R.Mutt “The Dash” (Independent, 2017)

Do you believe in rock and roll ? R.Mutt do. Six years after the release of their last album – the well received Leash on Life – they finally return with a new record that builds on what went before, with some additional refinement provided by the assistance of producer Kevin Blackwell (Sassparilla) and for the mixing Chet Lyster who has worked with the Jayhawks. There’s been some internal changes in the band as well, alongside founder members Jim Dier and Ron Thornton there’s new
guitarist David Smolarek and new drummer Matt Schreier. Continue reading “R.Mutt “The Dash” (Independent, 2017)”

Curse of Lono “Severed” (Submarine Cat Records, 2017)

On first hearing this record without reading anything about it I thought that Steven Adams (Broken Family Band) had adopted a back to basics approach and formed a new band. It’s a thought that stuck with me every time I listen to the record and it’s certainly meant as a compliment – there’s the voice of Felix Bechtolsheimer (Hey Negrita) which is a dead ringer for Adams and then there’s the lyrics which explore the same melancholic self-deprecating squalor. CofL have an admirably broad palate, the songs spreading out across a range of styles – the opener cheekily references the Byrds with both the title and the bass line of Five Miles (add three and some altitude and you’re there). Continue reading “Curse of Lono “Severed” (Submarine Cat Records, 2017)”

Stephen Simmons “A World Without” (Blue Rose Records, 2016)

At a time when the great and good of mainstream Nashville can be found in the UK playing the country fest that is C2C Stephen Simmons’ latest offering acts as an antidote to much of the current anodyne output of that great song writing town. As is befitting a native of Tennessee, his 10th album offers up a collection of self-penned songs that, although having a definite taste of country running through them, have an intelligence and musical nuance that sets them apart. Continue reading “Stephen Simmons “A World Without” (Blue Rose Records, 2016)”

The Sadies “Northern Passages” (Yep Roc Records, 2017)

The Sadies are enjoying a fantastic run of form. Their last two records have both been brilliant autumnal works and this one begins in pretty much the same vein – the opening chords of Riverview Fog are a quite specific swirl of acoustic country psychedelia; it’s like they’ve captured the sound of light dappling the delicate fire of autumn leaves. It’s not far from the kind of sound that tyros like Ryley Walker have reached. Then again Another Season Again reaches back into their more raucous like past, the guitar sounding like a huge pick is strumming a chain link fence, the guitar solo like a string of barbed wire placed atop, while inside there’s a more tender heart with harmonies buried well down in the mix. Suddenly the trees are all bare and the light hurts your eyes. It’s a return to their spiky roots and something you might find in The Noise Museum but instead this is an instrumental that sifts through the surf, twang and jangle that they’ve been trading for the past couple of decades. Continue reading “The Sadies “Northern Passages” (Yep Roc Records, 2017)”

Jim Lauderdale “London Southern” (Proper Records, 2017)

Three decades into his career Jim Lauderdale has achieved, with London Southern, a long cherished ambition to record an album in London. The temptation to do so was driven by excellent motives – he could record at old friend Nick Lowe’s studio and could also avail himself of Nick’s band. The result is a richly toned traditional country album the opener of which – Sweet Time – will have the listener scurrying for the sleeve notes. Is this an unfamiliar Hank Williams song ? Continue reading “Jim Lauderdale “London Southern” (Proper Records, 2017)”

Linah Rocio “Warrior Talk” (Aveline Records, 2017)

We’re really stretching the boundaries of Americana UK with Chilean born, Swiss based Linah Rocio’s latest album. OK, there’s a banjo to be heard on the second last song here, Megan although it struggles to be heard over the inventive percussion, dextrous double bass and roomy piano that clothe the song. Rocio describes artists such as PJ Harvey and Joan As Policewoman as her heroes and as such she fits within the set of strong willed singer/songwriters who are pushing the envelope with their music, rock, jazz and traces of the avant-garde all part of the experience. There are songs which sound like Laura Nyro fronting a gnarly punked up Steely Dan as on Everything while Simon Rupp on guitar sounds at times like Marc Ribot. Continue reading “Linah Rocio “Warrior Talk” (Aveline Records, 2017)”

Little Diamonds “New Orleans Bound” (Independent, 2016)

Essentially a John Prine/Early Dylan channeller, New Orleans Bound offers up 45 minutes of undiluted classic guitar, singer and occasional colour of harmonica, drum, bass or string. As an exercise in nailing a sound – lonesome travelling troubadour it ain’t half bad. Lots of walking blues half sung half spoken in a surprisingly weathered and clear voice given the youthfulness of the face on the CD cover.  Continue reading “Little Diamonds “New Orleans Bound” (Independent, 2016)”

Torgeir Waldemar “No Offending Borders” (Ja.Jansen plateproduksjon, 2017)

Torgeir Waldemar’s second solo album is a simply stunning offering – a beautifully balanced combination of visionary acoustic songs, full of strong and vivid imagery, and more strident West Coast rock songs, sweetly melodic but shot through with bursts of fuzzed up guitar adding depth to lyrics of loss and despairing pain. It’s a pure delight from the hypnotically circular finger-picked opener Falling Rain (Link Wray) to the closer I see the end which sounds like a nineteenth century hymnal reshaped as a devotional love song. Continue reading “Torgeir Waldemar “No Offending Borders” (Ja.Jansen plateproduksjon, 2017)”

Jarrod Dickenson “Ready The Horses” (Hooked Records, 2017)

Good God Jarrod can sing. He’s a storyteller with a voice rich as agave nectar; he holds a narrative and bends it however he feels, you hang onto every word. On this set of songs he’s pretty much equidistant between Tom Waits and Michael Buble, and that’s not meant to be derogatory in any way, it’s testament to the way he controls the songs and the audience – the opening one-two of the bluesy belters of Faint of Heart and Take It From Me are big set-pieces full of showmanship  Then he settles down and the simpler Your Heart Belongs To Me shows him in more intimate circumstances his voice even more seductive when near a whisper. Continue reading “Jarrod Dickenson “Ready The Horses” (Hooked Records, 2017)”

Bill Kirchen & Austin De Lone “Transatlanticana” (Proper Records 2017)

Bill Kirchen should be familiar to many here as a founding member of 70’s country rockers Commander Cody And his Lost Planet Airmen before going on to carve out a career that has led to his nickname of Titan Of The Telecaster. Austin De Lone? Well, he’s every bit as hallowed as Kirchin although the congregation might be somewhat smaller. He’s an American but one who first came to prominence (back in the 70’s again) with London pub rockers Eggs Over easy, one of those bands who kicked Prog in the balls with their return to the roots (and incidentally preparing the way for punk). The pair first bonded back in the 70’s and it would take a Pete Frame like Family Tree to describe their ongoing affiliations, partnerships and mutual connections, suffice to say that Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe loom large, the latter producing the duo when they were called The Moonlighters. Continue reading “Bill Kirchen & Austin De Lone “Transatlanticana” (Proper Records 2017)”