AmericanA to Z: Justin Townes Earle

When you are the firstborn of one of americana’s iconic roots musicians AND given the name of one of the great songwriters of his era, it’s kinda preordained that you will end up in this business, one way or another. Justin Townes Earle – JTE – son of Steve, named after dad’s idol, Townes Van Zandt, has carved himself a piece of americana that was perhaps unlikely given the number of chairs thrown in his path in the shape of addictions in his early years. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Justin Townes Earle”

Kristen Grainger and True North “Ghost Tattoo” (Independent, 2020)

Hailing from across the state of Oregon, Kristen Grainger & True North define their music as ‘Pacific Northwest Americana’, which, given the diverse subject matter of songs on the band’s latest release, ‘Ghost Tattoo’, seems a little narrow. This is an album with something to say on some of the big talking points of today, and using a clever weave of excellent original material and – for want of a better word – covers, ‘Ghost Tattoo’ certainly says plenty. Continue reading “Kristen Grainger and True North “Ghost Tattoo” (Independent, 2020)”

Molly Maher “Follow” (Real Phonic Records, 2020)

Waiting nine years to produce an album that “feels good”, even scrapping an album along the way because “it didn’t feel authentic”, may seem a little extreme to some, to say the least. But this is exactly what Minnesota artist Molly Maher did – and thank goodness she did – finally producing ‘Follow’, her fourth album overall, a collection of excellent Americana roots, and all hugely enjoyable. Continue reading “Molly Maher “Follow” (Real Phonic Records, 2020)”

Heather Anne Lomax “All This Time” (Independent, 2020)

Los Angeles based Heather Anne Lomax has released ‘All This Time’, an album inspired by Elvis Presley’s ‘The Sun Sessions’, songs recorded in 1954 and 1955 at Sun Studios, but not actually released as a compilation until 1976. These were songs recognised as having some significance in the development of popular music and the album has been regularly cited in the upper echelons of Top/Best Albums lists ever since. Lomax’s album certainly captures the feel of Presley’s collection – there are references to the album being mixed with ‘sonics’ of the original in mind – if not perhaps the quality of songs and influence. Continue reading “Heather Anne Lomax “All This Time” (Independent, 2020)”

Tin Toy Cars “Hello Pariah” (New Relic Records, 2020)

Imagine you are a seven-year veteran of Cirque du Soleil and one of your gigs is currently – well, assume not actually currently, given the state of the world – the bass player in the show “Zombie Burlesque” in Las Vegas. You are probably dipped in a glitzy theatrical world the likes of which most of us can only see in glitzy theatrical reality television shows. Well, this is Peter Fand’s background, and the group he founded, Tin Toy Cars, now have their second release, ‘Hello Pariah’. And theatrical is definitely the word to describe it. Continue reading “Tin Toy Cars “Hello Pariah” (New Relic Records, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: The Highwaymen “Desperados Waiting for a Train”

Last week’s chainganger, Guy Clark, was often referred to as the ‘Fifth Highwayman’, in relation to his connections with the famous supergroup, so it is probably no coincidence that the second single release from The Highwaymen’s 1985 debut album ‘Highwayman’ was ‘Desperados Waiting For A Train’, penned by Clark back in 1973. The song is about a man who was like a grandfather to him, and who was in fact his grandmother’s boyfriend, Jack, who rented a room in her hotel in Monahans, Texas. Continue reading “AUK’s Chain Gang: The Highwaymen “Desperados Waiting for a Train””

Kim Richey “A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer” (Yep Roc, 2020)

Kim Richey’s ‘A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer’ is a 20th-anniversary edition of her 1999 album ‘Glimmer’. And here’s the dilemma: should this album be reviewed as a comparison to the original? Or should it be reviewed on its own merits, without reference to the mother lode? After all, they are the same songs, recorded by the original artist, albeit, as she says, “reinterpreted”. Well, no matter, it is a fine album and the decision to re-do the songs more than justified. Continue reading “Kim Richey “A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer” (Yep Roc, 2020)”

Select Captain “Comes in Waves – Part 2 ” EP (Soundchest Records, 2020)

Select Captain have taken the Charles Dickens approach to releasing an album… one bit at a time. Or more precisely one EP of – in the case of Part 2 certainly – four tracks. Whilst this approach isn’t exactly original, Part 2 of ‘Comes In Waves’ should make the listener sit up in anticipation for Part 3, for this EP is an interesting and enjoyable collection of songs. Continue reading “Select Captain “Comes in Waves – Part 2 ” EP (Soundchest Records, 2020)”

Modern Hinterland “The Longest Part Of The Night” (Fandango, 2020)

A Venn diagram of the musical genres that go to make up this thing we call Americana would be an enormous and extremely complex entity. It is such a joy that so many excellent and diverse musical styles can be enjoyed under this huge umbrella label and provide us lucky listeners with a never-ending stream of quality songs and artists. Residing comfortably in the Indie-Americana circle of the aforementioned diagram is ‘The Longest Part of the Night’, the latest album from Modern Hinterland, a record of reflections of life in modern Britain.

Continue reading “Modern Hinterland “The Longest Part Of The Night” (Fandango, 2020)”

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)”