Signe Marie Rustad “When Words Flew Freely” (Die With Your Boots On Records, 2019)

Big in Norway’ might not seem like the kind of ringing endorsement that will have you reaching for your wallet to buy Signe Marie Rustad’s new album ‘When Words Flew Freely’; but honestly, you know what? It should. The Norwegians and their burgeoning Americana fan base clearly have an eye (and ear) for talent. Rustad was nominated for a Spelleman (Norwegian Grammy) for her second album ‘Hearing Colors Seeing Noises‘ in 2016 and she is without doubt a very accomplished songwriter.
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Kevin Daniel “Things I Don’t See” (Independent, 2019)

Prior to commencing a solo career in 2013, Kevin Daniel, a multi-instrumentalist, had played in a diverse range of settings from bluegrass quartets to big jazz bands. Daniel’s musical eclecticism is reflected in this album which shares with us twangy guitar, glorious three-part harmonies, Hammond B3 organ, strings and unexpected horns on some of the tracks. Tragedy haunts the title track, ‘Things I Don’t See’ which explores the moments before Daniel’s mother and step-father died in a plane crash.
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Scott H.Biram “Sold Out to the Devil: A Collection of Gospel Cuts by the Rev. Scott H. Biram” (Bloodshot Records, 2019)

Hailing from Austin Texas, Scott H. Biram brings a distinctive elemental country blues sound to his latest album, ‘Sold Out to the Devil: A Collection of Gospel Cuts by the Rev. Scott H. Biram’, on which he plays all instruments and provides both lead and backing vocals. As the title suggests, this is a collection of songs with a strong gospel thread, but we are in the realm of struggles for salvation more than simple praise for the Lord.
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Honey Cane “Brother Sister” (Independent, 2019)

Artists and their work often develop a tight bond with a specific geographical location. Whole genres are identified by their association with a region but perhaps less common is an entire album evoking a place. Honey Cane’s second album ‘Brother Sister’ does just that in creating a record that sonically embraces their home state of California. Whether big cities, arid desert or wild coastline, this aural travelogue stops everywhere. Sundrenched aptly describes the Americana, indie-folk and pop that lie within Honey Cane’s state lines. Continue reading “Honey Cane “Brother Sister” (Independent, 2019)”

The Bean Pickers Union “Archeology” (Independent, 2019)

‘Archaeology’ by The Bean Pickers Union, a small collective of musicians based in Cambridge Massachusetts, can best be described as authentic Americana. It has got everything you would expect – banjo, pedal steels, and even a cello, whatever you are hoping to hear will be found on this album. The ten-track album takes you on a journey that visits old school folk and Americana that then leaves you up to date with a cool folk-rock feel at the end. Continue reading “The Bean Pickers Union “Archeology” (Independent, 2019)”

The Milk Carton Kids “The Only Ones” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)

With ‘The Only Ones,’ The Milk Carton Kids go back to their roots: acoustic guitars and ethereal harmonies delivering lyrics that detail all the emotions love evokes. Musical duos will inevitably be compared to those that came before, and while The Milk Carton Kids conjure everyone from Simon and Garfunkel to the O’Kanes, ‘The Only Ones’ prove they can confidently hold their own, alongside their influences. Continue reading “The Milk Carton Kids “The Only Ones” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)”

Twain “Adventure” (Keeled Scales, 2019)

‘Adventure’ is the follow up to 2017’s highly acclaimed ‘Rare Feeling’ – an album that earned a 10/10 review from fellow Americana-UK writer, Scott Baxter, who described it, at the time, as “the finest album I’ve been passed since I first started reviewing albums for this site some 10 years ago”. That’s quite a substantial amount of praise and I was expecting great things from this album.
The thing about reviews is that, while we strive to be as objective as possible, a certain amount of subjectivity will always come into play so, perhaps I should hold my hand up and say that Scott and I have slightly differing musical tastes. Continue reading “Twain “Adventure” (Keeled Scales, 2019)”

Betsy Phillips “Like We’re Talking” (Independent, 2019)

In the 1970s cult science-fiction comedy novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, given the billions of planets floating around the universe, the description for Planet Earth is limited to two words: “mostly harmless”.  And, regrettably, “mostly harmless” could also apply to Nebraska-born singer-songwriter Betsy Phillips latest EP, ‘Like We’re Talking’.
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Josh Rouse “The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse (Yep Roc, 2019)

Josh Rouse is the master of intelligent soft rock with a West Coast twist. Over the last couple of albums he appears to have lost his mojo somewhat but this collection of songs, old and new, celebrating the festive season, really marks a return to form as he ploughs his traditional furrow of slightly jazz inflected guitar based songs.
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The Band “The Band (50th Anniversary Edition)” (Capitol/UMe, 2019)

It could have been called ‘America’, but it is justifiably called ‘The Band’. Legend has it that it  was conceived as a concept album relating to different aspects of America and the Deep South. It is carefully planned and structured, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, awesome as those parts are. It still stands out in sharp contrast to almost everything else in the contemporary soundscape. Continue reading “The Band “The Band (50th Anniversary Edition)” (Capitol/UMe, 2019)”