Tom Baxendale “In The City A Short Time Ago” (Backwater Collective, 2016)

Aunknownnother slice of new American Americana drifts into town on the back of half written melodies and unsympathetic production that buries the vocals behind a sheen of dulled instrumentation. Surprising really as Tom Baxendale has self produced this ‘not brilliant’ advert for his songsmithery. There are snatches of decent ideas and some lovely guitar passages but the overall feeling is of a smidgen of self indulgence overriding a sense of quality control.  Continue reading “Tom Baxendale “In The City A Short Time Ago” (Backwater Collective, 2016)”

Chip Taylor: Glasgow Americana Festival The Classic Grand – 7th October 2016

You know you’re in the presence of greatness when the artist onstage is recounting his recent meetings with Tom Petty and Elvis Costello and you just know that they were in awe of the artist as opposed to the other way around. But then not everyone is Chip Taylor, a man whose story is so entwined with the history of rock music that they’re virtually inseparable. Of course he’s the man who famously penned Wild Thing and Angel Of The Morning, really just the tips of his musical iceberg. Able to draw together county, pop, rock and rythym’n’blues he penned hits for a host of names in the sixties before releasing his own prototype of outlaw country on several seventies albums. In the eighties he turned his hand to professional gambling and apparently excelled at this, reputedly banned from every casino in Atlantic City as they couldn’t keep up with his winnings. The late nineties saw him return to music with his own solo albums abetted by several acclaimed collaborations with Texan violinist Carrie Rodriguez. On his albums Taylor comes across as a sage, the songs ruminations on life and in particular, the absurdities and injustices that life throws up enveloped by his dry wit, comforting voice and occasional scabrous lyric. Continue reading “Chip Taylor: Glasgow Americana Festival The Classic Grand – 7th October 2016”

Ben Glover “The Emigrant” (Proper Records, 2016)

ben-gloverGlover was born and raised in Ireland and is domiciled in the US. He uses these experiences to power the sense of belonging or not, the rootlessness, the mixture of feelings that surround the transplanted. He does this via six traditional and four original songs, again posing another type of schism, the two sets of halves reconciled in mid-Atlantic. The songs are trying to balance the traditions of Irish folk music with the idioms of Nashville Country. ‘Heart in My Hand’ written with Mary Gauthier uses the reeling fiddle to give it that wind-blown Irish sheen, whereas at the heart of the song beats Nashville. Continue reading “Ben Glover “The Emigrant” (Proper Records, 2016)”

Reverieme “Straw Woman” (Absolute, 2016)

reveriemeThere are so many occasions where this record comes close to being beguiling that it’s a pity that there are only a few moments where the promise is completely fulfilled. Louise Connell has a lithe voice that wraps itself around words in a seductive manner whilst inhabiting the personality of the songs. I’m perfectly happy to get drawn in and lost in songs like ‘Plankton’ where her voice is matched against dark electronic tones and the flightier mandolin. When her voice is front and centre it dominates the song, the tremolo strums adding in some Twin Peaks atmosphere without detracting from the impact. Continue reading “Reverieme “Straw Woman” (Absolute, 2016)”

Erynn Marshall “Greasy Creek” (DittyVille, 2016)

erynn-marshall-2016Erynn Marshall is probably best known for playing in the Haints Old-time String Band alongside fellow Canadians Pharis and Jason Romero.  Having relocated to Virginia, Greasy Creek sees her forging a solo path for her highly respected fiddle playing, alongside many other collaborators, but still staying firmly in that Old Timey vein. This is pre-bluegrass music, so when there’s banjo accompaniment it’s claw hammer or three-finger, but not Scruggs, style. It’s music redolent of the turn of the century – the late nineteenth century into the early twentieth century that is – and mostly reflects a range of dance styles. Continue reading “Erynn Marshall “Greasy Creek” (DittyVille, 2016)”

Session Americana with Jefferson Hamer “Great Shakes” (Independent, 2016)

This collaboration between decade veterans Session Americana and Jefferson Hamer, perhaps best known this side of the pond for his “Child session-americana-2016Ballads” album with Anais Mitchell, opens up with the little gem that is “One Skinner”, a languid, gorgeously melodic song that slides into your consciousness and never leaves.  It’s followed up with “Helena”, which sounds exactly like UK cult heroes Diesel Park West with its West coast jangle and Hamer’s vocal being a dead ringer for John Butler’s and is none the worse for it.

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Eve Williams “Peregreni” (Independent, 2016)

eve-williams-peregriniEve Williams is a singer and songwriter from Northern Ireland with a distinctive voice and a wide range. She became a full time singer songwriter after developing a disability due to rheumatoid arthritis and being unable to continue in her then day job. With many plaudits she is plotting a path in the business with at least one previous album to her name. This CD comprises nine tracks and as the sleeve notes explain, the album title takes its name from a 5th century group of monks whose Latin name translates to “wanderers” a feeling with which the artist has an affinity. Continue reading “Eve Williams “Peregreni” (Independent, 2016)”

The Invisible World “Color/Echo” (Independent, 2016)

The Invithe-invisible-worldsible World suggests something hidden away, undiscovered, something mysterious – it’s a promise not borne out by the music on this second EP from the Kansas City band. It’s all surface, standard rock tropes, nothing is subtly smuggled in, just songs in search of an audience. They are amiable enough, the vocals try to develop a personality by introducing some interesting phrasing but they can’t disguise what they are, competent, that’s a word that can be used to describe this whole endeavour. Continue reading “The Invisible World “Color/Echo” (Independent, 2016)”

Hubert Murray “Shorten The Road EP” (Independent, 2016)

"Murray-Hubert-2016"Galway born Hubert Murray is already acclaimed for his flatpicking and slide guitar skills through his work with The Hot Rock Pilgrims and “bluegrass fusion” band Lands End. On Shorten The Road, his six track debut EP he steps up to the mic and proves he’s also a very accomplished singer and writer. If it weren’t for his bio one would swear on listening to the EP that he’s escaped from Texas as soon as the opening song “Will You Love Me Again” is out of the trap. With his guitar and assured voice accompanied by Leanne Thorose’s mandolin and harmony vocals it’s a bitter sweet country styled slice of life, the singer pleading for his lover to give him one more chance as he recalls their good times. Played with a nimble dexterity it wouldn’t be out of place on a Steve Young album. Continue reading “Hubert Murray “Shorten The Road EP” (Independent, 2016)”

Gov’t Mule “The Tel-Star Sessions” (Provogue/Mascot, 2016)

govt-mule-2016The Tel-Star Sessions consists of the previously unreleased earliest recordings by the original line-up of Gov’t Mule. Gov’t Mule was formed, in 1994, as a side project by Warren Haynes and Allen Woody who at the time were playing with the Allman Brothers band – with some spare time between commitments to their day jobs they decided to record a low-budget album and play a few shows, roping in Matt Abts to be the drummer for the trio. The concept for the recordings was to play live and loud and capture the excitement of a quintessential power-trio, and it is fair to say that this was achieved. Continue reading “Gov’t Mule “The Tel-Star Sessions” (Provogue/Mascot, 2016)”