Reg Meuross “Raw” (Hatsongs, 2020)

Normally AUK doesn’t review releases sent to us more than six months after their release. This album, the third in a trilogy of stripped back folk songs from Reg Meuross, was originally released back in October 2019 but a brand new vinyl version has just hit the shelves, joining its two trilogy siblings on wax and it was this we were asked to peruse. Continue reading “Reg Meuross “Raw” (Hatsongs, 2020)”

Elvis Perkins “Creation Myths” (MIR/Petulama Records,2020)

Full disclosure. This reviewer was quite enamoured of Elvis Perkins’ first two albums, ‘Ash Wednesday’ and the more emphatic ‘Elvis Perkins In Dearland’, at the tail end of the aughties, finding him to be a literate and sensitive purveyor of well written and delicately performed modern folk songs, not too far removed from the likes of Eef Barzelay. He fell off the radar somewhat afterwards, working with his brother, Osgood, on soundtracks, and ‘Creation Myths’ is his first fully fledged recording in some time. In a somewhat contradictory fashion, the album consists of songs composed around the time of his first album but here recorded in a lush, and at times intoxicating, blend of cosmic country and sixties pyschedelic pop. Continue reading “Elvis Perkins “Creation Myths” (MIR/Petulama Records,2020)”

Carolina Story “Dandelion ” (Black River Americana, 2020)

Carolina Story, a husband and wife team, Ben and Emily Roberts, have crafted a rather fine album on what is their second release. The pair are assisted by a fine crew of musicians who deliver a fine mix of classic countrified folk-rock with lashings of cosmic pedal steel on several of the songs giving some of the album a nice retro LA canyon glow. Continue reading “Carolina Story “Dandelion ” (Black River Americana, 2020)”

Classic Americana albums: Alejandro Escovedo “Gravity” (Watermelon Records, 1992)

After a decade and a half of recording with a series of bands (including The Nuns, who opened for The Sex Pistols USA tour) and gradually mutating from punk to Americana, Alejandro Escovedo finally emerged fully-grown in 1992 with his first solo album. By all accounts, it had been a hard slog to get there. His New York scene with The Nuns imploded and he relocated to Texas where he formed Rank And File, one of the progenitors of the so-called cowpunk scene (“we wanted to marry the sounds of George Jones with The Clash”), in tandem with True Believers, a band bedevilled by record label problems. Personal tragedy preceded his solo debut as, in the midst of the pair splitting up, his wife killed herself. Her death informs many of the songs on ‘Gravity’ and its equally excellent follow-up, ‘Thirteen Years.’ Continue reading “Classic Americana albums: Alejandro Escovedo “Gravity” (Watermelon Records, 1992)”

Lou Kyme “What’s The Worst That Can Happen” (Blue Smoke Records, 2020)

Formerly of the family based Southampton rockabilly band, The Okeh Wranglers, Lou Kyme emerges from the wilderness with an ace hidden up her sleeve. That ace is the presence of Vicente Rodriguez and James DePrato from Chuck Prophet’s Mission Express who back her on this seven-song album. Recorded in the Mission district of SF, Chuck himself slings some guitar on two of the songs while his missus, Stephanie Finch also makes an appearance. Continue reading “Lou Kyme “What’s The Worst That Can Happen” (Blue Smoke Records, 2020)”

Sally Anne Morgan “Thread” (Thrill Jockey, 2020)

There aren’t many albums sent to AUK which mention The Third Ear Band in the promotional notes. Sally Anne Morgan is an Appalachian fiddle player (with Black Twig Pickers and the duo House and Land) and on her first solo album she not only delves into traditional Appalachian music but she expertly inserts influences gleaned from the golden age of English folk rock and exponents such as Shirley Collins and Nic Jones. The result is this intriguing album which places Morgan in the footsteps of The Holy Modal Rounders, Karen Dalton, Hillfolk Noir, Anna & Elizabeth and other practitioners of old weird Americana. Comprised of traditional covers and self penned songs, the join is invisible. Continue reading “Sally Anne Morgan “Thread” (Thrill Jockey, 2020)”

Classic Americana Compilations: Various Artists “Acres For Cents” (Zippo 1987)

What is a compilation album? A bespoke tribute to a singular artist might be considered to be a compilation, but for this writer it’s basically a bunch of otherwise available songs slung together for one reason or another. Usually the reason is to sell more records of course. Much has been made in these pages of Uncut’s series of Americana themed cover mount CDs. It’s like your friendly neighbourhood drug dealer wheeling you in as he whispers, “The first one’s free…” And ofttimes, that dealer was a record label. There’s an honourable tradition of labels selling compilations of their artists at loss-leading prices, sometimes with an otherwise unavailable track as an additional incentive. Some of those albums are now revered. Think of Island Records’ ‘We Can All Join In’, the CBS sampler, ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On’, or Atlantic Records’ ‘Age Of Atlantic’. Here we’d like to make a case for this 1987 release to join that pantheon. Continue reading “Classic Americana Compilations: Various Artists “Acres For Cents” (Zippo 1987)”

Gillian Welch “Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol.1” (Acony Records, 2020)

Lockdown seems to have spurred Gillian Welch into action. Hardly a prolific artist, this latest disc comes hot on the heels of her covers album, ‘All The Good Times’, and a further two volumes of so-called “lost songs” are promised soon. ‘All The Good Times’ was a lockdown collection of fresh recordings with her long time partner David Rawlings, but ‘The Lost Songs’ series comprise a selection drawn from a cache of home demos and reel-to-reel recordings laid down by Welch and Rawlings in 2002. Apparently, this burst of activity was in order to release Welch from a publishing contract and the songs were then filed away. The three volumes will feature 48 new songs, a veritable treasure trove for fans. Continue reading “Gillian Welch “Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol.1” (Acony Records, 2020)”

Paul Kelly/Paul Grabowski “Please Leave Your Light On” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)

When AUK reviewed Paul Kelly’s recent retrospective collection, ‘Songs From The South’, we remarked on Kelly’s magpie like ability to gather up elements from power pop, folk, rock, bluegrass, soul and country over a prolific career allowing him to be considered as Australia’s foremost singer songwriter. ‘Please Leave Your Light On’ however is a bit of a curveball as Kelly teams up with jazz pianist Paul Grabowski (a fellow Australian) for a set of intimate voice and piano duets. Continue reading “Paul Kelly/Paul Grabowski “Please Leave Your Light On” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)”

Snowgoose “The Making Of You” (Glass Modern, 2020)

Back in 2012, Snowgoose created some significant ripples in the Scottish music scene when they released their debut album. Based around the crystal clear vocals of Anna Sheard and the song writing skills of Jim McCulloch and backed by a who’s who of indie Scots musicians, the album, ‘Harmony Springs’, was hailed as a worthy successor to the likes of Pentangle and Fairport Convention. Eight years later and Sheard and McCulloch weigh in again with ‘The Making Of You’, an album which eclipses its predecessor in many respects. Continue reading “Snowgoose “The Making Of You” (Glass Modern, 2020)”