The Lost Brothers “After The Fire After The Rain” (Bird Dog Recordings, 2020)

The Lost Brothers recorded this, their sixth album, in New York with production duties shared between Daniell Schlett and Tony Garnier. As Dylan’s longest serving bass player Tony Garnier naturally also brought some upright bass to the sessions – and naturally, ‘cos it’s that kind of story, the bass used once belonged to Charles Mingus. So there were some legendary elements hanging around the duo of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland – and there’s that sense of an epic tale being unfolded to ‘After the Fire After the Rain‘. Continue reading “The Lost Brothers “After The Fire After The Rain” (Bird Dog Recordings, 2020)”

Classic Americana Compilations: “Tulare Dust – A Songwriter’s Tribute to Merle Haggard” (Hightown Records, 1994)

Merle Haggard has always been categorised as one of the great American Country Singers but, when it comes to songwriting, his talents are often overlooked. So, when a bunch of top Americana singers and songwriters came together, to produce a tribute to Haggard as a writer, it was time to take a proper, in-depth listen to some of the songs that came from his pen. Continue reading “Classic Americana Compilations: “Tulare Dust – A Songwriter’s Tribute to Merle Haggard” (Hightown Records, 1994)”

Jonathan Wilson “Dixie Blur” (Bella Union, 2020)

Dixie Blur’ is a really surprising treat. Jonathan Wilson is a modern musical renaissance man and his resume includes band membership, production, songwriting, session work and tour support. The list of musicians he has worked with is incredible and a sample of names would include Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson and Robbie Robertson. He is singlehandedly responsible for the revival of the Laurel Canyon sound, he produced Roy Harper’s ‘Man And Myth’ to critical acclaim and he is also Roger Waters musical director. He has also managed to develop a successful solo career and his last album, ‘Rare Birds’, took nine months to record winning critical plaudits as it paid homage to the producers and production values of the ‘70s and ‘80s including Tony Visconti, Jeff Lynne, Talk Talk and Trevor Horn. All this does not fully prepare you for an album of Americana, Bluegrass, Country, Tex-Mex and the Laurel Canyon sounds of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’. Continue reading “Jonathan Wilson “Dixie Blur” (Bella Union, 2020)”

Slow Parade “Hi-Fi LowLife” (Independent, 2020)

From the moment ‘Hi-Fi Lowlife’s opening track  ‘Waiting on the Smoke to Clear’ kicks off with a swirling blast of electronic fuzziness, only for a set of gently resonating piano chords to carve through the aural smog (or smoke?), the sensation that we’re in for some kind of psychedelic-laden rock’n’roll ‘experience’ is all but inescapable. Continue reading “Slow Parade “Hi-Fi LowLife” (Independent, 2020)”

Ry Cavanaugh “Time For This” (Cav Productions, 2020)

Ry Cavanaugh, known for his work with ‘Session Americana’ has taken time out to record his first album in twenty years, one which brings a rather interesting story with it. Ry was just 22 when his father, George Cavanaugh passed. He himself was a musician, performing as a country and honky-tonk singer in the late 1970’s, bringing with him a musical community to the household. Amongst the musical backdrop, George Cavanaugh suffered with chronic depression and prescription opiate addiction. George was a big dreamer and unfortunately in the early 80’s, everything seemed to dissipate and sadly passed from heart failure. Now more recently in 2019, Ry reached the age at which his father died and took this significant moment to recover and revitalise the songs that his father wrote some 40 years ago. With the album comes a close interpretation of the songs, for who better to speak from his father’s voice than his very own son. Continue reading “Ry Cavanaugh “Time For This” (Cav Productions, 2020)”

Evan Uhlmann “Tea Lady” (Dog Legs Records, 2020)

Tea Lady‘ is the first album for 9 years by Evan Uhlmann, a 28-year-old Chicago based singer-songwriter. This self-penned record sits squarely in Bill Callahan ‘Smog‘ era territory, characterised by deadpan vocals, and mid-tempo arrangements, creating soundscapes, guitar-led, augmented by keys/synth, with lyrical themes around life, death and coming of age.
Continue reading “Evan Uhlmann “Tea Lady” (Dog Legs Records, 2020)”

The Lowest Pair “The Perfect Plan” (Delicata Records, 2020)

Lovers of Americana trivia may take delight in the link between The Lowest Pair and Glen Campbell. It is the fact that ‘The Lowest Pair’ is a poem written by country and bluegrass artist John Hartford who also wrote the Glen Campbell hit, ‘Gentle on my Mind’. Consummate banjo players, the duo of Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee have five albums under their respective belts including what has to be a contender for the best covers album title of all time: ‘I Reckon I’m Fixin’ On Kickin’ Round to Pick A Little, Vol. 1’. Continue reading “The Lowest Pair “The Perfect Plan” (Delicata Records, 2020)”

Alpha Mule “Blue Sky Blue” (Giant Meteor Records, 2020)

Alpha-Mule-2020So, is it possible to ‘do music’ as a side-line? Alpha-Mule are a self-identifying “Californian Americana band” – essentially the duo of Joe Forkan on guitars and vocals, and Eric Stoner on banjo and guitar. They have produced new music, spread over two lps, whilst pursuing actual full time salary paying careers in the visual arts and education. So a listen to these records may give some clue as to the answer to that question. This new music is their second outing following well received debut ‘Peripheral Vision’, released over two years ago. Continue reading “Alpha Mule “Blue Sky Blue” (Giant Meteor Records, 2020)”

The Lost Brothers + Llamadme Pastor, Purcell Rooms, Royal Festival Hall, 3rd March 2020

It appears not to be lost on The Lost Brothers themselves that after twelve or so years together and five prior albums, bigger things and greater attention looms imminently on their horizon. “Normally when we play London,” declares singer and chief chat guy Oisin, “we know everyone by name.” Whilst tonight’s intimate and attentive crowd of a few hundred or so may not exactly be the O2 arena, it’s a notable step up in size and comfortably seated grandeur. Additionally the show is the first of many on the forthcoming tour poster to be slapped with a ‘sold out’ sticker. Continue reading “The Lost Brothers + Llamadme Pastor, Purcell Rooms, Royal Festival Hall, 3rd March 2020”

Classic Americana Albums: Lyle Lovett “Pontiac” (MCA / Curb1987)

Lyle Lovett – Pontiac 1987

I am sure it is an apocryphal and familiar story, but it does have a point regarding Lovett’s surprising union with Julia Roberts. There was speculation about how the one might manage to live with the other being such a talented superstar spouse, but it was assumed that Ms Roberts would find a way to come to terms with her situation. The point being that Lovett is something of a Renaissance Man. A graduate in Journalism and German, an actor on both screen and stage and even something of a wiz at reining horses at the highest level being awarded the National Reining Horse Association Lifetime Achievement Award. That’s before you consider his musical, multiple Grammy Award-winning, career. Roberts, of course, was an actress of middling range if superior looks. Let’s be fair, she seems to do a lot of laudable charitable work. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Lyle Lovett “Pontiac” (MCA / Curb1987)”