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)”

Elephant Micah “Genericana” (Western Vinyl 2018)

As has been said many times before Americana is a broad church and thus many musical styles are accepted inside and indeed they add to its rich diversity. However, it is a challenge to consider this particular work part of the Americana genre whatever way you look at it. The PR provided with this music makes reference to the first track ‘Surf A’ as “a virtual holiday destination, where soft waves of AM static crash and synthetic gulls call to a hazy sun. A skeleton-thin drum loop jogs by but these lazy synth tones are just working on their tan. And then, just as the soundscape approaches maximum repose, a gnarly guitar band busts into the mix like an odd choice by a half-baked algorithm.” Make of that what you will but listening to the track itself will fail to make the situation much clearer. Continue reading “Elephant Micah “Genericana” (Western Vinyl 2018)”

Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton “Been On Your Side” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)

This is the debut album offering from two friends and fine musicians who have honed their art in the industry for a number of years. Courtney Hartman was until very recently part of Della Mae a five-piece all-girl bluegrass group from Boston and a nominee for the 2017 Americana Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year award for her guitar playing, whilst Taylor Ashton is from Canadian roots group Fish & Bird and a superb clawhammer banjo player. Continue reading “Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton “Been On Your Side” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)”

Ben Reel “Land Of Escape” (Independent, 2018)

Ben Reel is an Irish artist who has been in the business for over 20 years, this being his eighth studio album release.  This is a homegrown affair having been recorded and produced in his home studio in South Armagh with Reel having written or co-written all twelve tracks. There is a theme to the album which is one of redemption and understanding which is demonstrated no better than on ‘Fish Out Of Water,’ a haunting track written from the perspective of an exiled immigrant seeking a new life with all the terrors of the journey on show and the many daunting problems at the other end of the journey throwing up the unfamiliar. Featuring a moody organ and drumbeat mimicking guns it is a top quality track highlighting one of the burning subjects of the day. Continue reading “Ben Reel “Land Of Escape” (Independent, 2018)”

The Wood Brothers “One Drop Of Truth” (Honey Jar Records 2018)

The Wood Brothers comprise the trio of brothers Oliver and Chris Wood, along with Jano Rix, and have been around for some time, this being their sixth album release. On this work they have a bluesy style which is redolent of the deep south (although the band hail from elsewhere) and after much time together they are starting to display a multitude of influences. The group have described this album as the most free they have ever done, having treated each song as if it were its own short film, and importantly it seems as if they’ve had fun along the way. Continue reading “The Wood Brothers “One Drop Of Truth” (Honey Jar Records 2018)”