Drew Danburry “Danburry 2003 – 2018” (Independent, 2019)

When a super prolific songwriter has to cull their catalogue for a career compilation, leaving most of their carefully fashioned pieces on an effective second class pile, it must irk. Drew Danburry’s task of reducing his 400+ songlist to just 25 tracks must have been a true labour of love. The only real criteria would be to give an overview of his sound to potential new listeners, and presumably (and hopefully) make it accessible, because Danburry is diverse, disparate and often wilfully challenging. Continue reading “Drew Danburry “Danburry 2003 – 2018” (Independent, 2019)”

Anthony D’Amato “Five Songs From New Orleans” EP (Elk, 2019)

A true ‘does what it says on the tin’ record, this EP comes steeped in the sounds and spirit of The Big Easy. New Jersey native Anthony D’Amato is one of those artists that always seem to tour, often as support to more established Americana acts when they visit our shores. Indeed, after three months of constant touring in Europe, he took an opportunity to house sit for a month in a 19th Century New Orleans Garden District home, taking  a mini studio and writing the bones of tracks on his guitar. Continue reading “Anthony D’Amato “Five Songs From New Orleans” EP (Elk, 2019)”

Justin Rutledge “Passages” (Outside Music, 2019)

Americana can sometimes tend to melancholy, wistfulness, reflection on life’s journey and misfortunes, cliched at times. Rarely is it delivered by someone who is so obviously happy. Justin Rutledge is clearly content with his lot. Not that there aren’t tales here of small town escape or sorrowful breakup, but they are past and not (currently) autobiographical, and even these tracks are delicate, as in ‘One Winter’s Day’ where a man is hanging himself standing on a block of ice and waiting for the sun. Continue reading “Justin Rutledge “Passages” (Outside Music, 2019)”

Liam Frost “The Latchkey Kid” (Emperor, 2019)

It’s a mixed blessing being called a cult artist, revered by some, unknown to most, now a decade and a half since Liam Frost got his first deal, after gigging on the Manchester scene through his teens. Comparators at the start could have been I Am Kloot, Badly Drawn Boy, Cherry Ghost, song based Manchester acts, and Frost was lauded as the future by Guy Garvey. His first album was widely praised, second album on a major label, but breakthrough was elusive. In the decade since then, occasional gigs in Manchester would sell out in a flash, but apart from exiled Mancs in London, as far as everyone else was concerned, Liam Frost was long done. Continue reading “Liam Frost “The Latchkey Kid” (Emperor, 2019)”

The Orphan Brigade “To The Edge Of The World” (Independent, 2019)

The Orphan Brigade make location albums. The first in a haunted Kentucky mansion, the second in medieval Italian caves. Now comes the third, written and recorded on the wild Co. Antrim coast in Northern Ireland. This choice was led by band member Ben Glover, who was born in the village of Glenarm. The method was, armed with knowledge of local legend and geography, to wander and explore the coast, cliffs, ruins, bays etc writing songs on the go, then return to the village church of St Patrick’s, the site of which has been a place of worship since 1465,where local musicians collaborated with the recordings. Continue reading “The Orphan Brigade “To The Edge Of The World” (Independent, 2019)”

Drew Danburry “Pallid Boy and Spindling Girl EP” (Independent, 2019)

“The children are called in from their play to drive and drudge beside their elders to and from their pitiful homes …. nearly any hour you can see them – pallid boy and spindling girl – their faces dulled, their backs bent under a heavy load of garments piled on head and shoulders, the muscles of the whole frame in a long strain…” Observed in New York City by poet Edwin Markham in 1907, and quoted in Howard Zinn’s classic text A People’s History of The United States, this signposts that Drew Danburry is a thinker. Continue reading “Drew Danburry “Pallid Boy and Spindling Girl EP” (Independent, 2019)”

Merival “Lesson” (Merival Records, 2019)

From Toronto comes the debut album from Merival, aka Anna Horvath, though to say album is a bit of a stretch at less than 25 minutes, with some of the 8 tracks being barely songs. Horvath called the album ‘Lesson’ as “thematically, the idea of self-exploration and learning underpins the record, a glimpse into a world under construction”. Unfortunately, Horvath’s musical style is also under construction, and some of the tracks could be seen as atmospheres rather than songs, emotion and expression very evident, but a frustrating listen. Continue reading “Merival “Lesson” (Merival Records, 2019)”

The Local Honeys + Rachel Harrington, Sage 2, Gateshead, 20th July 2019

The Local Honeys are from Kentucky, and they make sure their audience know it, repeatedly. They are not just proud, they are bursting with it, and a gig with them is both a history and geography lesson as much as a musical event. The music itself is sublime, old-time Appalachian from a very thoughtful, traditional base. Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs are the duo that form The Local Honeys, tonight joined by Megan Gregory playing as a trio of banjo, acoustic and fiddle. Stokley and Hobbs were the first two women to graduate with bachelor’s degrees in traditional music from Morehead State University, Kentucky which perhaps explains the tuition nature of their act, but certainly establishes their exemplary musicianship. Continue reading “The Local Honeys + Rachel Harrington, Sage 2, Gateshead, 20th July 2019”

SummerTyne Americana Festival , Sage Gateshead, 19th – 21st July, 2019

Returning for its fourteenth year, one of the pioneers of the Americana festival scene continues its very relaxed mix of fun and music. When it started, the question was, “What is Americana?” but nowadays it is more,  “What isn’t Americana?” and certainly SummerTyne with its eclectic lineup suggests that if you have a vague connection to the U.S.A. and/or a stringed instrument, you are in. Indeed, the only form of Americana not found here is the more insurgent type, so you don’t expect the likes of Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson – SummerTyne does not go for edge. Continue reading “SummerTyne Americana Festival , Sage Gateshead, 19th – 21st July, 2019”

Kishi Bashi “Omoiyari” (Joyful Noise, 2019)

There is no direct translation, but ‘Omoiyari’ can mean the idea that thinking about others promotes compassion, ie altruistic empathy, which is the intent Kishi Bashi delivers precisely with this deeply personal, and bluntly political album. Some background: after Pearl Harbour was bombed, all 120,000 Japanese-American citizens were interned for the rest of WW2, their prisons located way in the interior. Kishi Bashi’s parents moved to the USA as immigrants from Japan after the war. Continue reading “Kishi Bashi “Omoiyari” (Joyful Noise, 2019)”