Hubert Murray “Shorten The Road EP” (Independent, 2016)

"Murray-Hubert-2016"Galway born Hubert Murray is already acclaimed for his flatpicking and slide guitar skills through his work with The Hot Rock Pilgrims and “bluegrass fusion” band Lands End. On Shorten The Road, his six track debut EP he steps up to the mic and proves he’s also a very accomplished singer and writer. If it weren’t for his bio one would swear on listening to the EP that he’s escaped from Texas as soon as the opening song “Will You Love Me Again” is out of the trap. With his guitar and assured voice accompanied by Leanne Thorose’s mandolin and harmony vocals it’s a bitter sweet country styled slice of life, the singer pleading for his lover to give him one more chance as he recalls their good times. Played with a nimble dexterity it wouldn’t be out of place on a Steve Young album. Continue reading “Hubert Murray “Shorten The Road EP” (Independent, 2016)”

Gov’t Mule “The Tel-Star Sessions” (Provogue/Mascot, 2016)

govt-mule-2016The Tel-Star Sessions consists of the previously unreleased earliest recordings by the original line-up of Gov’t Mule. Gov’t Mule was formed, in 1994, as a side project by Warren Haynes and Allen Woody who at the time were playing with the Allman Brothers band – with some spare time between commitments to their day jobs they decided to record a low-budget album and play a few shows, roping in Matt Abts to be the drummer for the trio. The concept for the recordings was to play live and loud and capture the excitement of a quintessential power-trio, and it is fair to say that this was achieved. Continue reading “Gov’t Mule “The Tel-Star Sessions” (Provogue/Mascot, 2016)”

Eve Selis “See Me with Your Heart” (Hippy Chick Twang, 2016)

eve-selis-2016In any other part of the world I’d expect the backstory to this album – Eve Selis’ ninth studio offering – to elicit the requisite sympathy. Eve Selis suffered a torn hamstring in 2014, that needed six months of rehabilitation and this affected her opportunities to make and record music – but also offered her some space to think about herself and write new material that meant a lot to her emotionally. Oh, did I mention that hamstring happened through a rollerblading accident? Continue reading “Eve Selis “See Me with Your Heart” (Hippy Chick Twang, 2016)”

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry “Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad” (Cooking Vinyl, 2016)

Bragg anbilly-bragg-joe-henryd Henry recorded these thirteen railway themed songs whilst travelling for 65 hours along the 2,728-mile rail journey from Chicago to LA. The songs were guerrilla recorded at station stops along the way – the railroad is present at all times in the subject of the songs or adding ambient sounds to the recordings. These boho hobos have found a way to celebrate the railroad as a cultural icon without a hint of a blush; the songs are performed with such sincerity, affection and joy it becomes infectious – the morning commute never seems so romantic.  Continue reading “Billy Bragg & Joe Henry “Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad” (Cooking Vinyl, 2016)”

Chip Taylor “Little Brothers” (Train Wreck Records, 2016)

As a veterChip Taylor-Little Brothersan of the music scene for the last sixty years or so, Chip Taylor has earned the right to make what could be considered an indulgent album telling stories from his life and family. It sounds like it could have been made as conversation flows and reminicences come forth following a long and well lubricated dinner party with relaxed and easy storytelling coming from a voice that sounds honeyed and velvety and which delivers the spoken and sung word with charm and wit. This is not an album to get the blood racing and it needs a few listens to “get”, but it is a generous piece with all the right sentiments. Continue reading “Chip Taylor “Little Brothers” (Train Wreck Records, 2016)”

Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)

Landing somewhere between the Cramps and the Handsome Family, this one-off project creates its own feral sound. It’s a musical collage with a Gothic heart. It flirts with genre but shies away from commitment – instead it skids from one thing to another, the opener skitting between avant electronica, Morricone western soundtrack and something swampy. ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ makes a bid for coherence and ends up like Lee Hazelwood soundtracking a Roger Corman flick. Continue reading “Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)”

Blue Rose Code: St. Andrews In The Square Glasgow Americana Festival – 5th October 2016

“I’m going to start with my most miserable song.” Thus opened the 10th Glasgow Americana Festival, the words spoken by Ross Wilson of Blue Rose Code as he opened his set with a solo rendition of the achingly beautiful “Pokesdown Waltz”. Well, Americana (and Country) fans do love their misery so no complaints there then especially when it’s a curtain raiser for Wilson’s latest sold out show in Mother Glasgow, the dear green place having clasped this Leith born troubadour to its bosom.  And while there’s a pedal steel on stage this is no country song jamboree, no tears in your beers, more reflections in a rain swept loch. Wilson and his current line up deliver his increasingly Celtic ruminations with wild flurries of notes which capture the grandeur of the Highlands along with the more introspective moments one has come to expect from a writer who has used his songs as a confessional on more than one occasion. Continue reading “Blue Rose Code: St. Andrews In The Square Glasgow Americana Festival – 5th October 2016”

Josh Birdsong “Simple Geometry” (Independent, 2016)

Josh Birdsong 2016Nashville-based singer/songwriter Josh Birdsong has released his debut EP of five contrasting and certainly interesting songs which seem to comprise a range of influences.  Recorded in Nashville, producer Stephen Leiweke has also stamped his identity on the sound with a smooth and clean sound that allows songs of original structure vital breathing space. Josh Birdsong claims influences as diverse as John Maher, Morrisey and James Taylor alongside the ambient sounds of Tycho. The EP also features the song ‘You and I’ which won the 2015 International Song-writing Competition from over 18 500 entries from around the world. No mean feat but it arguably isn’t even the best song on ‘Simple Geometry’.

Continue reading “Josh Birdsong “Simple Geometry” (Independent, 2016)”

Chatham County Line “Autumn” (Yep Roc, 2016)

Chatham County Line 2016 The seventh studio album from this Raleigh-based four-piece delivers exactly what you would expect, top quality Bluegrass from a band still firing on all cylinders. Formed in 1999 in the North Carolina city, Chatham County Line have been producing thoughtful albums in the traditional style since 2003. Autumn is no exception to this tradition and demonstrates that the string-band format is no barrier to imaginative song-writing. There is a devotion to the tradition of Bluegrass and incorporation of a range of roots influences evident on the album, but also present is the subtle presence of the history of the musicians in rock bands, hence the arrangements may fly a little higher than expected. Continue reading “Chatham County Line “Autumn” (Yep Roc, 2016)”

Jimmy Webb: The Stables, Wavendon – 21st September 2016

Jimmy Webb is, without a doubt, a songwriter of some high ability – even if he’s not best known for what are his most interesting compositions. His reputation in the UK has been burnished in recent years by appearances on “Later…” and “Songwriters Circle” where he has been able to mix songs with some autobiography – a bit like the programme for this evening of Jimmy Webb & Glen Campbell. Continue reading “Jimmy Webb: The Stables, Wavendon – 21st September 2016”