Caroline Spence “Mint Condition” (Rounder Records, 2019)

One of the most exciting “new” artists on the Americana scene, Caroline Spence has been making great music for some years now and ‘Mint Condition’ is her third album. It seems hard to believe she’s racking up her third release just as people are just starting to take real notice of her and the talent she brings to her writing and performing. This album may be her best yet; working with producer Dan Knobler and engineer Gary Paczosa who, between them, can boast impressive credits for the likes of Sarah Jarosz, Gillian Welch and Lake Street Dive among others, Spence has really crafted this album and it shows. Even though our original review copy was an unmastered version the quality just shines through, and subsequent updates with fully mastered tracks add the cherry to the icing. This is a very good album indeed. Continue reading “Caroline Spence “Mint Condition” (Rounder Records, 2019)”

A Picture Made “Heal” (Goodspeeed Records, 2019)

On first hearing “Heal” seems a slight, meandering work that’s difficult to pin down – but this is an album that rewards repeated listening. The band’s music is quite difficult to describe, but it’s more indie than Americana, and the band themselves are quite elusive. They originally came to prominence in the 1980s and toured with the likes of The Replacements and The Call but they don’t seem to have any real online presence and information on the current status of the band, other than that it is a fourpiece and originated in Kansas and Missouri, seems thin on the ground! Continue reading “A Picture Made “Heal” (Goodspeeed Records, 2019)”

Tylor & The Train Robbers “Best of the Worst Kind” (Independent, 2019)

There’s a pleasant “open-ness” to some of the best Americana – that feeling of room to move, where you can clearly hear all the instrumentation and the lyrics and yet still see spaces in the songs. Tylor & The Train Robbers have really nailed that sound on this, their second album. The production is crystal clear and it gives the listener the opportunity to hear just how good this band is. Well written melodies supported by some fine playing, guitars and pedal steel weaving together to create exactly the backing these story based songs need. Continue reading “Tylor & The Train Robbers “Best of the Worst Kind” (Independent, 2019)”

Alex Chilton “From Memphis to New Orleans” & “Songs From Robin Hood Lane” (Bar None Records, 2019)

Now here’s a real treat – not one but two albums of previously unreleased tracks and forgotten gems from one of the great counter-culture musicians, Alex Chilton. Chilton was a true original and a great example of a musician who followed his own star rather than pursue simple commercial success. Starting out as a teenager he experienced stardom as vocalist for blue eyed soul band The Box Tops, whose early songs included compositions by great country soul writers Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn and Chilton retained a working relationship with Penn for much of his early career, being the voice that Penn preferred to demo his songs. Continue reading “Alex Chilton “From Memphis to New Orleans” & “Songs From Robin Hood Lane” (Bar None Records, 2019)”

Bob Collum & The Welfare Mothers “Pay, Pack And Carry” (Harbour Song Records, 2018)

Bob Collum hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is a pretty good place to come from if you’re a man who makes music in the Americana genre. But Collum has added an interesting twist to his back story by relocating to the Thames Estuary in darkest Essex and it’s here that he assembled his band, The Welfare Mothers, and now brings his music to the masses. And pretty good music it is too.” Continue reading “Bob Collum & The Welfare Mothers “Pay, Pack And Carry” (Harbour Song Records, 2018)”

Book Review: Clinton Heylin “No One Else Could Play That Tune” (Route, 2018)

If, like many of us, you’re hoping a copy of Dylan’s “More Blood, More Tracks” might be among the presents awaiting your attention under the Christmas Tree, I suggest you drop the fat man in the red suit a little note, requesting this stocking filler as a late addition to the Christmas list. ‘No One Else Could Play That Tune’ is an outstanding piece of rock history. Writer Clinton Heylin has left no stone unturned in his attempt to bring us the definitive breakdown of the Blood on the Tracks recording sessions that resulted in Dylan’s 1974 masterpiece – and which, in turn, created the latest release in the highly acclaimed Bootleg Series. Continue reading “Book Review: Clinton Heylin “No One Else Could Play That Tune” (Route, 2018)”

Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)

First things first. If you haven’t discovered the excellent 33 1/3 series of books from Bloomsbury Publishing you’re seriously missing out. This is a series of short books about popular music and it focuses on individual albums by a very wide range of artists. Obviously not all of these will be of interest to Americana fans but there is enough to make this a series well worth investigating. Continue reading “Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)”

Exhibition: Mondo Scripto – The Lyrics and Drawings of Bob Dylan (Halcyon Gallery, 2018)

We all know that Dylan is one of the World’s great songwriters but how many of us knew that he’s also a very accomplished painter, illustrator and sculptor? A new exhibition, currently running at London’s Halcyon Gallery, brings Dylan’s wider artistic output to a wider audience. This isn’t the first time that Dylan’s art has been put on show but what makes this exhibition different is that it is aimed squarely at the fan of Dylan the musician. Continue reading “Exhibition: Mondo Scripto – The Lyrics and Drawings of Bob Dylan (Halcyon Gallery, 2018)”

The Frank Burkitt Band “Raconteur” (Independent, 2018)

A Scot, making Americana music out of New Zealand – and making a fine job of it too! It says much for this genre of music that it can take a lot of diverse influences and still retain its core sound and appeal. In 2014 Burkitt and his partner, Kara Filbey, relocated from Edinburgh, Scotland to Wellington, New Zealand, where the Frank Burkitt band was formed, adding double bass player James Geluk and mandolin and banjo player Cameron Burnell to Frank’s vocals and guitar and Kara’s flute. Continue reading “The Frank Burkitt Band “Raconteur” (Independent, 2018)”