Ten Americana artists from Kentucky

If you were to find yourself cruising down Interstate-75 in the Renfro Valley area of Kentucky you may feel inclined to take a detour at exit 62 and head on down to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. A caveat at the current time would be that you may find some time to kill upon your arrival, as the said attraction will not reopen until September. That aside, within its hallowed walls are inductees aplenty including the likes of The Everly Brothers, Loretta Lynne, Bill Monroe, Merle Travis and Ricky Skaggs. Continue reading “Ten Americana artists from Kentucky”

My Darling Clementine “Country Darkness Vol.2” (Fretsore Records, 2020)

‘Country Darkness Vol. 2’ is an EP featuring songs originally penned by Elvis Costello, which are given the duet treatment by My Darling Clementine, AKA Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish. Providing the deftly delivered keyboards, which form the musical bedrock of these songs, is Costello’s own keyboard player, Steve Nieve. King is also known for forming The Good Sons who took their name from Nick Cave’s The Good Son whilst prior to My Darling Clementine, Lou Dalgleish has worked with Bryan Ferry and The Brodsky Quartet. Continue reading “My Darling Clementine “Country Darkness Vol.2” (Fretsore Records, 2020)”

Ten americana songs of protest

An infamous Mancunian once thought that if you played the acoustic guitar, it meant you were a protest singer. Whilst the playing of that instrument may not earn you the right to musical protestation, the artists featured below would in most part be likely to agree that the six-stringed instrument helps with the cause. Protest songs with an Americana flavour throughout the 20th & 21st Century have used as their topic matter such issues as civil rights, women’s rights, economic injustice, politics and war; though prior these many negro spirituals from the 19th century are seen as protests against slavery and oppression. Continue reading “Ten americana songs of protest”

Ten covers of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe”

‘Ode to Billie Joe’ is a dark southern story, cinematic in its lyrics but remaining enigmatic. The story, tells of the preacher, Brother Talyor saying how he saw the song’s narrator up on Choctaw Ridge with Billy Joe, “Throwing something off the Tallahatchie Bridge”. The mystery remains of what that something might have been but in the words of, Bobbie Gentry: “The song is sort of a study in unconscious cruelty. But everybody seems more concerned with what was thrown off the bridge than they are with the thoughtlessness of the people expressed in the song. What was thrown off the bridge really isn’t that important”. Continue reading “Ten covers of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe””

Classic Americana Albums: Gene Clark “No Other” (Asylum, 1974)

Missouri born Gene Clark’s epitaph beautifully reads: ‘No Other’, the title of his 1974 magnum opus. It would be fair to say that fortune was not kind to Clark, his early demise at the age of 46 hastened by alcohol and drug dependency. In his few short years as a member of the legendary Byrds he wrote the glorious, ‘I’ll Feel A Whole Better’ and co-wrote the proto-psychedelic, ‘Eight Miles High’. Much has been made of the fact that it was a fear of flying that influenced him to leave the group at the height of their fame, though it is also true that Clark was a restless soul wanting to explore new directions through his own unique voice and vision.  Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Gene Clark “No Other” (Asylum, 1974)”

Dan Israel “Social Distance Anxiety Disorder” (Independent, 2020)

If you were to peruse Dan Israel’s prodigious output of albums,  you would come across some of the following titles: ‘Dan’, 2015, ‘Danthology’, 2013, ‘Dan Israel’, 2005 and the modestly entitled, ‘Dan Who?’, 2001. Now, of course, there are other non-Dan related titles, but the evidence suggests that Israel is a man who likes his themes, the latest of which saw its inception in 2019 when he released, ‘Social Media Anxiety Disorder’ which has now been followed by the album featured in this review, namely, ‘Social Distance Anxiety Disorder’. All of which adds up to concerning levels of societal dysfunction which could conceivably be added to as time progresses. Continue reading “Dan Israel “Social Distance Anxiety Disorder” (Independent, 2020)”

A top ten of classic Americana albums

Will I be listening to this top ten in ten years? For the most part, probably. Most of the selections have stood my test of time for a good twenty or thirty years and I don’t think the newer additions are going anyplace soon. How do I know these are my top ten? I wouldn’t begin to defend them through any other reason than that they are my choice of listening when seeking connection to something deeper or more profound than is offered in our quotidian existence. Judge for yourself whether they are worthy of your time: Continue reading “A top ten of classic Americana albums”

Secret Emchy Society “The Chaser” (Independent, 2020)

How was last night? Did you spend it drinking Tennesee Bourbon cogitating on life’s injustices whilst the sound of a Fender Telecaster twanged along with the band playing in the background (albeit a recorded one during this dearth of live gigs)? You did? Well, Secret Emchy Society’s, new album might just be the one you choose to put on tonight’s playlist. Continue reading “Secret Emchy Society “The Chaser” (Independent, 2020)”

Ten covers of Bob Dylan’s ‘To Ramona’

The original track ‘To Ramona’ is taken from Dylan’s fourth album ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan’, released in 1964. This release saw Dylan shift away from the previously politically orientated, ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ to a more personal perspective. ‘To Ramona’ is played in waltz time and may have been adapted from a 1930s folk tune, though claims have also been made that the melody is Mexican in origin. Continue reading “Ten covers of Bob Dylan’s ‘To Ramona’”

Ultan Conlon “There’s a Waltz” (DarkSideOut Records, 2020)

Conlon has employed an impressive roster of session musicians to create, ‘There’s a Waltz’ which was recorded at The Heritage Studios in Los Angeles; a long way from his native Galway. Predominant on most of the tracks is the rich tone of fiddle player, Gabe Witcher who has played with the likes of Dave Rawlings and Paul Simon. There is also some fine pedal steel by Rich Hinman who has worked with KD Lang amongst others. Continue reading “Ultan Conlon “There’s a Waltz” (DarkSideOut Records, 2020)”