Cup O’Joe “In The Parting” (Independent, 2020)

Across the great fountain of knowledge we know and love as the World Wide Web there are simply dozens of possible explanations offered for the origins of the expression ‘Cup O’Joe’, which, as all dear readers will know, is slang for coffee. Well, actually this reviewer didn’t. Not sure why, just never came across this particular example of slang, hence the consequent delving into Google’s famous rabbit holes. Possible choices include being named after Josephus Daniels, the Secretary of the US Navy who abolished the officers’ wine mess on board ships in 1914, or perhaps it derived simply by being the chosen beverage of the common man, the ‘joe’. Anyhoo, it has also been assumed by a talented trio of siblings from County Armagh and ‘In The Parting’ is their debut full-length album. Continue reading “Cup O’Joe “In The Parting” (Independent, 2020)”

VanWyck “Molten Rock” (Maiden Name Records, 2019)

Following on from the success of her debut album ‘An Average Woman’ in 2018, Amsterdam singer-songwriter VanWyck brings us ‘Molten Rock’, an album dealing with the complexities, paradoxes and even the duplicities that make us all human. She says that “if ‘An Average Woman’ was the album I had to make, then ‘Molten Rock’ is the album I really wanted to make”. Thank goodness for that, for it is really rather good.
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Doghouse Roses “We Are Made of Light” (Yellowroom Music, 2019)

Having toured on and off for 18 months since the release of their 3rd album ‘Lost is Not Losing’, Doghouse Roses have paused long enough to release ‘We Are Made of Light’, a mix of new material and songs that have been written during the 15 years that Iona Macdonald and Paul Tasker have been together, but have never previously recorded. With Macdonald’s distinctive vocal tone, often drawing comparison with the likes of Sandy Denny and Linda Thompson, and Tasker’s skilful guitar and banjo playing, ‘We Are Made of Light’ – recorded in Glasgow, but mixed in Slovenia – is an album of varying themes and styles. Continue reading “Doghouse Roses “We Are Made of Light” (Yellowroom Music, 2019)”

Catherine MacLellan “Coyote” (Independent, 2019)

Not everyone will be aware that Prince Edward Island (PEI) sits on the Atlantic coast, a Marine province of Canada, the smallest in fact in terms of land and population – yet the most densely populated – and produces 25% of Canada’s potatoes. What this reviewer’s lazy skim of the interweb’s free encyclopaedia doesn’t reveal is that PEI is also the site of Catherine MacLellan’s home recording studio, where ‘Coyote’, her sixth album and first of original material since 2014’s ‘The Raven’s Sun’, was recorded. And a fine album it is too. Continue reading “Catherine MacLellan “Coyote” (Independent, 2019)”

AmericanA-Z – Yola

When our esteemed editor assigned his worker-writers their alphabetical letters for this journey through the wonderful world of Americana, this contributor’s first reaction was “Well, what have I done to deserve X, Y, or Z?! What am I supposed to do with these letters??” Hmmm… Of course, with a little more restrained thought and review, it was clear the tail end of the alphabet provides an extremely rich vein of astonishing artists and albums from which to choose, so the next question becomes, OK….which one? Continue reading “AmericanA-Z – Yola”

Daniel Green “Vanish Like A Cloud In Sunlight” (Timezone, 2019)

It takes a brave artist to make an album with the main focus on death, particularly where family and close friends are concerned. Daniel Green’s 3rd solo effort does just that; as the marketing material states this record is all about “fear, loss and dying”. Which isn’t strictly true, there are songs about dementia and the city of Hamburg, so that’s OK. But largely it is about the hard topics of death and loss. In 2017, Green lost a greatly loved member of his family to cancer, followed by the loss of his grandmother and a close colleague, and these songs are his way of managing the consequent feelings of helplessness and trying to cope. Continue reading “Daniel Green “Vanish Like A Cloud In Sunlight” (Timezone, 2019)”

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors “Dragons” (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers 2019)

Based out of East Nashville, Tennessee, Drew Holcomb has been making excellent roots-rock music for around 15 years and in ‘Dragons’, the latest release, he has continued that standard. This is an album with lots of energy and positivity, covering a few diverse topics, but with the underlying thread of Family throughout. There are songs referencing his wife (singer Ellie, who features on the album), son, grandfather, brother and the Family itself, all of which extol the virtues of each of those relationships with Holcomb. He clearly considers himself to be a lucky guy in the family arena.
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Emma Frank “Come Back” (Justin Time/Nettwerk Music Group, 2019)

Being an ardent fan of (almost) all things Americana is fun, isn’t it? Highly talented artists, writing and playing wonderful creations, live on stage and on record, and all across an astonishingly wide spectrum of music genres. Everything anyone could possibly want is here….rock and country and roots and folk and on and on, even reaching the far boundaries of jazz. Which is tremendous news, as it is on this boundary that Emma Frank’s ‘Come Back’ is found. Continue reading “Emma Frank “Come Back” (Justin Time/Nettwerk Music Group, 2019)”

Nels Andrews “Pigeon and the Crow” (Independent, 2019)

This is only the 4th studio album from Nels Andrews since he was selected as a winner in the New Folk Competition at the annual Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 2002, which isn’t exactly prolific by any measure. Perhaps it’s his way of keeping standards high. If so, it’s working, if the quality of ‘Pigeon and The Crow’ is anything to go by. Continue reading “Nels Andrews “Pigeon and the Crow” (Independent, 2019)”

Black Tar Roses “Rebels, Rogues and Outlaws” (Independent, 2019)

There is sometimes a danger of folk albums – and especially those labelled in sub-genres such as Dark Folk, as the release notes for this debut offering from ‘Black Tar Roses’ describe the band – to be a touch homogenous, with songs too standardised and samey to enjoy listening to as a whole album. Fortunately, this is not the case with ‘Rebels, Rogues and Outlaws’, an album of songs with enough diversity to keep things interesting.
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