Songs for the apocalypse: Paul Kelly “Keep it to Yourself”

Finding my way to americana was a long journey through the eighties but the beginning of the next decade on the other side of the world gave me a rush of music I’d never come across before. Principally among this was the now legendary Aussie singer-songwriter Paul Kelly whose 1991 album ‘Comedy’ covered a spectrum of genres from folk to indie to country. I couldn’t get enough of it, and this song in particular was as good an example as any of the humanity with which PK deals with relationships: “I don’t want your honesty or descriptions blow by blow; Keep it to yourself, Baby I don’t want to know.”

AmericanA to Z – Nanci Griffith

With twenty albums under her belt Nanci Griffith is by no means an unknown artist; singing what she classes a folkabilly, she writes with a confessional style, and with her voice, which is made for folk music. It is a perfect combination for a true Americana singer. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Nanci Griffith”

Pick of the Political Pops: Ry Cooder “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live”

Down here in The Bunker we have a simple sort of justice which applies when one of our number is accused of doing something wrong. They are questioned and then allowed a right of reply. For example: (Q)“It was your turn to take the rubbish out – why didn’t you?” (A) “I am in the process of taking the rubbish out but there was a lot of it and I couldn’t carry it all” or (Q) “You drank the last of the gin – why didn’t you replace it?” (A) “I am en route to the supermarket to replensish supplies” or (Q)“You are a rascist anti-Semite – how can you live with yourself?” (A) “I am a life-long campaigner against racism in all its forms including anti-Semitism”. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Ry Cooder “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live””

Van Life – Johnny Dowd

Ithaca NY’s Johnny Dowd has been patrolling the dark, uneasy, unclassified byways and B-roads of the American heartlands for over two decades. A blistering, uncompromising guitar slinger and songwriter, Dowd is set to release his new album ‘Family Picnic’ this month, an ‘americana’ gem that returns to the topics and themes that inspired his legendary debut, ‘Wrong Side Of Memphis‘ and once again underlines Dowd as one of America’s true musical explorers. Americana-UK catches up with him as he prepares to embark on another European tour and asks him about the music that accompanies any such road trip. Continue reading “Van Life – Johnny Dowd”

Songs for the apocalypse: The Jayhawks “It’s Up to You”

When Mark Olson left the Jayhawks it felt to me like one of the most beautiful songwriting partnerships since Lennon and McCartney was being torn apart like matchwood. Who knew then that the Jayhawks’ first album sans Olson would be one of the most beautiful records ever recorded. There were many songs that felt like classics but for me it was this one, with its wonderful lines like “Six green olives and a champagne basket/Paid the bill with your boyfriend’s plastic” that stood out the most. 22 years on, every time I hear it now the hairs on the back of my neck go up. Long live the Jayhawks.

AmericanA to Z – Steve Forbert

When he first hit the scene in 1978 someone somewhere decided that labelling Steve Forbert with the “new Dylan” tag was a good idea. Unfortunately, the “new Dylan” arrived just when singer-songwriters playing folk rock on a guitar and harmonica weren’t exactly hot. Never a good idea to call anybody “the new” anything. Well, he did play the harmonica. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Steve Forbert”

Pick of the Political Pops: 10CC “The Sacro Illiac”

Our eagle-eyed reader (we’ve established that there is one of you) will remember that last week we were somewhat nervous at being summoned unto the company of The Big Boss Editor. Fear not gentle reader – not only did we survive but we came away with a fulsome sense of responsibility, a warm feeling of loyalty and a belly full of gin. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: 10CC “The Sacro Illiac””

Songs for the apocalypse: Jackson Browne “Late For the Sky”

On rare occasions when I used to review albums for AUK I’d think “this is a 10” but before long a creeping thought would always enter my mind – that whatever record it was, it wasn’t as good as Jackson Browne’s ‘Late For the Sky’.  Jackson Browne described the song as being “about a moment when you realize that something has changed, it’s over, and you’re late for wherever you’re going to be next.” So not just about missing a plane, and it has aged not one jot in 46 years. Thank the lucky stars that a songwriter like JB is still around.