Dave Stewart “Nashville Sessions – The Duets” (DSE/Membran, 2017)

Dave Stewart is most likely to be best known for his work alongside Annie Lennox – however, he is more than just the co-founder of The Eurythmics. With a career spanning over 40 years, millions of records sold, a number of high-profile collaborations and various forays into other channels of media,  Stewart is one of the most renowned and respected musicians in the business and his newest release, is a collection of songs made up of the best duets recorded during the album sessions for three different records ‘The Blackbird Diaries’, ‘The Ringmaster General’ and ‘Lucky Numbers’ recorded and released over a three year period. Alongside Stewart on the record, are some very talented and very famous friends including Stevie Nicks, Alison Krauss Colbie Caillat, Joss Stone and many more, who, without exception, deliver brilliant vocal performances and perfectly justify why they themselves, are all household names in their own right. Continue reading “Dave Stewart “Nashville Sessions – The Duets” (DSE/Membran, 2017)”

Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock “Underwater Dancing” (Gregsongs, 2017)

Clive Gregson’s musical pedigree – not only as the founder in 1975 of his band, Any Trouble, and his work with Richard Thompson, but also in the partnership he forged with Christine Collister over five albums between 1985 and 1992 – is well documented. It was during a tour he undertook with Liz Simcock in 2015 to revisit the Gregson/Collister back catalogue that led to the collaboration on this current album, ‘Underwater Dancing.’ Continue reading “Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock “Underwater Dancing” (Gregsongs, 2017)”

Jasper Sloan Yip “Post Meridiem” (Afterlife Music/Membran, 2017)

‘Post Meridiem’ is the third full length release from Canadian-based Jasper Sloan Yip and finds the singer-songwriter expand on and further refine the sound he found on his two previous releases ‘Every Day And All At Once’ and the follow-up, 2013’s ‘Foxtrot’. The record begins with a slow, brooding cello intro which gradually builds into the first real track The Day Passed and the Sun Went Down which successfully explores, and experiments with, different dynamics throughout the track and is an early indication of what is to follow. Journeying through quiet verses and a more upbeat, louder chorus eventually climaxing in a brilliant guitar solo, the track is an early highlight on a solid record. Immediately following, is Strangers, an ethereal, piano-led ballad, again, utilising the versatility in his voice to create an impressive falsetto chorus and it is clear that Yip’s talents are most prominent within the realms of these mid-tempo ballads. Continue reading “Jasper Sloan Yip “Post Meridiem” (Afterlife Music/Membran, 2017)”

Billy Bragg, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 7th November 2017

A rainy night in Islington is the setting for this second appearance by Billy Bragg at the elegant Assembly Hall. This has been billed as the Bridges Not Walls Tour – and there’s a new EP of the same name with a set of commentaries on today’s political situation. It’s a delayed reaction to Brexit and the election of Trump. Delayed, as Billy Bragg ruefully acknowledges, because whilst the world was being turned upside down he was out on tour singing songs about trains with a more and more depressed Joe Henry, and thinking long and hard about skiffle for his recent book. Continue reading “Billy Bragg, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 7th November 2017”

Great Willow “Find Yourself in Los Angeles” (Sedan Zero Records 2017)

In their debut album Great Willow have managed to recreate and update the sound of the California canyons in the sixties. The reference is there to the 60’s sounds of (amongst others) the Byrds and the singing of Gene Clark. Great Willow are James Coombs and Erin Hawkins, with their exquisite harmony singing and with them are Rich McCulley playing guitar, and Ed Barguirena on drums. And, throughout, the mariachi horns, providing what is, at times, almost a “Tex-Mex” feel. Continue reading “Great Willow “Find Yourself in Los Angeles” (Sedan Zero Records 2017)”

Blue Rose Code + Roseanne Reid, The Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 3rd November 2017

When you hear another member of the audience say, “This was like Van Morrison’s Caledonia Soul Orchestra,” on the way out, and you don’t think it’s hyperbole, then you’ve been to a rather special show. Similarities with Morrison abound when one hears and sees Blue Rose Code, the band name for Ross Wilson’s endeavours. There’s the Celtic soul, the blend of folk, jazz and rock that infuses the music and then there’s Wilson’s voice. He doesn’t sound like Morrison but he has a similar way of rolling with the flow, almost scatting at times while his soft brogue has improved to the extent that he has recently been nominated Scots Singer of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards 2017 Continue reading “Blue Rose Code + Roseanne Reid, The Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 3rd November 2017”

The Deep Dark Woods “Yarrow” Six Shooter Records, 2017

These are the same deep dark woods that the Handsome Family walk through combing for tales of mealy bugs or familial murder. On Fallen Leaves, Ryan Boldt does a passable impersonation of Brett with his sonorous voice intoning a tale told in images that seem cut and pasted from the Handsome’s songbook, natural imagery and unnatural death. An atmosphere of foreboding penetrates Deep Flooding Waters, the pace suggesting that the flooding is incremental, death by inches, the steel guitar solo passing by like flotsam bobbing on the surface whilst down below the tragedy unfolds. Continue reading “The Deep Dark Woods “Yarrow” Six Shooter Records, 2017”

J Roddy Walston & The Business “Destroyers of the Soft Life” (ATO Records, 2017)

Despite a passing resemblance to The Kings of Leon, Walston and his cohorts lay down a high-energy rollicking version of rock and roll. An unabashed, unashamed assault, always pushing melodies to the front, the guitars always moving forwards, the vocals a tuneful yelp – it’s a vinyl version of poppers. You Know Me Better or Numbers both rush out of the blocks like an untamed bronco, wrestled by Walton’s vocals into a bucking rousing beast of a song. Continue reading “J Roddy Walston & The Business “Destroyers of the Soft Life” (ATO Records, 2017)”

Grant Earl Lavalley “From Lavalley Below” (Exit Stencil, 2017)

Having a vinyl LP to review is a great treat, but such subjective fascinations won’t cloud any impartiality hereabouts. Much. Grant Earl Lavelly as a musical whole, pretty much sums up ‘brooding Americana’. An Ohio native, now working on his craft in the Joshua Tree Desert, complete with long beard and dishevelled clothing fitting of his wild abode. He’s described as a Gothic Gene Clark or a desert dwelling Will Oldham. Both of which seem appropriate. Continue reading “Grant Earl Lavalley “From Lavalley Below” (Exit Stencil, 2017)”

Brandy Clark + Jim Lauderdale, Sage, Gateshead, 30th October 2017

Like fellow country singer-songwriters Angaleena Presley and Kacy Musgrave, Brandy Clark has a wonderful, at times sassy, sense of humour. She starts off a little serious, a little dark, but still okay, but then around the fourth song she lets her mask drop. It must be those official photographers; it wasn’t until after the first three songs allowed for stage photos had elapsed did a genuine smile truly emerge from the raven-haired Washington born act. Her humorous wit has become both a staple diet of her shows and the kind that incite her audience to voice their approval. Some no doubt able to relate all too well to her lyrics, while others, were just happy to hear someone voice a feminist viewpoint. Continue reading “Brandy Clark + Jim Lauderdale, Sage, Gateshead, 30th October 2017”