Abigail Lapell “Getaway” (Coax Records, 2019)

Abigail Lapell hails from Toronto and is a talented lady, having a strong voice with an impressive range, plus the ability to play a range of instruments. She can write as well having penned all eleven songs on this, her third studio album. This is an ethereal record which takes a couple of listens to fully show its cards. There is one truly upbeat number ‘Devil in the Deep’ which shows off Lapell’s vocal range to the full.
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Malachi Vale “Jubilee” (Ray-On, 2018)

Malachi Vale is the the name given to the musical act of Marc Gagnon from Montreal who describes his music as an eclectic blend of blues, folk, country, americana and jazz. This album comprises 11 tracks with vocals delivered in a gruff, deep style very much in the style of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. This album does not hint at the artist discovering such heights as those two great acts but it does have a certain atmospheric feel about it with a few highlights worthy of mention. Continue reading “Malachi Vale “Jubilee” (Ray-On, 2018)”

GospelbeacH “Another Winter Alive” (Alive Naturalsound Records 2018)

GospelbeacH were formed in 2014 by vocalist and guitarist Brent Rademaker ex of Beachwood Sparks amongst others and comprise a group of experienced and well-travelled musicians. As may be expected from a group of people who have a lifetime of experience in the industry the music on show here is of top quality with the band having already released two high-quality albums. Anyone who has come across those records will certainly love this one although it doesn’t have the rounded feel of an album put together on its own for the good reason that the five studio tracks on show are previously unreleased songs from earlier sessions, with the remaining five being live versions of songs to be found on their ‘Pacific Surf Line’ album.

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Rachel Baiman “Thanksgiving” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)

This four track EP showcases bluegrass music at its very best. Rachel Baiman is a Nashville-based roots songwriter with a conscience, delivering songs that explore the less shiny side of the holiday season. Clearly this work references Thanksgiving but the issues and feelings raised are easily transferrable to the Christmas and New Year holidays. The opening track ‘Tent City’ deals with the plight of the homeless and generally less fortunate, albeit with an infectiously catchy tune and some fantastic banjo picking. We’re told that the story is based on Baiman’s own experiences as a caterer during which she would pass food to homeless families but it’s also a comment on the issue of people being left behind in Nashville due to the City’s rapid expansion.

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Dusty Wright “Gliding Towards Oblivion” (Independent, 2018)

The artist here – Dusty Wright – describes himself as a singer songwriter, pop culture creator and metaphysical cowboy who is based in New York City. Dusty Wright has indeed been in the business for some time and has experience as a presenter and musical adviser as well as being an artist in his own right. Continue reading “Dusty Wright “Gliding Towards Oblivion” (Independent, 2018)”

Alberta “Mmmmm” (Independent, 2018)

This eclectic album from Alberta, the alter ego of Detroit native David Boone is a rough, ready and sometimes raucous affair with surprising subtlety thrown in for good measure. Track one ‘Outta My Head’ kicks things off in a punk style reminiscent of New York Dolls or even the Ramones with its sparse instrumentalism and jerky vocals, but the tracks that come after follow a range of styles including swing with clarinet taking the lead in ‘Black Powder Sweet Pea.’ On ‘Quitters & Thieves’ there is an almost jazz lounge style on show with brooding vocal and sensuous piano all pulled off with some style. Continue reading “Alberta “Mmmmm” (Independent, 2018)”

Vanessa Peters “Foxhole Prayers” (Idol Records, 2018)

This is an infectious record and one of those which has many “ear worm” moments but all in a good way. Vanessa Peters is a Dallas based singer-songwriter and this her eleventh album is a triumph which has its inspiration in the turbulent times that we live in. That it can be a critique on many of the things that are troubling in the world yet still retain a sense of positivity and inspiration is a credit to the artist who has written all bar one of the ten tracks on this album herself. The publicity that comes with the record refers to Peters’ passion for literacy and her view that the current times are much like the years depictited in “The Great Gatsby” by Scott-Fitzgerald. There is certainly a cutting edge to the lyrics with Carnival Barker making the point that whilst voices of reason are out there they get drowned out by the man with the money and the big machine. It won’t take much imagination to work out who and what world event she is alluding to there. Continue reading “Vanessa Peters “Foxhole Prayers” (Idol Records, 2018)”

Christian Kjellvander “Wild Hxmans” (Tapete Records 2018)

This album from Swedish singer songwriter Christian Kjellvander comes with a healthy dose of Scandi Noir and thus a warning is required for those of a nervous disposition. If you are in any way feeling low, depressed or just somewhat jaded, it is probably best to find a Smiths album instead. Well, perhaps that is overstating the point but you are very unlikely to strike a jaunty tone after listening to this work. Continue reading “Christian Kjellvander “Wild Hxmans” (Tapete Records 2018)”

James House & The Blues Cowboys “James House & The Blues Cowboys” (Proper Records, 2018)

James House is a successful country blues artist who many people won’t be familiar with. Having spent much of his long career writing hits for others, House has rarely been the main focus of attention in his own right despite the fact this guy can really play the guitar and deliver soulful blues tinged vocals. On first listen to this record similarities with the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Bonamassa abound – and closer investigation reveals that House has co-written many of the songs that grace the latter artist’s recent release. Continue reading “James House & The Blues Cowboys “James House & The Blues Cowboys” (Proper Records, 2018)”

Ethan Johns with The Black Eyed Dogs “Anamnesis” (Proper Music, 2018)

Ethan Johns is one of the fathers of Americana given his production of so many classic albums in the genre over the years, including Ryan Adams’s ‘Gold’ and albums by Ray Lamontagne and The Jayhawks to name just a few.  Of course, having a Dad who produced the first Eagles albums starts you off in one of the best possible directions in the business. He is, however, not that well known for his own releases which have in many instances fallen under the radar despite the fact that apart from knowing how to produce, he can write great songs, play many instruments and importantly he can sing. Continue reading “Ethan Johns with The Black Eyed Dogs “Anamnesis” (Proper Music, 2018)”