Ragged Union “Lay My Ghost to Rest” (Independent, 2018)

This EP rocks. Ragged Union are a five-piece band from Bristol; these guys have been around for years as members of various bands, and one thing’s for sure – they know how to play their instruments. The proceedings get underway with a bang: ‘Lay To Rest’ is pretty much straight-ahead, hard-ass country rock. The sound, like the others on this EP, is very full, brimming with electric guitar and driving bass, punctuated by a heavy backbeat. A fine guitar solo makes the track even better. Continue reading “Ragged Union “Lay My Ghost to Rest” (Independent, 2018)”

Chris Ronald “Fragments” (Borealis Records, 2018)

This lovely album on the folk side of Americana is a keeper. It’s based on Ronald’s clear-voiced singing and moving songwriting, augmented by fingerpicked guitar, fiddle, harmonica and the occasional banjo, mandolin and drums. Ronald is a Brit living now in Canada, and his music reflects the influence of folk music from both sides of the Atlantic – and the music of many eras, as well. He wrote 11 of the 12 tracks on the album. The lone exception is ‘Okanagan Sunset’, which was written by the author and poet Bruce Madole. Continue reading “Chris Ronald “Fragments” (Borealis Records, 2018)”

Don Gallardo “Still Here” (Southern Carousel Records / Clubhouse Records 2018)

This fine album of richly layered music on the country-rock side of Americana makes for enjoyable listening. The song-writing glistens, the musicianship is stellar, and Gallardo is a compelling singer. The songs deal with drinking, life’s travails, and the need to learn – and indeed, profit – from pain and mistakes. “The bottle puts it off until tomorrow/Then tomorrow blows in like a hurricane … Is this my curse/Or something I gotta learn,” Gallardo sings on the opener, ‘Something I Gotta Learn’. The song is country rock led by chiming electric guitars and a heavy back beat. One can hear female backup singers oohing in the background. The sound is very full indeed. Continue reading “Don Gallardo “Still Here” (Southern Carousel Records / Clubhouse Records 2018)”

Johnny Dowd “Twinkle, Twinkle” (Mother Jinx, 2017)

From beneath the waters of this dark and eerie sonic soundscape emerge some of the most well-known songs in the American canon. The songs on this fine album are as familiar as, well, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ – the title cut – along with ‘Tom Dooley’, ‘Oh My Darling Clementine’, ‘Red River Valley’, ‘St. James Infirmary’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’. But it’s a safe bet you’ve never heard them done this way. Dowd is highly original, even eccentric. Sometimes these songs, familiar as they are, can be recognised only by the lyrics. Continue reading “Johnny Dowd “Twinkle, Twinkle” (Mother Jinx, 2017)”