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)”

Arielle Silver “A Thousand Tiny Torches” (Independent, 2020)

There is an eternally ongoing debate among Americana music fans whether this genre or any of its sub-genres should include any pop music elements. Essentially, that debate is practically useless. After all, isn’t the point of Americana music to be as encompassing as possible and include anything that sounds good? One of the albums that might spur the debate among those that give it a chance is Arielle Silver’s latest ‘A Thousand Torches’ and particularly its designated single, ‘What Really Matters.’ Continue reading “Arielle Silver “A Thousand Tiny Torches” (Independent, 2020)”

Kai Clark “Silver Raven” (CD Baby, 2020)

There is no middle ground with tribute albums. They turn out either as a haphazard collection of fan musings with a lot of hits and even more misses, or as well-thought-out collected reflections on important genres. Too many of the former around, too little like the ones late great Hal Willner made. Essentially, making a good tribute album involves a well-thought-out idea, careful selection, and a true emotional element that treats the music that is being covered or re-imagined with respect and care. Continue reading “Kai Clark “Silver Raven” (CD Baby, 2020)”

Kieran Conaway “Your Ghosts” (Buoy58, 2020)

The Americana music scene is getting crowded with new names. Getting a record deal is hard to come by, and in these hard times, it is even going to get harder. So it is no wonder that artists that are just arriving at the scene are resorting to self-publishing or starting their own labels. So it is no wonder that Nashville singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kieran Conaway is taking that route for ‘Your Ghosts’, his debut album. With releases piling up, the problem though is reaching an audience. After all, there is an abundance of choices and for the possible listeners the problem question would be – is it worth even a listen? Continue reading “Kieran Conaway “Your Ghosts” (Buoy58, 2020)”