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)”

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

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.
Continue reading “Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra “Eta Carinae” (Tea Pad Recordings, 2019)”

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)”