The latest solo album from prolific Men at Work frontman Colin Hay is a lesson in how deceptive appearances can be. The kitschy cover design looks like a collage of stock photos and clip art, and could suggest equally unpolished contents (to those unfamiliar with Hay’s oeuvre, anyway). Nothing could be further from the truth. Top-notch production values are on display from the opening bars of Come Tumblin’ Down. Satisfying Americana flavours of banjo, accordion, and a twangy Telecaster feature prominently in a rich and masterful arrangement. Continue reading “Colin Hay “Fierce Mercy” (Compass Records, 2017)”
Sixty seconds into show opener Rose Colored Blues and the famously hard to please Borderline feet were tapping. Quite an achievement for an Americana songsmith faced with a London crowd of semi-interested drinkers with a copy of Time Out in one hand and a pint of Pride in the other, but Andrew Combs cuts through mediocrity. There were certain factors on his side tonight for sure. The sound was as smooth as his Southern drawl. From my location at the bar it sounded like a band which blended together like a fine single malt. Continue reading “Andrew Combs, London Borderline, 9th May 2017”
John Smith has been lauded as one to watch for some time now, attracting effusive praise from peers and press alike. He has opened for the likes of John Martyn and John Renbourn, guested with Jackson Browne and Rodney Crowell, and played sessions alongside David Gray and Joan Baez. Headlong is John’s fifth album, and the impressive rollcall continues, as he employs Cara Dillon on backing vocals and Sam Lakeman both plays and produces.
Serial collaborator and producer Eric Ambel returns with his first solo record in over a decade. “Lakeside”, supposedly named after Ambel’s favourite former boozer, delivers ten tracks that would feel right at home in any dive where the floorboards are seasoned with spilled beer and the pool tables’ resale value ruined by cigarette damage. Continue reading “Eric Ambel “Lakeside” (Last Chance Records / At The Helm Records, 2017)”
Were it not for the declaration on the album cover that “millions of us…consider ourselves as both citizens of the UK and Europe” Morton Valence’s latest release would represent the subtlest political album you’re ever likely to encounter. At first glance it’s a collection of multi-lingual cover versions, capped off with a reworking of the band’s own Sailors’ Return. Look a little closer and there’s a subliminal message here : je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais takes Serge Gainsbourg’s song and makes of it a lament for the EU Referendum vote, following it up with a crackling Weimer republic version of Wenn ich mir was wunschen durfte that hammers home the message. Continue reading “Morton Valence “Europa” (Bastard Recordings, 2017)”
It’s refreshing to come across an Americana album that’s essentially a fun listen, so kudos to Mike Felten for that feat alone. A Chicago native, he’s been a record store owner, open miker and gigging troubadour for the best part of half a century. Daresay that he’s pretty much seen it all… Continue reading “Mike Felten “Diamonds And Televisions” (2017, Independent)”
Daylight Moon is the ninth studio album in a career spanning 26 years from Cambridge-based band Ezio. A popular online encyclopedia would have us believe that this is a folk music band, but judging from the smorgasbord of musical sounds and styles found on this album that is a far too simplistic description and exposes the limitations of trying to pin labels onto musicians.
One of the leading Folk and Americana exponents, Tim Grimm, delivers his latest album rich in imagery and potent of lyrics. The personal, the political and the social are all examined, alongside tunes of real beauty delivered with glorious textured vocals. Tim is supported, in writing and recording, by his sons Jackson and Connor alongside his wife Jan, who weighs in with harmonica and vocals. Continue reading “Tim Grimm and the Family Band “A Stranger In This Time” (Cavalier Recordings 2017)”
‘Outerboros’ is the debut full-length from New York native, Douglas Jay Goldstein. He is a lifelong banjo virtuoso who started to study the instrument at the tender age of 9, and whose talent has led to him playing on many sessions. Adopting the moniker of Dougmore, he is venturing out of his safe zone on his first studio release, recorded in New York’s legendary Magic Shop Studios (used by Lou Reed, The Ramones and other legendary artists), and shows clearly that his talent stretches beyond his banjo expertise. Continue reading “Dougmore “Outerboros” (Independent, 2017)”
Juxtaposing comparisons with Regina Spektor and Laura Marling against kind words from BBC Cornwall perhaps paints, somewhat immediately, a picture of rural English gentility. And quaint though this, Little Lapin’s third outing, undoubtedly is… unfortunately, it’s also a touch inconsistent. Continue reading “Little Lapin “Wake Up With The Sun” (Independent, 2017)”