Old Crow Medicine Show “50 Years of Blonde on Blonde” (Columbia, 2017)

This was always going to be a major undertaking anyway you dice it. Old Crow Medicine Show, all fiddles and banjos, decided to perform Dylan’s iconic “Blonde on Blonde” album in its entirety to mark its 50th anniversary. The members of this band weren’t even born when the original album was recorded! But they’re on record as being huge Dylan fans and that fandom rings through this album loud and clear. First off, it’s worth taking a moment to remember just what an important record Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde is. Continue reading “Old Crow Medicine Show “50 Years of Blonde on Blonde” (Columbia, 2017)”

MYATB (Me You & The Boy) “MYATB” (Independent, 2017)

Hmmmm. This is a short EP that gives a taster of the the acoustic guitar-based duo MYATB (Me You & The Boy). Essentially it sounds as if the duo have taken their busking exploits into a studio and captured the live sound. No bad thing if the songs are sufficiently arresting and inventive and the arrangements compelling. However that is not really the case here. The songs themselves do not benefit from an apparently flat production and the performances although musically competent (apart from one guitar break during “Pennypot Lane” wherein the guitarist appears to get lost) do not grab the listener – after a couple of plays the strident vocal delivery begins to irritate. Continue reading “MYATB (Me You & The Boy) “MYATB” (Independent, 2017)”

Joe Purdy, The Portland Arms, Cambridge, 9th June 2017

Perhaps the events of the previous night gave this Joe Purdy gig an additional frisson – who couldn’t be even more than usually moved by songs asking for – nay, demanding – equality, tolerance and understanding the day after divisiveness and insularity had been so strikingly rejected ? Here, in a small venue behind the main bar of The Portland Arms, was an audience waiting for Joe Purdy to articulate the way that they were feeling – and he didn’t disappoint. Continue reading “Joe Purdy, The Portland Arms, Cambridge, 9th June 2017”

Jupiter Owls “The Fallow Cry Of The Jupiter Owls” (Cupboard Under The Stairs, 2016)

Jupiter Owls are a four piece band hailing from Frome in Somerset. This is their first release with all eleven tracks here (one co-write excepted) having been written by John Libert who appears to be the driving force and lead vocalist. Described by the band as providing a chilled mix of folk / pop with a sound evocative of the early 70’s West Coast scene, you get the idea of the vibe and style on display. The playing is really good throughout with some terrific slide guitar in evidence particularly on Lightning Strikes The Sea where the standard is up there with the very best.

Continue reading “Jupiter Owls “The Fallow Cry Of The Jupiter Owls” (Cupboard Under The Stairs, 2016)”

Underhill Rose “Live” (Independent, 2017)

From North Carolina , Underhill Rose (Molly Rose Reed, Eleanor Underhill and Salley Williamson), complement their three studio albums with this stripped back live recording, the release coinciding with their current UK tour. Recorded over two nights last September in Asheville, North Carolina in front of family and friends, the album features the trio playing double bass, guitar and banjo with all three sharing vocal duties. Continue reading “Underhill Rose “Live” (Independent, 2017)”

Sammy Brue ” I Am Nice” (New West Records 2017)

Bloody hell. This is the frankly astonishing debut album from the Portland, Oregon native Brue who has been mentored by Justin Townes Earle and produced by half of The Civil Wars and a quarter of the Alabama Shakes and is only 15yrs old. This is Stevie Winwood territory smashing into a scene when still of school age with a prodigious talent that defies convention. Why so good? Not just his age surely? No not at all but that does play into the critical assessment. There is no doubt that the production has lifted the occasional bit of weak material but the majority of this album aims high and invariably hits the target. This is no novelty record. Continue reading “Sammy Brue ” I Am Nice” (New West Records 2017)”

Ron Sexsmith, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 24th May 2017

Late spring London was showing off its finery on an exceptionally warm evening, whilst Lori Cullen was inside the Islington Assembly Hall as opening act for Ron Sexsmith, singing her light jazzy songs – some of them co-writes by her husband and Ron (who provided the lyrics) – that make up her new album. The inattentive and chatty audience aside, it’s the perfect gentle scene setter for the main man. Ron Sexsmith is, of course, a songwriter deep in the tradition of the craft – if I was the kind of person who used the phrase I might say Old School – hell, he even has a slide show from a genuine slide projector to accompany his set. Continue reading “Ron Sexsmith, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 24th May 2017”

Nathan Oliver “Head In The Sand” (Potluck Foundation 2017)

This 20 minute EP takes the listener back to a time when fuzzed guitars and shoegazing was not considered the social misdemeanour it is perhaps considered today (despite its reflowering this summer) . Nathan White IS Nathan Oliver – well, him and some fine pick up instrumentalists and this EP represents a return to recording after 8yrs off and took a year to record ( now that’s what I call a work ethic 1yr = 20mins of music) but it does have the feel of a serious piece of work despite its very solidly signposted influences and heritage. Continue reading “Nathan Oliver “Head In The Sand” (Potluck Foundation 2017)”

Steve Mayone “Sideways Rain” (Janglewood Records, 2017)

Brooklyn based Steve Mayone is one of those artists who generally get on with it. It being his daily graft as a musician, working with a host of others and finding time to release a series of albums which are well acclaimed. Indeed this site noted when reviewing his Long Play Record (2009) that it was “full of inspired songs which touches base with Americana, wistful acousticism and Beatles-style Power Pop.” He doesn’t get his name in lights but it is a guarantee of quality music. Continue reading “Steve Mayone “Sideways Rain” (Janglewood Records, 2017)”

Todd Adelman & The Country Mile “Time will tell” (Porch Lantern Music, 2016)

On his sixth studio album country-roots rocker Todd Adelman has a preoccupation with the passage of time, ageing and the myriad changes in his homelands. These missives from rural America are set to a traditional country-rock sound, with rumbling guitar licks, courtesy of Eben Grace, and Ben Gallagher’s piano which can move from subtle and in the background to stridently foreground and more than slightly honky-tonk. It’s a rich and rounded sound that was captured pretty much live in the studio, and all the better for it. Continue reading “Todd Adelman & The Country Mile “Time will tell” (Porch Lantern Music, 2016)”