Tough Old Bird “The Old Great Lakes” (Independent, 2019)

Tough Old Bird are a folk duo from Fillmore, New York State, comprising brothers Nathan and Matthew Corrigan. With two EPs and two previous albums of more traditional American folk music under their belts, ‘The Old Great Lakes’ is an attempt to expand their sound beyond their original confines.
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Beth Bombara “Evergreen” (Lemp Electric, 2019)

Michigan-born Beth Bombara is a relatively new name around these parts, though she’s released a couple of EPs and four albums prior to this one.  Judging by its contents though they should be well worth investigating because ‘Evergreen’ has ten excellent songs that blend contemporary folk and Americana to very good effect indeed, not to mention the great tunes and hooks she deploys to boot. The songs range from ‘Tenderhearted’, a wonderful paean to her husband, via the Stones-y rock’n’roll of ‘Good News‘ to the delicate ‘Growing Wings’ where her plaintive vocal recalls early Neil Young. Continue reading “Beth Bombara “Evergreen” (Lemp Electric, 2019)”

Jones “Carver’s Law” (Independent, 2019)

Trevor Jones is Jones, the solo project featuring half of the duo Miracle Mile. Following 2016’s critically acclaimed album, ‘Happy Blue’, this is the fifth release from Jones which sees him working again with Miracle Mile other half, Marcus Cliffe. The album title, ‘Carver’s Law’ was inspired by the short story writer and poet Raymond Carter.
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Rachel Harrington “Hush The Wild Horses” (Skinny Dennis Records, 2019)

It has been fully seven years since Rachel Harrington’s last album ‘Celilo Falls‘, and those intervening years have been eventful for her to say the least. After the touring to support ‘Celilo Falls‘ Rachel Harrington was exhausted – and she’d also taken up drinking again after nine dry years. Obamacare helped with medical issues, but it’s been a longer struggle to finally give up alcohol again. In this same period Rachel’s grandmother died, and whilst staying with her there was something of a contemplation of other family deaths – all of which feeds through into the album. Continue reading “Rachel Harrington “Hush The Wild Horses” (Skinny Dennis Records, 2019)”

Emily Mae Winters “High Romance” (Independent 2019)

Some albums are all about the songs, some albums are all about the production but ‘High Romance’, the second album from Emily Mae Winters is all about the voice. That’s not to say there aren’t some terrific songs and Matt Ingram’s production isn’t superb, but Winters has a wonderful voice and it’s superbly showcased on the eleven songs that make up ‘High Romance’. Continue reading “Emily Mae Winters “High Romance” (Independent 2019)”

The Moon Shells “Seaside Asylum” (Casa de Agua, 2019)

There’s just something special about the combination of fiddle and banjo. When they’re working at the height of their combined powers, they’re able to summon up memories that aren’t even our own. They speak from all of the times and places that have been spoken to, and spoken through, by way of their combined strengths. They pack a powerful punch when they’re put to good use. Of course, the other side of that coin is that they command a certain respect. If the meaning and emotion aren’t there then you’re left with an empty shell . . . an imposter. Continue reading “The Moon Shells “Seaside Asylum” (Casa de Agua, 2019)”

Frank Turner “No Man’s Land” (Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor Records, 2019)

The title of Frank Turner’s eighth album is a bit of a pun as the thirteen songs it consists of all are stories of women. No men. Get it? On ‘No Man’s Land‘ Frank Turner sets out to tell the stories of remarkable women who have been written out of history, or are in danger of fading away. The combination of predominantly acoustic guitar and vocal driven songs – adorned with a little percussion and the occasional squeezed box – means that ‘No Man’s Land‘ is very much in a tradition of songwriting associated with the likes of Ralph McTell or Al Stewart. In keeping with the theme Frank Turner has also gathered a crack band of female musicians – there’s strings and piano from Anna Jenkins and Gill Sandell of Emily Barker’s Red Clay Halo band, Lock drummer Holly Madge, Paloma Faith’s bass player Andrea Goldsworthy, Kat Marsh of Choir Noir – all under the direction of producer Catherine Mark. Continue reading “Frank Turner “No Man’s Land” (Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor Records, 2019)”

Ellis Paul “The Storyteller’s Suitcase” (Rosella Records, 2019)

I felt compelled to write about it. Three people dead – over what? A fucking statue.” Ellis Paul outlines in words that brook little ambiguity the drive behind his song ‘The Battle of Charlottesville’. The song is prompted by the tragic events of August 12th 2017 in his adopted home city, a white supremacist rally that left one protester dead, scores injured and a police helicopter crash that took the lives of two state troopers.  And herein lies something of the drive behind Ellis Paul’s life as a storytelling songwriter. Continue reading “Ellis Paul “The Storyteller’s Suitcase” (Rosella Records, 2019)”

Curtis Eller “A Poison Melody” (Independent, 2019)

Curtis Eller is a dynamic bandleader and banjo player who channels a great sense of vaudevillian Victorians to his idiosyncratic musical vision. Opening with ‘Radiation Poison‘, Eller sets the tone by throwing the kitchen sink at the song – shouted choruses, wild horns and above all a driving banjo that set the concerned lyrics into sharp relief. ‘No Soap Radio’ follows – this time driven by a scuzzy, wailing saxophone and a guitar riff as old as rock and roll itself.
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I See Hawks In L.A. & The Good Intentions “Hawks With Good Intentions” (Western Seeds Record Company, 2019)

California’s I See Hawks In L.A. and Liverpool’s Good Intentions met and became friends at a house concert in California back in 2012. Since then, the bands have shared stages in the States and here in the UK and along the way they began writing some songs together, the first fruits of their joint effort displayed on the Hawks’ last album, ‘Live And Never Learn‘, which had two songs co-written with Peter Davies of Good Intentions. Bouncing emails and mp3 files across the Atlantic they eventually came up with the ten songs on display here, sections recorded in L.A. and Liverpool with each of the bands’ contributions stitched together so well that the join is never seen. As it says on the sleeve, “Gleaming technology serving acoustic guitars and down home harmonies.” Continue reading “I See Hawks In L.A. & The Good Intentions “Hawks With Good Intentions” (Western Seeds Record Company, 2019)”