Richard Thompson “Acoustic Classics II” (Proper Records, 2017)

Richard Thompson has something of a reputation as a perfectionist, and this trait caused him, a couple of years back, to review his available acoustic recordings with a critical ear.  Mostly consisting of acoustic spots or complete solo acoustic concerts there was a lot of material available, but perhaps they weren’t the very finest recordings – not perfect presentations of band songs reconfigured for just one guitar and voice. Continue reading “Richard Thompson “Acoustic Classics II” (Proper Records, 2017)”

Annie Keating + Christina Martin, York Basement, York, 25th June 2017

The debut York performance of Canada’s Christina Martin, tonight with Producer/Husband Dale Murray on guitar, has been a long time coming, but it’s worth the wait.  Tonight she’s the support, later in the tour with her UK band the roles are reversed. It’s a hell of a support.  She plays a mix of stuff from a forthcoming “fall” album, her critically acclaimed ‘It’ll Be Alright’ and older stuff – what my boy calls her “brown hair period”.  The Basement’s subterranean feeling is a great spot for an intimate gig like this, punters and performers shunted together and Martin feeds on this. Continue reading “Annie Keating + Christina Martin, York Basement, York, 25th June 2017”

Songdog “Joy Street” (Junkyard Songs, 2017)

A new album from Lyndon Morgans, aka Songdog, is something to be eagerly anticipated, then played endlessly and treasured once it appears.  There truly is nobody else like him, nobody who does what he does and precious few as good.  In a more just world he’d be the subject of adulatory profiles in the broadsheets and sell out the finest concert halls in the land.  In this one though he’s a secret, garlanded with critical acclaim but clutched to the breasts only of those in the know, who hang on his every word and every song as if they were gold dust, which of course they are.

Continue reading “Songdog “Joy Street” (Junkyard Songs, 2017)”

David Crosby “The Broadcast Archive” (Gossip/Hobo/Zip City ,2017)

This live broadcast box represents how good these “archive” (aka bootleg) sets can be. This particular collection is made up of three CDs, two of which have been generally available for a few years. Towering Inferno is a Crosby, plus backing band, appearance from 1989, New Years Eve with the Dead is dated to 1986 whilst David and the Dorks is Croz with the Dead again, this time from 1970. Taking these from most recent to the earliest – Towering Inferno has a mix of songs from Oh Yes I Can, alongside classic CSN tracks. The sound is spot on, no complaints at all. Continue reading “David Crosby “The Broadcast Archive” (Gossip/Hobo/Zip City ,2017)”

Peter Graham “Nowhere in Tacoma” (Skyefarmrecords, 2017)

Peter Graham is a Canadian singer-songwriter from the village of Millbrook, Ontario. Despite having a decade of song writing behind him this 5 track EP, Nowhere in Tacoma, is his debut. His music blends traditional country instrumentation and the narrative verse of folk, with an emphasis on concise and honest lyrics. Peter has surrounded himself with top notch musicians for this collection and they play a huge part in the overall sound. Opening track Tell Nobody Nothing has a lovely rhythmic feel with Anthony Carone’s piano, Dave Gibson’s drums, the pedal steel of Aaron Goldstein and the backing vocals of Brittany Clarke combining to great effect to produce a warm, radio friendly track. Continue reading “Peter Graham “Nowhere in Tacoma” (Skyefarmrecords, 2017)”

Roxanne de Bastion, York City Screen Basement Bar, York, 4th May 2017

Roxanne de Bastion, 2017Support for this show is from ‘Fawn UK’, part, it would appear, of York’s hip crowd. Her teenage vigour makes me feel old; reading lyrics from an iphone for a new song rather than a fag packet makes me realise I am.  Her voice seems to come from somewhere else, like it floated in through an open window.  Her ear for a good lyric is great too, “You made me a sandwich, you know I won’t eat”, hints at life experience beyond her years – going to watch her career with interest. Continue reading “Roxanne de Bastion, York City Screen Basement Bar, York, 4th May 2017”

Paul McClure and the Local Heroes “Paul McClure and the Local Heroes” (Clubhouse Records, 2017)

Given the number of gigs he plays up and down the country it comes as something of a surprise to find that Paul McClure, aka the Rutland Troubadour, has managed to find the time to record anything, but he has, and we should all be grateful for it as the world is a better place for the five songs on this EP.

Continue reading “Paul McClure and the Local Heroes “Paul McClure and the Local Heroes” (Clubhouse Records, 2017)”

Catherine MacLellan “If It’s Alright With You – The Songs of Gene MacLellan” (True North Records, 2017)

Gene MacLellan’s not a name this writer is familiar with but mention two of his songs, Snowbird (a hit for Anne Murray) and Put Your Hand In The Hand (covered by just about everyone including Elvis and Johnny Cash) and it’s a fair bet that most folk will have a memory of hearing these.  MacLellan was a Canadian who recorded four albums in the seventies but it was his writing skills that attracted the likes of Chet Atkins, Loretta Lynn, Joan Baez and Bing Crosby to record his songs. Continue reading “Catherine MacLellan “If It’s Alright With You – The Songs of Gene MacLellan” (True North Records, 2017)”

Slaid Cleaves “Ghost on the Car Radio” (Proper Records 2017)

Slaid Cleaves releases his first album since 2013’s “Still Fighting the War” and it has to be said that the four-year wait has been worthwhile as “Ghost on the Car Radio” is an outstanding return. Born and raised in Maine but now a resident of Austin, Texas, Cleaves has clearly used the time wisely as this is an outstanding bunch of songs, full of insight and characters who are wrestling with the realities of modern life in small-town America such as the reflective tone of the amateur racer in Primer Gray who dwells on life’s changes as her relates his family’s connection to the sport. Or there are the changes that cause hardship to the family farm in Hickory as the narrator accepts that “you can’t stop the march of time”.  Continue reading “Slaid Cleaves “Ghost on the Car Radio” (Proper Records 2017)”

Mercury Rev, The Barbican, London, 14th July 2017

Mecury Rev have a sound that is often described as symphonic, so this appearance at The Barbican with the Royal Northern Sinfonia offers a real chance to hear the huge sounds of their albums as they were meant to be. Surprisingly there’ll be nothing from Secret Migration, perhaps the bands most symphonic album to date. Mercury Rev’s last album – 2015’s The Light In You – appeared after a seven year break and was their first for Bella Union,and this very special appearance at The Barbican also forms part of the Bella Union 20th Birthday party. Although ever hopeful, this reviewer recalls that the Bella Union 10th Birthday celebrations didn’t feature cake. Continue reading “Mercury Rev, The Barbican, London, 14th July 2017”