Grant Peeples “Bad Wife” (Independent, 2020)

A concept album of sorts as Peeples interprets songs written by women with a band of all men, by design, playing them. This is to mark the 100th Anniversary of women fighting for and gaining the right to vote in the USA and “was made in recognition of the courage and fortitude of those brave women, as well as the continuing struggle for women’s equal protections under the law.” An undeniably admirable concept and indeed starting point for a piece of work.
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Dustbowl Revival “Is It You, Is It Me” (Medium Expectations/Thirty Tigers, 2020)

The new album from Dustbowl Revival isn’t “more of the same” it’s both “more” and “the same”. ‘Is It You, Is It Me’ is full of the interesting arrangements, intelligent lyrics, and stellar vocal harmonies that you would expect. At the same time, this album feels like the band spread their arms wider than they have on previous offerings and brought in an even broader swath of musical influences. Great work from the horns and rhythm section tame and unify all of the parts and pieces into something that flows smoothly from open to close. Continue reading “Dustbowl Revival “Is It You, Is It Me” (Medium Expectations/Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

Kev Minney “Modern Stories” (Independent, 2020)

Kev Minney is a 37 year-old guitarist and singer-songwriter born in Northampton and now based in Brighton. He spent the early part of his musical career as a guitarist and in 2015 started his singer-songwriter career with an EP recorded in New York followed by his first full album ‘Stories Of The Sky’ in 2017. His songs have had 250,000 streams and have received airplay on various national and local radio stations. ‘Modern Stories’ is his independently released Arts Council funded difficult second album that was written and recorded in Brighton. Continue reading “Kev Minney “Modern Stories” (Independent, 2020)”

House Above The Sun “Time I Got Going” (Independent, 2020)

The London five piece’s second EP release opens with the glorious, propulsive ‘Trains’. Hanging on a repeated guitar phrase the song is brimming with ideas and excitement from the layered West Coast sound through to the delightful harmonies and breezy vocals – think The Fernweh or even Gerry Rafferty and you’ll be in the right ballpark. Marvellously upbeat and optimistic in tone and feel.
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Ruark “When You Coming Home” (Bird Drop Records, 2020)

There’s something refreshingly low key about Ruark Inman and his band. Apparently, he grew up as a Skater Punk in his native South Arkansas and you can still hear some of that punk attitude on this recording, ‘When You Coming Home’, the debut album from Ruark, his eponymous band that consists of Ruark Inman himself on acoustic guitar and vocals, Alexa Joyce on bass and backing vocals and drummer Jeffrey Scott Greer, who also weighs in on backing vocals on some of the tracks. Continue reading “Ruark “When You Coming Home” (Bird Drop Records, 2020)”

Eastbound Jesus “Full Moon Over Salem” (Independent, 2020)

The 2011 debut album from sextet, Eastbound Jesus was optimistically entitled ‘Greatest Hits Vol 1’. Three studio albums and one live album later, whilst we have not yet been regaled with ‘Greatest Hits Vol 2’, the release of ‘Full Moon Over Salem’ should assuage any longing there might be out there for any such hits related compilation. Continue reading “Eastbound Jesus “Full Moon Over Salem” (Independent, 2020)”

Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Festival Hall, London, 6th February 2020

In its 17th year with little change to the formula, how do the Transatlantic Sessions keep packing out some of the larger venues up and down the country? Quite simple; hosts and musical directors, respectively, the dobro and fiddle aces Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain, have pulled together a formidable “house band” of musicians from both sides of the Atlantic around whom they invite new guests each year. Douglas and Bain’s good humour and light touch is infectious. With minimal rehearsals they put on shows of such cohesion that all these musicians sound as if they’ve been together for years. Continue reading “Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Festival Hall, London, 6th February 2020”

Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders “The Southern Sessions” (Independent, 2019)

Australian band, Billy Roberts and The Rough Riders has given new life to some of their best songs with ‘The Southern Sessions’. The ten tracks include some fan favourites from the past few years such as ‘Hillbilly Blues’ and ‘Kayla’. The reinvention of some of the songs almost makes them sound new. It’s clear at the first listen that the band has some strong rockabilly influences, yet they have managed to create a unique twist with it. Continue reading “Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders “The Southern Sessions” (Independent, 2019)”

Book Review: Simon Warner & Jim Sampas “Kerouac on Record: A Literary Soundtrack” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)

On the face of it, you might not think Jack Kerouac has much relevance to fans of Americana. Kerouac was part of the Beat generation, a Jazz fan who was often dismissive of “Hillbilly music”; but Kerouac was a great influencer of the Hippy movement, a man whose philosophy on life had a profound effect on some of the musicians who laid the earliest foundations of Americana.
“I felt free and therefore I was free.”
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so I just keep on rolling under the stars .”
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” Continue reading “Book Review: Simon Warner & Jim Sampas “Kerouac on Record: A Literary Soundtrack” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)”

Geraint Watkins “Rush Of Blood” (Last Music Company, 2019)

Here is an album that demands attention. Geraint Watkins is an experienced and well-respected singer and musician with all the right connections. This is UK Americana of the highest quality, providing an insight into some of the most interesting musicians providing this kind of music here and now. Take note! Watkins has written all ten songs on the album. Their lyrical power is a further sign of a composer and musician at the peak of his career. He is the producer of the album, along with Simon Ratcliffe of Basement Jaxx. As a divertissement, perhaps, just try that group’s ’Rendez-Vu’ and or ‘Oh My Gosh’, just to listen to Simon Ratcliffe’s understanding of rhythm and its link with words. Continue reading “Geraint Watkins “Rush Of Blood” (Last Music Company, 2019)”