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)”

Kathy Zimmer “White Noise” (Independent, 2018)

Kathy Zimmer’s EP ‘White Noise’ is self-described as “Cosmopolitan Folk”, which shouldn’t cause a flinch as it has nothing to do with glossy magazines featuring quizzes about “Is he really into you?”, and articles offering “Successful Secrets of a Sexual Kind” or even “Fifty top tips for the gas cook”. Nope. Cosmopolitan Folk is sophisticated songwriting, with lyrics describing finely observed situations coupled to complicated arrangements and sharp edged singing which cuts through with its combination of detached and sassy. Continue reading “Kathy Zimmer “White Noise” (Independent, 2018)”

Rod Picott “Out Past The Wires” (Welding Rod Records, 2018)

Rod Picott’s pedigree is prodigious and it shows in his music. In this album, produced by Neilson Hubbard in Nashville, he is framed by standout musicians: Will Kimborough, Lex Price, Evan Hutchings and Kris Donegan. His recent tour of the UK will have re-emphasised his stature. He says of ‘Out Past The Wires’ that it is “My most ambitious project of my seventeen year career.” And “The most satisfying recording I’ve made.” Those words stress how important this work is, and also how important our appreciation and understanding of it is, as well. Continue reading “Rod Picott “Out Past The Wires” (Welding Rod Records, 2018)”

Book Club “Dust of Morning” (Independent, 2018)

Apparently inspired by founding frontman, guitarist, singer and songwriter Robbie Horlick’s travels in Europe, Book Club’s third album, ‘Dust of Morning’ shows the Atlanta-based ensemble demonstrating a growing maturity that has them deserving of a wider audience. That isn’t to say these songs appear inspired by a particular place or places as such – the meditative and reflective nature of this indie-folk typified by the track, ‘Space Between The Days’ from which the album title is drawn: “If the dust of morning shakes/ Itself off you in great escapes/It will return to say its peace/Rearranged but thick as thieves.” Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, as the French might put it. Continue reading “Book Club “Dust of Morning” (Independent, 2018)”

Alela Diane + Olivia Chaney, Union Chapel, Islington, London, 12 April 2018

Alela Diane’s set on her UK tour’s opening night draws largely from her latest piano-based album ‘Cusp’ along with songs from her 2009 gem, ‘To Be Still’.  The Union Chapel, a functioning church in the heart of Islington, is a perfect setting for the quality of her work performed tonight in a trio format with Diane accompanied by gifted and polished multi instrumentation from Mirabei Peart and Heather Woods Broderick. They cover piano, flute and oboe, percussion and particularly violin and upright bass. They also provide wonderfully haunting echoic background vocals to counterpoise Diane’s dazzling singing. Continue reading “Alela Diane + Olivia Chaney, Union Chapel, Islington, London, 12 April 2018”

Lindi Ortega “Liberty” (Shadowbox Music Inc 2018)

Canadian singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega has deployed a new approach with a sound that moves away from her traditional roots-influenced sound into what can be described as a more cinematic sound. ‘Liberty’ has a big, sweeping soundtrack feel to it with lush arrangements and songs that quite simply don’t do what you would expect. There is nothing obvious about the melodies or chord progressions in this collection of smouldering vignettes. Continue reading “Lindi Ortega “Liberty” (Shadowbox Music Inc 2018)”

The Sheepdogs, The Lexington, London, 11th April 2018

A place of which it was once said: “Saskatoon’s got nothing but hookers and hockey players,” the northern Canadian outpost of only around 300,000 denizens is now shaking off any past negative associations with a seemingly unstoppable array of creative musical talent emerging from the city, whether that be The Deep Dark Woods, Colter Wall, One Band Son, Kacy and Clayton, or tonight’s headline act, The Sheepdogs. The only unsigned band to ever feature on the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine, The Sheepdogs were also Battle of The Band winners back in 2011 as self-described specialists in “melody, harmony, guitar solos and general feel-goodery.” Continue reading “The Sheepdogs, The Lexington, London, 11th April 2018”

John Calvin Abney “Coyote” (Black Mesa Records, 2018)

Girlfriend or girl-fiend? There are some excellent break-up albums around at the moment. Lilly Hiatt’s gorgeously rocking ‘Trinity Lane’ is written in blood and self-recrimination and now along comes Coyote from John Calvin Abney, who offers up the tattered remnants of his broken-heart. If you’re a fan of John Moreland, you will already be aware of Abney, Moreland’s dependable and extraordinary band member who plays guitar and keyboards, not to mention a gorgeous pedal-steel. They grew up together in Tulsa, Oklahoma and have each other’s backs. Abney will be in the UK in June when he will be hitting the road with John Moreland and before performing as a duo with Moreland each night, Abney will be playing a solo set. Continue reading “John Calvin Abney “Coyote” (Black Mesa Records, 2018)”

I’m Kingfisher “Transit” (Fading Trails Recordings, 2018)

  • Hailing from Sweden, I’m Kingfisher is the moniker of folk singer-songwriter Thomas Jonsson who returns with his sixth solo recording and third under the name I’m Kingfisher entitled ‘Transit’. With over 600 shows under his belt and having achieved significant recognition from the likes of Uncut magazine for his prior releases ‘Arctic’ and ‘Avian’, Jonsson is no stranger to his craft and has returned to stake a claim for the hole left by Bon Iver after the latter’s recent, and experimental change in direction. Lazy comparisons aside, ‘Transit’ is the sound of an accomplished songwriter deserving of the recognition already bestowed upon him and much more.

Continue reading “I’m Kingfisher “Transit” (Fading Trails Recordings, 2018)”

Tom Paxton and The Don Juans, The Stables, Wavendon 15th April 2018

Tom Paxton turned eighty last October, and he has toured the UK for more than fifty of those years. This latest tour see’s him supported by The DonJuans (Don Henry and Jon Vezner) who both warm up the show with a few songs of their own and then play along with Tom throughout two excellent sets, adding a musical depth to the evening with additional guitars and uke’s as well as keyboards and harmonised vocals. They may be dressed like a pair of Steampunk Live Role Players, but The DonJuans’ four song opening set rarely strayed from the wistful and melodic, very much with a Seventies folk-country feel to them – not unlike a quieter Seals & Crofts. Continue reading “Tom Paxton and The Don Juans, The Stables, Wavendon 15th April 2018”