David Banks “Until The End” (Independent, 2019)

This is the first solo album from former Whybirds guitarist and co-writer David Banks. It’s an ambitious sound –big, big ballads; to some extent picking up where the Whybirds left off in 2017. They returned to Bedfordshire to ponder their next moves, the joy of Clangers and the legacy of Luton box vans. Banks has found the time to give us own manifesto Opener ‘Someone To Lean On’ has crashing guitar chords and pounding drums, with Banks’s gentle voice pleading to be, err, leaned on. Continue reading “David Banks “Until The End” (Independent, 2019)”

The Honey Dewdrops “Anyone Can See” (Independent, 2019)

The Streets of Baltimore may have proven the downfall of Bobby Bare and Tompall Glazer but they’ve struck lucky for us, dear AUK reader, with the sweet nectar sounds of The Honey Dewdrops. There are scant more than acoustic guitars and vocals throughout this, their fifth album. However, when you’ve nailed the blend as well as duo Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish clearly have, scant else is required. Continue reading “The Honey Dewdrops “Anyone Can See” (Independent, 2019)”

AmericanA to Z – The Delmore Brothers

Before Americana, before Outlaw Country, before Nashville even; there was Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family and importantly The Delmore Brothers. From a dirt poor Alabama farming family, these boys fused blues, folk and gospel to create their close vocal harmony sound and help define a genre which came to be known as country music. Unlike their contemporaries, they also mixed in a tenor guitar, giving perhaps the first example of heavy twang – a cornerstone of what we all love about Americana. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – The Delmore Brothers”

Angus McOg “Beginners” (Independent, 2019)

A hearty helping of warming indie folky Americana from Modena, Italy. Though it could easily be from the USA or anywhere else one might care to mention. The band (Angus himself plus two sidemen collaborators) draw overt influences from the likes of Wilco, The National and Father John Misty. Perhaps a little Teenage Fanclub in there too. It wouldn’t be much of a spoiler alert to tell you that Angus McOg is not this Italian songster’s real name. Continue reading “Angus McOg “Beginners” (Independent, 2019)”

Darren Hayman “Thankful Villages Volume 3” (Independent, 2018)

Released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, this final instalment of the former (indie-folksters) Hefner main man’s triptych focuses not only on the aforementioned villages, but also rural stories in general. As such it contains interviews, field recordings, soundscapes and original songs, running much like a radio show. Given this, it’s very much an ‘English’ folk offering and quite removed from what we might consider to be Americana. Continue reading “Darren Hayman “Thankful Villages Volume 3” (Independent, 2018)”

Michelle Lewis “All That’s Left” (Independent, 2018)

Michelle Lewis makes folk music. This is a broad and unhelpful description. You’re welcome! It’s true though that at the root of this record is a solo performer with acoustic guitar and a rich, sweet voice. However, Lewis infuses this simple, time-tested formula with subtle yet lush electronic and organic musical arrangements. Continue reading “Michelle Lewis “All That’s Left” (Independent, 2018)”

Jonathan Byrd “Jonathan Byrd & the Pickup Cowboys”(Independent, 2018)

Actual country music! And really good country music too! Americana ebbs and flows in different ways, and obviously that’s a good thing. Now and again though, you can find country music produced that’s worthy of the weight of history in the field. Certainly not the factory produced, plastic Music Row atrocities that are increasingly favoured in the UK. Instead, step forward Jonathan Byrd, who’s been in the game for over fifteen years and is held in high regard at AUK towers. Of course he has the hat and beard that’s requisite for his trade, but rest assured readers, he’s the genuine  article. Continue reading “Jonathan Byrd “Jonathan Byrd & the Pickup Cowboys”(Independent, 2018)”

Willie Nelson “My Way” (Sony, 2018)

Willie has always been a crooner at heart. Sometimes overtly, with albums such as ‘Stardust’ and his recent Gershwin songbook record; more often simply in his oh so laid back delivery. No surprise really then that he presents us with an album of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, reinterpreted in fairly faithful fashion (aided by Trigger, used sparingly to solid effect) and, backed by a swing orchestra which nails every note. It’s his 68th studio album! Continue reading “Willie Nelson “My Way” (Sony, 2018)”

Ethan Hanna “Welcome to the Batlands” (Independent, 2018)

From Northern Ireland, though musically via New Jersey and the gutters of many a wrong part of town, here we have the debut album from Ethan Hanna. With a voice that blends Springsteen and Waits, you couldn’t say this is a cheerful record. Cheerful is hugely overrated anyway; it’s for the weak minded. The ‘rockier’ parts on offer are really quite heavy (‘Fire’), and the fractured guitar ballads are nicely sparse and deconstructed (‘Bad Dreams’). Continue reading “Ethan Hanna “Welcome to the Batlands” (Independent, 2018)”

Tom Baxter “The Other Side of Blue” (Independent, 2018)

It’s a precariously thin line that the singer-songwriter has to tread. The stripped away, intimate, acoustic guitar (or piano) and voice combination is so omnipresent in folk cum Americana; there are precious few new tricks at their disposal. Much of what they’ve got to offer hangs on whether they’re sincere or not – do we believe them? Or is it just trite and predictable? Where does Tom Baxter lie within this? Continue reading “Tom Baxter “The Other Side of Blue” (Independent, 2018)”