Jake Xerxes Fussell “Out of Sight” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2019)

There are nine tracks on North Carolina folk musician  Jake Xerxes Fussell’s third album, ‘Out of Sight’, and in the sleeve notes meticulously explaining each one’s backstory, one adjective appears in all of them: traditional. But it’d be very wrong to assume that ‘Out of Sight’ simply picks up from where Fussell left off on his first two albums,  also made up entirely of  re-worked and often long-forgotten folk songs. That said, on his latest album, Fussell unearths songs from locations as diverse as County Offaly in Ireland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida and the Chattahoochee River separating Alabama from Georgia. Continue reading “Jake Xerxes Fussell “Out of Sight” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2019)”

Markus Rill and the Troublemakers “Songland” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)

Hailing originally from Germany, Markus Rill owes his Americana roots to his formative years spent in Austin, Texas. Playing with the likes of Townes van Zandt, and praised for his songwriting skills by highly respected artists such as Gretchen Peters, Rosanne Cash and Ray Wylie Hubbard, Mr Rill clearly has something to offer.
Continue reading “Markus Rill and the Troublemakers “Songland” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)”

Bruce Springsteen “Western Stars” (Columbia, 2019)

The lone traveler sticks out his thumb and his journey begins. Across the country he hitch-hikes, catching rides from family men, truck drivers, muscle car owners and the like, listening to their stories and situations as he moves from town to town. So begins ‘Western Stars,’ the most densely cinematic Bruce Springsteen album since ‘The Rising.’ Continue reading “Bruce Springsteen “Western Stars” (Columbia, 2019)”

Bill Callahan “Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest” (Drag City, 2019)

Bill Callahan makes everything sound momentous – that dark growl of a baritone, reminiscent of Kurt Wagner, adds weight of course.  And then there’s the quietly, and intellectually, confessional side of his lyrics which means that the lyrics tend to drop like concrete blocks, cemented permanently in place before the next thought is paraded slyly before the listener. And although it has been six years from his last release nothing has changed fundamentally in the music although ‘Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest‘ is if anything even further stripped back, predominantly guitar and vocal and little else other than little electronic effects, found sounds and the plinking of thumb piano. Continue reading “Bill Callahan “Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest” (Drag City, 2019)”

The Hollering Pines “Moments in Between” (Independent, 2019)

‘Moments in Between’ is the third album from Salt Lake City band The Hollering Pines. It has a clear, crisp production, some nice harmonising by sisters Marie Bradshaw and Kiki Jane Sieger and even features pedal steel from no less than Greg Leisz. From the gentle, melodic opening of ‘He Don’t Understand’ to the rocking finale of ‘Keep it Light’ the album presents a series of well-crafted songs. The pick of them, ‘Out of Dodge’ has a slight indie feel added to its country-rock base, producing a Cowboy Junkies, Mount Moriah type feel. Continue reading “The Hollering Pines “Moments in Between” (Independent, 2019)”

Massy Ferguson “Great Divides” (North and Left, 2019)

In January 2017, AUK colleague Dave Cowling posted a positive review of a previous release by Massy Ferguson, ‘Run it Right into the Wall’, and came to the following conclusions: “‘Into the Wall’ encapsulates everything that is both good about them and this genre …. MF are the kind of band that are the bedrock of this genre…. they make records that are beautifully crafted and worthy of a wider audience but are destined only for diehards; which is a shame.” Continue reading “Massy Ferguson “Great Divides” (North and Left, 2019)”

Buddy and Julie Miller “Breakdown on 20th Ave. South” (New West, 2019)

The husband and wife songwriting team reunite here for their first set of new songs in ten years. In truth the songs have been written by Julie in the period Buddy was busy working with a host of luminaries from the world of Americana. Back in 2009 the duo released ‘Written In Chalk’ and eight years before that their ‘Buddy and Julie Miller’ album won the “Album of the Year” Award from the Americana Music Association. The 2010s have seen the couple have quite different experiences. Continue reading “Buddy and Julie Miller “Breakdown on 20th Ave. South” (New West, 2019)”

Derek Senn “How Could A Man” (Independent, 2019)

California local Derek Senn took a weird and winding way into music, having a few early brushes with the guitar but not really picking it up seriously until his thirties. Armed with a sudden desire to write songs, he started working away diligently down in the song mine, the subject of the tenth track on ‘How Could A Man‘, his third album to date. The hard work has clearly paid off, because this is a heartfelt, funny, brilliant piece of work. Continue reading “Derek Senn “How Could A Man” (Independent, 2019)”

The Alvarez Theory “The Alvarez Theory” (Independent, 2019)

Starting life as a solo project for Diana (Dee) Diehl, The Alvarez Theory have produced an album of gentle, intimate songs. The band describe them as “tales of small-town heroes, barflies & gunslingers, heart breakers & heartbroken”. All of which amounts to a prime piece of Americana straight out of North London. Continue reading “The Alvarez Theory “The Alvarez Theory” (Independent, 2019)”

Yunger “Of Journeys and Other Longings” (Independent, 2019)

Summer is coming and, if you’re looking for a soundtrack to accompany you on your travels through those hazy, sunny days, then you may well have found it in the dreamy indie-pop folk of Yunger’s first solo album. Yunger is the solo folk project of Felix Junger, a multi-instrumentalist who performs in a variety of genres. Here, he displays mastery of various instruments, including acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, banjo and accordion, all of which he played and recorded himself. Continue reading “Yunger “Of Journeys and Other Longings” (Independent, 2019)”