Tasha Robertson “Sweet Hearts EP” (Independent, 2018)

Sweet Hearts‘ is the debut EP from Essex singer-songwriter Tasha Robertson, and is made up of four tracks. Tasha Robertson’s music falls solidly into the ‘quirky-pop’ category, with a light dusting of folky arrangements. So, from the start, there are melodies on ukuleles, steadily beating acoustic guitar adding rhythm and Tasha Robertson’s own cultivated quirky singing style which lies somewhere between Bjork’s speaking voice and a gulping childlike breathlessness. Similar then to Lucy Rose and not so very far from Kate Nash. Continue reading “Tasha Robertson “Sweet Hearts EP” (Independent, 2018)”

Elephant Micah “Genericana” (Western Vinyl 2018)

As has been said many times before Americana is a broad church and thus many musical styles are accepted inside and indeed they add to its rich diversity. However, it is a challenge to consider this particular work part of the Americana genre whatever way you look at it. The PR provided with this music makes reference to the first track ‘Surf A’ as “a virtual holiday destination, where soft waves of AM static crash and synthetic gulls call to a hazy sun. A skeleton-thin drum loop jogs by but these lazy synth tones are just working on their tan. And then, just as the soundscape approaches maximum repose, a gnarly guitar band busts into the mix like an odd choice by a half-baked algorithm.” Make of that what you will but listening to the track itself will fail to make the situation much clearer. Continue reading “Elephant Micah “Genericana” (Western Vinyl 2018)”

Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, 2nd-5th August 2018

While there are several “specialist” Americana festivals like Maverick and Ramblin’ Roots, for the Americana fan Cambridge Folk Festival has for many years always had much to offer.  It rightly prides itself on its eclecticism – both Joe Strummer and Nick Cave have played there in the past – and interpreting “folk” very broadly and this year was no different with Patti Smith, Songhoy Blues and St Paul & The Broken Bones all performing. Continue reading “Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, 2nd-5th August 2018”

William Elliott Whitmore “Kilonova” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)

William Elliott Whitmore has spent the entirety of his 40 years on this planet living on the family farm in Iowa. As a singer-songwriter heavily influenced by the hardcore punk scene of that community, he has, on his six albums to date, fused this influence with a mix of blues, country and folk. For album number seven Whitmore has put the writing on hold in favour of celebrating some of the musical heroes who have inspired his career thus far. Continue reading “William Elliott Whitmore “Kilonova” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)”

James Houlahan “The Wheel Still In Spin” (Independent, 2018)

The “wagon-wheel effect” is an optical illusion where a wheel appears to be turning backward when, in fact, it is in forward motion.  Science journals argue over its cause, but some attribute the phenomenon – other than when caught in 24 frames – to a theory of perceptual rivalry when there are two different interpretations of the same scene by the brain. Continue reading “James Houlahan “The Wheel Still In Spin” (Independent, 2018)”

Anna Tivel & Jefferey Martin, The Green Note, London, 4th July 2018

Either one of these artists would be worth turning out for, even worth dragging into a heat soaked and sticky London evening, and wandering down the dust-blown streets of Camden Town. Yeah, even worth fighting with the recalcitrant and sauna like Northern Line. The first on stage, Anna Tivel, has been steadily building a reputation as simply one of the finest songwriters – her powerful songs, delicate of lyric, breathless of delivery are each perfect creations that can pull the listener up sharp. There are musings on the briefly observed lives of strangers, there are stories of broken hopeless loves, there’s self-destructive anger, there’s the final whispery tendrils of breath that close a life. Anna Tivel is not your everyday singer of boy meets girl under the silvery moon. Continue reading “Anna Tivel & Jefferey Martin, The Green Note, London, 4th July 2018”

Eileen Jewell + Michelle Stodart, The Lexington, London, 6th August 2018

The Lexington near Kings Cross in North London has great appeal in the current heat wave as it has one of the best air conditioning systems on the London gig circuit and it proved its worth tonight as we were treated to an expansive set from Eileen Jewell and her slick band delivering some 25 songs during an almost two hour set. A Boise, Idaho native Jewell has absorbed and interpreted a wide range of influences and she darted across various styles tonight with a mid-set blues-focussed section to promote her latest album ‘Down Hearted Blues’ with her well established and highly accomplished soulful crew of Jerry Miller on electric guitar, Shawn Supra on upright bass and bass guitar and drummer Jason Beek. Continue reading “Eileen Jewell + Michelle Stodart, The Lexington, London, 6th August 2018”

Lora Kelley “Lora Kelley” (Independent, 2018)

Charlottesville based, singer-songwriter, Lora Kelley has released a new self-titled EP and it showcases her personal songs and accomplished musicianship really well. Life experiences are the basis for these songs and it’s clear that family and relationships strongly influence the creative process. The music is built around an acoustic guitar backbone and the songs could be described as pop Americana. The delivery is upbeat, catchy and polished. The songs are accessible and well written. So far so good… but listening more closely is rewarding. Continue reading “Lora Kelley “Lora Kelley” (Independent, 2018)”

Jeremy Nail “Live Oak” (Independent, 2018)

‘Live Oak’ is the third album from Texan Jeremy Nail, just the name of the album along is strong with symbolism for Nail. The name of the album refers back to an oak tree in Austin, Texas. that almost didn’t survive after someone poisoned the tree in 1989, but it did. This relates to Nail after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which led to him needing his leg amputated. Continue reading “Jeremy Nail “Live Oak” (Independent, 2018)”

The Nelson Brothers “Migrant Tales” (Independent, 2018)

Sometimes it can be good to take your time. ‘Migrant Tales’, the fourth album from The Nelson Brothers, has been written over the course of twenty years. Loosely based on the Irish Diaspora, the songs deal with family, history, migration and travel. There are stories here that link to the past of several countries. Steve and Simon Nelson, the heart of this accomplished band, hail from Stafford in the UK but have Irish heritage and links to the United States. Their travels and their relationship with the past have clearly influenced their music in an eclectic and positive way. Continue reading “The Nelson Brothers “Migrant Tales” (Independent, 2018)”