Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Festival Hall, London, 6th February 2020

In its 17th year with little change to the formula, how do the Transatlantic Sessions keep packing out some of the larger venues up and down the country? Quite simple; hosts and musical directors, respectively, the dobro and fiddle aces Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain, have pulled together a formidable “house band” of musicians from both sides of the Atlantic around whom they invite new guests each year. Douglas and Bain’s good humour and light touch is infectious. With minimal rehearsals they put on shows of such cohesion that all these musicians sound as if they’ve been together for years. Continue reading “Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Festival Hall, London, 6th February 2020”

AmericanA to Z – Mandolin Orange

M is for Mandolin Orange, who are Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz. This duo’s fresh blend of acoustic bluegrass, folk and country to tell stories of profound feelings, frequently around love and loss, pulls together many of the strands that define Americana. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Mandolin Orange”

Grant Nesmith “Between Tides” (Harvest Records, 2020)

If the grey days of the UK in late January are getting you down then ‘Between Tides’, the debut solo album from Grant Nesmith, will conjure up basking on a beach with the sun relentlessly beating down. Before embarking on a solo career Nesmith was in a band (Ocean Forest) who described themselves as “psychedelic/surf”. On his own there is plenty of both. To Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers add Blue Rodeo and you are on Nesmith’s beach. Continue reading “Grant Nesmith “Between Tides” (Harvest Records, 2020)”

The Teskey Brothers, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 23rd January 2020

When it comes to roots there is no disputing the authenticity of Australian blues and soul band The Teskey Brothers. Behind their own inventive style lies a deep inspiration from Memphis to Muscle Shoals via Melbourne.  The Teskey Brothers are guitarists and vocalists, Josh and Sam with long standing friends Brendon Love (bass) and Liam Hough (drums). Their two albums of blues and soul sound like a Stax back catalogue.  Continue reading “The Teskey Brothers, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 23rd January 2020”

Hope In High Water “Bonfire & Pine” (Fish Records, 2019)

Americana music defies geographic boundaries but “Mountain Music from the flatlands of Milton Keynes” might give even the most travelled aficionado pause for thought. Listen to ‘Bonfire & Pine’ and Hope In High Water’s sparse, haunting sound will take you far from concrete England to the clear mountain air of Appalachia. Josh Chandler Morris and Carly Slade complement each other perfectly. To his slightly twangy voice she adds a purity straight from those mountains. Together they play stripped back acoustic folk, no more than guitar, banjo and upright bass with equally modest percussion. Continue reading “Hope In High Water “Bonfire & Pine” (Fish Records, 2019)”

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters “Christmas On A Greyhound Bus” (Organic Records, 2019)

Christmas records can be a risky business – some become legendary but so many others should come with a gift receipt. Listening to ‘Christmas On A Greyhound Bus‘ from Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters is like opening a present from someone whose gifts never disappoint. Platt is a superb songwriter, a skill she applies to Yuletide without descending into the sentimentality trap that claims so many artists on the same mission. She and the Honeycutters continue to play their own brand of traditional country with just enough festive decoration. Continue reading “Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters “Christmas On A Greyhound Bus” (Organic Records, 2019)”

Honey Cane “Brother Sister” (Independent, 2019)

Artists and their work often develop a tight bond with a specific geographical location. Whole genres are identified by their association with a region but perhaps less common is an entire album evoking a place. Honey Cane’s second album ‘Brother Sister’ does just that in creating a record that sonically embraces their home state of California. Whether big cities, arid desert or wild coastline, this aural travelogue stops everywhere. Sundrenched aptly describes the Americana, indie-folk and pop that lie within Honey Cane’s state lines. Continue reading “Honey Cane “Brother Sister” (Independent, 2019)”

Stephen Fearing “The Unconquerable Past” (Fear & Loathing Music, 2019)

With his thirteenth solo release, Canadian singer/songwriter Stephen Fearing, takes stock – not only of his own life – but he also zooms out to make broader observations. Fearing is best know as a founder member of Canadian alt-country outfit Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, but he has a magnificent back catalogue in his own right. Throughout his thirty-year career Fearing has established himself as a consummate musical storyteller, and ‘The Unconquerable Past’  is a fitting testament to that achievement. Continue reading “Stephen Fearing “The Unconquerable Past” (Fear & Loathing Music, 2019)”