Friendship “Dreamin'” (Orindal Records, 2019)

Friendship is a Philadelphia based band headed by Dan Wriggins and currently comprising Peter Gill, Mike Cormier, Evangeline Krajewski, and Jon Samuels.  Their new album ‘Dreamin’’ is a follow up to 2017’s ‘Shock Out of Season’ and if you are not familiar with Friendship then don’t listen to this and expect some full-on, hard-driving Americana.  Nope, this is as laid back as it comes and when you realise that Jeff Prystowsky (of Low Anthem fame) helped with the album, then you can start to get some sort of feel for how this will pan out. Continue reading “Friendship “Dreamin’” (Orindal Records, 2019)”

Curse Of Lono + John Murry, The Blue Arrow, Glasgow, 12th October 2019

It’s getting so that Curse Of Lono’s popularity has to push them into larger venues in the very near future. Over a short course they have captured the attention of Bob Harris (who awarded them the AMAUK’s Emerging Act Of The Year award back in January), released three albums and regularly sell out their UK shows. Tonight was no exception with the audience packed like sardines in the tunnel like confines of The Blue Arrow. An added bonus was the presence of the enigmatic John Murry as the support act but there was much more to his presence than just singing some songs before the main act as he and Curse Of Lono seem to have bonded somewhat and each helped out the other’s set. Continue reading “Curse Of Lono + John Murry, The Blue Arrow, Glasgow, 12th October 2019”

David Latto “Show Me How To Feel” (Independent, 2019)

David Latto is an exponent of Scottish Americana whose first album, ‘3000 Miles from Nashville’, was released in 2010. He then released a number of albums with the David Latto Band winning praise for his warm singing voice and obvious songwriting skills. These songwriting skills have been appreciated by other artists and following David Latto’s trip to Nashville in 2016, Tanya Tucker recorded one of his songs which is scheduled for release next year. However, he began to questioned his previous work with the David Latto Band and struggled to engage with his muse and retired from music for a couple of years. This break from music allowed him to regain his perspective on what he wanted to achieve artistically and this new EP of five personal songs is a reflection of his new found confidence in his abilities. Continue reading “David Latto “Show Me How To Feel” (Independent, 2019)”

Tim Grimm “Heartland Again” (Cavalier, 2019)

‘Heartland Again’ is Tim Grimm’s reworking of his debut album ‘Heartland’, published in 1999 and inspired by the singer-songwriter’s life-changing move from Los Angeles to an 80-acre farm in rural Indiana. Featuring two new tracks as well as every song bar one off ‘Heartland’, Grimm says the eleven songs on ‘Heartland Again’ are ‘keepers’ after all these years, and it brings me great joy to show them in a new light.”  And certainly, listening to the original ‘Heartland’, which moves between a kind of neo-classic Bakersfield sound to bits of Gospel and good ol’ MOR country rock, in one sense it’s easy to understand why Grimm has wanted to do that –  rather than just writing off ‘Heartland Again’ as what the more cynically-minded might call a self-tribute album. Continue reading “Tim Grimm “Heartland Again” (Cavalier, 2019)”

Jesse Terry + Emma Stevens, Cluny 2, Newcastle, 9th October 2019

Sharing the headlines on this tour of the UK and Ireland, Jesse Terry and Emma Stevens, two experienced singer-songwriters, hailing from opposite sides of the Pond, may have seemed an unlikely co-bill. However, even though they’d never actually met before this tour, and their styles are quite different, they gracefully complemented one another. Co-bills (as opposed to a name act plus support) are an excellent idea but, and I’m sure it’s part of the strategy, they have a tendency to leave you wanting more from both acts and this was the case tonight. Continue reading “Jesse Terry + Emma Stevens, Cluny 2, Newcastle, 9th October 2019”

Daniel Green “Vanish Like A Cloud In Sunlight” (Timezone, 2019)

It takes a brave artist to make an album with the main focus on death, particularly where family and close friends are concerned. Daniel Green’s 3rd solo effort does just that; as the marketing material states this record is all about “fear, loss and dying”. Which isn’t strictly true, there are songs about dementia and the city of Hamburg, so that’s OK. But largely it is about the hard topics of death and loss. In 2017, Green lost a greatly loved member of his family to cancer, followed by the loss of his grandmother and a close colleague, and these songs are his way of managing the consequent feelings of helplessness and trying to cope. Continue reading “Daniel Green “Vanish Like A Cloud In Sunlight” (Timezone, 2019)”

The Divine Comedy + Man & The Echo, Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin, 6th October 2019

Launching their tour at Dublin’s old Gas Board offices allowed an apt backdrop for the six-piece The Divine Comedy’s presentation of their latest symphony of songs ‘Office Politics’. The scene was set, much like the album cover, in an office with all the office equipment & technology you could imagine, and it made for a charming atmosphere in which Neil Hannon was able to enact his take on life at the office. By his own admission, not having ever worked in an office, Hannon wasn’t qualified to do this, and perhaps that was reflected by the odd ‘admin error’ that Alastair the Caretaker had to tend. On the whole, the audience was thoroughly entertained throughout by the exquisite band and Hannon’s remarkable observations & distinguished delivery. His unrivalled talent as a wordsmith knows no bounds. The subject matter of his writing is down to earth, real, and touches everybody. Then there is the music; melodious and lyrical, beautiful and brilliant. Continue reading “The Divine Comedy + Man & The Echo, Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin, 6th October 2019”

The Daybreakers “Worn Out Dream” (Independent, 2019)

The Daybreakers are a roots-rock band out of Wrentham, MA. ‘Worn Out Dream’ is the band’s second outing, a concept album following the journey of two brothers in a band that doesn’t quite make it. The story covers brother number one, John, leaving home and moving out west to have a go at making it, before coming home and starting a band with brother number 2, John. Billy eventually leaves the band and gets married which leaves John reminiscing on what could have been.
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R.W. Roldan “Can You Feel This” (Allswell Records, 2019)

Ray William Roldan is based in Topanga CA. part of western Los Angeles. As an artist, he likes to be called R.W. Roldan. This album is memorable and remarkable. The first track, is just the right introduction to RW’s work: Here he is, telling a story of American life as it was and still is, picking the perfect protagonist, a singer, a girl, “a falling star/ Out behind a honky-tonk bar,” realising that the “Road to fame was too damn long,” and “Nothing felt right.” At his point in the narrative, RW is joined by Jenna Blake (from the group, Valley Shine from L.A.) singing harmony and backing up the idea of the hardness of a boarding house life where “Paradise can feel like hell/ When you’re waiting for the sound of that dinner bell.” Continue reading “R.W. Roldan “Can You Feel This” (Allswell Records, 2019)”

Al Stewart, The Stables, Wavendon, 1st October 2019

A still in wonderful voice Al Stewart returned to a packed Stables – one of the smaller venues on this current tour – this time bringing along a backing band with him – Chicago’s The Empty Pockets – as well as Marc Maccisso who was a supporting saxophone and flute player on several of the songs. This has been billed as the ‘Hits and Misses Tour‘, so along with some predictable appearances there were a number of songs that made the setlist just because Al Stewart likes them. It’s maybe a comment on the Hits side being somewhat obligatory that a rarer cut might get introduced with a “What’s next? Oh – I like that one.Continue reading “Al Stewart, The Stables, Wavendon, 1st October 2019”