Joe Stamm Band “The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny)” (Independent, 2020)

When an album kicks in, as the title song of ‘The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny)’ does, with a brittle guitar riff and a voice that is quintessentially “country”, expectations start to rise. And when a Carl Perkins style solo chases the chorus to the song’s conclusion 3 minutes later, the feeling is that you are in for a treat. Any song that includes the shout “Yippee Eye Kai Ai” must score highly. The video’s good as well. Sadly, nothing on the rest of the album lives up to these expectations. Continue reading “Joe Stamm Band “The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny)” (Independent, 2020)”

Sylvie Simmons “Blue on Blue” (Compass, 2020)

If Sylvie Simmons’ name is familiar it is probably as a writer for Mojo, The Guardian and of several books, including a particularly good biography of Leonard Cohen. Her press release states rather oddly that: “When she was in her fifties, Simmons came out as a singer-songwriter.” ‘Blue on Blue’ is her second album and like her debut has Howe Gelb producing and playing keyboards and guitar, with other members of Giant Sand in tow.
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Classic Americana Albums: Warren Zevon “Warren Zevon” (Asylum, 1976)

With his third album release, ‘Excitable Boy’ Warren Zevon hit the charts with the single ‘Werewolves of London’. It is still his best-selling album overall. But the self-titled album that preceded it set the seal on his reputation as a songwriter and performer. With the support of his producer Jackson Browne, he had a cast of the L.A. scene’s great and good to draw on and some fine songs of which Linda Ronstadt alone covered four. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Warren Zevon “Warren Zevon” (Asylum, 1976)”

Classic Americana Albums: The Band “The Band” (Capitol, 1969)

There are a number of albums that can claim to have kicked off Americana, Flying Burrito Brothers, Dylan, or CSN, but the one that really embodied the American spirit and turned it into a new sort of music was The Band’s self-titled second album. The context for this record was 1969 and the key albums were ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ by Iron Butterfly, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ and ‘Led Zeppelin II‘. Into this came an album with a cover picture that looks like Matthew Brady’s Civil War portraits, and an organic acoustic sound that contrasted sharply with the Mellotrons and fuzz guitars that dominated the charts. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: The Band “The Band” (Capitol, 1969)”

Review: Uncut’s “Wilco – The Ultimate Music Guide”

With their ‘Sounds of the New West’ compilations Uncut has always been the most likely of the major music magazines to cover “our” sort of music. They also publish a series of “Ultimate Music Guides” examining the career of an artist in detail. So far, they have mostly focused on people with the maximum shelf appeal in WH Smiths, Beatles, Dylan, Bowie. But now they are looking further afield and this time it’s the turn of Wilco. Continue reading “Review: Uncut’s “Wilco – The Ultimate Music Guide””

Ted Russell Kamp “Down in the Den” (PoMo Records, 2020)

Ted Russell Kamp has released 12 albums over the last fifteen years, while holding down a career as session bass player to country and americana stars of all sorts, most recently Tanya Tucker. Opening song ‘Home Sweet Hollywood’ has a laid-back groove that contrasts with the menacing minor key Dobro and electric slide of ‘Have Some Faith’ which follows it. Whether this was the best place in the album running order for an atmospheric piece like this is up for question. It’s a good song but loses impact here. Continue reading “Ted Russell Kamp “Down in the Den” (PoMo Records, 2020)”

AmericanA to Z: Karen Dalton

Many artists go unrecognised in their lifetimes. Some of them end up with a “cult” following, and some end up with such a huge weight of myth surrounding them that their music often fails to live up to the hype. The obvious exception to this is Judee Sill, whose two magical albums surpass all expectations. If the film of her life currently in production is a success, then the next subject for a movie could well be Karen Dalton. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Karen Dalton”

Robert Jon and the Wreck “Last Light on The Highway” (Independent, 2020)

Album opener ‘Oh Miss Carolina’ sets out Robert Jon Burrison’s manifesto. A Rolling Stones guitar riff to kick it off, a bit of Grateful Dead piano, a Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar solo and southern soul harmonies. Robert Jon and the Wreck are five albums into their career and are very much in the southern rock tradition that pulls influences from Memphis, Nashville, and Muscle Shoals. ‘Work It Out’ is country-soul with a sax solo that channels Clarence Clemons. A slightly weaker song ‘Can’t Stand It’ pulls it back with an Allmans style twin guitar break. Continue reading “Robert Jon and the Wreck “Last Light on The Highway” (Independent, 2020)”

Ward Richmond “Highly Meditated” (Independent, 2020)

When an artist’s past bands were called The Boys Named Sue and Party Police, there is a suspicion that they may not take life too seriously. Ward Richmond is a veteran of the Dallas scene and like many people who have had a life outside music it’s all about the words. The album was born out of some fairly traumatic life events, mostly involving very sick children. “Turning all of this emotional energy into new songs happened very naturally,” he says. “Every Saturday, I would wake up at 5am with my 1-year-old son, Levi, grab my guitar, sit down for a couple of hours, and just write – and force him to listen.” Continue reading “Ward Richmond “Highly Meditated” (Independent, 2020)”

The top 10 Americana internet radio shows and podcasts

In March 2009 No Depression published a list of radio stations and podcasts with an Americana focus. In 2020 most of those are long gone so, time for a new list. Dropping a search for Americana into Spotify, Tunein, Mixcloud or any of the other portals will find more options than you can shake a banjo at. Many of them give only a passing glance to “our” sort of music, but there are plenty that offer a stream of old favourites and new delights. Here then is our current top 10, so in no particular order, here we go. Continue reading “The top 10 Americana internet radio shows and podcasts”