Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner” (State Fair Records, 2018)

Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner’s self-titled album is an accomplished and heartfelt homage to Pedigo’s late father. From the title (inspired by his father’s terrible homebrew), to the themes of the songs (breakups, loss, the transient nature of life), it’s clear we’re in the middle of a deeply personal album.  Pedigo is Dallas singer/songwriter John Pedigo (The O’s) and this album was in response to his father’s battle with cancer. Written in part while his father was still alive, Pedigo has managed to produce an album that recognises that life can sometimes kick you down, but that there are always ways to find happiness. Continue reading “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner “Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner” (State Fair Records, 2018)”

Daniel Meade “When Was The Last Last Time” (Button Up Records, 2018)

Daniel Meade is many things but never dull. He’s been around in one form or another it seems forever, so prolific and varied is his work. Generally, that work would consist of rootsy music set to country beats but he has been known to deviate. It’s fair to say that’s the case with his latest release and this time he’s foregone that western flavour in favour of a more ballsy approach. Continue reading “Daniel Meade “When Was The Last Last Time” (Button Up Records, 2018)”

Rob Cheatham “Villains and Ghosts” (Delicious Records, 2018)

The latest album from Rob Cheatham, ‘Villains and Ghosts’ is an assured, alternative country offering, with strong songs and a sense of melancholy that runs through the work like a rich vein. Self-described as a singer-songwriter from Charlottesville, Virginia he has played in bands including The Nice Jenkins, Gunchux and The Borrowed Beams of Light before embarking on his solo journey. This is a band project though, with a powerful but understated sound. Influences include Springsteen, Adams and Isbell but that fine list doesn’t tell the whole story. Music must come from somewhere and although the influences are visible this is not derivative at all. The songs have their own presence and character. Continue reading “Rob Cheatham “Villains and Ghosts” (Delicious Records, 2018)”

The Magic City Trio “Amerikana Arkana” (Independent 2018)

This is a somewhat quirky but truly original offering from London based group The Magic City Trio who, according to their website take their inspiration from pre-war country music, The Carter Family, through to modern hillbilly noir found in the novels of Daniel Woodrell. The band comprises Frank Sweeney (Guitar, Vocals and Harmonica), Annie Holder (guitar, vocal and kazoo) and Adi Staempfli (bass and vocals) and it seems that they have written at least some if not all the ten tracks that comprise the album. That being the case they have indeed been seeped in the music as the songs are intelligent, original and authentic. The opening track ‘Black Dog Following Me’ will immediately take you to the opening scene of a spaghetti western such is the sound landscape that accompanies this clever track about mental fragility. Continue reading “The Magic City Trio “Amerikana Arkana” (Independent 2018)”

Kacy & Clayton “The Siren’s Song” (New West Records, 2018)

When an album cover brings to mind the swirling pop art of the hippy revolution of the 60s it creates an expectation of what might be expected from the music contained within. Hailing as they do from rural Canada, cousins Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum (ex Deep Dark Woods) have brought swirling guitars and haunting vocals to add to their obvious country and folk influences. The result is an album with definite nods to that generation defining era. Continue reading “Kacy & Clayton “The Siren’s Song” (New West Records, 2018)”

The Lowest Pair + John Alexander, The Fallen Angels Club @ The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 5th April 2018

It was Greil Marcus who coined the phrase, “old weird America” in his book, Invisible Republic, when discussing Dylan’s touchstone, the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk music, describing the songs therein as, “palavers with a community of ghosts”. There was an element of this musical version of a séance when The Lowest Pair (Kendl Winter from Washington State and Palmer T. Lee from Minneapolis) descended on the Fallen Angels Club for a banjo infused evening (although acoustic guitars were also brandished). The pair both have string band backgrounds but as a duo have concentrated on the banjo studying clawhammer and three finger techniques while also delving into American roots music. The band name is a nod to a John Hartford song, Hartford being one of their banjo heroes and like him they inject their old time music with a great deal of their own personalities. Continue reading “The Lowest Pair + John Alexander, The Fallen Angels Club @ The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 5th April 2018”

Dean Owens “Southern Wind” (At The Helm Records 2018)

Dean Owens is a well known artist from Leith, with an established reputation on both sides of the Atlantic and here is a very special album. This review should convince you to take special notice of  his work. Recorded and produced in Nashville, with an array of notable musicians in support, you can “feel the wind blowing” through the music. On the title track, and throughout the album, you can hear Will Kimbrough and his all-round musicianship. He is a close associate and friend of Dean’s. Continue reading “Dean Owens “Southern Wind” (At The Helm Records 2018)”

Dean Owens, The Betsey Trotwood, Clerkenwell, 3rd April 2018

Originally launched at the Celtic Connections music festival in Glasgow back in February, Dean Owens’ new album, ‘Southern Wind’ has been described as “blowing up a storm” ever since. Unlike the launch night at Celtic Connections where Owens was backed by the Whisky Hearts, tonight’s performance at the Betsey Trotwood in London’s Clerkenwell is a more sedate and intimate affair, Dean more than ably accompanied by Jim Maving on guitar.
Continue reading “Dean Owens, The Betsey Trotwood, Clerkenwell, 3rd April 2018”

Levellers “We The Collective” (On The Fiddle Recordings, 2018)

It is easy to forget just how much commercial success Levellers have had; in the 1990s they had more platinum, gold and silver albums in the UK than any other British act. Testament to the appeal they have at a grassroots level rather than flowing from critical acclaim, Levellers have never been – or wanted to be – media darlings. So it is easy to imagine that an album trumpeted as a ‘celebration of their 30th anniversary’ which is composed of re-recordings of old material could have an accusation of ‘no new ideas here’ levelled (if you forgive me) at it. Continue reading “Levellers “We The Collective” (On The Fiddle Recordings, 2018)”

Andrew Sheppard “Steady Your Aim” (Wood River Records, 2018)

Records that sound like the journey an artist has travelled to make the music you’re listening to are few and far between these days. Andrew Sheppard’s backstory includes growing up in the high desert plains of Hailey, Idaho, through the hustle and grind of LA and to the honky tonks of Tennessee, and back to the heartland of America and his roots. You can tell.  Continue reading “Andrew Sheppard “Steady Your Aim” (Wood River Records, 2018)”