Bob Sumner “Wasted Love Songs” (Independent, 2019)

Bob Sumner is used to rocking out with his brother as one half of the Sumner Brothers, but this debut solo release finds him in a more reflective mood. The folk-based Americana of ‘Wasted Love Songs’ covers the classic themes of love, loss, loneliness and being worn down by the world. Although that sounds a little bleak, these mature narratives are made palatable by arresting imagery, fine musicality and sophisticated song writing craft. It’s a thing of beauty. Continue reading “Bob Sumner “Wasted Love Songs” (Independent, 2019)”

Foreign Affairs “Old Fire Station EP” (Independent, 2018)

Bristolian siblin duo Adam and Lawrence Purnell have produced their first new recorded material since their initial release ‘The First EP‘ back in 2015. The six tracks on ‘Old Fire Station‘ powerfully show off their folk-rock stylings which are less Mumford & Son and more The Lumineers. ‘Faded‘ blends acoustic and electric guitar with Lawrence’s gruff lead vocal, softened by the harmony vocals that come in at the second verse. It’s a song questioning the direction life – and in particular a love life – may be going in. Continue reading “Foreign Affairs “Old Fire Station EP” (Independent, 2018)”

Dave Giles “Tennessee and the 48th” (Independent, 2018)

‘Tennessee and The 48th’ is the second album from London- based Americana/Folk Rock singer songwriter Dave Giles. Crowd funded, this impressive record was recorded in Nashville early in 2018 on the back of shows throughout the UK, Europe and Australia, building up a solid fan base along the way. Although he is clearly inspired by Jason Isbell and Zac Brown, Giles does exhibit a clear identity of his own and, refreshingly, sings in his own South-East of-England accent. Continue reading “Dave Giles “Tennessee and the 48th” (Independent, 2018)”

Joe Blanton “Good, Bad, Right or Wrong” (Underground Treehouse, 2018)

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds these days as we find new ways to compartmentalize and format music. Rock and country seem to be endlessly hyphenated.  Sometimes we need to stop the chin scratching, step out of the woods, and crank up the amps.  Thankfully, Joe Blanton seems to do just that with his first solo effort, ‘Good, Bad, Right or Wrong.’ Continue reading “Joe Blanton “Good, Bad, Right or Wrong” (Underground Treehouse, 2018)”

The Long Ryders “Two Fisted Tales” (Cherry Red Records, 2018)

This is a great time to be an admirer of the Long Ryders – not only is the band back together but with this release the excellent series of expanded original albums is complete.   The third – and so far last – Long Ryders album was originally released in 1987, the torturous tale of the process from demoing through recording and then mishandled releasing of which is told by Sid Griffin in the glossy booklet accompanying this sumptuous re-issue. You can read that in detail when you pick up this three disc box-set. Suffice to say that the final part of the story – the wholehearted getting behind the album by the record company – didn’t go exactly to any kind of plan the band might have had in mind.  Continue reading “The Long Ryders “Two Fisted Tales” (Cherry Red Records, 2018)”

Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra “Soul of my City” (Independent, 2019)

Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra go out of their way to make it hard to pigeonhole them to a specific genre. Their fourth studio album, ‘Soul of My City’ is a case in point. Almost vaudevillian in approach, there’s yodelling sitting neatly beside ragtime blues and country. The only nod to being categorised is on their own terms; they’ve been known to claim the term ‘Geordie swing’ to describe their eclectic mash up. So there we have it – the cat’s out of the bag. Even though they’d be at home strumming on a Mississippi steamboat, Rob and his Orchestra live in Newcastle upon Tyne. Continue reading “Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra “Soul of my City” (Independent, 2019)”

Melody Guy “Dry The Rivers” (MFG Records, 2019)

A Nashville based singer songwriter who racks up the miles as she travels the country playing gigs here, there and everywhere, Melody Guy proves to be an attractive listen on this tenth album of hers which has some country soul and Nashville tears in its grooves. Recorded in Nashville, the album is both tough and tender with some of the songs reflecting rough times in the singer’s past but she can look back and capture some good memories from bad times as on the Dobro and accordion speckled jauntiness of ‘I Can’t Live There’. Continue reading “Melody Guy “Dry The Rivers” (MFG Records, 2019)”

Danny Burns “Low Country” (Bonfire, 2019)

The first sound your ears catch upon hearing ‘Low Country,’ the debut from Irish folk singer Danny Burns, is the unmistakable dobro of Jerry Douglas.  Soon after, the legendary Sam Bush’s fiddle and mandolin envelop the opening track, ‘Let it Go’ (not the Disney ditty).  Lyrically, you’re transported to New Orleans in a sort of newgrass version of ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ – the same amount of cocaine, but without the Joe Walsh. Continue reading “Danny Burns “Low Country” (Bonfire, 2019)”

Maria Kelly “Notes to Self EP” (Veta, 2018)

This beautiful EP reflects a summer of upheaval for Maria Kelly, both emotional and practical – she moved from Dublin to Berlin – from which her diary entries have been worked into songs reflecting the feelings of holding on, hiding behind and letting go which came with the upheaval of commencing a new life. These songs are delicately and subtly produced to enhance an atmosphere of vulnerability. A touch of despondency is balanced by reflection moving to optimism as the summer moves month by month to its close and her new life ahead. Continue reading “Maria Kelly “Notes to Self EP” (Veta, 2018)”

Dolly Parton “Dumplin’ (Soundtrack)” (RCA Nashville, 2018)

Dolly Parton’s latest album’ Dumplin’ ‘is the soundtrack to the film of the same name in which the daughter of a former beauty queen follows in mother’s footsteps by entering a pageant, but this time not to pose but to protest. Jennifer Aniston plays the mother and Danielle Macdonald the daughter. The protesting teenager is slightly a ‘plus size’, hence I guess, the title and why Parton is left with a somewhat less than inspiring album title.  Continue reading “Dolly Parton “Dumplin’ (Soundtrack)” (RCA Nashville, 2018)”