George St Clair “Ballads of Captivity and Freedom” (Independent, 2018)

It is probably no surprise that singer-songwriters and balladeers will often draw their inspiration from the world in which they hail. Although now living in the UK, George St Clair hails from the high plains of Texas and, after twenty years as a professional archaeologist and anthropologist, it is those roots that is the stimulus for ‘Ballads of Captivity and Freedom’. Continue reading “George St Clair “Ballads of Captivity and Freedom” (Independent, 2018)”

Pale Mara “Pale Mara” (Independent, 2018)

How best to sum up Pale Mara? By saying that the collaboration of Allison Robinson and Lee Godleski is an easy listen, does that damn this debut album with faint praise? The Cambridge English Dictionary definition of easy listening is “A type of music that is not complicated, serious or difficult. Quiet music that does not need much of your attention.” If that sounds a bit harsh how about this from The Collins Dictionary: “Music, either popular or classical, that is pleasant, tuneful and undemanding.Continue reading “Pale Mara “Pale Mara” (Independent, 2018)”

Seth Lakeman “The Well Worn Path” (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)

The name of Lakeman is a common one in folk circles. Brothers Seth, Sam and Sean have long become a byword for reliably high class and innovative music, be it individually or in collaboration with other high-class musicians. So it is with album number nine for Seth who follows up his understated Americana-style previous album with a return to a band led folk-rock approach. Continue reading “Seth Lakeman “The Well Worn Path” (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)”

Seasick Steve “Can U Cook?” (BMG, 2018)

On the official Seasick Steve website, you will find a 38-second video clip in which a hugely self-conscious and apologetic looking Steve stands propped against a water tank alongside a stack of empty pallets at the back of his barn. As far as trailers for a new album go this is just about as low key as it gets, “I don’t know much what to say……. they want me to say something.” A vision of a groaning PR exec with his face in his hands springs to mind. Continue reading “Seasick Steve “Can U Cook?” (BMG, 2018)”

Billy Wylder “Strike The Match” (Sand & Gold Records, 2018)

Billy Wylder is the songwriting project of Avi Salloway who was a touring member of African Tuareg/desert rock band Bombino for years. Salloway’s social and environmental activism has taken him across Africa, the Middle East, the South Pacific and back to the USA and the Standing Rock Indian reservation. That background has inspired an album that sees Salloway attempting to reconcile the contradiction of a world awash with beauty yet defined by almost incomprehensible social struggle. Continue reading “Billy Wylder “Strike The Match” (Sand & Gold Records, 2018)”

Jerry David DeCicca “Burning Daylight” (Super Secret Records, 2018)

As a teenager Jerry David DeCicca had, by his own admission, an obsession with 40 something year old singer-songwriters. Listening to the likes of Reed, Zevon, Petty, Dylan and Springsteen informed the musical direction he was to take. Formerly with The Black Swans ‘Burning Daylight’ is DeCicca’s third solo release and it nods more than a little towards another of that ilk, John Mellancamp. Continue reading “Jerry David DeCicca “Burning Daylight” (Super Secret Records, 2018)”

Josh Taerk “Beautiful Tragedy” (Misty Creek Records, 2018)

Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk, pronounced ‘Turk,’ has, in his relatively short career, garnered praise along the way from some high-profile names such as John Oates (Hall & Oates) and Max Weinberg (E Street Band), along with some eye-popping headlines from esteemed publications such as The Bournemouth Daily Echo – “Rising star hailed as the new boss”. Continue reading “Josh Taerk “Beautiful Tragedy” (Misty Creek Records, 2018)”

William Elliott Whitmore “Kilonova” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)

William Elliott Whitmore has spent the entirety of his 40 years on this planet living on the family farm in Iowa. As a singer-songwriter heavily influenced by the hardcore punk scene of that community, he has, on his six albums to date, fused this influence with a mix of blues, country and folk. For album number seven Whitmore has put the writing on hold in favour of celebrating some of the musical heroes who have inspired his career thus far. Continue reading “William Elliott Whitmore “Kilonova” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)”

The Jayhawks “Back Roads and Abandoned Motels” (Legacy Recordings, 2018)

Gary Louris, co-founder and longtime main man of the much-loved Jayhawks has also been much in demand over the years as a co-writer, working with the likes of Natalie Maines and The Dixie Chicks, Carrie Rodriguez, Scott Thomas, Jakob Dylan and Ari Hest.  Studio album number 10 sees Louris, with the exception of two new songs, reworking some of these songs for The Jayhawks. Continue reading “The Jayhawks “Back Roads and Abandoned Motels” (Legacy Recordings, 2018)”

Heart Hunters “American Eclipse” (Independent, 2018)

Husband and wife duo Heart Hunters (Drew de Man / Brianna Blackbird) write and sing songs with an environmental and social conscience and, with ‘American Eclipse,’ they dive head first into the murky pond of 21st century American life. In de Man’s own words: “we can’t just indulge in driving around playing music – we have to recognise our platform to spread ideas and use our music to aid social movements.Continue reading “Heart Hunters “American Eclipse” (Independent, 2018)”