Kris Delmhorst “Long Day In The Milky Way” (Big Bean Music, 2020)

The opening track on Kris Delmhorst’s eighth studio album sets the stall out nice and early in terms of identifying the source of the album title (the very first line) and the running theme of songs, of finding patience and persistence to manage a way through these darkened times. Delmhorst also remembers on the opening track “….saying to the harp player, that when it got to the last chord she should harp the sh*t out of it and that’s exactly what she did, in the best possible way.” Not a musical expression heard every day, that’s for sure. Continue reading “Kris Delmhorst “Long Day In The Milky Way” (Big Bean Music, 2020)”

The Avett Brothers “The Third Gleam” (Loma Vista Records, 2020)

The latest in their series of in-between-albums albums, ‘The Third Gleam’ (clue is in the title of how many there have been in the series) from The Avett Brothers continues to take a breather from the chaos and madness of our current world and also perhaps from the responses to the recent inclination to the poppier styling of their ‘regular’ music. Interestingly, the album was written before the world was ravaged by Covid-19 and then made to take a good look at itself in the light of the BLM movement and its aftermath, and yet a number of themes of the songs lend themselves almost exactly to many experiences of the past few months. Continue reading “The Avett Brothers “The Third Gleam” (Loma Vista Records, 2020)”

Irma Vep “Embarrassed Landscape” (Gringo Records, 2020)

Irma Vep… anagram of vampire – you saw that, right? – the name of a film made as a satirical look at the state of 90s French cinema and a musical vehicle for Edwin Stevens, originally from Llanfairfechan, North Wales now resident in Glasgow. For those whose French cinema knowledge is sketchy at best these days, we’ll focus on the final version of Irma Vep if that’s OK. Continue reading “Irma Vep “Embarrassed Landscape” (Gringo Records, 2020)”

Kathleen Edwards “Total Freedom” (Dualtone Records, 2020)

Kathleen-Edwards-2020In 2014, having released four studio albums, Kathleen Edwards returned home from yet another promotional tour for her 2012 album, ‘Voyageur’, put away her guitar and stepped back from the business. The hamster wheel of writing/recording/touring/repeat had lost its appeal and break time was urgently needed to prevent long term damage to her mental health and creative ability. She moved back to her hometown of Ottawa and opened a coffee shop, tongue-in-cheekily named Quitters. It took an out of the blue call in 2018 from long term fan Maren Morris, inviting Edwards to a songwriting session in Nashville to kickstart Edwards’ journey back, culminating in the creation of ‘Total Freedom.’ Continue reading “Kathleen Edwards “Total Freedom” (Dualtone Records, 2020)”

Classic Americana Albums: Indigo Girls “Swamp Ophelia” (Epic, 1994)

Sometimes, arriving late to something like a previously unknown band or a music genre or perhaps an album that everyone seems to have owned and played forever is not always a bad thing. It provides the exciting opportunity to trawl through a back catalogue, to seek out live performances online and best of all to track when a newly discovered artist is touring locally. Living and working in Boston in about 1999, a colleague was playing songs in the office by a group unknown to me on her cassette player (young ‘uns….look it up). Upon enquiry, I was informed it was The Indigo Girls, the tracks being ‘Closer to Fine’ and ‘Hammer and a Nail’. My introduction to the musical delights of Emily Saliers and Amy Ray was complete. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Indigo Girls “Swamp Ophelia” (Epic, 1994)”

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)”