Hunter Muskett “Unafraid and Sober” (Independent 2018)

Now reformed for longer than their original incarnation (1968-1974) Hunter Muskett reconvened in 2010 in the the excellent Aspinall Arms near Clitheroe after a Cherry Red re-release of one of their originals garnered more than a little praise. They liked it so much they set about recording again and Unafraid and Sober is the second album and not a shabby job it is at all. Continue reading “Hunter Muskett “Unafraid and Sober” (Independent 2018)”

Jerry Leger “Nonsense and Heartaches” (Latent Recordings 2018)

Jerry Leger is a Canadian singer-songwriter who hails from Toronto and ‘Nonsense and Heartache’ is a double album with two distinct takes on his songwriting. ‘Nonsense’ is wired hillbilly blues with a wild swagger; there are elements of Chuck Prophet and his previous incarnation Green on Red, particularly in the ghostly 12 bar of ‘On The Fishing Line’ with it’s echoey, snarled vocal and sensational lead guitar. There is also a side order of the marvellous Cracker in the nihilistic ‘For HIre’ with is juicy rhythm guitar and twitchy lead. This all means that ‘Nonsense’ or disc 1 of this double is a joyous salute to the redemptive powers of the plugged in and raucous tempered by some very smart songwriting. Continue reading “Jerry Leger “Nonsense and Heartaches” (Latent Recordings 2018)”

Ordinary Elephant “Before I Go” (Independent 2017)

Crystal Hariu and Peter Hanmore are the married couple that are Ordinary Elephant and this is a very considered and often stately work. The album seems to be surfing some sort of zeitgeist in Americana at the moment. Simple, folksy arrangements using guitar and banjo as a songwriting pairing without drifting too close to the Earl Scruggs bluegrass thing. This Is The Kit could be a handy signpost here. All the songs are tightly constructed with the basic instrumental pairing providing the back bone to all the songs. Continue reading “Ordinary Elephant “Before I Go” (Independent 2017)”

Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 31st January 2018

Supporting the always excellent Mary Gauthier, East Nashville native Aaron Lee Tasjan promoted his excellent ‘Silver Tears‘ album with a troubadour’s turn here. Just him and his guitar….and what a revelation. ‘Silver Tears‘ is a great album and it is beautifully produced couching some great songs with some strong instrumentation and harmonies but here, stripped back, they sound wonderful, unadorned and spontaneous. This is enabled in no short measure by a fabulous set of pipes which Tasjan uses to full effect. Holding notes and bending melodies in a style not unlike Arlo Guthrie or on occasion John Sebastian of whom there is a hint in the sartorial style of embroidered waistcoat, jeans and some killer boots! Continue reading “Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Stables, Milton Keynes, 31st January 2018”

Tyler Childers “Purgatory” (Thirty Tigers 2018)

Building up a steady head of public interest, Tyler Childers follows his three singles of last year with his debut album co-produced by Sturgill Simpson no less. And it could well have been hewn from the same wood as Sturgill’s earlier releases. Lots of guitars, rebel lyricism and fiddles with nods to Nashville, Appalachia and Steve Earle particularly with the ‘Copperhead Road’ fuelled ‘Whitehouse Road’ – note the repeat of the word road to enable such comparisons. Continue reading “Tyler Childers “Purgatory” (Thirty Tigers 2018)”

Steve Hartsoe “The Big Fix Deluxe Edition” (Independent 2017)

Crashing into life with the big Pettyesque footstomper ‘Said and Done’ this album bursts forth on a wave of Californian country rock, a breezy West Coast sound from a breezy West Coast resident. A former rock journo returning to the music he used to make. ‘If I Had One Song’ is next up still ticking all the boxes and sounding very much like Bruntnell’s ‘Shot From a Spring’ but not quite as compelling and it’s probably the voice. The production is fine. Everything’s turned up to 10 .5 and mixed with a lovely sheen that does not stray into 80’s over production but keeps the guitars honest and the rhythm front and centre. Continue reading “Steve Hartsoe “The Big Fix Deluxe Edition” (Independent 2017)”

Buffy Sainte Marie “Medicine Songs” (True North Records 2017)

With an identity and profile assured of a life beyond the vagaries of the next release, Buffy Sainte Marie continues to strengthen her over 50-year reputation as a fearless songwriter who challenges prejudice and injustice at every turn. ‘Medicine Songs’ reinforces this image as it contains not only new songs but reworkings of her classics that quietly display the length and strength of her career. And it ain’t over yet as evidenced by her 2016 Polaris prize-winning album ‘Power in the Blood’. Continue reading “Buffy Sainte Marie “Medicine Songs” (True North Records 2017)”

The Dad Horse Experience “I Am a Stranger Here Below” (Off Label Records 2018)

Fifty years on this Earth in 2018 and Dad Horse Ottn, the German based eccentric behind this wonderful album continues to plough a furrow that is both deep and musically satisfying as well as wonderfully idiosyncratic and original. This is banjo-based Appalachian nu rock n roll! There’s gospel, bluegrass, Blues and bawdiness as well as Southern soul and yodelling, bondage and tram shootings. Continue reading “The Dad Horse Experience “I Am a Stranger Here Below” (Off Label Records 2018)”

Alan Tyler “El Tapado” (Hanky Panky Records 2018)

‘Dumb Ass’ or ‘The Hidden’ – two translations of El Tapado which is The Rockingbird’s founder member Alan Tyler’s tenth album all told. It is, however, the first that he has almost exclusively recorded and played on a Teenage Engineering OP-1 programmable synthesiser. Then by tidying up the results with some Magic Numbers backing vocals and guitars from long time collaborator Patrick Ralla the album was born.  Of course to a reviewer and casual listener the genesis of an album is of little consequence unless the music itself grabs and holds beyond the initial investigation. And… Continue reading “Alan Tyler “El Tapado” (Hanky Panky Records 2018)”

Rob Corcoran “Inverse Alchemy” (Independent 2017)

An album of delicate playing, strong emotion and beautiful harmonised playing and singing. What more could a listener ask from an album. Not much, really. For the most part this is a collection of fully realised folk songs that weave their spell in intricate and intimate ways. ‘Black Hearted Man’ is a case in point – simple plucked guitar figure, gorgeous fiddle underscoring a deft lyric delivered in broad Dublinese and a feather light harmony. Lovely. Continue reading “Rob Corcoran “Inverse Alchemy” (Independent 2017)”