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)”

Joshua Hedley “Mr Jukebox” (Third Man Records, 2018)

Third Man Records is associated with Jack White’s crusade of rescuing the recording industry from the crushing banality of the digital sound and over commercialism that accelerated to the saturation point it currently enjoys. So what’s the story with the debut release from Joshua Hedley’s ‘Mr Jukebox’? Hedley is a highly respected sideman whose fiddle playing is regarded, quite rightly, as sublime by the Nashville trad. and alt-country community. Continue reading “Joshua Hedley “Mr Jukebox” (Third Man Records, 2018)”

Amit Dattani “Santiago” (Independent, 2018)

Fingerpicking roots guitarist Amit Dattani has set the bar high for his debut release ‘Santiago’ which features some beautiful playing as well as some noteworthy songwriting. Opening with the title track, he sets the tone early on. This is going to be a folk guitarist’s album; soft sometimes hushed vocals sitting atop some complex picking. It’s as simple as that but the simplicity of the equation undervalues the overall sense of worth created by this work. Each song is a nugget in a seam of precious stuff – hand hewn and lovingly put together. Continue reading “Amit Dattani “Santiago” (Independent, 2018)”

Brady Harris Band “NoHo Calling” (Independent, 2018)

Opening with the Devoesque ‘Let’s Live’ which is all new wave rhythms and hand claps with catchy choruses, you think you have a handle on The Brady Harris band and their new platter ‘NOHO Calling’ (that’s North Hollywood to you and me!) But the next track ‘Raise a Glass’ is pure barrelhouse boozer blues of the soft country lament variety, all crisp shuffle snare and sweet guitar and piano solos . It could be 1am and the bourbon has run out without it being messy. Continue reading “Brady Harris Band “NoHo Calling” (Independent, 2018)”

Rebecca Turn “Waves EP” (Independent 2018)

A Porthcawl native, Hurn was plucked from playing local open mic sessions as her reputation was spreading by none other than Pixie Lott showing a canny knack for spotting a talent.
A glorious voice, mature beyond her years and thankfully lacking the affectations of many of her contemporaries, drives this small collection of pop-inflected whimsy and wistfulness. Patently heading for ‘pop’ success it would be a shame if some of the freshness and verve is lost on the way because this is smashing stuff. Continue reading “Rebecca Turn “Waves EP” (Independent 2018)”

Luke Tuchscherer “Shadows – Touring EP” (Clubhouse Records, 2018)

Ever since seeing Tuchscherer performing with the band The Whybirds in a small Bedford pub this reviewer has been quite partial to their (and his) take on the classic Americana driving song style of most of their material. You know. The jaunty guitars and perhaps a Hammond being propelled by a solid rhythm section and songs about highways, falling in love, poker or good things turned bad. And with his touring EP LT (can’t be writing that name lots of times, I’ll get it wrong!) has delivered something that holds true to the template and some. Continue reading “Luke Tuchscherer “Shadows – Touring EP” (Clubhouse Records, 2018)”

Nathaniel Bellows “Swan and Wolf” (Independent 2018)

Polymath Bellows has released an album and accompanying art work designed to give the listener a whole artistic experience. This reviewer is fairly unimpressed. In order to arrest the attention of an audience, an artist needs to corral some fairly random items but principally we need decent songs and production that highlights the source material in an appropriate way which reflects the artist’s intentions and gives the potential listener a way of accessing the deeper meanings and understandings to be gleaned from the art. [this is possibly the longest sentence ever written on this site – Ed] Continue reading “Nathaniel Bellows “Swan and Wolf” (Independent 2018)”