AmericanA to Z – Alison Krauss (and Union Station)

In the first run through the alphabet of Americana we focused on some artists who weren’t particularly big names. For the start of this pass at the A to Z we are looking at someone with 27 Grammy Awards and a stack of gold and platinum records. Alison Krauss started recording with Union Station in 1987 at the age of 16. Initially she enjoyed patchy success with her early singles and albums. The 1995 compilation ‘Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection’ was her breakthrough, with The Foundations ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’ and ‘When You Say Nothing at All’, originally a hit for Keith Whitley pushing the album to the upper reaches of the country charts. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Alison Krauss (and Union Station)”

Jon Boden and The Remnant Kings “Rose In June” (Hudson Records, 2019)

Jon Boden is best known as the leader of English folk band Bellowhead. This new album, his fourth solo work, is more diverse in sound and feel than his former group, despite relying at least partly on traditional songs. ‘Rose in June’, which Boden acknowledges hearing through the work of Lou Killen, opens the album and has an air of Runrig about it. Continue reading “Jon Boden and The Remnant Kings “Rose In June” (Hudson Records, 2019)”

Bryan Estepa “Sometimes I Just Don’t Know” (Lilystars Records/Rock Indiana, 2019)

Estepa is a well-established Australian singer songwriter with several albums under his belt. While he is a fairly new name in the UK he is certainly worth your attention. Lead off song ‘I’m Not Ready For This’ an airplay hit in his homeland sets the tone for the album blending American and Power Pop into a one of the songs of the year.
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Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra “Eta Carinae” (Tea Pad Recordings, 2019)

Rob-Heron-2019Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra describe themselves as a genre-hopping roots quintet from Newcastle. Their new EP, named after a star system, certainly covers a fair bit of ground. Opener ‘Swinging Like a Brick‘ barrels along on an organ riff straight out of ’60s garage rock, while ‘Basket Full of Nothing‘ shows us what The Stray Cats would sound like if Tom Waits wrote their lyrics.
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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)”