Artists and their work often develop a tight bond with a specific geographical location. Whole genres are identified by their association with a region but perhaps less common is an entire album evoking a place. Honey Cane’s second album ‘Brother Sister’ does just that in creating a record that sonically embraces their home state of California. Whether big cities, arid desert or wild coastline, this aural travelogue stops everywhere. Sundrenched aptly describes the Americana, indie-folk and pop that lie within Honey Cane’s state lines. Continue reading “Honey Cane “Brother Sister” (Independent, 2019)”
Billy Bragg is out on his “1-step forward, 2-steps back” tour which sees him hit a town for a three night stand – a gig with his current mixed set, a gig drawing solely on his first three albums and a third gig taking its material from his fourth through sixth albums. Last week was London, this week Cambridge – it’s a great idea, which is quite obviously popular with the long term fans as the three night tickets sold out pretty quickly, meaning that a lot of those who’ve made this first rainy Tuesday night will be back again tomorrow and the day after. Continue reading “Billy Bragg, The Junction, Cambridge, 26th November 2019”
‘Archaeology’ by The Bean Pickers Union, a small collective of musicians based in Cambridge Massachusetts, can best be described as authentic Americana. It has got everything you would expect – banjo, pedal steels, and even a cello, whatever you are hoping to hear will be found on this album. The ten-track album takes you on a journey that visits old school folk and Americana that then leaves you up to date with a cool folk-rock feel at the end. Continue reading “The Bean Pickers Union “Archeology” (Independent, 2019)”
With ‘The Only Ones,’ The Milk Carton Kids go back to their roots: acoustic guitars and ethereal harmonies delivering lyrics that detail all the emotions love evokes. Musical duos will inevitably be compared to those that came before, and while The Milk Carton Kids conjure everyone from Simon and Garfunkel to the O’Kanes, ‘The Only Ones’ prove they can confidently hold their own, alongside their influences. Continue reading “The Milk Carton Kids “The Only Ones” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)”
‘Adventure’ is the follow up to 2017’s highly acclaimed ‘Rare Feeling’ – an album that earned a 10/10 review from fellow Americana-UK writer, Scott Baxter, who described it, at the time, as “the finest album I’ve been passed since I first started reviewing albums for this site some 10 years ago”. That’s quite a substantial amount of praise and I was expecting great things from this album.
The thing about reviews is that, while we strive to be as objective as possible, a certain amount of subjectivity will always come into play so, perhaps I should hold my hand up and say that Scott and I have slightly differing musical tastes. Continue reading “Twain “Adventure” (Keeled Scales, 2019)”
In the 1970s cult science-fiction comedy novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, given the billions of planets floating around the universe, the description for Planet Earth is limited to two words: “mostly harmless”. And, regrettably, “mostly harmless” could also apply to Nebraska-born singer-songwriter Betsy Phillips latest EP, ‘Like We’re Talking’.
Continue reading “Betsy Phillips “Like We’re Talking” (Independent, 2019)”
Geraint Watkins’ gig at the storied Troubadour was one of the strangest performances I have seen. I could not decide whether I was watching something brilliant or a slowly unfolding disaster. In the event, I decided it was leaning to the former. What was at issue was that Watkins — a veteran musician who has backed the likes of Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler and Paul McCartney — was producing wonderful music from something of a shambles of a stage presence. Continue reading “Geraint Watkins, Troubadour, London, 25th November 2019”
Josh Rouse is the master of intelligent soft rock with a West Coast twist. Over the last couple of albums he appears to have lost his mojo somewhat but this collection of songs, old and new, celebrating the festive season, really marks a return to form as he ploughs his traditional furrow of slightly jazz inflected guitar based songs.
Continue reading “Josh Rouse “The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse (Yep Roc, 2019)”
It could have been called ‘America’, but it is justifiably called ‘The Band’. Legend has it that it was conceived as a concept album relating to different aspects of America and the Deep South. It is carefully planned and structured, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, awesome as those parts are. It still stands out in sharp contrast to almost everything else in the contemporary soundscape. Continue reading “The Band “The Band (50th Anniversary Edition)” (Capitol/UMe, 2019)”
In his 30 year plus career, Joe Henry has achieved a great deal. He has just released his 15th studio album ‘The Gospel According to Water’. He has produced artists ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Solomon Burke. He has collaborated with a range of top-class Jazz musicians including Ornette Coleman, someone who qualifies for that overused epithet – legend. He has co-written a book about Richard Pryor and he has partnered with his sister in law Madonna. Hats off to a CV like that.
Continue reading “Joe Henry “The Gospel According to Water” (Ear Music, 2019)”