The Ghost of Paul Revere “Good At Losing Everything” (Rocksnob/Rootsy, 2020)

There is a melding of sounds and styles on this, The Ghost of Paul Revere’s third album, attributable in part to its producer Spencer Albee. Evident in its soundscape are loops, strings and mellotron which give a vintage tinge to proceedings. Albee is known for producing a variety of artists as well as being a singer/songwriter in his own right and creating Beatles nights where the Fab Four’s opus is interpreted by various musicians. The Maine trio, Max Davis, (vocals, banjo], Sean McCarthy (vocals, bass), and Griffin Sherry (vocals, guitar) create a fusion of bluegrass, rock and country with shades of gospel for good measure. Continue reading “The Ghost of Paul Revere “Good At Losing Everything” (Rocksnob/Rootsy, 2020)”

Book Review: Todd Westbrook “Americanaville” (Independent, 2020)

Americanaville is a project created by Todd Westbrook that saw its inception as an essay but which has now burgeoned into a series of chapters that are currently available for free at http://tswestbrook.com. Westbrook describes a personal journey through Country, Americana, Bluegrass and Roots music that takes many detours but never loses its central thread of a series of recordings that, for Westbrook, have been seminal in shaping his experience of the music described. Continue reading “Book Review: Todd Westbrook “Americanaville” (Independent, 2020)”

Leah Barley “Bring Out Your Dead” (Independent, 2020)

Vancouver based, Barley showcases her songwriting, vocal and instrumental skills on this, her first full-length album, ably supported by John Kastelic and Ross Christopher Fairbairn. Barley’s skills are considerable, resulting in thought-provoking lyrics, emotive singing and atmospheric banjo and guitar playing. The album cover depicts a group of skeletons resting in a wardrobe with a guitar case in the background. Continue reading “Leah Barley “Bring Out Your Dead” (Independent, 2020)”

VanWyck “God is in the Detour” (Maiden Name Records, 2020)

Following experience in various bands, Christine Oele decided in 2015 that the way forward for her was to become a solo artist. Taking her grandmother’s maiden name, VanWyck, she released her debut album, ‘An Average Woman’ in 2018 followed by, ‘Molten Rock’ in 2019. VanWyck’s latest release presents the listener with a beguiling collection of mainly acoustic-based songs decorated with lyrical flourishes. Continue reading “VanWyck “God is in the Detour” (Maiden Name Records, 2020)”

Suzanne Vega “An Evening of New York Songs and Stories” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)

Close your eyes as you listen to the opening of, ‘An Evening of New York Songs and Stories’ and you might be able to imagine yourself amongst the audience surrounded by the old world charm of New York City’s Cafe Carlyle where this album was recorded in 2019. As a member of the audience, you may, like Vega herself, be a native New Yorker, or perhaps you are from out of town; either way, you will probably be expecting a journey through some of the familiar and less familiar parts of Vega’s oeuvre. When you finally leave after the closing track, your expectations will have been met and you might feel closer to the essence of these songs penned by one of New York’s finest songsmiths. Continue reading “Suzanne Vega “An Evening of New York Songs and Stories” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)”

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts “Nowhere To Go But Everywhere” (Independent, 2020)

The title of this album and now a readily used quotation is taken from Jack Kerouac’s novel ‘On the Road’“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”  In the wake of a divorce, Hamilton took a US road trip, of which Kerouac made many, and has used his experiences to inform this collection of songs. The songs themselves tell of heartache, longing and the requisite amount of soul-searching that might be expected under the circumstances. Don’t expect rawness and fragility in these pieces however, they are mostly slickly produced and have a radio-friendly feel to them. Continue reading “Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts “Nowhere To Go But Everywhere” (Independent, 2020)”

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald “Love Valley” (Treasure Island Recs, 2020)

With the release of his fifth album, ‘Love Valley’, Canadian singer-songwriter, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald has created a wistful dream of an imagined life that is both personal and universal. The songs could be described as a journey through this dream that use thoughts and impressions to generate a literal and emotional landscape. The dream resides in a valley, where there is a farm, dogs, children, a cosy kitchen with an FM radio which sometimes is heard playing Joni Mitchell, a truck, a Harley Davidson and a river to go swimming in. Continue reading “Michael Bernard Fitzgerald “Love Valley” (Treasure Island Recs, 2020)”

Bobby Lee “Shakedown in Slabtown” (Natural Histories Records, 2020)

Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Days’ opens with the question: “What are Days for?” Being presented with an album of instrumental tracks might prompt a similar, ostensibly ingenuous question, such as, ‘What are instrumentals for’? In the case of ‘Shakedown in Slabtown’, Bobby Lee’s debut album, these instrumentals serve a variety of purposes. Continue reading “Bobby Lee “Shakedown in Slabtown” (Natural Histories Records, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Little Feat “Willin'”

Last week’s stars of AUK’s Chain Gang were Southend’s finest, The Kursall Flyers. Former members of the aforementioned band, Paul Shuttleworth & Vic Collins are now part of The Ugly Guys, whose album ‘Senior Moments’ features a cover of Little Feat’s,‘ Willin”. The story of Little Feat takes us back to 1968 when lead singer and guitarist, Lowell George joined Frank Zappa’s, Mothers of Invention. Continue reading “AUK’s Chain Gang: Little Feat “Willin’””

Sunny Ozell “Live at the Village” EP (Chitin Records, 2020)

Ozell’s album, ‘Overnight Lows’ witnessed the first airing for four of the tracks on this EP , to which has been added a cover of the Los Lobos track, ‘The Valley’. These tracks, recorded at  The Village recording studios in Santa Monica  are given an acoustic sparsity that whilst creating a feeling of space also generate particular atmospheres; what Ozell herself describes as a “Coffee House Take”. Continue reading “Sunny Ozell “Live at the Village” EP (Chitin Records, 2020)”