Eoin Glackin “Fires Of Innocence” (Independent 2018)

Dublin born and raised Eoin Glackin has delivered an album of brash charm which zips along at a fair old pace, full of earworms and some lovely melodies. Opening with the guitar driven ‘High King Falls’ followed by the Hothouse Flowersy ‘Where While You Can,’ all shouted vocals and fiddle harmonies. ‘Barabbas Walks Free’ appears to alter the template with its delicate picked guitar but soon succumbs to a driving rhythm, hollered vocals and there’s that fiddle again along with a short and sweet guitar solo.  Continue reading “Eoin Glackin “Fires Of Innocence” (Independent 2018)”

Zack Logan “Raised by Wolves” (Independent, 2018)

Zack Logan comes from a long tradition of American singer songwriters mining a seam of blue collar, working man’s hopes and dreams. Opening with the subtle finger-picked delight ‘Annalee’ with its gorgeous string backing is reminiscent of early John Prine or perhaps a less care worn Kristofferson. So this is good stuff. It is in many ways a simple album, effective narratives driven by simple guitar lines and fiddle accompaniment, lyrically straightforward but affecting with some gorgeous warm production and a voice built for weaving acoustic stories. Continue reading “Zack Logan “Raised by Wolves” (Independent, 2018)”

Nathan Bell “Loves Bone and Stars, Love’s Bone and Stars” / “Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth” (Angry Stick Recording Company 2018)

Nathan Bell is a working man who now more often than not makes albums. This is the fourth album of the ‘Family Man’ series and is a series of reflective acoustic ruminations on a life being lived and the many strands of society that ebb and flow through that life. Literally the ties that bind and the sense of continuous wonder at a life that seems impossibly ordinary but at the same time utterly extraordinary. Continue reading “Nathan Bell “Loves Bone and Stars, Love’s Bone and Stars” / “Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth” (Angry Stick Recording Company 2018)”

Cordovas “That Santa Fe Channel” (ATO Records 2018)

This is a great album, right off the bat all the boxes are ticked and squared away. Delicate triple harmonies, whoozy swooning choruses, deft instrumentation and just enough rootsy grit to keep the listener and the artist honest. Think Dawes, Dead and Jayhawks with a Nashville twang and a dash of the Laurel Canyon vibe filtered through a gauze made by a young Jackson Brown. Really…. I mean really?  Well yes, dear reader, these songs have got legs and may just sneak up on you when you’re not intending to listen. Plenty of the old earworms here.  Continue reading “Cordovas “That Santa Fe Channel” (ATO Records 2018)”

Charlie Smyth “The Way I Feel” (Independent, 2018)

Charlie Smyth has come to Nashville where he now resides, having been a veteran of the 1990s Chicago and Seattle punk scenes of the 1990s – and perhaps he brings some of that sensibility to his songwriting in the occasionally inspired offering ‘The Way I Feel’. Opening with a Neil Diamond cover is a safe bet but one that perhaps leads the listener to an early conclusion that may not be entirely true. It is a joyous sound – all mariachi horns and big vocals  – a ‘Beautiful Noise’ indeed, but slightly out of kilter with the rest of the album. Continue reading “Charlie Smyth “The Way I Feel” (Independent, 2018)”

Jimmy LaFave “Peacetown” (Music Road Records, 2018)

This album arrives under the banner ‘Austin Legend, The Late Jimmy LaFave..’ and as such presents a reviewer with a potentially thorny problem. What if it’s no good? Is there anything to be gained from constructive criticism as the artist themselves will not be able to respond or react?  Luckily any concerns were brushed aside by a double album full of heartbreak and celebration as well as an underlying sense of melancholy entirely appropriate for the material as well as the deeply sad back story. Continue reading “Jimmy LaFave “Peacetown” (Music Road Records, 2018)”

Mike Uva “Lights Coming Up” (Collectible Escalators 2018)

Cleveland’s Mike Uva is an interesting cove if these tracks are solid indicators of the man’s character.  Lots of influences dripped through a lo-fi prism. The acoustic confessional ‘A Proposal’ is sparse but leavened with a gentle harmony, a sweet lead guitar and a voice as dry as a dustbowl. ‘Waco’ is a driving, complex and twisting narrative interspersed with crashes of electronica and almost found sounds. They shouldn’t fit but do. ‘You Let The Devil’ is folk-noir, swampy and threatening, a shoe-in for a True Detective soundtrack. The title track is different again, with an almost Appalachian singalong confessional as the rain comes down and a melody that timeless. Continue reading “Mike Uva “Lights Coming Up” (Collectible Escalators 2018)”

Bennett, Wilson, Poole, St Barnabus Church, Oxford, 31st May 2018

What a night. Torrential rain. Flooding in and out of the venue. A support act using the Oedipal curse repeatedly during the final song of their set despite being in a very beautiful house dedicated to a higher power. Was there going to be divine retribution? In a word, no. This was a brilliant, brilliant gig. Curated by the irrepressible Mike Trotman of Empty Rooms – the promoter of choice in these parts – Bennett, Wilson, Poole delivered their album (in order) and then some, in spades. Continue reading “Bennett, Wilson, Poole, St Barnabus Church, Oxford, 31st May 2018”

The Magic Numbers, Esquires, Bedford, 18th May 2018

Esquires is a grimy dyed in the wool rock venue that has hosted many of the aspiring greats over the years, including Coldplay, Oasis,  Dodgy and Richmond Fontaine to name but the few I have seen (Oasis may have been the Angel – life’s journey has had some impact). So, The Magic Numbers on a Friday night, what could be better? Some glorious harmonies and whip smart tunes in front of a sold out house. Brilliant…..or not as it turned out. Continue reading “The Magic Numbers, Esquires, Bedford, 18th May 2018”

Michael Plater ” Mythologies” (Reverb Worship, 2018)

Opening with the baritone spoken ‘The Officer’s Mess’ a track full of plangent acoustic guitar and melancholy piano lines, Plater lays his cards on the table early on. This is is a dark brew of folk allusion and portent squeezed through a Cave / Willard Grant filter. ‘Pretty Maids’ lifts the pace with a glorious poppy organ and sprightly guitar figure but is still rooted by the half spoken-sung vocal. As the album progresses it’s clear that a night at Michael’s is not going to be a flippant or giddy affair, the sheer weight of his vocal delivery sometimes undermining the really quite arresting production work and instrumentation. Continue reading “Michael Plater ” Mythologies” (Reverb Worship, 2018)”