Gordie Tentrees and Jaxon Haldane “Grit” (Greywood Records, 2019)

It’s probably unfair to start listening to an album from the third song on the track-listing but, c’mon, the song is called ‘Craft Beards and Man Buns.’ It had to be done. It would be easy to write this off as a bit of a comedy skit. But it’s far from it; what shines through are some great guitar and banjo playing along with some well-observed and tight put downs. The delivery is just the right side of judgy and you can picture Gordie gently shaking his head as he sings: “Craft beards, man buns, just leave it alone my son / You’ll regret that, when you look back, like a tattoo on a roll of fat”. Continue reading “Gordie Tentrees and Jaxon Haldane “Grit” (Greywood Records, 2019)”

David Berkeley “The Faded Red and Blue” (Straw Man, 2018)

The Faded Red and Blue’ is a five-track EP from Santa-Fe based songwriter,  David Berkeley. It was written in response to the political landscape in America: he began writing in the aftermath of the presidential election in November 2016 and completed the songs just after the shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018. The EP is in part a comment on the topics that naturally stem from this time: gun violence, immigration, the world (as in the environment, but also humanity), however, Berkeley successfully steers away from being angry and ranty and instead leads us into a place of love and potential healing. Continue reading “David Berkeley “The Faded Red and Blue” (Straw Man, 2018)”

The Black Lillies “Stranger to Me” (Attack Monkey/Thirty Tigers, 2018)

What’s striking about ‘Stranger to Me’, the fifth album by The Black Lillies from Knoxville, Tennessee, is how tight it’s all sounding: they’ve had a bumpy few years. Multiple line-up changes (going from a six-piece to four), the loss of all their equipment in a robbery, and a shift in responsibilities across the band (previously Cruz Contreras operated as sole front man, singer and songwriter, he’s now ably joined by Sam Quinn (The Everybodyfields)). Continue reading “The Black Lillies “Stranger to Me” (Attack Monkey/Thirty Tigers, 2018)”

The Mallett Brothers Band “Vive L’Acadie!” (Acadia Recording, 2018)

Can you ever have too much whiskey? Well, probably, but not if you are in The Mallett Brothers Band. The tracks on ‘Vive L’Acadie!’ are steeped in it. For a band from Maine, it’s just as easy to imagine them propping up the bar in the deep south. Their sound is unashamedly country rock and they do it really well. The Mallett Brothers Band at their core are brothers Luke and Will Mallett who formed the band in 2009. Since then they’ve gone through numerous line up changes but have settled on a strong musical range for this latest album with dobro, fiddles and mandolin being used to underpin the sound throughout. Continue reading “The Mallett Brothers Band “Vive L’Acadie!” (Acadia Recording, 2018)”

Haley Heynderickx “I Need to Start a Garden” (Mama Bird Recording Co, 2018)

Listening to Portland-based Haley Heynderickx’s debut album for the first time, it’s forgivable to just lean back into the melodies, soak up the whispery delivery, and absorb the stripped back guitar work. There’s some gorgeous 60s-style folk music going on here. And then, bang. Haley makes you listen. There’s nothing like a quietly unassuming singer suddenly losing their shit and screeching “I need to start a garden” over and over to make you pay attention. Continue reading “Haley Heynderickx “I Need to Start a Garden” (Mama Bird Recording Co, 2018)”

Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner” (State Fair Records, 2018)

Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner’s self-titled album is an accomplished and heartfelt homage to Pedigo’s late father. From the title (inspired by his father’s terrible homebrew), to the themes of the songs (breakups, loss, the transient nature of life), it’s clear we’re in the middle of a deeply personal album.  Pedigo is Dallas singer/songwriter John Pedigo (The O’s) and this album was in response to his father’s battle with cancer. Written in part while his father was still alive, Pedigo has managed to produce an album that recognises that life can sometimes kick you down, but that there are always ways to find happiness. Continue reading “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner” (State Fair Records, 2018)”

Diane Patterson “Open Road” (Independent, 2018)

This album is what the world needs to hear right now. It is a healthy shot of solidarity, support and love. Many of the songs are a rallying call for change but are healing in focus, not overly confrontational. It’s all wrapped up in strong lyrics, a powerful voice and ranges musically from heartfelt acoustic tracks to funked-up, folky, latino beats. Open Road’ is Diane Patterson’s fifth record. She’s been recording for 30 years and is an accomplished folk and worldbeat artist. Ani DiFranco (singer/songwriter/activist/poet) makes guest appearances throughout the album. DiFranco’s husband, producer Mike Napolitano (Peter Mulvey, James McMurtry), recorded and produced it. Continue reading “Diane Patterson “Open Road” (Independent, 2018)”

Mike Gale “Beachhead Galaxy” (Farm Music, 2018)

Beachhead Galaxy’ is the latest solo album from Mike Gale (Co-Pilgrim).  It’s a dreamy, ethereal sounding piece which is fitting for the subject matter. Set in space, in the year 2412 where harmony across all lifeforms reigns and war is forbidden, the album’s focus is on how this all might change. A traveller from the Beachhead Galaxy is set to arrive on planet Styx MM with a secret that could destroy life itself. The scene-setting is part of the album’s sleeve notes, there is no doubt that Gale sees this as a concept album of sorts. There’s also a hint on his Facebook page that this may be the first in a trilogy. Continue reading “Mike Gale “Beachhead Galaxy” (Farm Music, 2018)”

I’m With Her “See You Around” (Rounder Records, 2018)

I’m With Her are a folk trio made up of Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) and Aoife O’ Donovan (Crooked Still). Each artist has a fanbase following in their own right and can claim Grammy Awards, millions of Spotify listeners and a multitude of albums and musical projects between them.  Their musical heritage is apparent in the accomplished songwriting and arrangement throughout See You Around, their debut album. The album was co-produced by Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Laura Marling, Paul McCartney) and recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath, England. Continue reading “I’m With Her “See You Around” (Rounder Records, 2018)”