Kathy Greenholdt “If” (Independent, 2020)

Talking about late starters! Chicago singer-songwriter Kathy Greenholdt started back in 2002. Nothing unusual in that. But, that is actually when she started to learn playing the guitar and wrote her first song. Suspicious listener? You shouldn’t be. In the meantime, Kathy came up with an EP and four albums. ‘If’ is her fifth, and by the sound of it, you could get the impression that Kathy started out at a very early age. That confident, that assured and actually, that good. Continue reading “Kathy Greenholdt “If” (Independent, 2020)”

Bob Spring “American Dream” (Independent, 2020)

Many would wonder why a non-American artist, in this case, Bob Spring From Switzerland would even come up with an album called ‘American Dream,’ let alone claim it is Americana music. Frankly, they should stop wondering. Americana as a musical genre has now become something of a worldwide phenomenon. After all, it is supposed to be a cross-genre phenomenon. So from that point of view, Bob Spring and his ‘American Dream’ fit in without a problem. Continue reading “Bob Spring “American Dream” (Independent, 2020)”

Joshua Burnside “Into the Depths of Hell” (Independent, 2020)

The moment that an almost industrial clatter opens ‘I Saw The Light,’ the opening track on Joshua Burnside’s second effort ‘Into the Depths of Hell,’ you immediately realize that you are in a bit of a left-field musical ride. Some who like to stick to their personal, strict definitions of a genre, would even question if the Belfast singer/songwriter has come up with an Americana album after all. But the answer to that question is much more simple and complicated at the same time. Continue reading “Joshua Burnside “Into the Depths of Hell” (Independent, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Grateful Dead “Friend of The Devil”

So, the mention of Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and Tony Rice doing ‘House of The Rising Sun’ via Dave Van Ronk last week brings us to Grateful Dead and their ‘Friend of the Devil.’ It is one of their classic songs from ‘American Beauty,’ certainly one of their best studio albums, with which The Dead established themselves as one of the forerunners of modern Americana.

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Classic Americana Albums: Bob Dylan “Blonde on Blonde” (CBS, 1966)

For those less initiated (are there any?) or less interested in Bob Dylan, a pertinent question might come up here – when did the connection between Dylan and Americana start? The answer is quite clear – from the beginning. Even as a young music enthusiast when he still responded to the name of Robert Zimmerman, Dylan was completely enamoured with what was then divided into very neat genres of folk, blues, roots, and country (& western). While he started out as a full-fledged musician/singer/songwriter and stuck strictly to the folk part of this equation, at the well-recorded horror of folk purists at the time he started incorporating elements of other musical genres into his music. Whether it was something that was influenced by his ever-expanding lyrical imagination or it was the other way around (or most probably both) makes no difference. Once he strapped on an electric guitar he never stopped or looked back. OK, sometimes he did, but it was with completely different eyes, ears, and voice. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Bob Dylan “Blonde on Blonde” (CBS, 1966)”

Ned Hill “By The Light of The Radio” (Whistlepig Records, 2020)

The moment first notes of ‘Lonely Heart of Mine,’ the opener of ‘By The Light of The Radio’, the new album by Nashville ‘old hand’ Ned Hill hit the speakers, one word immediately comes to mind – honesty. You see, Hill has been around the Nashville scene too long not to realise that going beyond what you know and pretending to be something you are not will not cut it. Continue reading “Ned Hill “By The Light of The Radio” (Whistlepig Records, 2020)”

Americana A to Z: Sand Rubies (Sidewinders)

Jimi Hendrix doesn’t really qualify as Americana but a quote from his lyrics can come in handy here – “Is it love, or is it confusion?” Both things can really apply to this Arizona band that started out in the Eighties, a somewhat strange period for Americana artists. They started out as Sidewinders but had to change the name after two albums to Sand Rubies. It all started well (with love) with a couple of songs even reaching the charts and ended up in confusion when things started going downhill, irrespective of the quality of music. Continue reading “Americana A to Z: Sand Rubies (Sidewinders)”

Mean Mary “Alone” (Woodrock Records, 2020)

The title of the new Mean Mary album says it all – ‘Alone’. It is Mary and her banjo. Or Mary and her guitar. OK, sometimes she combines the two into one instrument banjitar. Plain and simple. One big BUT here. There is an essential problem with simple things. They turn out to be the most complicated thing to do. Why? As one lyric goes, ‘nowhere to hide, nowhere to go”… You either come up with some excellent songs, have impeccable vocals, and really know your way about those ‘simple’ instruments you are using. This is particularly risky if you have already made a name for yourself coming up with music under full instrumentation (Mary has over 15 million views on her YouTube channel). Continue reading “Mean Mary “Alone” (Woodrock Records, 2020)”

India Ramey “Shallow Graves” (Independent, 2020)

The moment the title song opens ‘Shallow Graves,’ second album by singer/songwriter India Ramey, you get a feeling that you need to utter a cheer – “Go West, girl!” And she definitely does, as an Ennio Morricone style, guitar dominates this excellent, driving track. Elsewhere, it is this and other guitar sounds, like on ‘The Witch’ that embellish the best tracks on this album. But this in no way diminishes the quality of Ramey’s vocals or her songwriting, which is top-notch, particularly on tracks like ‘Keep Hope Alive’. Even when Ramey sticks to some standard country music formats, like on ‘Up To No Good’ excellent, tight musicianship and solid lyrics pull her through. Continue reading “India Ramey “Shallow Graves” (Independent, 2020)”

Margo Price “That’s How Rumors Get Started” (Loma Vista, 2020)

With her first two albums, Margo Price was proclaimed as one of the prime candidates to be crowned as one of the queens of Americana. Hey, at one point, such ‘pure’ Americana artist as Sturgill Simpson played in her band. But with ‘That’s How Rumors Get Started’, her third album, Price just might get some Americana feathers ruffled. Or, could we say, get some rumours started that she is abandoning Americana… Continue reading “Margo Price “That’s How Rumors Get Started” (Loma Vista, 2020)”