Shawn Colvin “Steady On: 30th Anniversary Acoustic Edition” (Slc Recordings, 2019)

When Colvin’s debut album ‘Steady On‘ was released in 1989 Americana was barely a thing. 30 years on she has revisited the songs in an acoustic setting. Colvin has been playing many of these songs acoustically in concert for some time, and they also appear on the ‘Live 88′ album, so in some ways this is nothing new. Continue reading “Shawn Colvin “Steady On: 30th Anniversary Acoustic Edition” (Slc Recordings, 2019)”

Joe Pug “The Flood In Color” (Nation of Heat Records, 2019)

In what is turning into a vintage year for quiet reflective music we now have Joe Pug’s new album ‘The Flood In Color‘. Don’t be fooled by the sleeve which looks like something from a 1970’s Blue Note album, this is sepia-tinted acoustic music. What Crosby Stills and Nash would have called wooden music. With only one song coming in over three minutes and several closer to two, this is an album of vignettes. Brief stories backed mostly by acoustic guitar and harmonica with splashes of colour from strings, Hammond organ and accordion. Continue reading “Joe Pug “The Flood In Color” (Nation of Heat Records, 2019)”

Jacob Faurholt “Shake Off the Fear”(Raw Onion Records, 2019)

One of Denmark’s most prolific songwriters, Jacob Faurholt is well known in Alt-Folk circles in his home country and while this is his 8th solo release it is the first to be recorded in a proper studio. His voice could politely be described as something of an acquired taste – think fingernails and blackboard. One thing the album could have done with was someone to help him find more suitable keys in which to sing. His voice often sounds to be straining for the note, leaving something of a harsh grating tone. Continue reading “Jacob Faurholt “Shake Off the Fear”(Raw Onion Records, 2019)”

Rickie Lee Jones “Kicks” (The Other Side of Desire, 2019)

This is Rickie Lee Jones’ fifth covers album if you include the ‘Girl at Her Volcano’ EP, following on from 2012s ‘The Devil You Know‘. As usual ‘Kicks‘ mixes ’70s rock covers with some jazz and standards. This one feels more of a mixture than some of her previous entries. The song choices are interesting, starting with one of her best ever cover versions in ‘Bad Company‘ featuring some fine electric guitar work from Jones herself. Continue reading “Rickie Lee Jones “Kicks” (The Other Side of Desire, 2019)”

Cowboy Junkies, Trinity Centre, Bristol, 16th July 2019

Surprisingly, this was Cowboy Junkies first visit to Bristol. The Trinity Centre is a converted church with a capacity of 600 and was pretty much full on a warm evening. The Junkies music has toughened up in recent years, particularly live. This means that some older songs now have a harder edge. Opening with a set mostly taken from the new album ‘All That Reckoning’, the standout songs were ‘The Things We Do to Each Other’ and ‘Sing Me a Song’. Continue reading “Cowboy Junkies, Trinity Centre, Bristol, 16th July 2019”

Jesse Dayton “Mix Tape Volume 1” (Blue Elan Records, 2019)

Jesse Dayton’s formative musical experience was apparently seeing The Clash supported by Joe Ely, and the spirit of both those artists is all over Dayton’s new album. Collections of covers can be tricky to manage, needing careful song selection and equally careful reworking to keep the spirit of the original while avoiding note for note recreations. Continue reading “Jesse Dayton “Mix Tape Volume 1” (Blue Elan Records, 2019)”

Mark Rogers “Laying It Down” (Independent 2019)

‘Laying it Down’ is Mark Rogers’ first full-length L.P. following a couple of EPs since reactivating his music career in 2012. Five of the eleven songs featured here are recycled and remixed from those EPs. His website describes a mix of styles: “Jazzy Bossa”, “Americana” and “Indie folk Pop”, and there is certainly a mixture here. Opener ‘Right Here’ could have come off the second Tom Petty album. Continue reading “Mark Rogers “Laying It Down” (Independent 2019)”

The Alvarez Theory “The Alvarez Theory” (Independent, 2019)

Starting life as a solo project for Diana (Dee) Diehl, The Alvarez Theory have produced an album of gentle, intimate songs. The band describe them as “tales of small-town heroes, barflies & gunslingers, heart breakers & heartbroken”. All of which amounts to a prime piece of Americana straight out of North London. Continue reading “The Alvarez Theory “The Alvarez Theory” (Independent, 2019)”

W.C. Beck “First Flight” (Independent, 2019)

W.C. Beck describes himself as “an itinerant singer/songwriter from Kansas”. After some years in Portland, he is now based in New York. Having recorded as Chris Beck in the past, ‘First Flight’ is his ninth album, largely written in Paris while studying there. On the album’s Kickstarter page he tells us that the title came from reading a biography of the Wright Brothers and is “a tribute to believing in yourself and pursuing a vision only you can see.” Continue reading “W.C. Beck “First Flight” (Independent, 2019)”

Chris Jones & The Night Drivers “The Choosing Road” (Mountain Home Music Company, 2019)

In the press release accompanying Chris Jones’ new album he says, “I decided this time around to open up more with my writing and worry less about how songs would be perceived by different audiences.” What he has ended up with is a mix of traditional and modern Bluegrass that works well as individual songs but is not perhaps the most coherent album. Continue reading “Chris Jones & The Night Drivers “The Choosing Road” (Mountain Home Music Company, 2019)”