Khari Wendell McClelland “Freedom Singer” (Afterlife music/Membran, 2018)

Originally from Detroit but now living in Canada, Khari Wendell McClelland began to investigate his family history some years ago, in particular the story of his great-great-great grandmother, a slave in the States who escaped to Canada via the underground train network set up by abolitionists. This led to him exploring the music of his ancestor’s time which he eventually worked into a multi media stage presentation which then led into this album. Continue reading “Khari Wendell McClelland “Freedom Singer” (Afterlife music/Membran, 2018)”

L. A. Edwards “True Blue” (Independent, 2018)

Hailing from South California, L. A. Edwards has hooked up with Heartbreaker Ron Blair in the producer’s chair for this collection of what is probably best described as “soft rock,” that genre which ruled FM radio in the early seventies. In a serendipitous manner it landed on this reviewer’s desktop just as we entered what we must now admit is a bit of a heatwave and although we haven’t yet stooped to drinking Magaritas it has to be said that the album has been a pleasant balm wafting across the garden as cold lager is quaffed. Continue reading “L. A. Edwards “True Blue” (Independent, 2018)”

Sc4m returns as part of the Rhythm Tree Festival

For nine years sc4m was held annually in Winchester’s Railway pub building up a reputation as one of the best and most intimate Americana/roots music festivals in the UK. This year sc4m relocates to the Isle of Wight linking up with the Rhythm Tree Festival. With their own Woodland stage sc4m will host their show as part of the main event on July 14th.  Over their nine years sc4m had an uncanny ability to spot acts who are now well known in their fledging years including Richmond Fontaine, John Murry and Chuck Prophet so it will be worth making the effort to catch this year’s line up in order that you can tell your grandkids in years to come, “I was there.” Continue reading “Sc4m returns as part of the Rhythm Tree Festival”

Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes + The Weeping Willows, MacSorleys, Glasgow, 30th June 2018

A crowded pub in Glasgow on a swelteringly hot Saturday night proved to be no challenge to Australia’s Lachlan Bryan  who, with a four piece version of The Wildes behind him, performed a set of songs which just about defined “Americana,” visiting corners of country, folk, soul and blues and doing so brilliantly. Bryan was accompanied by regular bassist Shaun Ryan and singer Imogen Clark along with Andrew Wrigglesworth on electric guitar and Laura Coates who also sang, the latter pair having played the support slot as The Weeping Willows. Continue reading “Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes + The Weeping Willows, MacSorleys, Glasgow, 30th June 2018”

Freschard & Stanley Brinks “Midnight Tequila” (Fika Recordings, 2018)

‘Midnight Tequila’ is the second release from French chanteuse Clemence Freschard and the ubiquitous Stanley Brinks (who has reputedly released over one hundred albums) although the pair have collaborated on several projects over the years. With Brinks allied to the “anti-folk” NY movement and Freschard pleasantly naive sounding the songs herein have a deliberate simplicity, a strum along  and sing along quality along with some quirky lyrics and listening one is reminded at times of Jeffrey Lewis or The Colorblind James Experience. Continue reading “Freschard & Stanley Brinks “Midnight Tequila” (Fika Recordings, 2018)”

Leon III “Leon III” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)

Leon III (or Leon the Third if you prefer, their PR blurb mentions both) are a side project of two members of a Virginia alt-country band, the Wrinkle Neck Mules, a band this reviewer had never heard of. Before we get to the main thrust of this review however, do yourself a favour and check them out. Comprised of Andy Stepanian and Mason Brent, respectively singer and guitarist of those Mules, Leon III move away from the more traditional sounds of the parent band into a kind of blissed out cosmic Americana with both of them citing the good old Grateful Dead as an inspiration and certainly throughout the album the gleeful countenance of Jerry Garcia can be imagined as the grooves spin. Continue reading “Leon III “Leon III” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)”

Michael Hurley + James Yorkston, Summerhall, Edinburgh, 17th June 2018

It’s been a while since Michael Hurley, occasionally known as Snock, has come to the UK and with him now in his 77th year, news of this tour was somewhat unexpected. Mind you it was only last year when he toured Australia for the first time so it’s perhaps somewhat ageist of us to presume that this venerable songwriter was about to hang up his guitar. Since recording his first album back in 1965 Hurley has ploughed a singular path creating his own weird and crepuscular world peopled with werewolves and revenants, his cartoon creations, Boone and Jocko, and a whole host of idiosyncratic characters.  With a style rooted deep in country blues and folk Hurley has always sounded as if he came from an earlier age, a one man version of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music as transmitted from some Twilight Zone and tonight a rapt audience was transported into Hurley’s very own version of old and weird Americana as Greil Marcus would have it. Continue reading “Michael Hurley + James Yorkston, Summerhall, Edinburgh, 17th June 2018”

Phil Madeira “Providence” (Mercyland Records, 2018)

Nashville resident Phil Madeira is an almost perfect example of those “cats” John Sebastian sang about all those years ago. A multi instrumentalist, an in demand session musician, hit songwriter (for Keb’ Mo’, Alison Krauss and The Civil Wars among others) and producer, he’s probably best known as a member of Emmylou Harris’s Red Dirt band and more recently for having helmed (with Harris) two volumes of ‘Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us’, collections of faith based songs sung by several of his famous friends. Continue reading “Phil Madeira “Providence” (Mercyland Records, 2018)”

Giant Sand + Patsy’s Rats, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 10th June 2018

Never a man to resist a whim, Howe Gelb has resurrected the band title he retired a few years back and re-recorded the first album which came out under the Giant Sand name, 1985’s ‘Valley of Rain’. The whys and wherefores for this are myriad perhaps but Gelb reasons that the original album suffered from being too clean, his Roland amp being one of the guilty culprits, preferring the final three songs he recorded for the album using an old Fender Tube amp (previously owned by Robbie Krieger, trivia fans). So, having secured an old 80’s Fender 30 amp late last year, Gelb set about recording ‘Return to The Valley of Rain’ and even managed to round up the original band to play on several of the songs. Job done, Giant Sand then set about a European tour to play the album live, tonight’s show the second last in the UK after a swirl around Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Continue reading “Giant Sand + Patsy’s Rats, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 10th June 2018”

Bruce Springsteen “The Album Collection Vol. 2 1987-1996” (Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings 2018)

What do you buy the Springsteen fan who has everything (other than a brief for his Broadway shows)? Well, this comprehensive collection of his Columbia output from ’87 until ’96 would probably be a good starter particularly as it comes in a numbered limited edition vinyl only package. Ten discs, all remastered, all originals long out of print with one disc (the 1996 ‘Blood Brothers’ EP) appearing on vinyl for the first time.  Along with ‘Blood Brothers’ (on 12″ vinyl) there’s another EP, 1988’s ‘Chimes of Freedom’ (again a 12 incher) along with the albums ‘Tunnel of Love’, ‘Human Touch’, ‘Lucky Town’, ‘In Concert/MTV Plugged’ and ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’. In case you’re wondering how this amounts to ten discs, three of these are “expanded across two LPs to maximize audio quality,” according to Colombia. Continue reading “Bruce Springsteen “The Album Collection Vol. 2 1987-1996” (Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings 2018)”