Jane Kramer “Valley of The Bones” (Famous Brown Boots Music, ASCAP 2019)

Jane Kramer is a social worker, former domestic violence counsellor and avid humanitarian. Visiting prisons, classrooms, hospitals and rescue missions she has a message to share about the power of music for healing, connection and compassion. On the evidence of this, Kramer’s third studio album, it is a passion for which she is perfectly suited. Continue reading “Jane Kramer “Valley of The Bones” (Famous Brown Boots Music, ASCAP 2019)”

Jason Ringenberg “Stand Tall” (Courageous Chicken Music, 2019)

A few years back I had resigned myself to the fact that my days as a recording artist were probably over”: so begin the sleeve notes to Jason Ringenberg’s new album ‘Stand Tall’. And fans of his music were probably expecting this too: his previous solo album, ‘Empire Builders’, was released in 2004. So, what changed? It turns out that spending a month in isolation as artist-in-residence at Sequoia National Park in northern California does wonders for your songwriting. Continue reading “Jason Ringenberg “Stand Tall” (Courageous Chicken Music, 2019)”

Mavis Staples “Live In London” (Anti-, 2019)

At the age of 79 it would be perfectly understandable if Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Americana Grammy Award Winner and overall musical legend Mavis Staples were to make a move towards taking it easy, it’d be perfectly understandable – but not the case. Over the last few years she has released critically praised albums working with Wilco main man Jeff Tweedy as producer and co-writer of songs. And with a heritage of music back over, incredibly, six decades it is all the more remarkable that this new live album relies on the recent material – this is no “greatest hits” nostalgia package, this is an artist creating new music and taking it out to live on the road. Continue reading “Mavis Staples “Live In London” (Anti-, 2019)”

John Kilzer “Scars” (Archer Records, 2019)

On the title track of his second album on Archer Records, ‘Scars’, John Kilzer sings: “…And may you learn to love the scars.” He may well have been singing about his own rich and varied life, which has followed a redemptive story-arc, from being signed to a major label in the late ‘80s, through substance abuse and addiction in the 90’s and then ministry and supporting others in their recovery in the 21st century. All this experience is in evidence in Kilzer’s wearied, characterful vocals and mature, emotional songwriting. Continue reading “John Kilzer “Scars” (Archer Records, 2019)”

Suzanne Jarvie “In The Clear” (Wolf Island, 2019)

 Suzanne’s sophomore album follows confidently and precisely in the lines of her first album, ‘Spiral Road.’ Her family worries have now abated; her songwriting skills are powerfully varied and imaginative.‘In The Clear  demands your attention and moves you at the same time. ‘Headless Rider‘ is a perfect starter, traditional in its settings, “A lonesome switchback mountain road” and mysterious narrative: a woman on the stage being driven away, with a phantom, meaning to take her life. A gothic thriller then, with Jarvie’s voice holding you firmly with musicianship of the highest quality. Here are the Abrams Brothers providing violin and guitar echoing the narrative, and Burke Carroll’s pedal steel sustaining the thoughtful notes, with the realisation at the end of the song that “Everything she had it was burning away.” Continue reading “Suzanne Jarvie “In The Clear” (Wolf Island, 2019)”

The Delines “The Imperial” (Decor, 2018)

The Imperial’ is an album which has been highly anticipated amongst fans of the The Delines, made up of songwriter and novelist Willy Vlautin (formerly of Americana legends Richmond Fontaine) and vocalist Amy Boone with their band, Jenny Conlee, Sean Oldham and Tucker Jackson, since the release of their 2014 debut ‘Colfax’ which received universal acclaim amongst critics and the public alike and has been a long time coming after an accident which broke both of Boone’s legs and led to two years of surgery before finally being able to finish ‘The Imperial’ – a wait which has been more than worth it. Continue reading “The Delines “The Imperial” (Decor, 2018)”

Martyn Joseph “Here Come the Young” (Pipe Records, 2019)

History, as has often been pointed out, is just one thing after another. But within the churn it is also easy to feel trapped in a moment, and the uncertainty that seems to characterise the current zeitgeist is probably not so different from other times – if we could but see that. So in steps Martyn Joseph to hold up a mirror and shine an exploratory light through 11 songs on his new album ‘Here Come the Young’. Continue reading “Martyn Joseph “Here Come the Young” (Pipe Records, 2019)”

Sean McConnell “Secondhand Smoke” (Big Picnic Records, 2019)

It is probably too early in the year to think about what your album of the year is, but it would be safe to say that Sean McConnell’s new album ‘Secondhand Smoke’ will probably end up at the top of the list. The thirteen track album is pretty basic in terms of its production, everything recorded by him- minus the synths and strings. It has an authentic homegrown feel to the album which is nicely reflected in the fact he recorded it in his home. Continue reading “Sean McConnell “Secondhand Smoke” (Big Picnic Records, 2019)”

Better Oblivion Community Center “Better Oblivion Community Center” (Dead Oceans, 2019)

Phoebe Bridgers is definitely not one to shy away from collaborations. After finishing a tour with female supergroup, Boygenius, she turned her attention to working with Bright Eyes main man, Conor Oberst. Sometimes these collaboration projects can feel a little bit half-cocked and can sometimes sound like the artist’s work that wasn’t good enough to make the cut on their own albums. Thankfully this album doesn’t follow suit. Featuring musicians from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and Jack White’s band, the pair have gone all out to create what really is a treat for your ears. Continue reading “Better Oblivion Community Center “Better Oblivion Community Center” (Dead Oceans, 2019)”

Deer Tick “Mayonnaise” (Partisan Records, 2019)

Deer Tick, the mercurial Rhode Island indie outfit, have long been multi-labelled with Rock/Folk/Blues/Country tags but they don’t feel they have the drawl for the latter. Well my Providence friends, this is Americana UK, and you gentlemen are Americana at its finest, whether you like it or not. This latest release is proof once more, that this genre is a multi-faceted and exciting one and, in ‘Mayonnaise’, is being finely represented. Continue reading “Deer Tick “Mayonnaise” (Partisan Records, 2019)”