‘What’s New, Tomboy?’ is the 15th album from Seattle-born Damien Jurado. It’s a relatively short offer at around 30 minutes long. And there’s both a lot and not very much packed into that time. Let us explain. Most of the tracks are simply guitar and Jurado’s voice. He comments: “I left out certain instruments on purpose, so you’re making space for the listener to fill in their own melodies and parts.” With each song laid out in such a stripped-back form, is there a danger that there’s not enough substance? Continue reading “Damien Jurado “What’s New, Tomboy?” (Loose, 2020)”
‘The Bonny‘ is the second album from Scottish-born Gerry Cinnamon. Known for his live performances, Cinnamon has created a large following of loyal fans who belt out the lyrics to his songs in a mass singalong at every show. Understandably gutted by delays to live shows this year, Cinnamon remains practical and comments “Anyone that knows me knows all I care about is folk having a class night and getting home safe”. This realism is felt throughout the album. Melodies are simple. Tracks are pretty stripped back mostly featuring Cinnamon, his guitar and occasional harmonica. It’s the simplicity that makes this really work. Continue reading “Gerry Cinnamon “The Bonny” (Little Runaway Records, 2020)”
There’s something about Conor Oberst, lead singer of Bright Eyes, that presses all my emotional buttons. That cracked voice, those sweet lyrics, music that veers from barely there to full-on rocking guitars. And it was this album that really cemented for me that while I could *pretend* that it was his indie-rock boy music that I loved, it was truly this album that had taken my heart. ‘I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning’ is so undeniably folk-americana that it hurts. It’s got all the hallmarks of a great alt-country album, not least that country-royalty Emmylou Harris features on three tracks. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Bright Eyes “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” (Saddle Creek Records, 2005)”
‘Canadiana’ is the follow up to 2015’s ‘Whatever Happened To Phil Rambow?’ and his Philip Rambow’s debut for Fretsore Records, the label behind releases by My Darling Clementine and Lily Garland. Rambow is originally from Montreal and this album is all about him putting a Canadian spin on Americana tracks (albeit with the perspective of someone who has lived in the UK for many years). Continue reading “Philip Rambow “Canadiana” (Fretsore Records, 2020)”
Andy Brasher brings country-soaked solo-album ‘Myna Bird’ to us from Kentucky via Nashville. It was produced by Harry Lee Smith (Restless Heart, Angeleena Presley, Martina McBride) and multi-Grammy award winner Ross Hogarth (Keb’ Mo’, Shawn Colvin, REM, John Mellencamp) at Nashville’s renowned Blackbird Studios.
Just to get this out there, this album is scarily prophetic. Quite how two-time GRAMMY™-nominated singer Eliza Gilkyson knew to write this and call it simply ‘2020‘ is beyond me. The first listen to it was pre-virus and it was frightening enough then: there are plenty of references to racism, gun violence, terrorism, and climate change. But now, in our new world of illness, fear and panic, the songs are even more arresting. Continue reading “Eliza Gilkyson “2020” (Compass Records, 2020)”
Last time the chain gang song was ‘The Rock of My Soul’ by Rodney Crowell. This week’s link is quite simply the word ‘soul’. This track: ‘House of My Soul‘ is taken from Langhorne Slim’s 2017 album ‘Lost at Last Vol 1‘. It’s a simple love song and is so upbeat you can’t help but feel better once you’ve listened. Langhorne Slim lives in East Nashville, the area devastated by the tornado a few weeks ago. His home was unaffected although Dualtone Records (his label) was badly hit. So this song is a shout out to those musicians out there who need our support more than ever.
‘Undercover’ is the third album from Mississippi-born Bronwynne Brent. It’s a shift away from the folky Americana sound of her previous albums, ‘Deep Dark Water’ (2011) and ‘Stardust’ (2014) into the jazzy sounds of a cocktail-soaked New Orleans club night. Brent’s voice really shines through for this style of music: she’s been compared to Amy Winehouse, Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday. Continue reading “Bronwynne Brent “Undercover” (Independent, 2020)”
Having accidentally started playing the title track ‘Judas’ from Gary Fulton’s 2014 album of the same name on Spotify, the immediate thought was “ooh this reminds me a bit of Mercury Rev”, a catchy melody and some Rev-esque vocals, not quite as unique as Jonathan Donahue but heading the right way. Realising the error, fast forward five years to Cheshire-based Fulton’s sixth album ‘Blood and Dust’. Continue reading “Gary Fulton “Blood and Dust” (Independent, 2019)”
Arborist started as a solo project for singer Mark McCambridge but evolved into a five piece band for the recording of their first album ‘Home Burial’. The addition of guitars and piano enriched their sound. Now, on ‘A Northern View’ the line-up has been completed by the addition of a violinist. What results is a sweeping sound, complex with melody, all held together by McCambridge’s poetical approach to songs. It’s also a political statement about the position of Northern Ireland, in an increasingly not United Kingdom (the northern view in question). Continue reading “Arborist “A Northern View” (Rollercoaster Records, 2020)”