Rebekah Rolland “Seed and Silo” (Sky Island, 2018)

Spoiler alert – the album title pretty much gives the game away here. Inspired in part by the original homesteaders of the Nebraskan prairies; also from Rolland’s involvement with the National Parks Service in the USA, this record is a fully immersed collection of rural American folk/bluegrass, delivered by the clearest, purest of voices. Continue reading “Rebekah Rolland “Seed and Silo” (Sky Island, 2018)”

Sarah Watson “A Mother’s Guilt” (Independent, 2018)

Twenty years is a long time away from making music to feel the urge to start over again. West Yorkshire based, Welsh born Watson has done just that. Brave. Here she presents a simple, uncomplicated set of five folk meets Americana compositions. Just vocals and acoustic guitar. Nothing here for the artist to hide behind. The opening, titular song is a happy-sad ode to her children. Despite some rudimentary production and occasionally faltering harmonies, it’s quite charming. Continue reading “Sarah Watson “A Mother’s Guilt” (Independent, 2018)”

Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters “Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters” (Independent, 2018)

New Orleans probably isn’t the first place you’d turn to when looking for contemporary folky Americana. However, if you can marry the jazz and blues sounds of The Big Easy with a foundation of folk and roots, then you might be on to something quite interesting. Which is what Anne Elise Hastings quite deftly achieves with this set of songs. Even where the NOLA influences aren’t greatly in evidence, the music still flies fairly high. Continue reading “Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters “Anne Elise Hastings and Her Revolving Cast of Characters” (Independent, 2018)”

Jarle Skavhellen “The Ghost in Your Smile” (Nettwerk, 2018)

Scandinavian Alt Folk is a subgenre known only to a select few. However, Norwegian Jarle Skavhellen ably demonstrates that it warrants a far wider audience. This is a quirky, often dark collection of songs. Considering that it’s a debut album (albeit by an experienced musician) makes the record all the more intriguing. The opening, titular track is beautiful and disturbing in equal measure – if you poke my glass eye, I’ll be the ghost in your smile. Continue reading “Jarle Skavhellen “The Ghost in Your Smile” (Nettwerk, 2018)”

Sam Morrow “Concrete and Mud” (Forty Below Records, 2018)

A full-fat slab of seventies-era, funky bar room country stomp, gutsy balladry and Southern Rock from Californian Sam Morrow. This is an excellent record – music like the Black Crowes should have made, had they cast their eyes a little wider. Opener ‘Heartbreak Man’ is a steady syrup – fuzz/twang meets Hammond organ groove. Morrow shows us up front the roaming, untameable guy that he is. Continue reading “Sam Morrow “Concrete and Mud” (Forty Below Records, 2018)”

Port Cities “Port Cities” (Independent, 2018)

Port Cities is the award-winning combined efforts of three celebrated Nova Scotian musicians –  Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro and Breagh MacKinnon. They’ve joined together to produce a slab of (modern) Nashville inspired, poppy AOR meets slightly folky Americana. As such it’s inoffensive but decidedly unremarkable. There’s undoubtedly a growing market for this type of just about roots music, but as a sub-genre it falls a long way short of authentic/classic/gritty Americana. Continue reading “Port Cities “Port Cities” (Independent, 2018)”

Tar and Flowers “Indian Summer” (Independent, 2018)

A debut record from the greener, non-plastic reaches of greater Los Angeles. Principally it’s the musical labours of Taylor Hungerford, assisted by French born sidekick Wolf Kroeger. Between them, they’ve cooked up something quite noteworthy. Hungerford’s voice is a half-asleep, folky woozy drawl. There’s influence from a Fleet Foxes or Felice-esque vocal sound perhaps, though Hungerford brings his own distinct flavours to the party. Continue reading “Tar and Flowers “Indian Summer” (Independent, 2018)”

Whiskey in the Pines “Sunshine from the Blue Cactus” (Independent, 2018)

Straight outta Tallahassee, Florida are Whiskey in the Pines, a ¾ bearded combo headed up by singer and principal songwriter David Lareau. They say that their state capital home is two hours from the nearest sun-kissed beach, so there’s little theme parking, surfing or bikini-clad girl watching in this six track E.P. All of which is a roundabout way of getting to the point – this is a fine, fine seven track E.P. Continue reading “Whiskey in the Pines “Sunshine from the Blue Cactus” (Independent, 2018)”

Dave Richardson “Carry Me Along” (Independent, 2018)

A drift of New England based contemporary (yet traditional) folk, if such a thing exists. Dave Richardson’s stock in trade is ‘old school’ roots, certainly in terms of song subject and structure. That’s no bad thing. Inevitably, the music is counterpointed by the obligatory folkie beard; a fine specimen sported for us by Dave, who resides in Vermont and recorded this release in Boston. Continue reading “Dave Richardson “Carry Me Along” (Independent, 2018)”

Luke Daniels “Singing Ways To Feel More Junior” (Gael Music, 2017)

Luke Daniels looks a little like a refugee freed from a Mumford and Sons labour camp. His new album makes use of children’s rhymes for grownups everywhere. That’s enough to set of very loud alarm bells hereabouts. Fear not, the record’s okay (if a little unremarkable) and the beard/braces look is close to being a legal requirement for the self-respecting folkie of today. Daniels is a member of Cara Dillion’s band, also of Riverdance Orchestra. He’s certainly no chancer in the folk music scene. Accordingly this is a solid collection of songs and the children’s rhymes are largely understated; worked into the songs rather than standing out like the proverbial sore thumbs. Continue reading “Luke Daniels “Singing Ways To Feel More Junior” (Gael Music, 2017)”