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)”

Andrew Combs “Ideal Man” (New West Records, 2019)

This is a very interesting album – not least because it’s asking you to expand the concept of what you consider “Americana”; and we’re not just talking about a bit of pop sensibility or some string washes. Combs is a Nashville based singer/songwriter, originally from Dallas Texas, and “Ideal Man” is his fourth studio album. Early comparisons, especially following his 2010 debut E.P. (“Tennessee Time”), likened him to Gene Clark and Mickey Newbury – and it’s easy to hear why when you listen to some of the cuts on this album. Songs like ‘Firestarter’ and album closer ‘You’re Like the Country’ are strong, narrative songs with great lyrical content and simple, tuneful melodies. Elsewhere on this album things get a little less identifiable and you might start to feel like Alice dropping down the rabbit hole! Continue reading “Andrew Combs “Ideal Man” (New West Records, 2019)”

Susan Gibson “The Hard Stuff” (Independent, 2019)

If the name Susan Gibson rings a bell it should come as no great surprise – her big claim to fame is being the writer of ‘Wide Open Spaces’, a sizeable hit for The Dixie Chicks and named as the CMA Awards Single of the Year in 1999. What is a surprise, particularly on the evidence of this, her first full-length solo album in some eight years, is that Susan Gibson’s name isn’t ringing a lot more bells in a lot more places! Hopefully this new album, ‘The Hard Stuff’, should go some way to correcting this situation. Continue reading “Susan Gibson “The Hard Stuff” (Independent, 2019)”

The Highwomen “The Highwomen” (Elektra, 2019)

The Highwomen are Country music’s latest “supergroup”. Comprising Brandi Carlile, Natalie Henby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires the group came out of an idea from Shires to form an all-women group as a homage to the legendary Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson) but also as a means to promote female artists on Country radio stations and at music festivals. The band claims to have been influenced, in part, by the Me Too movement and is aiming to raise awareness of female artists in the country genre in particular and in music in general. All lofty and worthwhile aims but do the band live up to the “supergroup” tag and will their music make the radio stations pay attention? On the evidence of this, their first album as a band, the answer has to be a, slightly qualified, yes. Continue reading “The Highwomen “The Highwomen” (Elektra, 2019)”

Forgotten Artists – Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band

Being a bit of a vinyl junkie I was indulging my passion for Record Fairs recently when I came across something of a lost gem – “Rick Sings Nelson” – and that started me thinking about a man who was one of the pioneers of the California sound; the brand of country rock that would make megastars out of The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and a host of other artists. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band”

Boy & Bear “Suck On Light” (Nettwerk Music Group, 2019)

Great art often comes out of personal suffering. This new album from Australian band Boy & Bear may not be great art but it’s certainly good music. ‘Suck on Light’ is the fourth studio album from the Sydney based band and it comes on the back of three years of battling debilitating illness for vocalist/guitarist Dave Hosking. Produced by the band along with Collin Dupuis, who’s previously worked with the likes of Lana Del Rey and The Black Keys, this is much more Indie rock than Americana. Continue reading “Boy & Bear “Suck On Light” (Nettwerk Music Group, 2019)”