Trapper Schoepp “Primetime Illusion” (Xtra Mile Recordings, 2019)

On his fourth full length release Trapper Schoepp has pulled off a trick that only really occurs once or twice in any given decade – the reshaping of folk rock to sound fresh and new. On ‘Primetime Illusion‘ he can be found breathing new life into a dependable genre, with an exuberance that probably hasn’t been heard since Forbert put out ‘Alive On Arrival.’ And with some valid comparisons to that genre defining album, Schoepp can be found in places using Forbertisims in his lyrics. He’s also got an accomplished band backing him, making the album an arresting listen right from the opening notes of ‘Shakedown‘. Continue reading “Trapper Schoepp “Primetime Illusion” (Xtra Mile Recordings, 2019)”

Radiator King “Roll The Dice” (SoundEvolution Records, 2019)

‘Roll The Dice’ is the latest release from Brooklynite Radiator King (aka Adam Silvestri). His first release since 2017’s ‘A Hollow Triumph After All’, Silvestri has established himself amongst the latest wave of earnest songwriters who have been brought up on punk, but perform Americana-inspired rock and roll and this latest EP is more of the same. Continue reading “Radiator King “Roll The Dice” (SoundEvolution Records, 2019)”

Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves “Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)

If you play with iconic figures like Gillian Welch and Bruce Molsky, as Allison de Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves have, then you’re probably going to be pretty good at what you do and so it proves on the duo’s debut album. Lots of people play old time music, quite a few people play it pretty well, but few play it as well as this couple. Continue reading “Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves “Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves” (Free Dirt Records, 2018)”

Various Artists “The Social Power Of Music” (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2019)

This characteristically vast collection from Smithsonian Folkways tackles a multitude of musical forms and interpretations of the term “social power” over four jam-packed CDs. The four discs are, more or less, themed – CD1 is ‘Songs of Struggle‘, CD2 is ‘Sacred Sounds‘, CD3 is ‘Social Songs & Gatherings‘ whilst the final CD closes the circle with a return to political music on ‘Global Movements‘. Each of these themed selections draws on previous releases from Folkways and other labels that have had their output brought into the Folkways fold. Continue reading “Various Artists “The Social Power Of Music” (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2019)”

Amber Cross “Savage on the Downhill” (Independent, 2019)

Certain albums, need to be heard at a particular time of day. You wouldn’t listen to ‘Never mind the Bollocks’ at breakfast, nor ‘No Sleep Till Hammersmith’ with tea and toast. Likewise, this album needs to be heard, and sounds best, late in the evening reflecting on the day, with a glass of something to contemplate. It is a relaxed sound. The vocals are strong and have a style of their own. Not First Aid Kit’s harmonies and not Iris Dement but a blend of the two (or three). Continue reading “Amber Cross “Savage on the Downhill” (Independent, 2019)”

Lucy Kitt “Stand By” (Wineberry Records, 2019)

Lucy Kitt has been writing and performing music as an independent artist for the last decade, and her experience really shines through on ‘Stand By,’ her debut record, which is a showcase for her consummate musicianship. Kitt first gained exposure by making it to the semi-final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk awards in 2006, which opened up a lot of gigging opportunities, supporting various folk stalwarts, including Cara Dillon and The Unthanks. She has also found success more recently with a number of internet sessions for Mahogony and Ont’ Sofa, among others. Continue reading “Lucy Kitt “Stand By” (Wineberry Records, 2019)”

Jackson Pines “Gas Station Blues and Diamond Rings” (Independent, 2019)

Acoustic duo Jackson Pines are singer-songwriter guitarist Joe Makoviecki and stand-up bassist James Black.  Originally from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey they are now based in Philadelphia and have received multiple local awards (Asbury Music Awards/Jersey Acoustic Music Awards).  On tour they have opened for Old Crow Medicine Show, Margo Price, The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, Joe Pug, Nicole Atkins, The Felice Brothers and Band of Horses over the last few years across the U.S. and in the U.K. Continue reading “Jackson Pines “Gas Station Blues and Diamond Rings” (Independent, 2019)”

Steve Gunn “The Unseen in Between” (Matador Records, 2019)

Maybe the best example of an “underground” artist coming to the fore that we’ve come across in recent years, Steve Gunn is perhaps best known as having been Kurt Vile’s guitarist. However, he has a healthy back catalogue of solo and collaborative recordings and with ‘The Unseen In Between’ gathering a great deal of media attention it’s unlikely he’ll be considered “underground” for much longer. It’s one of those albums which just seems to have been born at the appropriate moment.  A shimmering slice of psychedelic influenced folk, it talks to lovers of Tim Buckley and Michael Chapman (with whom Gunn has worked) and over its duration it simply envelops the listener in washes of reverbed guitars and cosmic layers of sound. With artists from opposite ends of the psychedelic guitar spectrum such as Israel Nash and Ryley Walker gaining momentum, it’s time for Gunn to step into the spotlight. Continue reading “Steve Gunn “The Unseen in Between” (Matador Records, 2019)”

Jane Kramer “Valley of The Bones” (Famous Brown Boots Music, ASCAP 2019)

Jane Kramer is a social worker, former domestic violence counsellor and avid humanitarian. Visiting prisons, classrooms, hospitals and rescue missions she has a message to share about the power of music for healing, connection and compassion. On the evidence of this, Kramer’s third studio album, it is a passion for which she is perfectly suited. Continue reading “Jane Kramer “Valley of The Bones” (Famous Brown Boots Music, ASCAP 2019)”

The Once, The Islington, London, 30th January 2019

Although the AMAUK awards showcase was happening just a mile or two to the East in Hackney, The Once drew a very appreciative crowd to this compact Islington venue. Somewhat remote from the heartlands of the music industry as Newfoundland natives and residents, their narratives include some scenes that you just won’t encounter in the big city bands. Lead singer Geraldine Hollett is happy to concede that their location gives them a tendency to sit slightly outside the norm. That said, many of their songs look at basic human traits and emotions that would be common ground, whether in St John’s, Newfoundland or Nashville, Tennessee. Continue reading “The Once, The Islington, London, 30th January 2019”