Kate Ellis “Carve Me Out” (River Rose Records, 2017)

Kate Ellis has trodden an interesting path to her debut album. Born in Louisiana, with a father who once played guitar for Hank Williams, she grew up in New York with a gift for classical piano and is now based in London and a qualified lawyer for good measure. However, the most relevant point of all is that Carve Me Out is quite simply a superb debut album and one that announces the arrival of a genuine talent.  Continue reading “Kate Ellis “Carve Me Out” (River Rose Records, 2017)”

Ed Dupas “Tennessee Nights” (Independent, 2017)

This is a highly satisfying slice of blue collar Americana, with grit and grace in just the right ratio. Dupas may be from the home of the Stooges and MC5, but instead he chooses to kick out the classic Steve Earle-esque jams in a contemporary manner not too dissimilar to the likes of Sturgill Simpson. Even the album’s title guides us to points South, as Ed pays respect to the Volunteer State. Continue reading “Ed Dupas “Tennessee Nights” (Independent, 2017)”

Darlingside, Union Chapel, London, 3rd July 2017

Darlingside are an American folk band starting to make quite a stir after a bumped higher up the bill appearance at last year’s Cambridge Folk Festival earnt them a lot of new fans this side of the pond. They’ve been back for some tour dates and brought along a friend – the woman described as their “Big Sister” – who provided the opening support set. Caitlin Canty is a Vermont girl gone Nashville, and sings modern folk songs tinged with a fairly generous helping of country. She’s enjoying being in the UK – commenting that if she lived here she’d be writing train songs instead of ones featuring cars as an escape. Get Up is her standout song, with its thrumming guitar line and insistent lyrics “Get up get up get up / no time to rest or run for cover / Get up get up get up / before the road pulls you under” which restlessly hints at a chaotic scramble away from an unbearable situation. Continue reading “Darlingside, Union Chapel, London, 3rd July 2017”

Stu Larsen “Resolute” (Nettwerk Music Group, 2017)

Australian native and notorious traveller Stu Larsen returns with his second full-length album ‘Resolute’ following his 2014 release ‘Vagabond’ which saw his brand of folk-pop gather praise for it’s simplicity and it’s lyrical honesty and he continues down the same path on his newest release. The most notable thing about Stu Larsen’s music is the seemingly quintessential British accent evident throughout which is unexpected from an Australian, and being a friend and touring partner of Brighton’s Passenger, the comparisons between the two are too easy however, Larsen brings a certain innocence and relatability to the table which sets him apart from the majority of the singer-songwriter genre. Continue reading “Stu Larsen “Resolute” (Nettwerk Music Group, 2017)”

John Murry “A Short History Of Decay” (TV Records, 2017)

It’s been five years since John Murry appeared set to build on the accolades garnered by his album, The Graceless Age, a sublime record which took the raw material of his unsettled life (and near death from an overdose) and turned it into art. It was not to be however as events conspired and he ended up, as he saw it, in exile in Ireland with only occasional forays into the limelight. A man haunted by his past and somewhat rudderless, he was still capable of turning in fine songs and remained a compelling live performer but The Graceless Age owed much to Murry’s co-producer, Tim Mooney, and Mooney’s sudden death as the album was released was just one hammer blow to Murry’s newfound stability. On A Short History Of Decay he appears to have found a replacement of sorts to Mooney in the form of Michael Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies, a fan of Murry’s but also a man able to corral his wayward genius. Continue reading “John Murry “A Short History Of Decay” (TV Records, 2017)”

Bob Keelaghan and Muerte Pan Alley “The Soundtrack to Intersection” (SAP Recordings, 2017)

This is a really fascinating release. It’s actually two soundtracks for two different projects. The first fourteen tracks are the soundtrack for “Intersection”, a short film made by American director Brendan Beachman and the second eighteen tracks (yes, you get 32 tracks on the album) are from the soundtrack to “Inside the Ku Klux Klan” from award winning documentary maker Daniel Vernon. Continue reading “Bob Keelaghan and Muerte Pan Alley “The Soundtrack to Intersection” (SAP Recordings, 2017)”

Lil’ Lost Lou “Lil’ Lost Lou” (Bully Records 2017)

Lil’ Lost Lou may just have balanced out one of the most one sided stories in musical history. The Country/Rockabilly singer from Camden Town, aka Lou Psyche, has finally given voice to the eternal ‘other woman’, Jolene. I kIssed Your Man (Jolene) is as haunting a track as you will hear all year and one of a number of treasures on this debut album from this regular on the London Country/Punk scene. To record this album, Lou made a trip to Nashville to work with producer Billy Livsey, who has previously worked with the likes of Ronnie Lane and Kenny Rogers. Continue reading “Lil’ Lost Lou “Lil’ Lost Lou” (Bully Records 2017)”

Jaime Wyatt “Felony Blues” (Forty Below Records, 2017)

“I stayed out of trouble most the time in jail” is, in its honesty and openness, as stark and discomforting a statement as you would expect an artist to make when describing how they came to make their debut album. But in this case, it’s a real part of the story that led Jaime Wyatt to write and record ‘Felony Blues’. Signed at the tender age of 17, with songs finding their way into movies and TV, it sounds as though Wyatt soon earned her wings as an honorary member of The Eagles and, after robbing her dealer and being served with some rough justice (given the circumstances), ended up serving eight months in jail, followed by six months in rehab, and a further three years on probation. One can only assume that wasn’t the plan.  Continue reading “Jaime Wyatt “Felony Blues” (Forty Below Records, 2017)”

Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, The Stables, Wavendon, 21st June 2017

More than thirty years after departing from Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter is still forever associated with the band which gave him his big break. That must be something of a poisoned chalice as he’s produced a significant body of solo work over those years and his current musical unit – the Rant Band – are responsible for two of his finest albums When I’m President and last year’s Fingers Crossed both of which show him to be a songwriter very much at the top of his game. And as befits this status he works as many of the new songs into his set as possible…or perhaps that should be he works as few Mott songs into the set as he feels he can get away with. Continue reading “Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, The Stables, Wavendon, 21st June 2017”

Hot Flash Heat Wave “Soaked” (OIM Records, 2017)

Sunshine filters all through Hot Flash Heat Wave’s second album Soaked, which sees this San Francisco based four piece explore the perils of early adulthood, feelings of time passing and, more specifically, the pitfalls of dating. It’s an attractive dream pop sound which occasionally bursts out with some near-grungy guitar riffing revealing something of the band’s early influences.  Bye-bye baby is one such song, which tries to salvage some shred of self-respect from being dumped with a snarling “Bye-bye baby I really hate to see you go” which tries to turn it around, but this, like the churning guitars, is just bravado. Continue reading “Hot Flash Heat Wave “Soaked” (OIM Records, 2017)”