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”

Paul J Bolger “Paul J Bolger” (Wolfe Island, 2020)

Paul J Bolger says of his new self titled album: “After a lifetime spent shifting between music, visual art and film I am doing what I want to do at an age some might say I should know better.” This is his first album in 25 years after spending much of that time working in animation and film.  The eight songs on this album are the product of two years work with Canadian singer-songwriter Hugh Christopher Brown producing. Bolger describes his style as “Bog Gothic”, a term apparently coined by Irish rock band Horslips. The internet is silent on their use of the name, but it is hard to find the influence of the seventies rock with Celtic tinges of Horslips that he is looking to associate himself with. Continue reading “Paul J Bolger “Paul J Bolger” (Wolfe Island, 2020)”

Mike Plume “Lonesome Stretch Of Highway” (Royalty Records, 2020)

Mike Plume “is a true alt-country legend in Canada, with a dozen releases since his debut in 1993,” according to his press. Having not encountered him before ‘Lonesome Stretch Of Highway’ comes as a pleasant discovery from the country end of Americana. The album hits its stride on the third song ‘Perfume and Gasoline’ a mandolin and violin driven ballad with an uncredited female singer adding to the mix. Continue reading “Mike Plume “Lonesome Stretch Of Highway” (Royalty Records, 2020)”

Forgotten Artists – Willy DeVille

Americana is often described as a mix of many different strands of American music. Rock, of all sorts, country, blues, folk and gospel all blended together. Willy DeVille, whether under his own name, or earlier as Mink DeVille, added influences from further South, Cajun, New Orleans R&B and Mariachi all appeared in his sound at one time or another. Continue reading “Forgotten Artists – Willy DeVille”

B. Knox “Heartbreak & Landscape” (Three Mast, 2020)

B. Knox’s debut album pulls on most of the threads of Americana. Pedal steel guitar and a stately pace mark out opener ‘Deep Dark Love’, and a Neil Young guitar line shapes ‘Corners’. Barroom piano punctuates several of the songs contrasting with the guitars. The bluesy ‘Living With a Shadow’ has a Tom Petty flavour, seemingly a touchstone for many newer Americana artists. The Benmont Tench style organ solo confirms the influence. ‘Best Laid Plans’ minor key slide guitar adds menace to a tale of a relationship going wrong. Continue reading “B. Knox “Heartbreak & Landscape” (Three Mast, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Willie Nelson “City of New Orleans”

The previous Chain Gang link, The Highwaymen, featured Willie Nelson among their all-star lineup. Their debut album which featured our chosen song ‘Desperados Waiting For A Train’ also carried a Steve Goodman/John Prine song, ‘The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over’. Nelson and Goodman met again on a cover of Goodman’s most famous song ‘City of New Orleans’. Continue reading “AUK’s Chain Gang: Willie Nelson “City of New Orleans””

Corb Lund “Agricultural Tragic” (New West Records, 2020)

Corb Lund describes the approach to his 10th album as “what it feels like to have six generations of cowboy heritage thrown into the crazy 21st Century urban setting”. While he clearly works in the wider/Americana/Country tradition he has assimilated his influences into something all his own. The album’s title is also how he describes his whole style, basing that on his “narrative string of rural adversities”.
Continue reading “Corb Lund “Agricultural Tragic” (New West Records, 2020)”