Ady Johnson “London Songs” (Independent, 2018)

It isn’t often that a record reminds the listener of Ray Davies, Mark Linkous and Tom Waits, as this one does. It has the lyrical sensibility of Davies, the clatter and oomph of Waits at his most extravagant and it has the shifts in tone, the juxtaposition of the abrasive and the beautiful as mastered by Sparklehorse. This eclecticism raises it above the usual level, enabling him to use bold swipes like the way the brass slashes across ‘Problems of Your Own’, changing the arc of the song. And how many are brave enough to use the bullfrog rumble of the tuba as Johnson does on ‘Put the World on Standby.’ Continue reading “Ady Johnson “London Songs” (Independent, 2018)”

Arcelia “Building On The Land” (How Now 2018)

In Old Spanish, Arcelia means “treasure chest” which is a good way of describing the outstanding musicianship and variety of this album. Arcelia are a trio consisting of Gavin Alexander on guitar and vocals; Teresa Gallager on vocals; and Simon Foster on keys, cajon and vocals. They are supported, mostly, by Perry White on piano and Martin Elliott on bass. The first track, ‘Fallen,’ written by Gavin Alexander and Cat Bloomfield, with whom he has penned many songs, sets the tone perfectly for the collection. The implied depth of meaning “Fallen, fallen, but got up again” has a sustaining force, maintained by its harmonies. Continue reading “Arcelia “Building On The Land” (How Now 2018)”

Jane Allison “Methylene Blue” (Horus Music Limited 2017)

Just occasionally, an album comes along where almost from the first note the music just reaches out, wraps itself around you and reaches deep into your very soul. With her second album, Methylene Blue, Aberystwyth born Jane Allison takes the foundations laid down in her earlier music and has crafted an album of unexpected maturity and simple beauty that enchants and delights from start to finish.  Continue reading “Jane Allison “Methylene Blue” (Horus Music Limited 2017)”

Nathaniel Bellows “Swan and Wolf” (Independent 2018)

Polymath Bellows has released an album and accompanying art work designed to give the listener a whole artistic experience. This reviewer is fairly unimpressed. In order to arrest the attention of an audience, an artist needs to corral some fairly random items but principally we need decent songs and production that highlights the source material in an appropriate way which reflects the artist’s intentions and gives the potential listener a way of accessing the deeper meanings and understandings to be gleaned from the art. [this is possibly the longest sentence ever written on this site – Ed] Continue reading “Nathaniel Bellows “Swan and Wolf” (Independent 2018)”

Owen Williams “Standing Still Will Kill You” (Independent 2018)

Opening with the Gospel-tinged ‘Else The Devil Try’ and then dragging the choir into the far more country rocky ‘The Man Who Ate The Hurricane’ sets Williams’s stall out as a purveyor of the gothic country as demonstrated by the likes of Viarosa and some of Willard Grant (without the apocalyptic vocals). There’s lots of fire and fury with Williams couching his vocals atop a swinging guitar and piano refrain. ‘Oil and Water’ is similar in the way that a motif is created before the echoey vocals dive in, followed by the wailing backing vocals and feedback dripping guitar. This is moody stuff! Continue reading “Owen Williams “Standing Still Will Kill You” (Independent 2018)”

All The Luck In The World “A Blind Arcade” (Independent 2018)

All The Luck in the World are three young Irish songwriters from County Wicklow who gained a degree of attention when a home recorded song of theirs titled ‘Never’ gained a large following on YouTube back in 2012, and subsequently got picked up by the travel comparison website, Trivago – further enhancing their exposure. Continue reading “All The Luck In The World “A Blind Arcade” (Independent 2018)”

3hattrio “Lord Of The Desert” (Okehdokee Records, 2018)

Great music is often connected to the landscape it springs from and, listening to it, your imagination will immediately take you to that land. ‘Lord of the Desert’, from US folk group 3hattrio, immediately transports you to the desert lands of the Zion National Park in Utah, which this eclectic group of musicians, folklorists, artists and poets call home. Deserts can be among the most beautiful locations on the planet; there’s a haunting quality to them that is also apparent in this fascinating collection of songs and tunes on an album that is captivating for the sense of wide open space it conjures up. Continue reading “3hattrio “Lord Of The Desert” (Okehdokee Records, 2018)”

Christina Martin “Impossible To Hold” (Come Undone Records, 2018)

It’s always a quandary when reviewing whether comparing your subject to other acts is a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes you just end up listing a load of the artist’s obvious influences rather than actually writing; sometimes it’s essential to name check other well-known acts in order to help the reader fully grasp what it is you can hear. It is a problem trying to turn sound into words without some kind of special, futuristic machine invented by Doc Brown in the year 2055 and brought back to the present in a Delorean. Oh, how we wish had one of those machines at Americana UK Towers. Continue reading “Christina Martin “Impossible To Hold” (Come Undone Records, 2018)”

Hunter Muskett “Unafraid and Sober” (Independent 2018)

Now reformed for longer than their original incarnation (1968-1974) Hunter Muskett reconvened in 2010 in the the excellent Aspinall Arms near Clitheroe after a Cherry Red re-release of one of their originals garnered more than a little praise. They liked it so much they set about recording again and Unafraid and Sober is the second album and not a shabby job it is at all. Continue reading “Hunter Muskett “Unafraid and Sober” (Independent 2018)”

Simon Linsteadt “February” (Stormy Deep Records 2018)

This album exudes relaxed California cool, which is just as well really as the artist is a native of that State. Without the knowledge that this was a new release it is likley that you would assume that the music here hails from the early 70’s. There are many comparisons that can be made such as America, Poco (indeed Linsteadt’s voice is not unlike that of Timothy B Schmit) Seals & Croft and almost all of the Laurel Canyon brigade. There is a gentleness to the whole work which is essentially acoustic demonstrating Lindsteadt’s guitar skills. Continue reading “Simon Linsteadt “February” (Stormy Deep Records 2018)”