Steve Mayone “Sideways Rain” (Janglewood Records, 2017)

Brooklyn based Steve Mayone is one of those artists who generally get on with it. It being his daily graft as a musician, working with a host of others and finding time to release a series of albums which are well acclaimed. Indeed this site noted when reviewing his Long Play Record (2009) that it was “full of inspired songs which touches base with Americana, wistful acousticism and Beatles-style Power Pop.” He doesn’t get his name in lights but it is a guarantee of quality music. Continue reading “Steve Mayone “Sideways Rain” (Janglewood Records, 2017)”

Todd Adelman & The Country Mile “Time will tell” (Porch Lantern Music, 2016)

On his sixth studio album country-roots rocker Todd Adelman has a preoccupation with the passage of time, ageing and the myriad changes in his homelands. These missives from rural America are set to a traditional country-rock sound, with rumbling guitar licks, courtesy of Eben Grace, and Ben Gallagher’s piano which can move from subtle and in the background to stridently foreground and more than slightly honky-tonk. It’s a rich and rounded sound that was captured pretty much live in the studio, and all the better for it. Continue reading “Todd Adelman & The Country Mile “Time will tell” (Porch Lantern Music, 2016)”

Roger Waters “Is This The Life We Really Want?”

If you are a Water’s fan – be it ‘Amused to Death’ or ‘Pros and Cons’ or a Floyd fan particularly of ‘Animals’ or ‘The Wall’ then you are going to really enjoy the musical tropes explored in this angry, reflective, world-weary and ultimately affecting album. If you are new to this music then dive in, the Water’s fine. Teaming up with Nigel Godrich appears to have both edited out raging Roge’s more self-indulgent moments as well as, amongst other things, encouraged more of the ‘found sounds’ that appear throughout the work. Lots of BBC voiceovers from the 70s, the speaking clock, bagging area announcements and, of course, Trump. Continue reading “Roger Waters “Is This The Life We Really Want?””

Harrow Fair “Call to Arms” (Roaring Girl Records, 2017)

Harrow Fair are Miranda Mulholland, of Great Lake Swimmers, and Andrew Penner, of Sunparlour Players, and Call to Arms is their debut release as a duo – and genuinely a duo, Mulholland sings and adds violin whilst Penner sings and is a veritable Captain Manyhands adding guitar, drums, keyboards, banjo and much more. Call to Arms instantly declares Harrow Fair to be a veritable Canadian powerhouse of hoof-thumping Americana as first track Hangnail hits the floor running and never lets up with a booming kick-drum and an insistent guitar hook. It’s a love song of sorts, although it’s a twisted love “if pleasure is the habit and pain is the comfort then what are you ?”. Continue reading “Harrow Fair “Call to Arms” (Roaring Girl Records, 2017)”

The Gage Brothers “The Gage Brothers” (Independent 2017)

Here is a new Bluegrass band of great note. The Gage Brothers are brothers, Ben (harmonica, Cajon beat box) and Zach (lead vocal and guitar), now with Brendan O’Malley (mandolin) and Chris Volpe (banjo and pedal steel). The album was recorded in Cleveland where it was produced by Jim Stewart. These four musicians work together in a special way. The first track beds that thought. A confident and short a capella introduction, “Feed my desires with all you are.” It’s all here: banjo, mandolin, harmonica, with an infectious rhythm.   Continue reading “The Gage Brothers “The Gage Brothers” (Independent 2017)”

Leeroy Stagger “Love Versus” (Independent 2017)

Stagger’s eleventh studio album sees him really hitting some impressive heights as a songwriter. This is an old school album in the sense that it is a singer/songwriter opening his heart and reflecting his concerns and dreams whilst backed by an accomplished bunch of musicians and highly sympathetic production.
Each song is crisp and independent but they all build to give an affecting picture of an artist comfortable in his own skin and in charge of his craft. Continue reading “Leeroy Stagger “Love Versus” (Independent 2017)”

Worry Dolls “Go Get Gone” (Bread & Butter Music, 2017)

Rosie Jones and Zoe Nicol, who together make up Worry Dolls, are that rare thing – songwriters who are genuinely living their lyrics. Go Get Gone‘s title quoting track is the carpe diem song Train’s Leaving which boldly encourages with “forget the doubts still troubling your mind no “what if this” or “what if that” / No coulda bins or coulda haves / Farewell, so long, go get gone”. Get out there, and take life by the scruff of the neck, no regrets, no missed chances. And real life has seen the duo up-sticks from moderate success in London and take their catchy country vocals out to Nashville for a shot at the big time. Continue reading “Worry Dolls “Go Get Gone” (Bread & Butter Music, 2017)”

Emily Barker “Sweet Kind Of Blue” (Everyone Sang, 2017)

Australian Emily Barker has been firmly in the spotlight over the past decade with her band The Red Clay Halo (who played at the London Olympics opening ceremony) along with her stints in Vena Portae and Applewood Road. Her songs have been featured on the BBC’s Wallander and The Shadow Line while she also provided the soundtrack for Peter Mullan and Jake Gavin’s film, Hector. Her voice, always warm and direct, and her various recordings have seen her firmly set  in the folky side of country pigeonhole but Sweet Kind Of Blue finds her heading into country soul territory, geographically as well as musically as she headed off to Memphis to record the album. Continue reading “Emily Barker “Sweet Kind Of Blue” (Everyone Sang, 2017)”

Kilkenny Roots Festival, 28th April – 1st May 2017, Kilkenny, Ireland

This was the second time your intrepid reporter has attended the annual celebration of all things good in Roots and Americana music that’s held in the beautiful city of Kilkenny in Ireland and now that it’s done and dusted, I can only scratch my head and wonder why only twice? Arriving on the Friday afternoon the first stop was Cleeres bar and on entering a pint of the local ale was thrust into my hand amidst many welcoming cries. It’s that kind of weekend. Folk I’d met once before at last year’s fest instantly said hello, some were veterans who have been attending since the nineties, some fellow newbies and soon we were all perusing the festival programme and working out our itineraries. Continue reading “Kilkenny Roots Festival, 28th April – 1st May 2017, Kilkenny, Ireland”

The Unthanks “Diversions Vol. 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake” (RabbleRouser Music, 2017)

The Unthanks – sisters Becky and Rachel – have, over the last decade, become major figures on the English folk scene. Strong on tradition they have also forged new musical paths and travelled along many sidetracks. This latest release is one of the sidetracks,which also sees the sisters forging a connection to the mainstream. In 2013 a series of home recordings of the songs and poems of Molly Drake – mother of the highly regarded Nick – emerged, and The Unthanks have developed these both for these new recordings and also as a live show. Both feature the voice of Molly’s daughter – actress Gabrielle Drake – adding renditions of poems, some standing alone others blended into the songs. Continue reading “The Unthanks “Diversions Vol. 4: The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake” (RabbleRouser Music, 2017)”