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)”

Will Hoge + Curran, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th July 2019

So, the Australian minx, Kylie was playing the other side of town at the same time as this lot trooped in. Tremendously entertaining apparently, with glitter bombs, dance troop, synchronised light show etc. Also, no doubt, sequenced tapes, click tracks, covering backing singers. Colourful, fun, singalongs, a real show. But not a gig. Four people walking onto a stage, plugging in, frets raised, count of four and with a crash we are immediately lifted and off we go, that’s a gig. Continue reading “Will Hoge + Curran, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th July 2019”

Buford Pope “The Waiting Game” (Unchained Records, 2019)

Buford Pope is a name that immediately conjures up images of the Deep South, and there are a dozen small cities called Buford scattered around those states. Bufords fought for the American Revolution, and on both sides in the Civil War – including a general named Napoleon Bonaparte Buford – and a maverick Tennessee sheriff called Buford Posser was immortalised in the Hollywood movie Walking Tall. So when Swedish native Mikael Liljeborg became immersed in the music of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Neil Young etc and realised he wanted to make that kind of sound, he adopted a very deep-fried nom de plume. Continue reading “Buford Pope “The Waiting Game” (Unchained Records, 2019)”

Rich Layton & Tough Town “Salvation Road” (Never Lucky Records, 2019)

On the original road to salvation, St. Paul suggests that the wages of sin are death. Rich Layton has avoided that outcome in a lifetime in the rock’n’roll trenches, but has taken a few knocks along the way, and now brings us his ‘Salvation Road’. The title track is a gospel-infused shot at rock’n’roll redemption, which Layton says he performs on Saturday night in the bars and Sunday morning in the church. As he says “Perseverance has been the story of my life, especially where music is concerned”. Continue reading “Rich Layton & Tough Town “Salvation Road” (Never Lucky Records, 2019)”

Ari “Radikoj” (Independent, 2019)

Icelandic Americana? As the genre evolves, the label becomes a useful tag, but ‘What Even is Americana?’ as The Milk Carton Kids asked us. To be honest, it would be a stretch to call this Americana, though it does have some typical instrumentation and familiar tone. It is though a very attractive listen, beguiling, clever, genuinely beautiful in part. Baroque could be a better description, not just for instrumentation – a marxaphone on ‘Wolves’, clavichord on ‘Crossfire’ – but in atmosphere, a lot of these songs are chamber pieces, ‘Cold War Love’ and ‘Repeat’ both starting as piano songs before instrumentation subtly enters and builds. Continue reading “Ari “Radikoj” (Independent, 2019)”