Bobby Hawk “Lights On Kinks Out” (Independent, 2019)

Bobby Hawk (born Robert Hecht for those who have a hankering to know the detail) has been immersed in music for as long as he can remember. Born in central Illinois, his multi-instrumentalist father brought him to gigs throughout the Midwest and it was a natural progression for the talented fiddler to gravitate towards others with similar talent and a common interest in jazz, bluegrass and country. It wasn’t long before he became a full-time musician and with the bright lights of New York having tempted him to move east, he found himself playing with luminaries such as Abigail Washburn and Noam Pikelny. Continue reading “Bobby Hawk “Lights On Kinks Out” (Independent, 2019)”

Piers Faccini “Hear My Voice” (Beating Drum, 2019)

Based in the south of France, Piers Faccini runs a label called Beating Drum and has released a series of EPs featuring singular singer songwriters from around the globe. For the fourth instalment, Faccini features himself which, given he’s the boss, is his prerogative. That said, the four songs here are all fine in a very laidback, crepuscular folk style. Continue reading “Piers Faccini “Hear My Voice” (Beating Drum, 2019)”

Jon Boden & The Remnant King, Union Chapel, London, 21st November 2019

This evening at the Union Chapel kicked-off in a low key way with Jon Boden wandering on stage and explaining that there wasn’t really a planned support, but that multi-instrumentalist Rob Harbron would do twenty minutes or so on English concertina. And this he duly did with a series of meandering tunes taken from his new album appropriately entitled ‘Meanders’ which illustrate how inspiration can come from many sources – could be a Travelodge stay, could be the song of a blackbird. Or it could be a deliberate attempt to reconnect with his birthplace by learning Lake District folk tunes that had impinged not one note onto his consciousness in his youth. It made for a nice little extra as a warm up to the gig. Continue reading “Jon Boden & The Remnant King, Union Chapel, London, 21st November 2019”

The Restoration “West” (Independent, 2019)

The Restoration describe themselves as an “indie, folk roots outfit” from Columbia, South Carolina. In fact, they are primarily the working vehicle for songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Daniel Machado. ‘West’ is a deeply personal album centred around Machado’s father David. The songs explore a father’s dysfunctional upbringing and the impact on his relationship with his own son. If all that sounds hard going, well, yes it is. The words ‘concept album’ tend to have a similar effect on this reviewer as those equally trepidatious words ‘drum solo’. Nevertheless, headphones were donned, prejudices put to one side and mind opened up. Continue reading “The Restoration “West” (Independent, 2019)”

Bruce Springsteen “Western Stars – Songs From The Film” (Columbia Records, 2019)

Bruce Springsteen’s 19th studio album, ‘Western Stars’, which came out this summer, has found its way on to many critics’ ‘best of the year’ lists, and quite rightly so – it’s one of his finest records. Influenced by the Southern California pop music of the late ’60s and ’70s – namely Glen Campbell and Burt Bacharach – the songs are lush and cinematic epics, with sweeping strings and Easy Listening horns, and are inhabited by a cast of lost and lonely characters, such as a faded cowboy movie star and a veteran stuntman.

Continue reading “Bruce Springsteen “Western Stars – Songs From The Film” (Columbia Records, 2019)”

John Salaway “Americana Dreams” (Def Kat Music, 2019)

Nashville-based John Salaway has some pedigree, as a weekly residence at BB King’s Blues Club might testify. With influences that include a familiar roll call of names – Petty, Dylan, The Band and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Salaway has aimed this unambiguously titled album squarely at the Americana market. Continue reading “John Salaway “Americana Dreams” (Def Kat Music, 2019)”

Rosy Nolan “Footprints and Broken Branches” (Independent, 2019)

Nine years on from the release of her last album ‘Black Out Nights’, Rosy Nolan is back with her EP, ‘Footprints & Broken Branches’. An Americana and country singer hailing from Northern California, Nolan explores, in her own words, ‘a softer, folksy sound in her latest album’, compared to her Northern California counterparts such as Merle Haggard’s infamous Bakersfield sound. Continue reading “Rosy Nolan “Footprints and Broken Branches” (Independent, 2019)”

Anthony D’Amato “Five Songs From New Orleans” EP (Elk, 2019)

A true ‘does what it says on the tin’ record, this EP comes steeped in the sounds and spirit of The Big Easy. New Jersey native Anthony D’Amato is one of those artists that always seem to tour, often as support to more established Americana acts when they visit our shores. Indeed, after three months of constant touring in Europe, he took an opportunity to house sit for a month in a 19th Century New Orleans Garden District home, taking  a mini studio and writing the bones of tracks on his guitar. Continue reading “Anthony D’Amato “Five Songs From New Orleans” EP (Elk, 2019)”

Noah Derksen “America, Dreaming” (Independent, 2019)

Noah Derksen has found the perfect mix of warm vocals and expert guitar playing to make a great autumnal release. ‘Dreaming, America’ focuses on the American born Canadian exploring the states. The list of things that are impressive on this album are endless. Derksen’s vocals are full of warmth and soul, paired well with his female vocalist throughout the album. The production values are something you would expect from the like of John Mayer, with the amazing backing band performance. The songwriting is incredibly personal yet still very relatable – even on songs like ‘Land of the Free’ which has a more gritty edge in production with the drums being the main focal point. Lyrically focussing on darker incidents in America, including Vietnam and Sandy Hook, Derksen mocks the belief that America is an indestructible country by closing the song with “land of the free/falling onto its, falling onto its knees” Continue reading “Noah Derksen “America, Dreaming” (Independent, 2019)”

Chadwick Stokes “Chadwick Stokes & The Pintos” (Ruff Shod Records, 2019)

The third solo album from Chadwick Stokes, ably supported by The Pintos, is another blend of musical genres and styles that shimmers with uplifting arrangements. Stokes, who spent many years fronting the popular bands Dispatch and State Radio, is now known for writing modern-folk, with splashes of colourful pop and reggae, bluegrass guitars and driving rhythms. Having now taken on the role of producer, he delivers a slick selection of songs, full of energy, warmth and engaging hook-laden melodies. Continue reading “Chadwick Stokes “Chadwick Stokes & The Pintos” (Ruff Shod Records, 2019)”