Swimming Bell “Wild Sight” (Adventure Club Records, 2019)

Swimming Bell is the solo project of Brooklyn based Katie Schottland, ‘Wild Sight’ the debut album following her ‘The Golden Heart’ EP in 2017. That this gentle music carries nothing of the metropolis is perhaps explained by much of its creation being in the UK with collaborator and producer Oli Deacon (Lowpines), including a spell in Leeds last winter. When Schottland was incapacitated by a broken foot in 2015, she picked up an acoustic and started to play by learning Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’, and some of these tracks are so spaciously produced that you can almost hear that brush on the village dance floor, a gust of wind in ‘Quietly Calling’ for instance. Continue reading “Swimming Bell “Wild Sight” (Adventure Club Records, 2019)”

Matthew Logan Vasquez “Light’n Up” (Dine Alone, 2019)

‘Light’n Up’ is the third solo album from Texas singer-songwriter and former Delta Spirit frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez. It sees him take a considerable turn in the road to follow a new direction away from the largely hard rocking approach of its predecessors. The album is far more lyrically driven and far more varied musically. It is a very introspective and personal album, written during a challenging time for Vasquez. Continue reading “Matthew Logan Vasquez “Light’n Up” (Dine Alone, 2019)”

Megg Farrell “Megg Farrell & Friends” (Independent, 2019)

It’s easy to imagine you are listening to a live set in a smoky dive bar in the French Quarter, New Orleans when you hear ‘Megg Farrell & Friends.’ Led by Brooklyn-based Megg Farrell, the album is a mix of covers and originals set to a mix of jazz, ragtime and country. Farrell has a strong, bluesy voice reminiscent of Billie Holiday and it comes through in songs like ‘New Orleans Waltz’ and ‘New York Love Song.’  Obvious in both these song topics is her attachment to place and her bio indicates she’s travelled the length and breadth of the USA as well as living a while in Paris, France. Continue reading “Megg Farrell “Megg Farrell & Friends” (Independent, 2019)”

Various Artists “3 x 4” (Yep Roc, 2018)

Ah, those heady days of the Paisley Underground, a music scene which even when observed from across the ocean offered an alternative to the prevailing pop-scene that dominated the UK music charts. ‘3 x 4‘ offers up a kind of re-visitation of those days, observed through a distorting glass, as the various artists – The Bangles (originally The Bangs), The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade – each take on a track originally recorded by the other three bands. ‘3 x 4‘ was originally released as a double vinyl LP set on Record Store Day 2018, so it’s not an entirely new release, but it’s a significant enough one that it is worth noting now that it has at last been given a CD release. Continue reading “Various Artists “3 x 4” (Yep Roc, 2018)”

Neil Hamburger “Still Dwelling” (Drag City, 2019)

Neil Hamburger is the anti-comic creation of Greg Turkington, a thoroughly despicable and creepy looking individual who you wouldn’t want to see talking to anyone you cared about. It’s a brilliant creation whose characteristics and persona are presumably why these songs were chosen for covers, along with the couple of originals thrown in for good measure, but ultimately, your enjoyment of this album rests heavily on how you feel about Hamburger’s shtick. Continue reading “Neil Hamburger “Still Dwelling” (Drag City, 2019)”

Andrew Leahey and the Homestead ‘’Airwaves’’ (Skyline Music, 2019)

36 year old Andrew Leahey was born in Virginia and is now based in Nashville.  He currently fronts The Homestead and has been previously with Hobson’s Choice and The Opera House.  His current release is his second, entitled ‘Airwaves’.  Leahey suffered a concerning hiatus to his career in 2013 due to ill health and is apparently recovered and back to his music. He is known as a touring musician and has added his guitar prowess to others including Rodney Crowell, Elizabeth Cook and Drew Holcomb. Continue reading “Andrew Leahey and the Homestead ‘’Airwaves’’ (Skyline Music, 2019)”

Tylor & The Train Robbers “Best of the Worst Kind” (Independent, 2019)

There’s a pleasant “open-ness” to some of the best Americana – that feeling of room to move, where you can clearly hear all the instrumentation and the lyrics and yet still see spaces in the songs. Tylor & The Train Robbers have really nailed that sound on this, their second album. The production is crystal clear and it gives the listener the opportunity to hear just how good this band is. Well written melodies supported by some fine playing, guitars and pedal steel weaving together to create exactly the backing these story based songs need. Continue reading “Tylor & The Train Robbers “Best of the Worst Kind” (Independent, 2019)”

D.L. Rossi “A Sweet Thing” (Independent, 2018)

Many singer songwriters use their experience of ‘life’, in whatever form that may take, to inform their art. Inspiration can come from many sources but, for many in this business, how often it seems that it is the lowest points in their lives that are the catalyst for their songs. For D.L. Rossi that well of inspiration is deep, drawing as he does upon a background that includes overcoming cancer, a nervous breakdown and a painful divorce. Continue reading “D.L. Rossi “A Sweet Thing” (Independent, 2018)”

China “And Then Nothing Happened” (Royal Oakie Records, 2018)

The new album from Bay Area folk-rock outfit China is one of those delights that you live for as a reviewer. Their name is pretty much unknown (300 likes on their Facebook page, no website, you get the idea) let alone their music, but as soon as the first notes of opener ‘Marnie’ drift out of the speakers you’re hooked and remain so for the remaining nine tracks. There are quietly gorgeous harmonies, wistful vocals, dollops of psychedelica and richly evocative soundscapes (sorry, but it is the right word, cliché or not). There’s also enough muscle on songs like ‘Bitter Sailor’ to stop things drifting off into feyness. Continue reading “China “And Then Nothing Happened” (Royal Oakie Records, 2018)”

Mandolin Orange “Tides of a Teardrop” (Yep Roc, 2019)

Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, better known of course as Mandolin Orange, have come a long way since their formation in 2009 and their latest album ‘Tides of a Teardrop’ continues in the same intimate vein that has served them so well over the last 10 years. Marlin lost his mother when he was just 18 and the main theme of this album is about letting go and finding peace, a process that for some people can take many years and that certainly seems to be the case in this instance. Continue reading “Mandolin Orange “Tides of a Teardrop” (Yep Roc, 2019)”