Frontperson “Frontrunner” (Oscar Street Records, 2018)

Kathryn Calder, singer and keyboard player with The New Pornographers and Woodpigeon’s Mark Andrew Hamilton form this new duo whose debut album is a frequently beguiling mix of dreamy atmospherics with poppy vocals from Calder and boasts a generally mellow vibe layered with strings and rich harmonies. Continue reading “Frontperson “Frontrunner” (Oscar Street Records, 2018)”

Ben de la Cour “The High Cost Of Living Strange” (Flour Sack Cape, 2018)

Want a backstory?  How’s this:  Brooklyn native starts singing in dive bars with his brother a full decade before he can legally drink, drops out of high school, spends a year in Havana training with the Cuban national boxing team, then tours Europe – again with his brother – and their doom metal band, Dead Man’s Root, before it implodes and Ben de la Cour finds himself again stateside, this time armed with an acoustic guitar case full of songs he’s dubbed Americanoir. Continue reading “Ben de la Cour “The High Cost Of Living Strange” (Flour Sack Cape, 2018)”

Seasick Steve “Can U Cook?” (BMG, 2018)

On the official Seasick Steve website, you will find a 38-second video clip in which a hugely self-conscious and apologetic looking Steve stands propped against a water tank alongside a stack of empty pallets at the back of his barn. As far as trailers for a new album go this is just about as low key as it gets, “I don’t know much what to say……. they want me to say something.” A vision of a groaning PR exec with his face in his hands springs to mind. Continue reading “Seasick Steve “Can U Cook?” (BMG, 2018)”

Carter Sampson “Lucky” (Horton Records, 2018)

Carter Sampson’s voice rolls across these songs as the winds across the great plains of her native Oklahoma.  Sounding simultaneously innocent and world-weary, her voice can at times recall the breathy yet powerful delivery of a Midwestern Natalie Merchant.  Sampson lives inside the lyrics she sings.  You get the feeling she’s experienced every word.  Continue reading “Carter Sampson “Lucky” (Horton Records, 2018)”

Strong Water “Bearfoot” (Independent, 2018)

Strong Water are a folk/americana group coming out of Harrisonburg, VA and their second full length ‘Bearfoot’ is a self funded, released and recorded effort put together after a fantastic reception to their previous release, the self-titled ‘Strong Water’ released in 2016. Since then, the group have performed together a lot more and which has seemingly allowed them to hone their skills at both playing and songwriting to allow them to really flourish as a band. Continue reading “Strong Water “Bearfoot” (Independent, 2018)”

Paul Kelly “Nature” (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)

Who else but the seemingly ageless Paul Kelly could have dreamed up the idea for turning the timeless Dylan Thomas poem ‘And Death Will Have No Dominion’ into a brilliant and moving opening song for his new album?  Taking the three nine-line stanzas from that classic work, Kelly has created an enthralling piece of music that is fully in keeping with the intent of Thomas’ original words, whereby death has no control over the human soul.  More impressive still is that this is only one of twelve cracking tracks on a finely crafted piece of work. That’s a somewhat deep introduction to Paul Kelly’s latest release ‘Nature’ but actually it’s a perfect example of the raison d’etre of the entire album. Continue reading “Paul Kelly “Nature” (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)”

Willie Nelson “My Way” (Sony, 2018)

Willie has always been a crooner at heart. Sometimes overtly, with albums such as ‘Stardust’ and his recent Gershwin songbook record; more often simply in his oh so laid back delivery. No surprise really then that he presents us with an album of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, reinterpreted in fairly faithful fashion (aided by Trigger, used sparingly to solid effect) and, backed by a swing orchestra which nails every note. It’s his 68th studio album! Continue reading “Willie Nelson “My Way” (Sony, 2018)”

Martin Stephenson and the Daintees “Gladsome, Humour & Blue 30” (Barbaraville Records 2018)

Revisiting old glories is a tricky business. We all know of tracks re-recorded that fail to match treasured originals or albums where a revisitation of a classic is the loss leader for some rum stuff, so it was with a mixture of apprehension and intrigue that this reviewer picked up the copy of the Martin Stephenson and the Daintees ‘Gladsome, Humour and Blue’. Continue reading “Martin Stephenson and the Daintees “Gladsome, Humour & Blue 30” (Barbaraville Records 2018)”

Eliza Gilkyson “Secularia” (Red House Records, 2018)

This might be the album that America needs to hear now more than any other. Musically, it is gorgeous folk/americana enhanced by a stellar cast of supporting musicians. Lyrically, it is by turns meditative, moving, uplifting – and deeply unifying. If only America would listen – riven as it is, in these troubled times, by tribalism, religious hatred and anger. Continue reading “Eliza Gilkyson “Secularia” (Red House Records, 2018)”

Joan Shelley + Maiden Radio, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 10th October 2018

Joan Shelley is no stranger to Glasgow’s Glad Cafe. Returning to the venue for a fourth time, the Kentucky-born artist has built up a loyal following. Whether a long term fan or a relative newbie attracted by Shelley’s 2017 self-titled album, a sell-out crowd filled the intimate south side room anticipating a night of fine music. Tonight’s openers were Maiden Radio, an all female trio consisting of Cheyenne Marie Mize, Julia Purcell and Joan Shelley herself. It’s arguable that Shelley has been making music with her band for as long as under her own name, both self-releasing debuts in 2010. Purcell confesses that this is their first non-US tour in the ten years they’ve been together and you can’t help but feel a little regret that we’ve waited so long for them to explore beyond their home shores. Firmly rooted in classic country and Appalachian traditionals, it was a chance for Shelley to show another side of her musical talents with which many fans may be unfamiliar. Continue reading “Joan Shelley + Maiden Radio, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 10th October 2018”