The 4 Of Us “Sugar Island” (FutureCD, 2017)

The album cover does a tidy job of setting the scene for its themes: smiling mum in a floppy hat, car door open, four, maybe five kids squashed in the back, off on holiday in those Seventies days of laxer passenger restrictions and fewer collision avoidance systems. It most obviously relates to Going South, the second of 12 tracks on the veteran Northern Irish outfit’s latest long player, with its bored narrator killing time in the back of the motor “winding down a window so I don’t catch a share of cigarette smoke hanging in the air”.  Continue reading “The 4 Of Us “Sugar Island” (FutureCD, 2017)”

Alice Howe “You’ve Been Away So Long” (Fish Records, 2017)

Alice Howe’s journey as a musician takes in all points of the compass. Hailing from Boston, she recorded her new EP on the opposite coast of the US in Seattle. And while the record traces her time in the Pacific Northwest the influences she cites look hundreds of miles to the south to the Californian Laurel Canyon of Joni Mitchell. To her name could easily be added another – and with it a move back east to Nashville – Gillian Welch. In which case, the Dave Rawlings to Howe’s Welch is multi-instrumentalist Jeff Fielder whose plaintive guitar augments her songs’ emotions or articulates what the words cannot or dare not say.  Continue reading “Alice Howe “You’ve Been Away So Long” (Fish Records, 2017)”

The Vine Brothers “No Candy” (Independent, 2017)

Some clarification to begin: they’re not brothers and none of them is called Vine. That should not in any way undermine the authenticity that the Arkansas trio bring to their rootsy folk/bluesgrass sound, a genre noted of course for its long history of familial connections, real and otherwise. No, what Garrett Jones, Joe Credit (you’ve got to hope that name is genuine) and Greg Bucking lack in sibling bonds they make up for in utter commitment, albeit delivered with an appealingly light touch on their third album. Continue reading “The Vine Brothers “No Candy” (Independent, 2017)”