Jason Tyler Burton “Kentuckian” (Independent 2019)

Kentuckian is a straight down the middle Americana roots album full of all the delights of the genre. Some stirring playing, acoustic rhythms and rhymes, some keening harmonies, strong blue-collar songwriting all topped off by Tyler Burton’s authentic voice. Starting with the upbeat ‘High Road to Harlan’ the bar is set pretty high as Burton Tyler lays his Ray LaMontagnelike burr over guitar and fiddle with subtle percussion to tell the tale of his 84-year-old father and himself and how the world they share has changed almost beyond recognition to the previous generation.  Continue reading “Jason Tyler Burton “Kentuckian” (Independent 2019)”

The Jorgensens “The Lexington Stretch” (Independent, 2019)

What a stunner! The opening track to this new album is powerful, pure, alluring and thought-provoking. The first note of the a capella voices will bring you to a standstill, and you will have to stop what you are doing and listen. The beauty of Kurt and Brianna Jorgensens’ voices, complimenting one another exquisitely, is a sound to behold and, ‘If the Sea Was Whiskey’, a cover of the Willie Dixon track, is simply stunning. So much so, the rest of the album almost sits in its shadow. Don’t get me wrong, though; there are several more beautiful tracks. Originally made famous in 1928 by Louis Armstrong, ‘St. James Infirmary’ is elegantly played – even if every time I hear it, I have to look out of the window to see who is knocking. Continue reading “The Jorgensens “The Lexington Stretch” (Independent, 2019)”

Shawn Colvin “Steady On: 30th Anniversary Acoustic Edition” (Slc Recordings, 2019)

When Colvin’s debut album ‘Steady On‘ was released in 1989 Americana was barely a thing. 30 years on she has revisited the songs in an acoustic setting. Colvin has been playing many of these songs acoustically in concert for some time, and they also appear on the ‘Live 88′ album, so in some ways this is nothing new. Continue reading “Shawn Colvin “Steady On: 30th Anniversary Acoustic Edition” (Slc Recordings, 2019)”

The Rails “Cancel The Sun” (Psychonaut Sounds/Thirty Tigers, 2019)

“Something is slipping my mind” Kami Thompson sings on one of the multiple  not-so-hidden gems on ‘Cancel The Sun’. But in fact when it comes to ‘Cancel the Sun’ qualifying as a folk-rock landmark of 2019,  absolutely nothing is lacking at all – and only one track of its 10 is arguably surplus to requirements. Continue reading “The Rails “Cancel The Sun” (Psychonaut Sounds/Thirty Tigers, 2019)”

Leeroy Stagger “Strange Path” (True North Records, 2019)

‘Strange Path’, the new record from Canadian, alt-country singer-songwriter Leeroy Stagger, certainly lives up to its title – it’s an album that frequently veers off into unfamiliar territory – electro-glam-rock, anyone? – but, sadly, it also ends up in the middle of the road far too often. Continue reading “Leeroy Stagger “Strange Path” (True North Records, 2019)”

Ryan Traster “Choses Obscures” (Independent, 2019)

Minneapolis based Ryan Traster plies his trade with a super laid back, woozy, indie, country-pop sound. On ‘Choses Obscures’ (French for ‘unusual things’) you can hear the ghost of Tom Petty nodding sagely as the tunes roll past. Vocally there’s a lazy J. Mascis/Evan Dando feel that rolls from Traster; sometimes with lugubriousity, sometimes a weary optimism. Continue reading “Ryan Traster “Choses Obscures” (Independent, 2019)”

Darrin Bradbury “Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs” (ANTI-, 2019)

It takes a keen eye to spot the profound wrapped up inside the everyday. Darrin Bradbury has a very keen eye and he puts it to good use. Others have drawn comparisons between Bradbury’s songwriting and the work of John Prine or Guy Clark. It’s probably worth throwing the likes of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, and Warren Zevon into that mix. A keen eye, a dark sense of humour, and a talent for turning a phrase can go a long way. Continue reading “Darrin Bradbury “Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs” (ANTI-, 2019)”

Karine Polwart “Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook” (Independent, 2019)

From the opening crystal clear repeated note pattern, this album sets about the whole notion of a covers album with a fresh and distinctive voice. This is original and stirring stuff. ‘The Whole of the Moon’ is completely reinvented as a joyous pean to life with gentle production and beautiful harmonies.  Continue reading “Karine Polwart “Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook” (Independent, 2019)”

Ralph McTell “Hill Of Beans” (Leola Music, 2019)

Ralph McTell has notched up more than 50 years as a recording artist, and in that time has released over 50 albums with ‘Hill of Beans‘ being the latest. It’s his first solo studio album since 2010’s ‘Somewhere down the Road‘ although McTell hasn’t been unproductive in the last nine years with a slew of live recordings, guitar “noodlings” recordings and a brace of albums recorded with Wizz Jones – the appropriately entitled ‘About Time’ and ‘About Time Too’. ‘Hill of Beans‘ fits in as very much a continuation of the kind of music that featured on ‘Somewhere down the Road‘ – stories and remembrances both historical and personal and often both at the same time mixed in with carefully observed cinematic scenes such as ‘Gammel Dansk‘. Continue reading “Ralph McTell “Hill Of Beans” (Leola Music, 2019)”

The Dead South “Sugar & Joy” (Six Shooter Records, 2019)

It’s fair to say that The Dead South are making noises with a burgeoning reputation as a kick ass, high-energy bluegrass band. The Canadian four-piece can’t help but enhance that reputation with the release of their new album ‘Sugar & Joy’. Sometimes, when scratching around for the right words with which to articulate the feel of an album, it is in the expressions of others that the perfect descriptor come to mind. The late departed Terry Wogan, admittedly not oft quoted in these parts, had an affectionate term for music like this. This, in Tel’s own words, is “hooligan” music at its finest. Continue reading “The Dead South “Sugar & Joy” (Six Shooter Records, 2019)”