Hello Emerson “How To Cook Everything” (KF Records, 2020)

Hello Emerson, of Columbus, Ohio and led by English Lit grad Sam Bodary, release their second album intriguingly titled ‘How to Cook Everything’ for us to contemplate, cogitate and digest. And sure, dip into it and you will find ten narratives about buildings (actually not many) and food (a scattering) and a few that generally explore coping with the slings and arrows of life’s outrageous fortunes. There are, I would wager, not too many songs in anyone’s record collection in which the story revolves around a book which, having given as a present, falls apart in the reader’s hands (‘Kyle Kerley’). Therein lies a taster for what this album offers.  The entrée ‘ The Last Dinner’ sets the mood, dressing up for a restaurant that is beyond the singer’s means forefronts the purpose of the farewell meal. Musically it sets the tone too, this is song-writing as story-telling set to a score that builds from a single acoustic guitar to a rich peak with pedal steel, brass, piano and strings. Continue reading “Hello Emerson “How To Cook Everything” (KF Records, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Tift Merritt “Another Country”

Last week’s chain gang featured Jason Isbell which could have led on to something by the Drive-By Truckers, or maybe Drivin and Cryin, or maybe a dip into the wealth of talent produced by Dave Cobb. Instead the thread takes us to Jason Isbell’s 2017 UK where show attendees would have seen the diminutively built but gargantuantally talented Tift Merritt. Here she is below with a live version of the title track from her third album ‘Another Country’ – it’s a beauty.

Roswell “Come Home EP” (Independent, 2020)

‘Come Home’ is the second EP from Indie Folk/Americana duo Roswell. Following on from the 5 track ‘Remedy’ (which won Fatea EP of the year in 2019) these 6 tracks will further whet the appetite for a proper full-length album. Having been writing and performing together for just two years, Zoë Wren and Jasmine Watkiss show astonishing maturity in their writing and performing. They have enough in their locker to appeal both to niche listeners and to cross over and charm a wider fan base. Carry on in this vein and they will be big. Both play and sing sublimely –  First Aid Kit, another duo, may spring to mind. The Staves and Wildwood Kin may be actually be a better point of reference, both of which of course have an extra voice, but, such is the strength and depth of the harmonies, that Roswell easily compete in that company. Continue reading “Roswell “Come Home EP” (Independent, 2020)”

Sam Lewis “Solo” (Loversity Records, 2020)

Three albums into a solo recording career Sam Lewis has released a stripped down, lay it all bare fourth called ‘Solo’.  The new release is a presentation of songs from his first three well-received albums, plus a small handful of new material. The album’s simple title emphasises that this is a man alone –  just him with microphone, acoustic guitar and studio audience. Lewis comes with a reputation as a soulful singer and story-teller. Having once been dubbed “a modern Townes Van Zandt” by Nashville heavyweight Chris Stapleton he has left himself no place to hide. Continue reading “Sam Lewis “Solo” (Loversity Records, 2020)”

Drive-By Truckers “The Unraveling” (ATO Records, 2020)

‘The Unravelling’, the 12th studio release by Drive-By Truckers pulls no punches, let us be upfront about that. As such it may well divide opinion as much and the increasingly bifurcated world on which it provides caustic comment. Musically it could make many friends. Some songs roll on a riffing piano superstructure that supports Mike Cooley’s and Patterson Hood’s instinctually complimentary guitar playing, others escalate the meter to full out rock and there is judicious use of acoustic guitar and strings.  The musical canvas on which the Drive-By Trucks paint their exhaustive observations of their homeland is first class. The usual band signature is evident – southern rock infused with country and filtered through Replacements-like brio. Continue reading “Drive-By Truckers “The Unraveling” (ATO Records, 2020)”

My Darling Clementine “Country Darkness Vol. 1” (Fretsore Records, 2019)

Country Darkness Vol. 1′ is a four-track EP of Elvis Costello songs performed by Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish AKA My Darling Clementine. The duo has been described by the Guardian as “a bravely unfashionable British Band who set out to play tribute to those great country duos Tammy and George, or Johnny Cash and June Carter. And they do it remarkably well”, and on the pages of this site as “one of the best bands the UK has offered in a good while”.
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Mail The Horse “Mail The Horse” (Baby Robot Records, 2019)

Three albums and an EP into their career, Mail the Horse are grabbing the present by channelling times past on a new album of county-tinged blues rock.  So used are we to viewing time as a linear, that we are conditioned to thinking that the passing of time is inextricably linked to progress. From this perspective the implication is that everything should be new, fresh and innovative. But though we live through time, we are just a bit too complex to rush forwards without hankering for the past and sometimes the metaphysical meaning in progress doesn’t fit, or even actually need to fit. Americana, rock, country, roots, psychedelic, folk enthusiasts perhaps, have a particular penchant for a more circular view of time where the appreciation is less the atomistic presence of ‘bands’ and more the re-birthing of a spirit. Continue reading “Mail The Horse “Mail The Horse” (Baby Robot Records, 2019)”

Signe Marie Rustad “When Words Flew Freely” (Die With Your Boots On Records, 2019)

Big in Norway’ might not seem like the kind of ringing endorsement that will have you reaching for your wallet to buy Signe Marie Rustad’s new album ‘When Words Flew Freely’; but honestly, you know what? It should. The Norwegians and their burgeoning Americana fan base clearly have an eye (and ear) for talent. Rustad was nominated for a Spelleman (Norwegian Grammy) for her second album ‘Hearing Colors Seeing Noises‘ in 2016 and she is without doubt a very accomplished songwriter.
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Vetiver “Up On High” (Loose, 2019)

A few ready guides spring to mind that could be used as a quality yardstick to help broaden listening habits and experiences. How about exploring any album produced by Rick Rubin, or collaborations with Dan Auerbach? Or, what about making it a point to listen to any artist signed to Loose Music. Loose must surely have, pound for pound, one of the best rosters of artists you may care to find. And so, welcome to the first album for the label by Vetiver. Hailing from San Francisco and largely a vehicle for the talents of Andy Cabic, Vetiver have been releasing albums since 2004 with ‘Up On High’ being the band’s seventh release. Cabic has been moving around labels for most of his career including a brief spell with Sub Pop, but this release feels like he has laid his hat and found his home.
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Jesse Malin “Sunset Kids” (Wicked Cool Records, 2019)

Next time you feel the need to reach for a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get does-exactly-what-is-says-on-the-tin’ record you could, in all honesty not do a lot better than Jesse Malin’s new album ‘Sunset Kids’. Don’t come knocking if you want surprises, but feel free to spin if you want the kind of solid rootsy rock ‘n’. roll that’s been round the block, seen it all and still knows damn well how to please. This is a great album of 14 hugely enjoyable songs. Continue reading “Jesse Malin “Sunset Kids” (Wicked Cool Records, 2019)”