Gov’t Mule “The Tel-Star Sessions” (Provogue/Mascot, 2016)

govt-mule-2016The Tel-Star Sessions consists of the previously unreleased earliest recordings by the original line-up of Gov’t Mule. Gov’t Mule was formed, in 1994, as a side project by Warren Haynes and Allen Woody who at the time were playing with the Allman Brothers band – with some spare time between commitments to their day jobs they decided to record a low-budget album and play a few shows, roping in Matt Abts to be the drummer for the trio. The concept for the recordings was to play live and loud and capture the excitement of a quintessential power-trio, and it is fair to say that this was achieved. Continue reading “Gov’t Mule “The Tel-Star Sessions” (Provogue/Mascot, 2016)”

Eve Selis “See Me with Your Heart” (Hippy Chick Twang, 2016)

eve-selis-2016In any other part of the world I’d expect the backstory to this album – Eve Selis’ ninth studio offering – to elicit the requisite sympathy. Eve Selis suffered a torn hamstring in 2014, that needed six months of rehabilitation and this affected her opportunities to make and record music – but also offered her some space to think about herself and write new material that meant a lot to her emotionally. Oh, did I mention that hamstring happened through a rollerblading accident? Continue reading “Eve Selis “See Me with Your Heart” (Hippy Chick Twang, 2016)”

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry “Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad” (Cooking Vinyl, 2016)

Bragg anbilly-bragg-joe-henryd Henry recorded these thirteen railway themed songs whilst travelling for 65 hours along the 2,728-mile rail journey from Chicago to LA. The songs were guerrilla recorded at station stops along the way – the railroad is present at all times in the subject of the songs or adding ambient sounds to the recordings. These boho hobos have found a way to celebrate the railroad as a cultural icon without a hint of a blush; the songs are performed with such sincerity, affection and joy it becomes infectious – the morning commute never seems so romantic.  Continue reading “Billy Bragg & Joe Henry “Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad” (Cooking Vinyl, 2016)”

Chip Taylor “Little Brothers” (Train Wreck Records, 2016)

As a veterChip Taylor-Little Brothersan of the music scene for the last sixty years or so, Chip Taylor has earned the right to make what could be considered an indulgent album telling stories from his life and family. It sounds like it could have been made as conversation flows and reminicences come forth following a long and well lubricated dinner party with relaxed and easy storytelling coming from a voice that sounds honeyed and velvety and which delivers the spoken and sung word with charm and wit. This is not an album to get the blood racing and it needs a few listens to “get”, but it is a generous piece with all the right sentiments. Continue reading “Chip Taylor “Little Brothers” (Train Wreck Records, 2016)”

Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)

Landing somewhere between the Cramps and the Handsome Family, this one-off project creates its own feral sound. It’s a musical collage with a Gothic heart. It flirts with genre but shies away from commitment – instead it skids from one thing to another, the opener skitting between avant electronica, Morricone western soundtrack and something swampy. ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ makes a bid for coherence and ends up like Lee Hazelwood soundtracking a Roger Corman flick. Continue reading “Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)”

Josh Birdsong “Simple Geometry” (Independent, 2016)

Josh Birdsong 2016Nashville-based singer/songwriter Josh Birdsong has released his debut EP of five contrasting and certainly interesting songs which seem to comprise a range of influences.  Recorded in Nashville, producer Stephen Leiweke has also stamped his identity on the sound with a smooth and clean sound that allows songs of original structure vital breathing space. Josh Birdsong claims influences as diverse as John Maher, Morrisey and James Taylor alongside the ambient sounds of Tycho. The EP also features the song ‘You and I’ which won the 2015 International Song-writing Competition from over 18 500 entries from around the world. No mean feat but it arguably isn’t even the best song on ‘Simple Geometry’.

Continue reading “Josh Birdsong “Simple Geometry” (Independent, 2016)”

Chatham County Line “Autumn” (Yep Roc, 2016)

Chatham County Line 2016 The seventh studio album from this Raleigh-based four-piece delivers exactly what you would expect, top quality Bluegrass from a band still firing on all cylinders. Formed in 1999 in the North Carolina city, Chatham County Line have been producing thoughtful albums in the traditional style since 2003. Autumn is no exception to this tradition and demonstrates that the string-band format is no barrier to imaginative song-writing. There is a devotion to the tradition of Bluegrass and incorporation of a range of roots influences evident on the album, but also present is the subtle presence of the history of the musicians in rock bands, hence the arrangements may fly a little higher than expected. Continue reading “Chatham County Line “Autumn” (Yep Roc, 2016)”

Roger Roger “Fairweather” (Independent, 2016)

Roger Roger 2016Twins Lucas and Madeleine Roger, a folk/roots duo from Winniipeg Canada, launch their debut album Fairweather which, to complete the family connections, was engineered and produced by their father Lloyd Peterson. Fairweather showcases songs that incorporate the styles of both of the siblings and certainly indicates a real potential. It also shows that they are capable of a range of styles as they generally alternate lead vocals throughout which lends an interesting structure to the album.  Continue reading “Roger Roger “Fairweather” (Independent, 2016)”

Rogue Valley “Radiate Dissolve” (Independent, 2016)

Rogue Valley 2016Rogue Valley, the Minneapolis-based outfit who burst onto the scene like the brightest of comets with their Seasons project, return. Like the afore-mentioned comet, the band haven’t been sighted on the new release list for nearly five years, yet this return is worth the wait. In 2009-10, Rogue Valley, led by Chris Koza, hit on the idea of releasing four albums in the same year to reflect the different seasons which they did to widespread acclaim. The albums shimmered and sparkled with originality and achingly beautiful moments and the new offering, Radiate/Dissolve, picks up where the Seasons project left off. Continue reading “Rogue Valley “Radiate Dissolve” (Independent, 2016)”

Proudfoot “Flower Of London” (Reckless Records, 2016)

"Proudfoot-2016"Proudfoot are essentially a vehicle for the songs of Michael Proudfoot, a man who has had one foot in the musical world since his student days singing in bars in Nottingham. These days he runs a film production company.  Overall,  Flower Of London is an album that manages to engage the listener despite Proudfoot’s limitations as a singer and the occasional dip in his song writing. This is largely due to the very talented Duncan Kerr, Proudfoot’s sidekick guitarist and a man he first met back in those Nottingham days. A veteran who started off in Plummet Airlines, a 70’s pub rock band recording for Stiff Records Kerr currently plays with Darts and The Brainiac 5.  Playing 6 and 12 string electric and acoustic guitars here he can transform a song into a pastoral reverie, on a few occasions sounding positively Byrdslike, elsewhere he throws in vibrant lead and slide guitar. Continue reading “Proudfoot “Flower Of London” (Reckless Records, 2016)”