Michael Nau “Some Twist” (Full Time Hobby, 2017)

Michael Nau had already been pretty busy over the years with his bands Page France and Cotton Jones, but having released a solo debut, Mowing, last year – which had been the result of working into shape a series of demos that had been knocking around for some time – he made the decision to not hang around on producing the follow up. Some Twist doesn’t feel hurried though, more it has a classic singer-songwriter feel particularly on a couple of reverb heavy tracks which bring the much missed Harry Nilsson to mind Continue reading “Michael Nau “Some Twist” (Full Time Hobby, 2017)”

Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real” (Fantasy Records 2017)

Lukas Nelson is, of course, the son of Willie Nelson and the Promise of the Real has been his band for the past 10 years at least; this is their first studio album since their epic stint as Neil Young’s backing band on his redemptive world tour of last year and the one before. I say redemptive because the youth and vigour was plainly infectious and Young mined his back catalogue with a delight and enthusiasm not seen for years. Continue reading “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real “Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real” (Fantasy Records 2017)”

Eric Westbury “Atomic Wilderness” (Barreltown Records 2017)

There is something immediately striking about this album; that feeling of familiarity and reassurance you only really get when hearing something for the first time that just “sounds right”. And Atomic Wilderness certainly sounds right. It’s the third release by the Vancouver-based artist Eric Westbury, a gravel-voiced purveyor of Americana with a hint of Punk and a lot of keen social observation. If you like your songs tight, well-crafted and punchy, Eric Westbury is your man. First track The Cavalcade is a bouncing, easy melody that sets the scene for a hugely impressive group of songs.  Continue reading “Eric Westbury “Atomic Wilderness” (Barreltown Records 2017)”

Matt Patershuk “Same As I Have Ever Been” (Black Hen Music 2017)

The back cover portrait photo for Matt Patershuk’s new album may make you recoil in horror at the super clichéd Americana-ness on display. Farmyard, haystack, dogs, Telecaster, beard and hat. All are squeezed in. Fear not – they’re actually his own dogs and his own rural Alberta farmyard. Safe to assume the guitar and beard belong to him too. Despite this early alarm, Same As I Have Ever Been is a damn fine record. Continue reading “Matt Patershuk “Same As I Have Ever Been” (Black Hen Music 2017)”

Jon C Butler “Universal Stranger” (Strataville, 2017)

Jon C Butler has had a lengthy career with his band Diesel Park West most noted for their critically acclaimed debut ‘Shakespeare Alabama’ released some 25 years ago. His newest output and debut solo album ‘Universal Stranger’, puts a modern spin on a retro sound – using lyrics and themes from 2017 against a backdrop of 70’s or 80’s sounding production and as a whole, that sound works. First track When The Walls Went Down is reminiscent of Dylan’s work with the band, kicking out with a purposeful almost spoken-word vocal and slides into the more melodic Each Other a steady paced song that is lyrically, highlighting the importance of realising we are all in this together which seems to be a message threaded throughout the record as a whole. Continue reading “Jon C Butler “Universal Stranger” (Strataville, 2017)”

Ron Pope “Work” (Brooklyn Basement Records, 2017)

Ron Pope is living proof that if you can find a job you love, then you never do a day’s work in your life. Though paradoxically, to borrow a phrase from James Brown, Pope is currently one of the hardest working musicians in show business. “I wanted to work to live, not live to work,” says the braided singer who doesn’t work for The Man, but who runs his own Brooklyn Basement label (he used to be based in New York) from East Nashville with the help of his wife, Blair. Continue reading “Ron Pope “Work” (Brooklyn Basement Records, 2017)”

Heather Lynne Horton “Don’t Mess with Mrs Murphy” (At The Helm, 2017)

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch!” so Bette Davis remarked some years ago. Thankfully things have improved since then. Not so much third wave feminism, perhaps nearer to a new wave of alt-country, Heather Lynne Horton has championed the maxim – Women are equal to everything – for just as long as Lord Hale has. Continue reading “Heather Lynne Horton “Don’t Mess with Mrs Murphy” (At The Helm, 2017)”

The Whiskey Charmers “The Valley” (Sweet Apple Pie, 2017)

They may not have invited the audience to lick peanut butter off their chests like Iggy Pop, but Detroit band The Whiskey Charmers hold their former neighbour in high esteem. “Clearly Iggy Pop is doing something right. It’s really inspiring to see that he is still out there performing at age 70 and still shirtless. This might be a great way to connect with our audience,” reckons singer Carrie Shepherd, suggesting that guitarist Lawrence Daversa be the first one in the band to try it out.  Continue reading “The Whiskey Charmers “The Valley” (Sweet Apple Pie, 2017)”

Jim McHugh “Noise Machine” (Independent, 2017)

A native of Monaghan, Ireland, Jim McHugh is, as the name of his debut album suggests, a bit of a thrash merchant at times. The opening song, Hills Of Mullyash crashes into view with distorted guitar blasts before heading off in a power trio direction as McHugh sings of a freedom fighter gunned to death and the song thrashes around as if reflecting his death throes. Continue reading “Jim McHugh “Noise Machine” (Independent, 2017)”

Valparaiso “Broken Homeland” (Zamora, 2017)

This French collective rose from the corpse of Jack the Ripper (the French Band – named for the Nick Cave song) and provide a particularly Gallic flavoured brand of Americana. The four corners of their world are populated by Giant Sand, Spain (both Howe Gelb and Josh Haden guest), PJ Harvey and the Tindersticks, so it’s slow burning Desert rock with an overcoat and a bucketful of attitude. It’s produced by John Parish (who also appears) and it sounds beautifully organic, suffused with as much atmosphere as a Joseph Conrad novel. Continue reading “Valparaiso “Broken Homeland” (Zamora, 2017)”