Shane Joyce “The Sadness of King Joyce” (Independent, 2018)

The Sadness of King Joyce is the debut solo album from Shane Joyce, front man for Ireland’s Midnight Union Band, a freewheeling bunch of folk rockers who recently whipped up a storm at the Ramblin’ Roots weekend. It’s a sight removed from the band’s usual fare with Joyce offering here nine songs which sound as if they were drawn from a well of desperation. He cites the Beat writers along with Dylan and Cohen as his mentors and the Cohen influence is evident on several of the songs here but elsewhere he summons up the sometimes sordid world of Jacques Brel while Gavin Friday and Tom Waits hover around also. Continue reading “Shane Joyce “The Sadness of King Joyce” (Independent, 2018)”

Port Cities “Port Cities” (Independent, 2018)

Port Cities is the award-winning combined efforts of three celebrated Nova Scotian musicians –  Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro and Breagh MacKinnon. They’ve joined together to produce a slab of (modern) Nashville inspired, poppy AOR meets slightly folky Americana. As such it’s inoffensive but decidedly unremarkable. There’s undoubtedly a growing market for this type of just about roots music, but as a sub-genre it falls a long way short of authentic/classic/gritty Americana. Continue reading “Port Cities “Port Cities” (Independent, 2018)”

Cold Tone Harvest “After You” (Independent, 2018)

With such an evocative band name, you could be forgiven for presumption about this bands style, and you may be half right. Yes, they are rural, and with Michigan being the Midwest, those winters will be long, and no it is not upbeat. But there is talent and beauty to be found in  ‘After You’, the self-released debut album from Cold Tone Harvest. Though founded in 2008,the laconic sound of their music was matched by the decade it took to get a debut long-player out, Continue reading “Cold Tone Harvest “After You” (Independent, 2018)”

Michael McDermott “Out From Under” (Pauper Sky Records, 2018)

Rarely can an album have been so aptly named as Michael McDermott’s latest effort ‘Out From Under’.  Now four years sober after 20 years of drink, drugs and even jail, McDermott has released a gem of an album that continues and even exceeds the high standard reached on his last release ‘Willow Springs’. Straight out of the blocks we get a glimpse into the dark underbelly of the addict with the self-destructive and nightmarish world that is so graphically depicted in the rhythmic opening track ‘Cal Sag Road’Continue reading “Michael McDermott “Out From Under” (Pauper Sky Records, 2018)”

Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner” (State Fair Records, 2018)

Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner’s self-titled album is an accomplished and heartfelt homage to Pedigo’s late father. From the title (inspired by his father’s terrible homebrew), to the themes of the songs (breakups, loss, the transient nature of life), it’s clear we’re in the middle of a deeply personal album.  Pedigo is Dallas singer/songwriter John Pedigo (The O’s) and this album was in response to his father’s battle with cancer. Written in part while his father was still alive, Pedigo has managed to produce an album that recognises that life can sometimes kick you down, but that there are always ways to find happiness. Continue reading “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner” (State Fair Records, 2018)”

Daniel Meade “When Was The Last Last Time” (Button Up Records, 2018)

Daniel Meade is many things but never dull. He’s been around in one form or another it seems forever, so prolific and varied is his work. Generally, that work would consist of rootsy music set to country beats but he has been known to deviate. It’s fair to say that’s the case with his latest release and this time he’s foregone that western flavour in favour of a more ballsy approach. Continue reading “Daniel Meade “When Was The Last Last Time” (Button Up Records, 2018)”

Rob Cheatham “Villains and Ghosts” (Delicious Records, 2018)

The latest album from Rob Cheatham, ‘Villains and Ghosts’ is an assured, alternative country offering, with strong songs and a sense of melancholy that runs through the work like a rich vein. Self-described as a singer-songwriter from Charlottesville, Virginia he has played in bands including The Nice Jenkins, Gunchux and The Borrowed Beams of Light before embarking on his solo journey. This is a band project though, with a powerful but understated sound. Influences include Springsteen, Adams and Isbell but that fine list doesn’t tell the whole story. Music must come from somewhere and although the influences are visible this is not derivative at all. The songs have their own presence and character. Continue reading “Rob Cheatham “Villains and Ghosts” (Delicious Records, 2018)”

The Magic City Trio “Amerikana Arkana” (Independent 2018)

This is a somewhat quirky but truly original offering from London based group The Magic City Trio who, according to their website take their inspiration from pre-war country music, The Carter Family, through to modern hillbilly noir found in the novels of Daniel Woodrell. The band comprises Frank Sweeney (Guitar, Vocals and Harmonica), Annie Holder (guitar, vocal and kazoo) and Adi Staempfli (bass and vocals) and it seems that they have written at least some if not all the ten tracks that comprise the album. That being the case they have indeed been seeped in the music as the songs are intelligent, original and authentic. The opening track ‘Black Dog Following Me’ will immediately take you to the opening scene of a spaghetti western such is the sound landscape that accompanies this clever track about mental fragility. Continue reading “The Magic City Trio “Amerikana Arkana” (Independent 2018)”

Kacy & Clayton “The Siren’s Song” (New West Records, 2018)

When an album cover brings to mind the swirling pop art of the hippy revolution of the 60s it creates an expectation of what might be expected from the music contained within. Hailing as they do from rural Canada, cousins Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum (ex Deep Dark Woods) have brought swirling guitars and haunting vocals to add to their obvious country and folk influences. The result is an album with definite nods to that generation defining era. Continue reading “Kacy & Clayton “The Siren’s Song” (New West Records, 2018)”

Levellers “We The Collective” (On The Fiddle Recordings, 2018)

It is easy to forget just how much commercial success Levellers have had; in the 1990s they had more platinum, gold and silver albums in the UK than any other British act. Testament to the appeal they have at a grassroots level rather than flowing from critical acclaim, Levellers have never been – or wanted to be – media darlings. So it is easy to imagine that an album trumpeted as a ‘celebration of their 30th anniversary’ which is composed of re-recordings of old material could have an accusation of ‘no new ideas here’ levelled (if you forgive me) at it. Continue reading “Levellers “We The Collective” (On The Fiddle Recordings, 2018)”