Green Leaf Rustlers “From Within Marin” (Silver Arrow Records, 2020)

Ever wondered what Chris Robinson does in his spare time? Well, it seems he’s fond of playing locally in Marin County with a bunch of buddies in a band called the Green Leaf Rustlers. And not just any old buddies as the band consists of Robinson (guitar, vocals) along with Barry Sless (David Nelson Band, on guitars and pedal steel), Greg Loiacono (The Mother Hips, on guitars), John Molo (Bruce Hornsby, on drums), and the legendary Pete Sears (Rod Stewart, Copperhead, Jefferson Starship, on bass). According to Robinson, “Green Leaf Rustlers are a Marin County hippie hayride, rockin’ and rollin’ through our favourite classic cosmic country covers and keeping the good people dancing the night away under star-filled western skies.” And that just about sums up this two-disc vinyl live set. Continue reading “Green Leaf Rustlers “From Within Marin” (Silver Arrow Records, 2020)”

Migrant Worker “Migrant Worker” (Independent, 2020)

Reviewing a new release, particularly a debut release, by a band you’ve never heard of before, is always going to be something of a lottery. As with any lottery, most of the time you are likely to find hopes turning to disappointment. Occasionally, you may be rewarded with a small win. However, without wishing to flog the metaphor to death, the debut album from Migrant Worker can be considered as striking the jackpot. Continue reading “Migrant Worker “Migrant Worker” (Independent, 2020)”

Eliza Gilkyson “2020” (Compass Records, 2020)

Just to get this out there, this album is scarily prophetic. Quite how two-time GRAMMY™-nominated singer Eliza Gilkyson knew to write this and call it simply ‘2020‘ is beyond me. The first listen to it was pre-virus and it was frightening enough then: there are plenty of references to racism, gun violence, terrorism, and climate change. But now, in our new world of illness, fear and panic, the songs are even more arresting. Continue reading “Eliza Gilkyson “2020” (Compass Records, 2020)”

Arbouretum “Let It All In” (Thrill Jockey, 2020)

Baltimore based band Arbouretum’s latest offering is an eclectic mix of folk, blues, Americana and 70’s psychedelia. At its best it is fresh, nuanced and absorbing. At its worst it is a so-so retreading of well worn musical paths. Opening track ‘How Deep It Goes’ is a stylish political statement. Jangly guitars give the feeling of sun-dappled forests and reverb galore increases the trancelike atmosphere. This is Arbouretum at their best. Dave Heumann’s vocals pierce through the wall of sound but don’t overpower it. Everything sits in a perfect balance and the song clicks along wonderfully. Continue reading “Arbouretum “Let It All In” (Thrill Jockey, 2020)”

The Lost Brothers “After The Fire After The Rain” (Bird Dog Recordings, 2020)

The Lost Brothers recorded this, their sixth album, in New York with production duties shared between Daniell Schlett and Tony Garnier. As Dylan’s longest serving bass player Tony Garnier naturally also brought some upright bass to the sessions – and naturally, ‘cos it’s that kind of story, the bass used once belonged to Charles Mingus. So there were some legendary elements hanging around the duo of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland – and there’s that sense of an epic tale being unfolded to ‘After the Fire After the Rain‘. Continue reading “The Lost Brothers “After The Fire After The Rain” (Bird Dog Recordings, 2020)”

Jonathan Wilson “Dixie Blur” (Bella Union, 2020)

Dixie Blur’ is a really surprising treat. Jonathan Wilson is a modern musical renaissance man and his resume includes band membership, production, songwriting, session work and tour support. The list of musicians he has worked with is incredible and a sample of names would include Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson and Robbie Robertson. He is singlehandedly responsible for the revival of the Laurel Canyon sound, he produced Roy Harper’s ‘Man And Myth’ to critical acclaim and he is also Roger Waters musical director. He has also managed to develop a successful solo career and his last album, ‘Rare Birds’, took nine months to record winning critical plaudits as it paid homage to the producers and production values of the ‘70s and ‘80s including Tony Visconti, Jeff Lynne, Talk Talk and Trevor Horn. All this does not fully prepare you for an album of Americana, Bluegrass, Country, Tex-Mex and the Laurel Canyon sounds of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’. Continue reading “Jonathan Wilson “Dixie Blur” (Bella Union, 2020)”

Slow Parade “Hi-Fi LowLife” (Independent, 2020)

From the moment ‘Hi-Fi Lowlife’s opening track  ‘Waiting on the Smoke to Clear’ kicks off with a swirling blast of electronic fuzziness, only for a set of gently resonating piano chords to carve through the aural smog (or smoke?), the sensation that we’re in for some kind of psychedelic-laden rock’n’roll ‘experience’ is all but inescapable. Continue reading “Slow Parade “Hi-Fi LowLife” (Independent, 2020)”

Ry Cavanaugh “Time For This” (Cav Productions, 2020)

Ry Cavanaugh, known for his work with ‘Session Americana’ has taken time out to record his first album in twenty years, one which brings a rather interesting story with it. Ry was just 22 when his father, George Cavanaugh passed. He himself was a musician, performing as a country and honky-tonk singer in the late 1970’s, bringing with him a musical community to the household. Amongst the musical backdrop, George Cavanaugh suffered with chronic depression and prescription opiate addiction. George was a big dreamer and unfortunately in the early 80’s, everything seemed to dissipate and sadly passed from heart failure. Now more recently in 2019, Ry reached the age at which his father died and took this significant moment to recover and revitalise the songs that his father wrote some 40 years ago. With the album comes a close interpretation of the songs, for who better to speak from his father’s voice than his very own son. Continue reading “Ry Cavanaugh “Time For This” (Cav Productions, 2020)”

Evan Uhlmann “Tea Lady” (Dog Legs Records, 2020)

Tea Lady‘ is the first album for 9 years by Evan Uhlmann, a 28-year-old Chicago based singer-songwriter. This self-penned record sits squarely in Bill Callahan ‘Smog‘ era territory, characterised by deadpan vocals, and mid-tempo arrangements, creating soundscapes, guitar-led, augmented by keys/synth, with lyrical themes around life, death and coming of age.
Continue reading “Evan Uhlmann “Tea Lady” (Dog Legs Records, 2020)”

The Lowest Pair “The Perfect Plan” (Delicata Records, 2020)

Lovers of Americana trivia may take delight in the link between The Lowest Pair and Glen Campbell. It is the fact that ‘The Lowest Pair’ is a poem written by country and bluegrass artist John Hartford who also wrote the Glen Campbell hit, ‘Gentle on my Mind’. Consummate banjo players, the duo of Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee have five albums under their respective belts including what has to be a contender for the best covers album title of all time: ‘I Reckon I’m Fixin’ On Kickin’ Round to Pick A Little, Vol. 1’. Continue reading “The Lowest Pair “The Perfect Plan” (Delicata Records, 2020)”