Anna Lynch “Apples In The Fall” EP (SJ21 Music, 2020)

It’s been seven years since Anna Lynch released her debut album (little heard but first-rate) and returns with this poignant EP steeped in American rurality. A wanderer around her country, her roots in the apple growing Sonoma County in Northern California are referenced in the title track, where she returns from her sojourns to find change, the old apple picking traditions and buildings replaced by grape harvests and the wine industry. As on all these tracks, Lynch’s voice is centre prominent, supported by her acoustic. Continue reading “Anna Lynch “Apples In The Fall” EP (SJ21 Music, 2020)”

Marcus King “El Dorado” (Fantasy Records, 2020)

Marcus King is a genius. Bonafide. A child prodigy on blues guitar, he experienced tragedy, suffering and struggle as a teen that came through so clearly in his first three albums, that Clapton sought him out. That trio of releases were done with his own band, but this is his first stand-alone material, and it feels like a major push to establish him as the next …? Which is the query here. The raw blues have been largely tamed, and it’s more King’s vocals which are the focus, a high, anguished voice, raw, intense, but perhaps pushed too far past his register. Continue reading “Marcus King “El Dorado” (Fantasy Records, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Nick Lowe “Cruel To Be Kind”

More cruelty this week, from Americana royalty Nick Lowe, but from over four decades ago, when this was always on TOTP and it was seen as power pop. Endless chains could come from this, bands – whether backing, past or future, collaborations, productions, his wife (that’s his real wedding footage), her family in the background etc. Great fun. Next.

Cave Flowers “Cave Flowers” (Hard Bark Records, 2020)

Opening your first album, first track with the classic one beat drum thump straight into a fast guitar lick may be generic, but it’s a surefire announcement of arrival and intent, and done as well as this lets you immediately know what’s coming. Which is essentially a melange of every US band that has ever felt a little bit country, but really wanted to stay rock’n’roll. Cave Flowers realise that re-inventing the wheel is futile, but really make it revolve gloriously in an album that is simultaneously fresh and familiar, and so enjoyable. Continue reading “Cave Flowers “Cave Flowers” (Hard Bark Records, 2020)”

Elijah Ocean “Back To The Lander” (New Wheel Music, 2019)

From sea to shining sea, Elijah Ocean certainly thinks America is beautiful. Also poignant and filled with as much longing as hope. For his ninth album he takes a different direction, and reflects on the country he has endlessly crossed promoting his work and playing for others. So we start on the east coast in New York State, and end up in California on the west. But that journey is not linear, it covers endless geographical mentions. If you wanted to sit down with pen and paper, you would surely not be far off a full house in a game of state bingo. Continue reading “Elijah Ocean “Back To The Lander” (New Wheel Music, 2019)”

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)”