John Tams & Barry Coope, Hitchin Folk Club, The Sun Inn, Hitchin 24th September 2017

John Tams is not your typical seventy year old folkie – yes he has a great voice and a fine repertoire of songs both traditional and self-penned, and naturally – like many of his contemporaries – he served time in The Albion Band amongst other musical outlets. However, his musical career has also seen him on stage at the National Theatre as musical director for shows like Warhorse, or updating the Radio Ballads concept for modern times or acting (and singing) alongside Sean Bean in the historical drama series Sharpe. Continue reading “John Tams & Barry Coope, Hitchin Folk Club, The Sun Inn, Hitchin 24th September 2017”

Derek Hoke “Bring The Flood” (Independent 2017)

Derek Hoke is a singer-songwriter based in East Nashville but this is not a straightforward Nashville album. A commentary on the dark times he feels are engulfing the States, it was nurtured from fleeting thoughts recorded with a tape-recorder whilst driving at night on the Tenessee blacktop to full album status with the assistance of several friends including the likes of Aaron Lee Tasjan to name but one. Continue reading “Derek Hoke “Bring The Flood” (Independent 2017)”

Ryan Adams + Karen Elson, 02 Academy, Bournemouth, 19th September 2017

In a rare moment of chat towards the end of this show, Ryan Adams took a swipe at a previous live review where he was accused of being self-indulgent. “Man” he proclaims, “That’s like eating a dessert and then complaining that it’s sweet.” He does have a point. Although perhaps Ryan Adams’ stage presence is often closer to shoegaze indie than fist punching stadium, tonight he plays for over two hours straight through and picks from a set list that spans his entire songbook. What more he could or should do, he’d be excused for thinking. Continue reading “Ryan Adams + Karen Elson, 02 Academy, Bournemouth, 19th September 2017”

Nicole Atkins “Goodbye Rhonda Lee” (Single Lock Records, 2017)

It’s not unreasonable to wonder who Rhonda Lee is, and why the ex-queen of Asbury Park and new resident of Nashville is bidding her farewell. Nicole Atkins provides the answer – it’s herself, or at least her worst half. Having struggled with some sobriety issues in recent years Nicole Atkins took the pledge and this album is a tangible result of her abilities returning as her non-drinking days increased in number. Continue reading “Nicole Atkins “Goodbye Rhonda Lee” (Single Lock Records, 2017)”

Lord Youth “Gray Gardens” (Shellshock, 2017)

Creeping its way into your ears with a dirty, slightly otherworldy cha-cha that sounds like a wantonly peculiar outtake from a Richard Hawley record, Lord Youth’s ghoulish novelty-noir is brilliantly uncomfortable listening. Micah Blaichman’s dead-pan tenor, sometimes reminiscent of Johnny Dowd’s unnerving vitriolic intoning, drawls across a raft of 1950s style Americana that is full of creaking, wining guitar, junk-yard percussion and demented honky-tonk piano (nowhere more evident that on “Someone Was Singing Hi Ho Silver”). Continue reading “Lord Youth “Gray Gardens” (Shellshock, 2017)”

Moonsville Collective, At The Top, Long Beach California, Friday 15th September

The rest of the building may be still under construction to make another restaurant but right At The Top everything is fine and dandy – it’s Long Beach’s latest music venue / bar and it still has that fresh “new venue” smell.  Clean too. This gig by the seven piece Moonsville Collective acted as both a new EP launch party and also as a curtain raiser for the Long Beach Folk Revival Festival set to take place the next day in nearby Rainbow Lagoon Park. Continue reading “Moonsville Collective, At The Top, Long Beach California, Friday 15th September”

Robert Earl Keen “Walking Distance / Picnic” (Floating World, 2017)

Ever a songwriter of distinction, the reissue of two mid-period Robert Earl Keen albums prove a forceful reminder of exactly why Keen’s formidable reputation as a songwriter precedes him. Having not quite gained the notoriety of Steve Earle or the ‘legend’ label pinned so readily to Townes Van Zandt, Robert Earl Keen is no less deserving of your attention.  Continue reading “Robert Earl Keen “Walking Distance / Picnic” (Floating World, 2017)”

Jeremy Pinnell “Ties of Blood and Affection” (Sofaburn Records 2017)

A Northern Kentucky singer-songwriter, Jeremy Pinnell builds on the stark, soul-searching of his much acclaimed debut ‘OH/KY’ with a fuller sound and more relaxed delivery on this his second album. This work is still rooted in the classic country tropes of his debut but the songs feel more developed and rooted in the country tradition of the seventies rather than the fifties. The strong, classic voice tells tales of a working life and family all the while punctuated by some wonderfully sympathetic lap steel. Continue reading “Jeremy Pinnell “Ties of Blood and Affection” (Sofaburn Records 2017)”

Summerhill + Snakes Of Shake + Mick Hargan, The Griffin Glasgow, 17th September 2017

A late eighties jangly update on The Byrds with some REM thrown in, Summerhill were formed from the ashes of Snakes Of Shake, a Glasgow band who thrived locally along with peers such as Lloyd Cole & The Commotions. A favourite of the weeklies (NME, Sounds and such) Summerhill released an album on Demon Records which was well received before the band were swallowed up and then spat out by Polydor, victims of major label whims, with the band soon parting ways. Continue reading “Summerhill + Snakes Of Shake + Mick Hargan, The Griffin Glasgow, 17th September 2017”

Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer “Not Dark Yet” (Silver Cross Records, 2017)

For those that don’t know, and there can’t be many, Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer are sisters (Shelby was christened Shelby Lynn Moorer), Shelby Lynne being the elder by three years. Yet, despite both having been established performers since they were in their teens, this is their first album together. We should’ve been treated to this collaboration so much sooner! Continue reading “Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer “Not Dark Yet” (Silver Cross Records, 2017)”