Nick County & The Rainbow Smoke “Cocorico Simpatico Corazón” (Public Works, 2019)

The second album by self-styled Miami cowboy Nick County, ‘Cocorico Simpatico Corazón‘ is a record of mostly roots-rock, songs that one might call Pettyesque or Mellencamp influenced, but there are exceptions. One such kicks the album out of the starting blocks with blaring horns and a tight rock arrangement not so far from Southside Johnny. ‘I Could Wait For You All Night‘ is a straight up tale of unrequited barroom bravado, with a narrator who has a girl in mind if he could only get the nerve up to get off his bar stool “and buy you a drink, it’s been my plan all along.” ‘Cocorico Simpatico Corazón‘ features quite a few such losers – or non-starters – in love, the other major theme is small time losers who’ve not caught a break. We may all be innocent when we dream, but these guys are just dreaming if they think anyone will believe their stories. Continue reading “Nick County & The Rainbow Smoke “Cocorico Simpatico Corazón” (Public Works, 2019)”

Owen Tromans “Between Stones” (Sacred Geometry, 2019)

‘Between Stones’, the latest album from Owen Tromans, based in Hampshire, has one foot firmly in the folk/progressive rock genre, but also has echoes of Neil Young that take it closer to the home territory of Americana. The latter is best heard in the prevailing sense of foreboding in ‘Mark Pales Ghost’ and the moving ballad ‘Burying the Moon King’, but Tromans’ vocal style has a strong hint of Young’s delivery on many of the album’s tracks. Continue reading “Owen Tromans “Between Stones” (Sacred Geometry, 2019)”

Del Barber “Easy Keeper” (Acronym, 2019)

Too often these days, when an artist tries on the sound of the past he may get the music right – using all the proper amps, vintage guitars, analog equipment and such – and still not have anything interesting to put on top of it. Kind of like a hipster with a Civil War beard and suspenders who owns a vintage typewriter but who’s only capable of typing out Dick and Jane-level prose. So much posing, so little substance. It’s pretty simple: when your music and melodies sound like they could have been outtakes from the legendary mid-70s progressive country documentary, ‘Heartworn Highways’ – sitting around the kitchen table with Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Steve Earle – your lyrics better deliver. Thankfully, Del Barber delivers. Continue reading “Del Barber “Easy Keeper” (Acronym, 2019)”

EG Vines “Family Business” (Independent, 2019)

When his band called it a day in 2015, EG Vines decided to strike out on his own. Last year’s EP ‘Conversation’ put listeners on notice that there was more to come. Vines’ debut LP ‘Family Business’ is out now and it has a lot of good things going for it. The songwriting is intelligent but easy. The arrangements bring Petty, DBT, and the Black Crowes to mind. The production is top-notch, and while it leans Nashville, it doesn’t squelch the songwriter’s swagger that Vines brings to each track. For a debut album, that should be enough . . . but why stop there? Continue reading “EG Vines “Family Business” (Independent, 2019)”

Chance Meyer and the Bloody 98s “Ashdown” (Independent, 2019)

Coming from a classic Americana standpoint the Bloody 98s’ album ‘Ashdown’ is a thing of beauty. This is hewn from the same tree as The Rustlanders, Whiskeytown and Bruntnell circa ‘Shot from a Spring’ or ‘Here Comes the Swells’. Big, wide-open sounds, full band and fuller harmonies on the choruses, bruisy guitars, pedal steel and lyrics drenched in the blue-collar experience. Continue reading “Chance Meyer and the Bloody 98s “Ashdown” (Independent, 2019)”

Andrew Combs “Ideal Man” (New West Records, 2019)

This is a very interesting album – not least because it’s asking you to expand the concept of what you consider “Americana”; and we’re not just talking about a bit of pop sensibility or some string washes. Combs is a Nashville based singer/songwriter, originally from Dallas Texas, and “Ideal Man” is his fourth studio album. Early comparisons, especially following his 2010 debut E.P. (“Tennessee Time”), likened him to Gene Clark and Mickey Newbury – and it’s easy to hear why when you listen to some of the cuts on this album. Songs like ‘Firestarter’ and album closer ‘You’re Like the Country’ are strong, narrative songs with great lyrical content and simple, tuneful melodies. Elsewhere on this album things get a little less identifiable and you might start to feel like Alice dropping down the rabbit hole! Continue reading “Andrew Combs “Ideal Man” (New West Records, 2019)”

Bill Scorzari “Now I’m Free” (Independent, 2019)

Once or twice a year, an album rolls onto the scene that is quickly and widely hailed as a game-changer. But if ‘Now I’m Free’ scores a few remarkable goals, it doesn’t, at least for this reviewer, kick the ball clear out of the stadium. First, the bare facts: Bill Scorzari’s third album is a 15-track, 74-minute marathon of fairly mainstream roots/Americana music, and is – to quote him – a result of  “three years’ introspection and contemplation of the human condition.” To some, the sheer length of ‘Now I’m Free’ is maybe a little daunting, and that kind of aim might sound like it’s been culled from the back of a philosophy book, rather than being the publicity blurb for a third album by a former New York trial lawyer. Continue reading “Bill Scorzari “Now I’m Free” (Independent, 2019)”

The Gina Furtado Project “I Hope You Have A Good Life” (Independent, 2019)

You may already know Gina Furtado as Gina Clowes, banjo player for Chris Jones & The Night Drivers – and even a cursory listen to ‘I Hope You Have a Good Life‘ will explain why she is now recording under her maiden name. This is unmistakably a breakup album, although Gina Furtado has mostly spared us the miserable side of a divorce – there are no arguments, no recriminations, no period of emotional mourning. Instead the positivity of the title is reflected into songs that, on the whole, look optimistically to the future as a new chapter begins. Continue reading “The Gina Furtado Project “I Hope You Have A Good Life” (Independent, 2019)”

Jesse Malin “Sunset Kids” (Wicked Cool Records, 2019)

Next time you feel the need to reach for a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get does-exactly-what-is-says-on-the-tin’ record you could, in all honesty not do a lot better than Jesse Malin’s new album ‘Sunset Kids’. Don’t come knocking if you want surprises, but feel free to spin if you want the kind of solid rootsy rock ‘n’. roll that’s been round the block, seen it all and still knows damn well how to please. This is a great album of 14 hugely enjoyable songs. Continue reading “Jesse Malin “Sunset Kids” (Wicked Cool Records, 2019)”

One Eleven Heavy “Desire Path” (Beyond Beyond is Beyond, 2019)

They seem like a particularly American thing, these ever-changing congregations of individuals; coalescing around an idea to make music together while at the same time performing in/with/for numerous other bands. Do these in fact represent ‘real’ bands or are they some kind of short-lived vanity project? One Eleven Heavy are one such congregation who are definitely a band, just not an ‘exclusive’ one. Continue reading “One Eleven Heavy “Desire Path” (Beyond Beyond is Beyond, 2019)”