Forgotten Artists – The Delevantes

Bob and Mike Delevante arrived on the scene in the early ‘90s and immediately set ears buzzing. Combining Everly Brothers-style harmonies with Springsteen-esque songs of working-class lives, they attracted the support of industry luminaries such as Garry Talent and Benmont Tench and seemed destined for seats at the top table. Their first album, ‘Long About That Time’, released in 1995 and produced by Talent, received a three star review from Rolling Stone magazine and went straight to number six in the Gavin Americana Charts. The album was nominated for a Nashville Music Award and named Pop Album of the Year by the National Association of Independent Records and Distributors (NAIRD); but it was all over before the end of the decade – the brothers went their separate ways and it seemed to be the end for one of Alt-Country’s most promising new acts. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – The Delevantes”

Forgotten Artists – Kieran Kane

There was a time, in the late ‘90s and early 2000s when Kieran Kane seemed to be Mr. Americana. He released four excellent solo albums over a seven-year period and built a strong following, particularly in Europe, through regular touring around small, intimate venues that allowed audiences to appreciate his wit and story-telling, along with his great songs, in a way that really connected with people. I remember travelling right across London to see him play at a small arts centre in Brentford and thinking it was one of the best gigs I’d seen in a very long time, well worth the lengthy schlepp there and back from my North London flat. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Kieran Kane”

Book Review: Ruth Charnock “Joni Mitchell: New Critical Readings” (Bloomsbury 2020)

This book made its debut in hardback in January of last year and now gets its awaited paperback release. Ruth Charnock, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln, has pulled together a fascinating collection of essays and literary studies on a wide range of subjects connected to Joni Mitchell. From her guitar playing technique to her position as a feminist icon, this collection of writings, from various academics working in the fields of popular music and literary studies can, at first glance, look more than a little daunting. Continue reading “Book Review: Ruth Charnock “Joni Mitchell: New Critical Readings” (Bloomsbury 2020)”

Crushwater “The Wasteland” (Independent, 2020)

Crushwater is Scott Sullivan on guitar/vocals, Chandra Johnson on Violin/Vocals, Enoch Bowlby on Bass and John Carlson on Drums and they hail from Port Angeles in Washington State. The keystone of this band is the interplay between Scott Sullivan and Chandra Johnson, with Johnson providing the counterpoint to Sullivan’s voice and guitar, bringing her harmony vocals and violin improvisation to bear on his songs. Continue reading “Crushwater “The Wasteland” (Independent, 2020)”

Forgotten Artists – Lynn Miles

I’m always quite taken aback by the number of Americana fans I meet who’ve never heard of Lynn Miles – an Award-winning singer/songwriter with some fifteen solo albums across a recording career that spans over 30 years. She started gigging at the age of sixteen and, prior to the current pandemic, was still touring regularly throughout Europe and the Americas. Lynn Miles is not so much forgotten, it seems, as Canadian – and it’s this that would seem to be the reason she’s flown under so many people’s Americana radar. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Lynn Miles”

Stripmall Ballads “Distant” (Freeloader Free Press, 2020)

Now, these are not the happiest of times, obviously, but why do so many new albums coming from singer/songwriters have to be so relentlessly miserable? Even a miserable song with a jaunty tune would be a welcome departure but so many of the new songs we hear are slow, minor-key moans about the trials of life. Surely someone out there must be having some fun? At least occasionally! Continue reading “Stripmall Ballads “Distant” (Freeloader Free Press, 2020)”

Ron Sexsmith “Hermitage” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)

Songsmith Sexsmith arrives with his sixteenth album and it’s a notable departure from much of his earlier work. The Canadian singer/songwriter sounds positively chipper. In the wake of a move from his habitual home city of Toronto to the more rural setting of Stratford, Ontario, Sexsmith seems to have discovered a new sense of well-being and contentment. He’s never been a particularly biting or pithy songwriter but the romanticism has often been tinged with a sense of irony; on this new album, ‘Hermitage’, he seems almost relentlessly upbeat. The album gets off to an excellent start as the opening number ‘Spring of the Following Year’, is introduced not by music but by bird song, leading into a pretty, piano-driven love ballad to a new season, with some very tasteful guitar breaks and the return of the bird song at the end. All very bucolic. Continue reading “Ron Sexsmith “Hermitage” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)”

Forgotten Artists – Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra

Here at the Forgotten Artists series we don’t necessarily think these artists have actually been forgotten – it’s more that their contribution to Americana may have been overlooked or that they’ve flown below the radar for some fans of the genre. I think this is definitely the case with Hazlewood and Sinatra. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra”

Shelby Lynne “Shelby Lynne” (Everso Records, 2020)

With an indecent sense of timing, given that we’ve only recently featured her in “Forgotten Artists”, Shelby Lynne is back with a new solo album, her first in five years. The first thing that strikes you about this album is the cover, which seems to feature a very topical image of the singer wearing a face mask – but looks can be deceiving. It appears that this image came from a photoshoot with renowned photographer Amanda Demme back in January of this year. Lynne was asked to pull the collar of her white polo neck shirt up to cover her mouth and nose, an oddly prophetic image given what was to come! It’s a strange, if striking image but this album is a little strange in more ways than one. Continue reading “Shelby Lynne “Shelby Lynne” (Everso Records, 2020)”

Pinball “Pinball” (Independent, 2020)

Something we don’t get a lot of these days is an album of instrumentals; that’s what we have here with the debut album from Pinball, entitled ‘Pinball’! The band consists of Australians Melissa Cox on violin and Alex Stuart on guitar along with French bandmates, bass player Ben Brody and drummer Simon Clavel. The band are based in Paris, which is where this album was made. The band is quite hard to define in terms of their sound. They think of themselves as a “post-rock instrumental” band but there are definite elements of Americana in much of what they do. ‘Skies’ is a beautiful piece, evocative of wide-open spaces and the haunting landscapes you associate with the prairies or a road trip through the arid landscape of southern Arizona. Similarly ‘Flight’ sounds like you could be in a small plane on a slightly turbulent trip across the skies or, perhaps, watching a bee as it buzzes around the wildflowers. Continue reading “Pinball “Pinball” (Independent, 2020)”