Steve Gunn “The Unseen in Between” (Matador Records, 2019)

Maybe the best example of an “underground” artist coming to the fore that we’ve come across in recent years, Steve Gunn is perhaps best known as having been Kurt Vile’s guitarist. However, he has a healthy back catalogue of solo and collaborative recordings and with ‘The Unseen In Between’ gathering a great deal of media attention it’s unlikely he’ll be considered “underground” for much longer. It’s one of those albums which just seems to have been born at the appropriate moment.  A shimmering slice of psychedelic influenced folk, it talks to lovers of Tim Buckley and Michael Chapman (with whom Gunn has worked) and over its duration it simply envelops the listener in washes of reverbed guitars and cosmic layers of sound. With artists from opposite ends of the psychedelic guitar spectrum such as Israel Nash and Ryley Walker gaining momentum, it’s time for Gunn to step into the spotlight. Continue reading “Steve Gunn “The Unseen in Between” (Matador Records, 2019)”

Jane Kramer “Valley of The Bones” (Famous Brown Boots Music, ASCAP 2019)

Jane Kramer is a social worker, former domestic violence counsellor and avid humanitarian. Visiting prisons, classrooms, hospitals and rescue missions she has a message to share about the power of music for healing, connection and compassion. On the evidence of this, Kramer’s third studio album, it is a passion for which she is perfectly suited. Continue reading “Jane Kramer “Valley of The Bones” (Famous Brown Boots Music, ASCAP 2019)”

The Once, The Islington, London, 30th January 2019

Although the AMAUK awards showcase was happening just a mile or two to the East in Hackney, The Once drew a very appreciative crowd to this compact Islington venue. Somewhat remote from the heartlands of the music industry as Newfoundland natives and residents, their narratives include some scenes that you just won’t encounter in the big city bands. Lead singer Geraldine Hollett is happy to concede that their location gives them a tendency to sit slightly outside the norm. That said, many of their songs look at basic human traits and emotions that would be common ground, whether in St John’s, Newfoundland or Nashville, Tennessee. Continue reading “The Once, The Islington, London, 30th January 2019”

Jason Ringenberg “Stand Tall” (Courageous Chicken Music, 2019)

A few years back I had resigned myself to the fact that my days as a recording artist were probably over”: so begin the sleeve notes to Jason Ringenberg’s new album ‘Stand Tall’. And fans of his music were probably expecting this too: his previous solo album, ‘Empire Builders’, was released in 2004. So, what changed? It turns out that spending a month in isolation as artist-in-residence at Sequoia National Park in northern California does wonders for your songwriting. Continue reading “Jason Ringenberg “Stand Tall” (Courageous Chicken Music, 2019)”

Gordie Tentrees & Jaxon Haldane, The Doublet, Glasgow, 12th February 2019

Here for some winter warmth away from their native sub zero Manitoba, Gordie Tentrees and Jaxon Haldane kicked off what local promoters, Sounds In The Suburbs are calling their Canadian season, with an effervescent show which was high on energy and full of fun. The pair play a rootsy blend of folk, blues and country with Tentrees pumping up the energy via foot stomped tambourine and percussion while Haldane provides some excellent accompaniment on guitars – traditional and cigar box slide driven – banjo and, on one occasion, a singing saw. Tentrees’ rapid fire raps, introducing songs, interrupting songs and generally just giving us a very humorous lowdown on what we were hearing was invigorating and, as we have already said, a barrel of laughs at times. Continue reading “Gordie Tentrees & Jaxon Haldane, The Doublet, Glasgow, 12th February 2019”

Jarrod Dickenson, Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, 7th February 2019

Nashville-based Jarrod Dickenson is increasingly popular here in the UK thanks to relentless touring, multiple festival appearances and that warm, soulful voice that makes his songs so distinctive. A number of the shows on this tour have been sold-out and the Norwich Arts Centre was certainly busy, with many audience members being returning fans, whooping noisily when Dickenson referenced previous shows here. As ever, the travelling Texan troubadour, with his trademark hat and gorgeous, honeyed vocals, delivered an engaging show. Continue reading “Jarrod Dickenson, Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, 7th February 2019”

Jess Klein “Back To My Green” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)

Just as the generations have always offered up explosions of outstanding peer collectives down the ages,  so it seems that lately there has been an outbreak of gifted female americana singer-songwriters. Not that Jess Klein is exactly hot off the press – her career spans nearly two decades. She does, however, have an uncanny knack of reinventing herself and is a modern day inspiration for the newcomers that have flooded the scene in the last couple of years. Continue reading “Jess Klein “Back To My Green” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)”

Mavis Staples “Live In London” (Anti-, 2019)

At the age of 79 it would be perfectly understandable if Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Americana Grammy Award Winner and overall musical legend Mavis Staples were to make a move towards taking it easy, it’d be perfectly understandable – but not the case. Over the last few years she has released critically praised albums working with Wilco main man Jeff Tweedy as producer and co-writer of songs. And with a heritage of music back over, incredibly, six decades it is all the more remarkable that this new live album relies on the recent material – this is no “greatest hits” nostalgia package, this is an artist creating new music and taking it out to live on the road. Continue reading “Mavis Staples “Live In London” (Anti-, 2019)”

John Kilzer “Scars” (Archer Records, 2019)

On the title track of his second album on Archer Records, ‘Scars’, John Kilzer sings: “…And may you learn to love the scars.” He may well have been singing about his own rich and varied life, which has followed a redemptive story-arc, from being signed to a major label in the late ‘80s, through substance abuse and addiction in the 90’s and then ministry and supporting others in their recovery in the 21st century. All this experience is in evidence in Kilzer’s wearied, characterful vocals and mature, emotional songwriting. Continue reading “John Kilzer “Scars” (Archer Records, 2019)”

Ferris & Sylvester, The Poetry Club, Glasgow, Tuesday 5th February 2019

Glasgow’s Poetry Club is a great place for an intimate gig. With a sold-out crowd of 125, it was the perfect venue for the second night of Ferris & Sylvester’s first headline tour.  The duo of Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester had a simple set up tonight, just the pair of them, their guitars, bass, tambourine, and drum. It took them a minute to find their feet on the stage but opening with one of their older songs ‘Save Yourself’ ,the bittersweet love song from their debut EP- ‘The Yellow Line’,  they immediately showed what the duo are highly capable of which and which they proved throughout the night as their set continued. Continue reading “Ferris & Sylvester, The Poetry Club, Glasgow, Tuesday 5th February 2019”