Mandolin Jack “Phoenix In The Ashes” (Independent, 2018)

Prior to Mandolin Jack, Chris Tulloch had been making music and playing in bands ever since the early 1970s. He grew up in the sixties and he has absorbed a feast of varied tones that range from Lonnie Donegan to Jerry Lee Lewis by way of The Shadows, Johnny & The Hurricanes, The Ventures, 1960’s Surf Sound, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, all of which have made sizeable impressions on Tulloch.  Here  Mandolin Jack (mandolin, keyboards, vocals) is surrounded by a set of sympathetic pickers. Not least among which you have Darren Buddell (pedal steel guitar), Dave Woodhouse (electric guitar), John Evans (acoustic, electric guitars, vocals), Roger Addison (bass guitar), Pierra-Henri Pichot (fiddle), Caspar Sewell (string bass) and Tim White (clawhammer banjo), plus vocalist Isabella Tulloch, and on backing vocals Mary Tulloch. Continue reading “Mandolin Jack “Phoenix In The Ashes” (Independent, 2018)”

The Yellhounds “The Banks Of The Mississippi” (Independent, 2018)

Manchester-band The Yellhounds’ title-cut ‘Banks Of The Mississippi’ from their new four-track EP sees the release open in a rich, melancholy fashion. A genuine feel of America’s south ensues, one that suggests images of the bottomlands captured through a stylish and imaginative production. Next up, the boys fuel the fire with ‘Day Is Done’ as they combine old-timey and bluegrass on hightailing it into the Appalachian mountain regions. Clawhammer and otherwise, banjo, mandolin and a rock steady bass propel the tune in majestic fashion! On showing even greater drive ‘Ain’t Got No Home’ has the fervour of youthful new ideals raking over ashes of old, and with a full-bodied rhythm section and roving fiddle and able lead vocal The Yellhounds produce a more than adequate authentic blend. Continue reading “The Yellhounds “The Banks Of The Mississippi” (Independent, 2018)”

Beth Nielsen Chapman “Hearts Of Glass” (Proper Records, 2018)

Singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman is one of those naturals when it comes to singing. She makes it seem effortless to perform finely written pieces, and the fact she writes some extremely good songs does her no harm when it comes to finding suitable material. For her new album BNC has handed the producer role to Sam Ashworth. Son of noted producer Charlie Peacock, the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter fits the bill perfectly. It allows Chapman to concentrate on her vocals, and with most tracks entirely her own work (the only co-write Come To Mine was written with Graham Gouldman and Kevin Montgomery at Chris Difford’s Songwriting Retreat in Somerset) the record is a truly cohesive album. Continue reading “Beth Nielsen Chapman “Hearts Of Glass” (Proper Records, 2018)”

Interview: Ann Savoy

Adopted Cajun, Ann Savoy of the Savoy Cajun Family Band is carrying on the region’s age-old tradition of music and way of life through her work. Savoy, married to accordionist and accordion builder Marc Savoy, is a fine lead vocalist, fiddler and accordionist plus she is one of the finest rhythm guitar players in Cajun music. Recording act, book author and workshop teacher, Savoy has earned the right to be recognised as one of Louisiana’s true treasures. As T-Bone Burnett enthuses, Savoy is “A  trusted keeper of the flame – the kind of girl Duke Ellington had in mind when he wrote Sophisticated Lady – she doesn’t imitate the past, she animates it. She makes dead men walk along a crooked line from the paddocks of Virginia to the swamps of Louisiana. She is a blues singer in French.”  Americana-UK’s Maurice Hope shares a plate of biscuits and gravy with the Cajun legend.    Continue reading “Interview: Ann Savoy”

Chris Blevins “Better Than Alone” (Horton Records, 2017)

