” – Listen

It’s easy to hear the influence of Robin Jackson’s previous band, the dark boho-cabaret band, Vagabond Opera.  It’s no real surprise that the Portland based multi-instrumentalist has also worked with Amanda Palmer.  The moody Drifting at Sea is taken from his new album Dark Stars.  It’s a drifting, lilting soliloquised expounding on the way love dwindled and left behind a hollow husk of loneliness.  And it has a hummable tune.


Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “Soul of a Woman” (Daptone Records, 2017)

No-one forgets seeing Sharon Jones live – she was a powerful performer, and it is nothing short of tragic that her late-blooming recording career was so cruelly cut short this year. In a conversation with JJ Grey a while back we got to musing on Sharon Jones – and Charles Bradley as well – as many in his band had also worked with both these artists. He summed her up nicely: “when Dr John says ‘boy when them women, when they got that strong thing, boy, I love that’ and that’s Sharon – she’s got that strong thing”. Continue reading “Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “Soul of a Woman” (Daptone Records, 2017)”

Various Artists “Won’t be Home for Christmas” (Hemifran/Paraply Records, 2017)

Just one look at the cover of this collection of Christmas themed songs by an eclectic mix of eighteen singer-songwriters gives a clue as to the content. This is Christmas deep in the heart of Americana-land: an isolated house stands alone with a forest backdrop, it’s night time and there’s no sign of snow – but there looks to be a storm brewing in the sky. And if the jolly tone of the opening track – Elliot Murphey’s Five Days of Christmas – at first misleads fear not, this is a song about gathering family and the mixed blessing that can be. Continue reading “Various Artists “Won’t be Home for Christmas” (Hemifran/Paraply Records, 2017)”

Jade Jackson, The Slaughtered Lamb, London, 13th November 2017

The music room of The Slaughtered Lamb is a cosy basement of this spacious Clerkenwell hip-boozer, with a stage squeezed into a corner. It’s surprisingly full of instruments, but this is explained by the support – Ferris & Sylvester – who between them need three or four guitars, a violin electric bass – Issy Ferris’ “new toy” which she jokingly describes as making her feel more of a rock-chick – and a kick-drum as well as the usual range of pedals. All this allows for a range of slightly folky, slightly rock, songs often featuring some nice slide guitar from Archie Sylvester, and all with the girly-sweet lead vocals of Ferris. Continue reading “Jade Jackson, The Slaughtered Lamb, London, 13th November 2017”

I’m With Her announce debut album, and UK Tour

In these days of gloom – and we don’t just mean the early fall of night beneath skies heavy with cloud and portents of storms to come – it’s nice to be able to offer our dear readers the chance to find a new use for their Hilary Clinton merchandise.  Yup – if you’ve got a I’m With Her T-Shirt then good news, there’s a new super group in town and that’s the name they go under.  Not just any super group –  this band is made up of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan – so it’s a super group with superb harmony vocals.  Continue reading “I’m With Her announce debut album, and UK Tour”

Josh McGovern “Love Left Lost” – Listen

Love Left Lost is the new single from Brighton singer-songwriter Josh McGovern. Blessed with a deep baritone with a fantastic timbre it’s fortunate that he also has the knack for writing dark and moody folk songs that vibrate with tension and a sombre precognition of bleakness to come. Josh has said of this song “I wrote ‘Love Left Lost’ after falling off the rails and spending a few months in my own head. It was in the dead of winter and I had felt inadequate in the wake of some rough times, so I locked myself away in my old friend Jim’s house whilst he was away and wrote the song. It may sound clichéd but I’ve always found writing music helps me get through those phases we all experience from time to time”.  Whilst it’s heavy stuff it’s mostly heavy with portent and meaning.

Ferris & Sylvester “Better in Yellow” – Listen

So, your friend has thrown out all her fashion clothes and is stalking around in an all black urban camouflage. What do you do? Well, if you are Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester then you proffer some advice in the form of this song. Taken from their upcoming Made In Streatham EP it see’s the duo widening out their folky/blues palette with some funky horns. And all recorded in their kitchen. In Streatham. See what they did there?