Book Review: Bryan Wagner “The Wild Tchoupitoulas” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)

There will be many who have never heard of ‘The Wild Tchoupitoulas’ but this was a seminal record in establishing an earthy, roots-based aspect of New Orleans music – as such it’s of major interest to anyone who seeks knowledge of some of the more obscure aspects of Americana. This book, from American academic, Bryan Wagner, examines the background to this recording, providing historical and social context to a landmark album. Continue reading “Book Review: Bryan Wagner “The Wild Tchoupitoulas” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)”

Luca “The House That We Know” EP (Independent, 2019)

Nice to have a debut recording from a homegrown talent to review at the start of a new year. Lauren Luca, known professionally as Luca, is a young singer/songwriter from the Manchester area and this is a confident and well-produced introduction to her and her songs. This EP consists of three self-penned songs plus, as a bonus, an acoustic version of the title track. This is a nice touch as you get to hear some of the thinking behind the development of the fuller, EP version. The acoustic track also lets you hear more of Luca’s voice, which has a frail, breathless quality that works well with her songs. Continue reading “Luca “The House That We Know” EP (Independent, 2019)”

Philip B. Price “Bone Almanac” (Signature Sound Recordings, 2019)

A winter release seems particularly appropriate for this solo album from Winterpills frontman Philip B. Price. ‘Bone Almanac’ is a chilling and haunting work that’s frequently bleak, given that much of it addresses very current concerns, such as our climate crisis; a fitting soundtrack for the winter. But there’s also much to celebrate as this is a fine album indeed and a real solo effort, given that Price has written all the songs and plays every instrument used on the album, his only collaborator being engineer and producer Justin Pizzoferrato. Continue reading “Philip B. Price “Bone Almanac” (Signature Sound Recordings, 2019)”

Book Review – Sheree Homer “Under The Influence of Classic Country” (McFarland, 2019)

Anyone interested in the history of country music, and its wider influence on this music we call Americana, would do well to check out Sheree Homer’s excellent new book “Under the Influence of Classic Country”. Subtitled “Profiles of 36 Performers of the 1940s to Today” the author has taken a close look at some of the great artists of the Classic Country era (1940s to early 1970s) as well as acknowledging the revivalists currently keeping this music alive. Drawing on extensive original interviews with some of the artists themselves, their family members, friends and associates, as well as the use of well-researched archive material, it’s an affectionate look at some of the finest musicians from this genre, along with snapshots of their lives on the road and in the studios. Effectively these are mini-biographies; as the title says, “profiles” of significant and influential artists. Continue reading “Book Review – Sheree Homer “Under The Influence of Classic Country” (McFarland, 2019)”

Twain “Adventure” (Keeled Scales, 2019)

‘Adventure’ is the follow up to 2017’s highly acclaimed ‘Rare Feeling’ – an album that earned a 10/10 review from fellow Americana-UK writer, Scott Baxter, who described it, at the time, as “the finest album I’ve been passed since I first started reviewing albums for this site some 10 years ago”. That’s quite a substantial amount of praise and I was expecting great things from this album.
The thing about reviews is that, while we strive to be as objective as possible, a certain amount of subjectivity will always come into play so, perhaps I should hold my hand up and say that Scott and I have slightly differing musical tastes. Continue reading “Twain “Adventure” (Keeled Scales, 2019)”

Book Review – Will Birch “Cruel to be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe” (Da Capo Press, 2019)

My first thought on getting this book was that Nick Lowe wrote some good songs and has been around the music scene for a while, so this could be an interesting read. By the time I’d finished the book I was feeling grateful to have walked this earth at the same time as the music legend that is Nick “Basher” Lowe! Nick Lowe has built a fascinating career in music without ever really becoming a major rock star – yet, when you see his accomplishments laid out on paper, it’s hard to believe that it’s all the work of one man; and a man who is just a musical footnote to many. Continue reading “Book Review – Will Birch “Cruel to be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe” (Da Capo Press, 2019)”

Various Artists “The Peanut Butter Falcon Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (Varese Sarabande Records, 2019)

Film soundtrack albums are always interesting beasts. You need to think about how they support the film they are made for but you’ve also got to assess them as a collection of music. There are a number of soundtrack albums that have gone on to be significant hits in their own right and the better ones really can grab your attention. Probably the first thing to say about the soundtrack to ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ is that it’s not quite on a par with something like ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou’, a particularly successful soundtrack album that drew heavily on Americana music; but it does have its charms and some stand out tracks. Continue reading “Various Artists “The Peanut Butter Falcon Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (Varese Sarabande Records, 2019)”

Malin Pettersen “Alonesome” (Die With Your Boots On Records, 2019)

One of the fascinating things about this music genre we call Americana is the increasing amount of very credible recordings we’re getting from musicians living and working outside the USA. We’re seeing artists from countries like the UK, Ireland, Australia, Sweden and others all turning in some very authentic sounding Country and Americana tracks. Latest in this long line of overseas pretenders we have Malin Pettersen, who hails from Norway. Continue reading “Malin Pettersen “Alonesome” (Die With Your Boots On Records, 2019)”

Book Review – Tim Newby “Leftover Salmon: 30 Years of Festival!” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019)

There are few better mediums than a book for opening our eyes to new information, for helping us to become a little more knowledgeable about the world around us. I have to put my hand up and say I had never heard of Leftover Salmon before reading this book and I only had sketchy knowledge of the progressive Bluegrass scene, so this book “Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival!” has been a real revelation; a window into a different and quite fascinating world. Continue reading “Book Review – Tim Newby “Leftover Salmon: 30 Years of Festival!” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019)”