Greg Halpin “Notes from a Bedroom” (Independent, 2016)

Greg-Halpin-2016The debut solo album from Montreal-based Greg Halpin delivers exactly what its title suggests: slice of life observational songs recorded in a makeshift bedroom studio. The 13 tracks are arranged almost exclusively for acoustic guitar, alternating between heart-felt strumming and lively finger-picking. This instrumental austerity does get tedious at times. The odd harmonica or whistling solos aren’t enough to keep listeners engaged all the way through the longer compositions. Continue reading “Greg Halpin “Notes from a Bedroom” (Independent, 2016)”

Emma Tricca and Jason McNiff “Southern Star” (Dell’Orso Records, 2016)

Tricca-McNiff-2016This long-planned collaboration between two stalwarts of the London folk scene, Emma Tricca and Jason McNiff, delivered six songs that combine the feelings of melancholy and excitement one associates with travel. In case the imagery of trains and celestial navigation isn’t enough to send listeners on a journey, Tricca and McNiff namecheck New York, London, Paris, and Rome, letting their obvious affection for these cities shine through. Continue reading “Emma Tricca and Jason McNiff “Southern Star” (Dell’Orso Records, 2016)”

Pete Falloon “Reed in the River” (Independent, 2016)

Pete-Falloon-2016Devonian multi-instrumentalist Pete Falloon debuts as a solo artist with a satisfying album that’s all meat and no filler. ‘Reed in the River’ is an eclectic proposition that sounds folky in its acoustic warmth of mandolin and brushes on the snare drum (Paul Everest on drums) but also groovy with punchy bass lines and bongos.
Falloon’s previous collaborations include a duo with his brother, Mathew (appropriately named Brothers Falloon). Despite the new solo billing, Pete didn’t abandon him. Mathew is the bassist on the record and contributes so many other instrumentation and singing elements, that one can only imagine the brothers are musically inseparable. Continue reading “Pete Falloon “Reed in the River” (Independent, 2016)”

Lisa Bastoni ”The Wishing Hour” (Independent, 2017)

lisa-bastoni-2017Lisa Bastoni has been around a while, performing with acclaimed artists such as Little Big Town, Lori McKenna and Regina Spektor. After taking an extended break to have a family, she is back with this amazing record, due to be released early in 2017. With every song penned by her, and a few co-writes, this is a record with the Bastoni stamp all over it, and with much of the recordings being done at home as well as in studios in Nashville and New York, there is a very intimate feel to this record, helped by the excellent production by Felix McTeigue. Continue reading “Lisa Bastoni ”The Wishing Hour” (Independent, 2017)”

David Simard “The Heavy Wait” (Independent, 2016)

david-simard-2016The second full length alum by Vancouverian David Simard is a dark toned thing.  Mordant meditations on love to a funereal accompaniment are the grist that fills David Simard’s mill. So much so that when he deviates from the template – as he does whilst rapping BP on the knuckles for their polluting ways in his native Canada on Good Clean Water – it’s something of a jarring shock that he can be so jovial. For the rest of the album he adopts a sombre and serious facade – with a deep baritone pouring the words out like a treacle river falling over a grit stone waterfall. Continue reading “David Simard “The Heavy Wait” (Independent, 2016)”

Derek Senn “Avuncular” (Independent, 2016)

Derek-Senn-2016“Avuncular” is one of those words that you didn’t know you needed until you learned what they meant, and then you’re just itching to use it, waiting for the right opportunity to drop it into a conversation. Derek Senn didn’t have to wait too long on his latest album of that title, introducing the figure of uncle Mike in the very first line of the very first song. It tells the story of an American coming of age that feels personal and universal at the same time. Continue reading “Derek Senn “Avuncular” (Independent, 2016)”

Red Moon Road “Sorrows and Glories” (Independent 2016)

red-moon-roadRed Moon Road are a Winnipeg based three piece, two guys, one girl, with a wide range of styles. “Sorrows and Glories” appears to be their third CD release and a very worthy and quality piece of work it is. All songs are written by the trio either in tandem or on their own and they cover a refreshing range of style and subject matter. The album opener “Beauty In These Broken Bones” is a spiritual piece full of power in the mould of “Po Lazarus” from the Oh Brother soundtrack with a rousing choir backing. Continue reading “Red Moon Road “Sorrows and Glories” (Independent 2016)”

Silas Lowe ‘’Wandering Father, Forgotten Son’’ (Independent, 2016)

silas-lowe-2016Written as an ode to an absent father, ‘’Wandering Father, Forgotten Son’’ is an album of many textures, with the stylistic differences between Roy Michaels, the father, and Silas himself being mixed throughout the record, as well as the conflict between the missing father, and the man who is mourned following his recent death. What comes from this emotional turbulence is a very raw and gutsy album, leaning as much into Appalachian folk as it does Texan dance-hall and Americana. Continue reading “Silas Lowe ‘’Wandering Father, Forgotten Son’’ (Independent, 2016)”

Martin Scorsese “No Direction Home–10th anniversary edition” (White Horse Productions, 2016)

no-direction-homeIt would be a huge exaggeration to say that Martin Scorsese’s documentary film on Dylan‘s early years in Greenwich Village reignited his career but, when it was initially broadcast in 2006, it did serve to increase interest in the Nobel laureate to be by a considerable amount. Certainly the subsequent legs of the so-called Never Ending Tour took in venues like the O2 Dome and Wembley Arena, a step up in size from the likes of Hammersmith Odeon. No Direction Home was also directly responsible for the fictionalised portrayal of the times in Inside Llewellyn Davis. Continue reading “Martin Scorsese “No Direction Home–10th anniversary edition” (White Horse Productions, 2016)”

Amanda Richards ‘’Tough Ones To Love’’ (Independent, 2016)

amanda-richards-2016Sometimes a record comes along and completely blows you away. Amanda Richards won’t be unfamiliar with this concept having been Grammy-nominated as an independent artist, but ‘’Tough Ones To Love’’ is very much in this category, with the songwriting and vocals being absolutely in-sync, alongside the musicality of Amanda’s long-time band ‘The Good Long While’.  Continue reading “Amanda Richards ‘’Tough Ones To Love’’ (Independent, 2016)”