Martin Scorsese “No Direction Home–10th anniversary edition” (White Horse Productions, 2016)

no-direction-homeIt would be a huge exaggeration to say that Martin Scorsese’s documentary film on Dylan‘s early years in Greenwich Village reignited his career but, when it was initially broadcast in 2006, it did serve to increase interest in the Nobel laureate to be by a considerable amount. Certainly the subsequent legs of the so-called Never Ending Tour took in venues like the O2 Dome and Wembley Arena, a step up in size from the likes of Hammersmith Odeon. No Direction Home was also directly responsible for the fictionalised portrayal of the times in Inside Llewellyn Davis. Continue reading “Martin Scorsese “No Direction Home–10th anniversary edition” (White Horse Productions, 2016)”

Amanda Richards ‘’Tough Ones To Love’’ (Independent, 2016)

amanda-richards-2016Sometimes a record comes along and completely blows you away. Amanda Richards won’t be unfamiliar with this concept having been Grammy-nominated as an independent artist, but ‘’Tough Ones To Love’’ is very much in this category, with the songwriting and vocals being absolutely in-sync, alongside the musicality of Amanda’s long-time band ‘The Good Long While’.  Continue reading “Amanda Richards ‘’Tough Ones To Love’’ (Independent, 2016)”

The Flat Five “It’s A World of Love And Hope” (Bloodshot Records, 2016)

flat-five 2016The Flat Five are a Chicago based ‘supergroup’ . Between them they’ve worked with Neko Case, The Decemberists. Mavis Staples, Iron and Wine, plus a host of others. Without question an impressive collective pedigree. Ten years and more since their first live collaborations, this debut record is a real gem. Songwriter Chris Ligon is a purveyor of sweet , slightly off the wall, undeniably catchy tunes. The band comprises Chris’s brother Alex Ligon, Alex Hall, Kelly Hogan, Casey Mc Donough and Nora O’Connor. Opening track Florida is pure folky joy, a stone-cold obscure classic, dreaming of the Sunshine State whilst table waiting in cold Chicago.  Continue reading “The Flat Five “It’s A World of Love And Hope” (Bloodshot Records, 2016)”

Matthew Squires “Tambaleo” (Already Dead Tapes, 2017)

"Matthew-Squires-2017"Many a great musician has come out of Austin, Texas. It has historically offered up many left field artists and provided an outlet for music that might otherwise not have seen the light of day. So, Matthew Squires joins a long list of singer-songwriters using that base to get their music heard.
His music has been portrayed as idiosyncratic and ‘Tambaleo’, his sixth album, does nothing to dispel that description. This album is marketed as ‘subtly offbeat psychedelic pop’ which probably best sums up this offering. Easy listening it is not and it can be hard to detect the subtlety here. Marketed under the genre ‘Pop/Psych-Folk/Indie’ this may appeal to die-hard fans but it does not feel like an album that will bring his music to a wider audience. Continue reading “Matthew Squires “Tambaleo” (Already Dead Tapes, 2017)”

Rachel Yamagata “Tightrope Walker” (Frankenfish Records, 2016)

rachael-yamagata-tightrope-walkerRachel Yamagata can boast a who’s who of past co-conspirators – Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes and Ray Lamontagne most notably. To consider her purely on those terms, though, would be quite the disservice. Tightrope Walker is her fourth solo record; the first after a long gap of five years. Her muse for the project was Phillipe Petit – the infamous French high-wire artist who crossed between the Twin Towers in 1974. Petit’s reasoning behind the motivation for his feats, essentially ‘just because’ informed Yamagata’s songwriting raison d’etre –why not just quit? Why keep persevering? Just because – that’s why. It’s what musicians have to do!  Continue reading “Rachel Yamagata “Tightrope Walker” (Frankenfish Records, 2016)”

Stephen Feldman “The Ancient Art” (Independent, 2016)

Finding stephenfeldman1any information about Stephen Feldman on the internet is no easy task which is a pity as it would be good to tell more about an artist who has produced a very satisfying and thoughtful album here. It seems as though he is a Los Angeles based folk musician who is somewhat a veteran having released a number of albums before as part of a group called Poppa’s Kitchen but that is about all that is available. There are eleven songs here all of which have been written by or co written by the artist and all paint pictures of people and events. Continue reading “Stephen Feldman “The Ancient Art” (Independent, 2016)”

Radical Face, The Scala, London – Tuesday 22nd November 2016

The Scala’s stage had been transformed into a magical winter forest – with bare skeletal trees adorned with tiny lights and a drifting mist from the smoke machine making for a Narnian backdrop for both Radical Face and their opener Austin Basham. In a checked shirt and bearded, of course, and sporting a wholly unnecessary – given the rising temperature in the Scala – woolly hat Austin Basham had the appearance of a woodsman, his axe in this case being an acoustic guitar. Continue reading “Radical Face, The Scala, London – Tuesday 22nd November 2016”

Fred’s House “Fault Lines” (Cracking Tunes, 2016)

freds-house-2016Fault Lines is the second album by Fred’s House, following on from their well-received debut, Bonnie and Clyde. Wikipedia cites them as an award winning band based in Cambridge mixing elements of Folk, Pop, Country, Classic Rock and West Coast with a definite vintage feel to their music, echoing the 70’s but creating a fresh new sound that is very much part of now. Continue reading “Fred’s House “Fault Lines” (Cracking Tunes, 2016)”

Michael Baker ”Dust & Bone” (Keys To The Kingdom Records, 2016)

michael_bakerMichael Baker may be a relative unknown in the world of Americana, but he shouldn’t be. ‘Dust & Bone’ is a mighty-accomplished album, with more than a hint of alt-rock and acoustic folk thrown in with the beautiful songwriting and smooth vocals. Kicking off with ‘Steady & The Stuck’, the acoustic intro quickly drops into a full-band chorus and whilst it is not overly electric or loud, it does contain a lot of power that turns the track into a wonderful introduction to Michael’s Anglo-French take on a classic Americana style. Continue reading “Michael Baker ”Dust & Bone” (Keys To The Kingdom Records, 2016)”

The Ormewoods “The Bedroom Sessions” (Independent, 2016)

Thithe-ormewoodss is unashamedly happy music from a new Atlanta based duo Don McCollister and Claire Pearson who appear all loved up and want the world to know about it. And why not in a year full of fraction and strife? Just to add to the frisson we are told that the record was recorded in the bedroom of Claire Pearson who wrote the lyrics on the ten tracks here. There is an energy and enthusiasm to the music which is refreshing and uplifting and whilst the excellent “Hey Babe” has a rootsy feel in the main the songs are mainstream pop fare.

Continue reading “The Ormewoods “The Bedroom Sessions” (Independent, 2016)”