Ruark “When You Coming Home” (Bird Drop Records, 2020)

There’s something refreshingly low key about Ruark Inman and his band. Apparently, he grew up as a Skater Punk in his native South Arkansas and you can still hear some of that punk attitude on this recording, ‘When You Coming Home’, the debut album from Ruark, his eponymous band that consists of Ruark Inman himself on acoustic guitar and vocals, Alexa Joyce on bass and backing vocals and drummer Jeffrey Scott Greer, who also weighs in on backing vocals on some of the tracks. Continue reading “Ruark “When You Coming Home” (Bird Drop Records, 2020)”

Eastbound Jesus “Full Moon Over Salem” (Independent, 2020)

The 2011 debut album from sextet, Eastbound Jesus was optimistically entitled ‘Greatest Hits Vol 1’. Three studio albums and one live album later, whilst we have not yet been regaled with ‘Greatest Hits Vol 2’, the release of ‘Full Moon Over Salem’ should assuage any longing there might be out there for any such hits related compilation. Continue reading “Eastbound Jesus “Full Moon Over Salem” (Independent, 2020)”

Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Festival Hall, London, 6th February 2020

In its 17th year with little change to the formula, how do the Transatlantic Sessions keep packing out some of the larger venues up and down the country? Quite simple; hosts and musical directors, respectively, the dobro and fiddle aces Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain, have pulled together a formidable “house band” of musicians from both sides of the Atlantic around whom they invite new guests each year. Douglas and Bain’s good humour and light touch is infectious. With minimal rehearsals they put on shows of such cohesion that all these musicians sound as if they’ve been together for years. Continue reading “Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Festival Hall, London, 6th February 2020”

Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders “The Southern Sessions” (Independent, 2019)

Australian band, Billy Roberts and The Rough Riders has given new life to some of their best songs with ‘The Southern Sessions’. The ten tracks include some fan favourites from the past few years such as ‘Hillbilly Blues’ and ‘Kayla’. The reinvention of some of the songs almost makes them sound new. It’s clear at the first listen that the band has some strong rockabilly influences, yet they have managed to create a unique twist with it. Continue reading “Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders “The Southern Sessions” (Independent, 2019)”

Book Review: Simon Warner & Jim Sampas “Kerouac on Record: A Literary Soundtrack” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)

On the face of it, you might not think Jack Kerouac has much relevance to fans of Americana. Kerouac was part of the Beat generation, a Jazz fan who was often dismissive of “Hillbilly music”; but Kerouac was a great influencer of the Hippy movement, a man whose philosophy on life had a profound effect on some of the musicians who laid the earliest foundations of Americana.
“I felt free and therefore I was free.”
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so I just keep on rolling under the stars .”
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” Continue reading “Book Review: Simon Warner & Jim Sampas “Kerouac on Record: A Literary Soundtrack” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019)”

Geraint Watkins “Rush Of Blood” (Last Music Company, 2019)

Here is an album that demands attention. Geraint Watkins is an experienced and well-respected singer and musician with all the right connections. This is UK Americana of the highest quality, providing an insight into some of the most interesting musicians providing this kind of music here and now. Take note! Watkins has written all ten songs on the album. Their lyrical power is a further sign of a composer and musician at the peak of his career. He is the producer of the album, along with Simon Ratcliffe of Basement Jaxx. As a divertissement, perhaps, just try that group’s ’Rendez-Vu’ and or ‘Oh My Gosh’, just to listen to Simon Ratcliffe’s understanding of rhythm and its link with words. Continue reading “Geraint Watkins “Rush Of Blood” (Last Music Company, 2019)”

Letitia VanSant “Circadian” (Independent, 2020)

Circadian Rhythms are the natural cycles that occur, “Within a period of wakefulness and sleep, of light and darkness”, and it is this that informs Letitia VanSant’s latest collection of songs.  On first hearing they sound like they are more straightforwardly about relationships; starting with, ‘You Can’t Put my Fire Out’, relating the story of an abusive male; continuing with ‘Tin Man’, an account of yet another man having difficulties with, and the expression of, his emotions.  Farther into the album, we have themes of broken dreams, regret for things not done, laments for the complexity of modern life, loss of faith and the poisoning of VanSant’s father with Agent Orange. The title track, ‘Circadian’, explores the disruptions of modernity on the natural world and the loss of a simpler previous existence.  “The music the world made before / We drowned it all out with these machines”. Continue reading “Letitia VanSant “Circadian” (Independent, 2020)”

Sunny Ozell “Overnight Lows” (Chitin Records, 2020)

When an artist’s press release cites influences from the likes of Cassandra Wilson, Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt it certainly grabs the attention, which is good, obviously. On the other hand, it does somewhat build up the expectation levels around an album and makes an unsuspecting reviewer approach with caution. ‘Overnight Lows’ is Sunny Ozell’s second album and if she was looking to make an album that showcased her love of the sultry tones of soul, jazz and blues with which these legends made their names then she has succeeded admirably. The album oozes class throughout and, if pressed for a single word to describe the style and feel on offer it would have to be ‘sophisticated’. Continue reading “Sunny Ozell “Overnight Lows” (Chitin Records, 2020)”

Katie Blount “Dark Water” (Independent, 2020)

‘Dark Water’ is a tough album to review, but for a reason that does British singer-songwriter Katie Blount’s nine-track debut no discredit whatsoever. The “problem”  is that while ‘Dark Water’ packs several punches of the folk-tinged  acoustic-guitar-based variety, such is  the knock-out potency of the last song, ‘Orion Sky’,  that it risks completely eclipsing what’s come before.
Continue reading “Katie Blount “Dark Water” (Independent, 2020)”

Magnolia Red “Ancient River” (Independent, 2020)

Magnolia Red are a band from the Norwegian North West Coast and their debut album ‘Ancient River’ takes us on a journey through all the different varieties of Americana music. Like their previous releases, the album was recorded at Ocean Sound Recordings in Norway and is formed of ten original tracks. But before we get to that, take a look at the album cover, which is one of the most beautiful ever made. Continue reading “Magnolia Red “Ancient River” (Independent, 2020)”