Sam Burton “I Can Go With You” (Tompkins Square, 2020)

A moody, woozy debut album, given life in the salt flats of Utah. ‘Downer Folk’ is what the PR blurb calls it; quite succinctly put too. Drenched in echo, Burton’s voice is as sad as Orbison (but not quite as dramatic) and lost somewhere in time with Tim Buckley. There’s almost a Mazzy Star feel here, an intoxicated haze.  As a whole, the album feels quite appropriate given the grey, locked-down November vibe we’re experiencing right now. Sam Burton brings the weariness, and then some. Continue reading “Sam Burton “I Can Go With You” (Tompkins Square, 2020)”

Radio Receiver “Radio Receiver” (Independent, 2020)

Psych-folk from Portland, Oregon? Why the devil not. Nate Wallace is the fellow behind the eponymously titled record. Now Nate has probably the most nasal voice you could ever imagine, which might be a bit too high a barrier for some to get over. However the songs are slow, rolling Neil Young/Crazy Horse type affairs, and they’re mostly well written with strong choruses and poised, carefully crafted arrangements. Continue reading “Radio Receiver “Radio Receiver” (Independent, 2020)”

Jaime Wyatt “Neon Cross” (New West, 2020)

This record does seem to come with a fair amount of hype. One of those that ‘takes Americana to a different level’ pitches.  The ‘new Queen of Outlaw Country’, so we’re told. Wyatt’s backstory jumps from the pages of the Country Music Tragedy 1.01 textbook. She had the world at her feet, lost it all to addiction and incarceration, and she’s clawed her way back, here with Shooter Jennings at the controls. Continue reading “Jaime Wyatt “Neon Cross” (New West, 2020)”

Molly Tuttle “But I’d Rather Be With You” (Compass, 2020)

Molly Tuttle is a major talent. Faced with a Tennessee tornado, then a pandemic, she did what any worried musician might do – she recorded a covers album. She even taught herself digital recording techniques in order to record the album at home in Nashville; subsequently pinging the files to California for tweaking by producer Tony Berg and additional musical flavourings from a handful of ‘names’. Continue reading “Molly Tuttle “But I’d Rather Be With You” (Compass, 2020)”

AUK Chain Gang: Roy Acuff “Wreck on The Highway”

Last week’s link took us to Uncle Tupelo’s ‘Anodyne’, the title track from their 1993 album.  Track two on that very album was ‘Acuff-Rose’, which opens up a wonderful field of opportunity for me, an unashamed enthusiast of vintage country music.  For the uninitiated, Acuff Rose was the publishing house formed by the combined talents of war era country megastar Roy Acuff and talent scout Fred Rose. They agreed that song writers shouldn’t be ripped off by publishers, which was the norm in 1940s Nashville (or for that matter pretty much everywhere) and ran their business accordingly. Over the coming decades they would sign the likes of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Roy Orbison, Don Gibson, The Everly Brothers and Mickey Newbury to their songwriters’ stable. They also gave little Hiram ‘Hank’ Williams his first big break too! Continue reading “AUK Chain Gang: Roy Acuff “Wreck on The Highway””

Zach Youpa “Guitar for Pandas” (Independent, 2020)

Austin-based Zach Youpa releases his first album, and it’s very much an indie DIY affair.  Self-produced, recorded in a bedroom studio, with Youpa playing all the instruments.  It’s certainly lo-fi and wobbly in places, the drumming staggers here and there, but it’s a charming little record. There’s very much an Evan Dando or Jonathan Richman vibe about Youpa’s songs– super laid back, quirky yet heartfelt guitar/country-pop is his stock in trade. Youpa’s slightly off-key vocal and choppy guitars carry the nine songs along in an engaging way. Continue reading “Zach Youpa “Guitar for Pandas” (Independent, 2020)”

Tom Fairnie “Lightning in the Dark” (Independent, 2020)

Tom Fairnie refers to his music as ‘Celticana’, which is a fair summation of his blended Americana influences and Scottish roots. The bagpipes solo kind of give it away right at the beginning. To cement this claim, Fairlie raised enough money to record this album in Austin, helmed by former Nitty Gritty Dirt Band/Chris Hillman Band member Merel Bregante. Continue reading “Tom Fairnie “Lightning in the Dark” (Independent, 2020)”

Mitch Dean “Holding Back the Levee” (Independent, 2020)

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Mitch Dean is no spring chicken. Perhaps more of a gnarled rooster. And, as we all know, gnarled roosters make much better records than any spring chickens ever will. Dean’s voice is quite light and tuneful, more than a hint of Petty in there, and his songs are lyrically well focussed (if maybe a little twee in places). The overall sound is organic and quite pleasing, if maybe too mainstream for some tastes. Continue reading “Mitch Dean “Holding Back the Levee” (Independent, 2020)”

Classic Americana Albums: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Will the Circle be Unbroken” (United Artists, 1972)

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, pop music was crawling with long-haired folk-rockers from California. Teeming with them in fact. But these god-damn Long Beach hippies, led by Jeff Hanna and McEuen, took themselves off to Nashville and coaxed some of the greatest names in ‘old time’ country and bluegrass music out of semi-retirement and semi-obscurity, to revisit their glory days. Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis and Doc Watson all showed up. Bill Monroe flat out refused to have anything to do with these freaks, which he may well have later regretted. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Will the Circle be Unbroken” (United Artists, 1972)”

Ben Kunder “Searching For The Stranger” (Independent, 2020)

Alarm bells start ringing for this writer when faced with a promo picture of a singer-songwriter replete with a beard and sporting the obligatory woolly hat. Fearing the worst, tracks are cued up with trepidation. Phew! Relief! This isn’t one of ‘those’ records. Canadian (Toronto-based) Kunder knows about melody and pop sensibilities. Continue reading “Ben Kunder “Searching For The Stranger” (Independent, 2020)”