C.M. Talkington “Not Exactly Nashville” (Independent, 2020)

Where does Rock meet Americana? And where does Americana become just Country? Do any of these lines exist? Are they simply in the ear of the beholder (behearer?) This writer can’t really offer any answers to these big questions, but he can state his own opinion – that C. M. Talkington offers us up a record that’s leaning heavily towards rock, and only just squeezes into an Americana outfit. Continue reading “C.M. Talkington “Not Exactly Nashville” (Independent, 2020)”

AmericanA to Z – Dolly Parton

No, not Gram Parsons. Not even Elvis Presley (though if you don’t consider Elvis to be the epitome of ‘Americana’ then I will fight you right now). Dolly Rebecca Parton (of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee) has written, played and performed it all. And I’m prepared to fight you right now about that too. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Dolly Parton”

The ten worst Johnny Cash tracks

Johnny Cash was a force of nature. There are not enough superlatives in the dictionary to do the man any kind of justice. J.R. was a magnificent songwriter. Just as magnificent, perhaps even more so, was he an interpreter of other people’s songs. However, in an (almost) fifty-year recording career, during a time when labels demanded and released two or three albums per year, The Man In Black gave us over ninety long players. Surely some songs must have slipped past quality control? Particularly during Cash’s ‘lean period’, spanning the mid-1970s up to the first ‘American Recordings’ in 1994? Continue reading “The ten worst Johnny Cash tracks”

Chance Emerson “The Raspberry Men” (Independent, 2020)

An eighteen year old Taiwanese American fellow, with millions of Spotify hits for his debut E.P., now drops his debut nine-track long-player. For our older readers I’ll explain what ‘Spotify’ and ‘Spotify hits’ are later on. First thing from the off, it’s a very cheery affair, and a very accomplished sound for one so young. Continue reading “Chance Emerson “The Raspberry Men” (Independent, 2020)”

Stone Thieves “Church of the Medicine Man” (EP) (Independent, 2020)

A four-track E.P. for our delectation. Or maybe a three-track E.P. – the fourth track being a rearranged, piano-based reprise of the guitar-driven first track. Let’s not get bogged down in semantics though. These (fifty per cent bearded) Londoners make a sound that’s overtly influenced by Petty, Young, Springsteen; the usual triumvirate of blue-collar suspects. All of whom are/were brilliant in their own way: Stone Thieves bear no shame in being so guided. Continue reading “Stone Thieves “Church of the Medicine Man” (EP) (Independent, 2020)”

Sam Lee “Old Wow” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)

It has to be admitted, Dear Reader, that this writer isn’t a great fan of the folkier end of the ouvre. However, this writer isn’t an idiot (generally speaking) and can tell a bloody great record when they hear one. Which is what we have on our hands here, with Sam Lee’s ‘Old Wow’. This writer will elaborate. Firstly, Lee has wrangled Elizabeth Fraser in to providing more than just backing vocals – she is rare indeed these days, and is rarely anything other than brilliant. Continue reading “Sam Lee “Old Wow” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)”

Franc Cinelli “Night Songs” (Independent, 2019)

A curious and interesting record. Franc Cinelli isn’t a great singer in the conventional sense, that much is true. However, mixed in with deft acousticism and Eastern sounding instrumentation, he comes up with an appealing mix in which his Cat Stevens-ish, Leonard Cohen-esque voice sits quite naturally. Continue reading “Franc Cinelli “Night Songs” (Independent, 2019)”

Hoth Brothers “Workin’ and Dreamin’” (Independent, 2019)

When you harness the old mountain sounds of roots music (banjo, fiddle, mandolin etc.), it better be underpinned by some really good songs, or have something really worthwhile to say. Otherwise your offerings are little more than those of a ‘denim dungarees and hay bales’ variety show turn. New Mexico’s Hoth Brothers (spoiler alert: one of the brothers is clearly female) save us from any such suffering – they’ve got simple, unfussy songs with strong lyrics in abundance. Continue reading “Hoth Brothers “Workin’ and Dreamin’” (Independent, 2019)”

Ryan Traster “Choses Obscures” (Independent, 2019)

Minneapolis based Ryan Traster plies his trade with a super laid back, woozy, indie, country-pop sound. On ‘Choses Obscures’ (French for ‘unusual things’) you can hear the ghost of Tom Petty nodding sagely as the tunes roll past. Vocally there’s a lazy J. Mascis/Evan Dando feel that rolls from Traster; sometimes with lugubriousity, sometimes a weary optimism. Continue reading “Ryan Traster “Choses Obscures” (Independent, 2019)”

Zervas & Pepper “Endless Road Restless Nomad” (Zerodeo, 2019)

Folk rock from South Wales, with a (press release-claimed) Laurel Canyon state of mind. As a consequence this record has a distinct 1970s feel; the rock is very soft, very easy listening, perhaps too easy – there’s very little edge. Late night Radio Two springs quickly to mind. The band have played in and recorded for many esteemed places and people. This is their fifth album, so they are no meagre beginners in the game; they must be doing something right, right? Continue reading “Zervas & Pepper “Endless Road Restless Nomad” (Zerodeo, 2019)”