Paul J Bolger “Paul J Bolger” (Wolfe Island, 2020)

Paul J Bolger says of his new self titled album: “After a lifetime spent shifting between music, visual art and film I am doing what I want to do at an age some might say I should know better.” This is his first album in 25 years after spending much of that time working in animation and film.  The eight songs on this album are the product of two years work with Canadian singer-songwriter Hugh Christopher Brown producing. Bolger describes his style as “Bog Gothic”, a term apparently coined by Irish rock band Horslips. The internet is silent on their use of the name, but it is hard to find the influence of the seventies rock with Celtic tinges of Horslips that he is looking to associate himself with. Continue reading “Paul J Bolger “Paul J Bolger” (Wolfe Island, 2020)”

Emily Duff “Born On The Ground” (Independent, 2020)

Emily Duff’s ‘Born On The Ground’ is a breakup album, a collection of nine songs capturing nine different relationship break-ups from her past. In her own words it is a “luxurious, 20/20 hindsight look back, without anger, for 2020.” Exuding a confidence that comes with experience, Duff has infused these tracks with a hard edge, softened by the country soul vocal that is evident throughout. Continue reading “Emily Duff “Born On The Ground” (Independent, 2020)”

Andrew Hibbard “Andrew Hibbard” (Sofaburn Records 2020)

This self-titled offering is Andrew Hibbard’s third album, following on from ‘Foot in the Door’ from 2012 and ‘Under the Knife’ from 2015.  The first was made when he was 17 so we can assume that he is a precocious talent. Hibbard was born and grew up in rural Ohio in 1995, young in years but something of an experienced hand in the music business. Whilst he has garnered some very positive press, there seems to be limited information on the man himself.  The current album was apparently a one-take affair completed in 6 hours, which may have its pros and cons.  Hibbard’s professed influences can all be heard very clearly, Dylan, Neil Young, Lou Reed and Hank Williams – funny how often Reed’s name crops up as a guiding light with a number of Americana artists. Continue reading “Andrew Hibbard “Andrew Hibbard” (Sofaburn Records 2020)”

Hollowsage & the Three Mile Islanders “Nuclear Home” (Independent, 2020)

This was first sent in to AUK towers in March this year, but something happened and everything went mad and there’s little point in explaining what that thing was, as besides it causing misery to thousands, it’s boring. If you need to know what happened, you’re either an alien or waking from a coma, both of which preclude you from reading this. You probably have more pressing things to do, anyway. Continue reading “Hollowsage & the Three Mile Islanders “Nuclear Home” (Independent, 2020)”

Mike McKenna “At the Edge of the World” (Independent, 2020)

With his second LP Mike McKenna has constructed an intricate and finely crafted piece of work that invites us to consider what he calls the “distinct local culture” of his home manor. Given that the location of the ‘manor’ in question is the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada it seems entirely fitting that the record is called ‘At the Edge of the World’ and the soundscapes on offer perfectly capture the otherworldly yet hardscrabble nature of such remote locations. Continue reading “Mike McKenna “At the Edge of the World” (Independent, 2020)”

Dan Israel “Social Distance Anxiety Disorder” (Independent, 2020)

If you were to peruse Dan Israel’s prodigious output of albums,  you would come across some of the following titles: ‘Dan’, 2015, ‘Danthology’, 2013, ‘Dan Israel’, 2005 and the modestly entitled, ‘Dan Who?’, 2001. Now, of course, there are other non-Dan related titles, but the evidence suggests that Israel is a man who likes his themes, the latest of which saw its inception in 2019 when he released, ‘Social Media Anxiety Disorder’ which has now been followed by the album featured in this review, namely, ‘Social Distance Anxiety Disorder’. All of which adds up to concerning levels of societal dysfunction which could conceivably be added to as time progresses. Continue reading “Dan Israel “Social Distance Anxiety Disorder” (Independent, 2020)”

Kory Quinn & Co. “The Blueroom” (Independent, 2020)

It’s a bit of a challenge to pin down exactly where Kory Quinn is from. Most signs point to Portland, OR but there’s a Twitter account that says Chicago and a Soundcloud page that points to Houston. If it weren’t for the troubles unique to the present moment, he would have spent the past weekend celebrating the release of his new album with a show in Florida. If you didn’t do any outside investigating, you might conclude that Kory is from Oklahoma thanks to a sound that is part Woodie Guthrie and part roughneck. It seems appropriate that it is tough to pin down the singer’s geographical roots because the songs are those of a troubadour, a wanderer, someone who has put in the time and traveled the miles to be able to take the pulse of the nation, deliver a diagnosis, and hazard a prescription. Continue reading “Kory Quinn & Co. “The Blueroom” (Independent, 2020)”

Heather Anne Lomax “All This Time” (Independent, 2020)

Los Angeles based Heather Anne Lomax has released ‘All This Time’, an album inspired by Elvis Presley’s ‘The Sun Sessions’, songs recorded in 1954 and 1955 at Sun Studios, but not actually released as a compilation until 1976. These were songs recognised as having some significance in the development of popular music and the album has been regularly cited in the upper echelons of Top/Best Albums lists ever since. Lomax’s album certainly captures the feel of Presley’s collection – there are references to the album being mixed with ‘sonics’ of the original in mind – if not perhaps the quality of songs and influence. Continue reading “Heather Anne Lomax “All This Time” (Independent, 2020)”

Josh Okeefe “Bloomin’ Josh Okeefe” (Independent, 2020)

At some point during a review of Josh Okeefe’s music there’s going to be a reference to Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and for good reason.  In addition to his voice and his delivery style, Okeefe’s music is, when needed, bitingly direct, complete with much of the anger and vitriol associated with those musical giants.  There’s a rawness to his storytelling that is hugely compelling, all aided by a voice that reaches out and grabs you by the throat and insists that you listen and listen carefully and, as with Messrs Dylan and Guthrie, young Mr Okeefe has a lot to say. Continue reading “Josh Okeefe “Bloomin’ Josh Okeefe” (Independent, 2020)”

Layla Kaylif “Lovers Don’t Meet” (Canopus, 2020)

Layla Kaylif is a new kid on the block, in the Americana realm at least. With releases dating back to 1999’s ‘Shakespeare in Love‘, a pop success in the Middle East  and South East Asia, the British Emirati’s career has ranged from songwriter and recording artist to film scriptwriter and director for the 2018 movie release ‘The Letter Writer‘, in which she also had a leading role. Continue reading “Layla Kaylif “Lovers Don’t Meet” (Canopus, 2020)”