Chris Blevins’ music is like a breath of fresh air; his narrative and full-bodied sound and way he removes the veneer to get to the source sets him apart from the field. Americana music has many branches but not too many where the trunk is as stout as with this Oklahoma native and fruit so succulent. On reading the blurb that came with the CD, one phrase is certainly most apt as the quote: ‘artful musical chameleon,’ in part hits the spot. As I buried myself further into the album I could not but help think of John Fullbright. I mention this not just because Fullbright performs wurlitzer on the record but due to the many aspects of Blevins work. His songwriting, vocal delivery and finely worked ambience of the songs make him worthy of comparison. Continue reading “Chris Blevins “Better Than Alone” (Horton Records, 2017)”

Jeremy Tuplin “I Was An Astronaut” (Folkwit Records,2017)

Alternate space folk singer-songwriter Jeremy Tuplin provides the listener with a series of unique sounds on this his debut full-length release. On progressing to what we have here, he has through the help of his good friend and long-time collaborator Mark Estall a most intriguing project. Recorded in each another’s living rooms, a genuine feel of intimacy is present throughout. The album is innovative and complete, and not in any way unstructured, but beautifully rounded, enjoying many subtle nuances, enough and more to keep you entertained once you have adapted to his particular style of music.  Continue reading “Jeremy Tuplin “I Was An Astronaut” (Folkwit Records,2017)”

Susto “& I’m Fine Today” (Rootsy Nu, 2017)

Charleston, South Carolina-based Susto embrace numerous genres as their music and lyrics dive headlong into the mind of the listener, their new album “I’m Fine Today” following their 2014 self-titled debut. Possessing an addictive draw, the band are fronted by lead vocalist Justin Osborne and guitarist, and songwriter Johnny Delaware, and are aided by Corey Campbell (guitar, bass, keys, backing vocals), Jordan Hicks (bass) and Marshall Hudson and Wolfgang Zimmerman (drums, percussion). Continue reading “Susto “& I’m Fine Today” (Rootsy Nu, 2017)”

The Fremonts “We Don’t Live There” (Independent, 2017)

Boulder, Colorado based The Fremonts, Stephanie Dodd (originally from Fremont, Nebraska) and Justin Badger (originally from Fremont California) utilise alt-country folk, indie pop and a hint of new grass to serve up a series of artistically grounded tunes (all written by them). The duos have tight harmonies and probing arrangements as Badger (guitar), Dodd (piano, accordion, toy Glockenspiel) are joined by guest musicians Maggie Gibson, Matt Kubis (banjo), Zak Kopeikin (bass), Cameron Mannix (drums), Braden Olsen, Alexander (fiddle), Chris Tucker (organ) plus on songs, Tillman’s Wall and Joanne by members of the Ars Nova Singers & Friends. Continue reading “The Fremonts “We Don’t Live There” (Independent, 2017)”

Interview: The Whiskey Gentry

Atlanta-based, The Whiskey Gentry, whose album Dead Ringer on Pitch-A-Tent Records was released earlier this year, pushes the band to a fuller more adventuress guitar powered sound.  Fronted by the effervescent Lauren Staley who, alongside husband, Jason Morrow, has been blending country with rock’n’roll, bluegrass and gritty honky-tonk whilst performing over 150 dates a year, including such festivals as Shaky Knees, Shaky Boots, Merlefest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion and FloydFest.  Americana-UK’s Maurice Hope catches up Staley in between dates.  Continue reading “Interview: The Whiskey Gentry”

Brandy Clark + Jim Lauderdale, Sage, Gateshead, 30th October 2017

Like fellow country singer-songwriters Angaleena Presley and Kacy Musgrave, Brandy Clark has a wonderful, at times sassy, sense of humour. She starts off a little serious, a little dark, but still okay, but then around the fourth song she lets her mask drop. It must be those official photographers; it wasn’t until after the first three songs allowed for stage photos had elapsed did a genuine smile truly emerge from the raven-haired Washington born act. Her humorous wit has become both a staple diet of her shows and the kind that incite her audience to voice their approval. Some no doubt able to relate all too well to her lyrics, while others, were just happy to hear someone voice a feminist viewpoint. Continue reading “Brandy Clark + Jim Lauderdale, Sage, Gateshead, 30th October 2017”