Gris-De-Lin “Sprung” (BB Island, 2018)

Gris-De-Lin, or Grey Linen should you prefer to translate from the groovy Gallic into the plain English of Bridgeport, Dorset is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a sense of playful quirkiness evident on her hard-to-pin-down sound and artwork. New album ‘Sprung’ has an amusingly eclectic assortment of descriptors from our colleagues in the world of musical reviews which includes the likes of “skronky jazz and glitchy esoterica” (Uncut). Now, there’s no room in the AUK glossary for such interplanetary labels, but there’s no doubting the originality on show here or indeed the potential for honing a young British talent into something more tangible. Continue reading “Gris-De-Lin “Sprung” (BB Island, 2018)”

Oka Vanga, Green Note, London, 26th March 2018

The Green Note in Camden Town is always a pleasure to step inside. It’s one of those venues where the acts are chosen on the grounds of their pedigree and the atmosphere is always friendly. Tonight was no exception and while the audience settled in with bottled porter and locally made carrot cake, up stepped Oka Vanga to the stage. They were returning to familiar territory in a venue which helped launch their career and to where they find themselves drawn back like moths to the flame. Continue reading “Oka Vanga, Green Note, London, 26th March 2018”

Daniel Meade “When Was The Last Last Time” (Button Up Records, 2018)

Daniel Meade is many things but never dull. He’s been around in one form or another it seems forever, so prolific and varied is his work. Generally, that work would consist of rootsy music set to country beats but he has been known to deviate. It’s fair to say that’s the case with his latest release and this time he’s foregone that western flavour in favour of a more ballsy approach. Continue reading “Daniel Meade “When Was The Last Last Time” (Button Up Records, 2018)”

Ed Askew “A Child In The Sun: Radio Sessions 1969-1970” (Drag City 2017)

The energy which oozes from this collection of early recordings retrieved from the archives of old Ed Askew radio sessions provides a strong urge to delete the pesky mp3 and rush out and buy the vinyl version. That’s how this album should be heard if truth be told. But even played via digital format the scratchy crackle of analogue reel to reel feels wonderfully raw while Askew’s Martin Tiple ukulele and nasal growl provides  music to match the exposed production. Continue reading “Ed Askew “A Child In The Sun: Radio Sessions 1969-1970” (Drag City 2017)”

Various “13 Days Of Xmas” (Bloodshot Records 2017)

Christmas comes but once a year and for the country community it’s the perfect excuse to drip an extra tear into the beer and mourn another year of lost love and lonely hearts. 13 Days Of Xmas is a compilation of artists with one thing in common – the festive season blues. The relish which Bloodshot Records upholds the tradition of good ‘ol guys and gals in the gutter certainly stays true to the Western character. Bloodshot have served the alternative music community out of Chicago since 1994 and are this year offering up an Americana album of various label family members along with their usual festive bargains. It’s touted as a “Thirteen-song compilation of off-kilter original Christmas songs and unlikely covers” and the darkness is there for all to see (sic). Continue reading “Various “13 Days Of Xmas” (Bloodshot Records 2017)”

The Barr Brothers “Queens Of The Breakers” (Secret City Records, 2017)

Welcome to the big time, where everybody knows your name, where they are waiting to see if you will soar on high or sink like a stone because in this game once you’ve made it, the hard part is sustaining it.  The Barr Brothers third record was alarmingly dubbed “Anthemic”, although in truth the term was only officially used in relation to the release of title track Queens Of The Breakers, a ballsy call back to Brad and Andrew’s youth as cross-dressing scallywags terrorising the residents of Newport, Rhode Island and the hilltop mansion of The Breakers where the song – and the album – takes its name. Continue reading “The Barr Brothers “Queens Of The Breakers” (Secret City Records, 2017)”

Aaron Rester “Americayana” (Bear Trap Spring, 2017)

 The last we heard of Chicago based songwriter Aaron Rester was back in 2009 when we, along with the wider music community were hailing a possible new pioneering Americana breakthrough. The Lost Cartographers were country infused with funky guitars and an inclination if not to break new ground then to follow different paths to the same destination with intriguing results. Which brings us to Rester’s new solo project and the distinct feeling that he is seeking to get back to basics but again with very original results. Continue reading “Aaron Rester “Americayana” (Bear Trap Spring, 2017)”

Gabriel Moreno and The Quivering Poets “Farewell Belief” (Amber Records, 2017)

You might find him playing in a smoky underground backstreet cellar bar in the Spanish quarter of Soho – perhaps Mannette Street, where the San Miguel flows and the tapas are passed around. It’s certainly the image that’s conjured when the Quivering Poets strike up. Not that they have any flamenco tendencies or Catalonian sensibilities to their music as such. It’s more the ghost of a flavour – embittered lyrics sung over the folk-noir of an ensemble of musicians brought together from Barcelona and London by troubadour poet Gabriel Moreno, a veteran of 25 years of the ancient tradition. Continue reading “Gabriel Moreno and The Quivering Poets “Farewell Belief” (Amber Records, 2017)”

Hiss Golden Messenger “Hallelujah Anyhow” (Merge Records, 2017)

“Hallelujah Anyhow” is the sixth release by self-styled ‘Nowhere Man’ M C Taylor under the moniker Hiss Golden Messenger. His band consists of an eclectic variety of musicians including Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Chris Boerner, Josh Kaufman, Darren Jessee, Michael Lewis, and Scott Hirsch with additional vocals by Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Tift Merritt, Skylar Gudasz, Tamisha Waden, Mac McCaughan, and John Paul White. Phew! There are some potent names in the Americana world among that list which is a testament to both the song-writing ability and leadership qualities of Taylor that he managed to assemble such a team. Continue reading “Hiss Golden Messenger “Hallelujah Anyhow” (Merge Records, 2017)”

Lizzie No “Hard Won” (Independent 2017)


With Hard Won, Brooklyn’s Lizzie No has picked up the musical baton of greats like Linda Thompson and Sandy Denny, spread it thick with a shadowy relevance born of her New York background, and unleashed what amounts to a new sub-genre of folk with a country tinge. It is perhaps surprising that, at least musically, Lizzie has more in common with her British counterparts than her more docile Bowery relatives such as Joan Baez, but a shimmering voice reminiscent of those heady folk revival days of Fairport Convention is a lasting impression throughout. Continue reading “Lizzie No “Hard Won” (Independent 2017)”