Songdog “A Happy Ending” (Junkyard Songs, 2020)

Songdog, Lyndon Morgans and confederates Karl ‘Pod’ Woodward and Dave Paterson have released eight albums without rising above the radar. 2017’s ‘JoyStreet’ was well-reviewed with AUK’s own Jeremy Searle describing Morgans as a genius. Nothing on this new set would suggest that we need to change that view. Opener ‘Lavinia’ drifts past like a Celtic mist. The words set the tone for the album, ruminations on the passage of time and its effects on the soul. Continue reading “Songdog “A Happy Ending” (Junkyard Songs, 2020)”

Johnny Franco “Experience Report #1” (Blanket Fort Records, 2020)

The press picture of Johnny Franco, and the description of him as a “moustachioed Brazilian spaghetti western rock and roll troubadour” might set the cliché warning meter running. The opening bars of ‘Treated like Grass’ would do nothing to dispel this, but by the end of this cracking song Franco’s writing and performance will have won you over. Continue reading “Johnny Franco “Experience Report #1” (Blanket Fort Records, 2020)”

The Mastersons “No Time For Love Songs” (Red House Records, 2020)

Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore, collectively The Mastersons, spend some of their time as part of Steve Earle’s Dukes. This is their fourth album and starts with the title track, a love song. Produced by Shooter Jennnings it is mostly light country/folk material that recalls Crosby Stills and Nash at times, and anyone of a number of female singers at others. It was no surprise to learn they have also worked on Tanya Tucker’s recent album. Masterson says of the mood of the album: “I do think geography comes into play when making records, and I think this record does have a Southern California feel to it”. Continue reading “The Mastersons “No Time For Love Songs” (Red House Records, 2020)”

Forgotten Artists – Kevin Brown

Back in the early ’80s I misspent my youth in small Bristol venues like The Green Rooms, and The Bridge Inn. In Bath it was The Bell in Walcot Street. All now long gone. There was a singer/guitarist who was rather older than the pop acts he often supported. Kevin Brown is often pigeonholed as the man who missed the British Blues boom, but he is far closer to the sort of Texas blues and country mix that Joe Ely and Butch Hancock were playing at the same time. In fact when he vanished from the Bristol scene in about 1983 it turned out he had moved to Austin to hone his chops and immerse himself in the music. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Kevin Brown”

The Pedaljets “Twist the Lens” (Electric Moth Records, 2020)

Americana is now a very broad church, and The Pedaljets are very much at the outer rock edge of it. Singer Mike Allmayer has a definite touch of Tom Petty about his voice and songs like ‘Downtown‘ would have been at home on the first two Heartbreakers albums. Their PR for the album describes them as “a mixture of Rust Belt Rock and Grain Belt Americana” suggesting a collision of Springsteen and Neil Young. Continue reading “The Pedaljets “Twist the Lens” (Electric Moth Records, 2020)”

Classic Americana Compilations – Sounds to remember

There was a time when the free CDs glued to the front of magazines were something other than a revenue stream for the publishers, and every so often a reminder of the glory days pops up. Back in September 1998 Uncut Magazine came with a CD called ‘Sounds of The New West‘. It was designed to accompany an article introducing New Country/Alt. Country/Americana to those scared of the word Country. What you got was a cracking compilation that should have sent you off to investigate the rest of the genre, whatever you wanted to call it. Now fully 19 years and change later we have volume five. The series of CDs makes for a good study in how tastes in Americana have shifted over the last couple of decades. Continue reading “Classic Americana Compilations – Sounds to remember”

Cua “In Flight Off The Islands” (Independent, 2019)

The press release accompanying Cua’s (pronounced CooAhh) latest album quotes AUK’s Jeremy Searle discussing their last release. He said then: “this Irish trio stands right at the forefront of contemporary cutting-edge folk”. And that still stands on this new recording. If you must categorise it then I suppose it is Irish or Celtic folk music but that doesn’t begin to cover the breadth of influences and styles present here. Continue reading “Cua “In Flight Off The Islands” (Independent, 2019)”

Independent thinking: Tim Martin’s review of 2019

2019 was the year I reconnected with Americana and remembered what I love about the music. Given that I started writing for AUK this is hardly a surprise. What was a surprise was how many great new artists there are working away in the world of independent releases and just how good many of them are. Continue reading “Independent thinking: Tim Martin’s review of 2019”

Hannah Rose Platt “Letters Under Floorboards” (Continental Records, 2019)

Hannah Rose Platt’s second album is 11 songs that range from the rock end of Americana all the way to the folkier side. It would be easy for an album of such varied styles to sound bitty and unfocused, so it’s a credit to her songwriting that it doesn’t. The album hits its stride with ‘Sculptor‘ the third song in, and one of several about relationships going or gone bad. Spread amongst these are some tales from history, including ‘Brooklyn New York’ – about Irish immigration – while ‘Josephine‘, which teaches us about singer Josephine Baker – is one of the highlights of the album. Continue reading “Hannah Rose Platt “Letters Under Floorboards” (Continental Records, 2019)”

Various Artists “Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits” (Dualtone Music, 2019)

Tom Waits is an oft covered songwriter, perhaps surprisingly so for such an individual artist. Everyone from The Ramones to the Carolina Chocolate Drops have taken on Waits songs at one time or another. This new tribute album produced by writer and musician Warren Zanes features a cast of female singers who bring some individual interpretations of some well know and less covered highlights of Waits catalogue. Continue reading “Various Artists “Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits” (Dualtone Music, 2019)”