Dweezil Zappa could just be the finest current example of a chip off the old block in the world of rock and jazz. Not that there’s anything wrong in the slightest with tribute bands, but Dweezil playing his Dad’s inventive music is in a different class entirely. He seems almost to channel Frank’s guitar and yet also has a style all his own, albeit one that draws on and takes inspiration from his musical heritage. Continue reading “Dweezil Zappa, Royal Festival Hall, London, 10th October 2017”
Adrian Bates is a singer songwriter and folk balladeer from South Elmsall, an ex-mining village on the border between South and West Yorkshire. It’s clear that his debut solo E.P, titled ‘Small World’ draws heavy inspiration from his birthplace. ‘Hard Workin’ Man,’ the opening song on the E.P. is about a truck driver working all hours to put food on the table for his family, “One day I’m going to get there / I’m giving all I can / Success is for the taking / For every hard workin’ man.” It’s a reflection on the difficulties faced today by so many people in low wage, insecure employment, with the knowledge that the hard working man of the song title is ultimately unlikely to succeed in his quest for success. The key difficulties with the song are Bates’s somewhat flat vocal delivery and the rather clunky lyrics which don’t particularly scan. Continue reading “Adrian Bates “Small World” E.P. (Strange Reality, 2017)”
The Orphan Brigade’s ‘The Heart of the Cave’ is about as aptly titled a record as it’s possible to get seeing as it was recorded it in 2,500 year caves below the streets of Osimo, Italy. The Brigade’s previous outing, the award winning ‘Soundtrack to a Ghost Story,’ was the brainchild of producer Neilson Hubbard in collaboration with Ben Glover and fellow singer-songwriter, Joshua Britt. It was inspired by a time – the American Civil War – and place, Octagon Hall, a supposedly haunted plantation house near Franklin, Kentucky. Continue reading “The Orphan Brigade “The Heart of the Cave” (At the Helm Records, 2017)”
With Bob Dylan having declared Paul Brady to be a “secret hero” of his, you know there’s got to be some serious pedigree from an artist in a career spanning a period of some 54 years now.
‘Unfinished Business,’ Brady’s 15th solo album, features nine new compositions and two traditional folk songs. After a hiatus of 7 years since the release of his last album ‘Hobart Dooba,’ the music on ‘Unfinished Business’ is as eclectic as many of his previous studio releases, moving from the jazzy influenced title track, with lovely shared harmony vocals – to more uptempo, humorous numbers such as ‘I Love You But You Love Him.’ The latter starts off like a paen to shared domestic bliss with Paul Brady singing the merits of his and his respective partner’s differing interests with clever wordplay – until the payoff chorus kicks in with, “I love you, but you love him.” Continue reading “Paul Brady “Unfinished Business” (Proper, 2017)”
Listening to this record solidly for the last three weeks now, it still sounds as fresh and invigorating as it did the first time out. Unlike the last Honeycutters release, on this album Amanda Platt puts her name both front and centre – and given that she writes the songs and sings lead vocal, that seems only fair. The opener ‘Birthday Song’ was written on the eve of Amanda Ann Platt’s thirtieth birthday when, instead of feeling panicked about the end of her “roaring twenties” she felt grateful for being older and wiser. The lyrics reflect somewhat ruefully on the passage of time, with Platt singing about how, “Every Time It Gets Colder I Get Another Year Older / Start Looking for Lines in the Bathroom Mirror.” Ultimately, though, it’s a life affirming meditation on how time is really a gift because, “I’m just so damned glad to be here.” Marvellous stuff. Continue reading “Amanda Ann Platt and the Honeycutters “Amanda Ann Platt and the Honeycutters” (Organic, 2017)”
What a great space the Bedford is for a singer songwriter to perform in, shaped as it is “in the round” like the Shakespearean Globe. Despite a sparsely attended London showcase, Kenny Foster treated a quietly enthusiastic audience to an acoustic selection of eight of his songs, seven of them drawn from his recently released debut album ‘Deep Cuts.’ Continue reading “Kenny Foster, The Bedford, Balham, 4th September 2017”
An otherwise quiet Thursday night in King’s Cross for the Travelling Band’s album launch. First up though is Elle Mary and the Bad Men. Elle was born in Wales but is now based in Manchester, something she shares with the headline act as well as being label mates. Their music is a bit hard to categorise although they’ve been described as ‘folk noir’ and Elle herself calls her songs ‘weapons grade lullabies.’ Continue reading “The Travelling Band + Elle Mary & The Bad Men, Water Rats, London, 10th August 2017”