Sam Outlaw + Lydia Luce, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 2nd October 2019

Sam Outlaw could probably have been forgiven if he had been feeling a bit jaded. This was the 24th date of a punishing 28 gigs in 31 days European tour. On top of that, he had been quite ill in Norway and has a wife and two young children back home that he was missing. However, the quality and enthusiasm of his performance at Manchester’s Night & Day Café offered no clues as to any of that. It was only through Outlaw’s entertaining dialogue with his audience that they became aware of these circumstances. Continue reading “Sam Outlaw + Lydia Luce, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 2nd October 2019”

Nick County & The Rainbow Smoke “Cocorico Simpatico Corazón” (Public Works, 2019)

The second album by self-styled Miami cowboy Nick County, ‘Cocorico Simpatico Corazón‘ is a record of mostly roots-rock, songs that one might call Pettyesque or Mellencamp influenced, but there are exceptions. One such kicks the album out of the starting blocks with blaring horns and a tight rock arrangement not so far from Southside Johnny. ‘I Could Wait For You All Night‘ is a straight up tale of unrequited barroom bravado, with a narrator who has a girl in mind if he could only get the nerve up to get off his bar stool “and buy you a drink, it’s been my plan all along.” ‘Cocorico Simpatico Corazón‘ features quite a few such losers – or non-starters – in love, the other major theme is small time losers who’ve not caught a break. We may all be innocent when we dream, but these guys are just dreaming if they think anyone will believe their stories. Continue reading “Nick County & The Rainbow Smoke “Cocorico Simpatico Corazón” (Public Works, 2019)”

Owen Tromans “Between Stones” (Sacred Geometry, 2019)

‘Between Stones’, the latest album from Owen Tromans, based in Hampshire, has one foot firmly in the folk/progressive rock genre, but also has echoes of Neil Young that take it closer to the home territory of Americana. The latter is best heard in the prevailing sense of foreboding in ‘Mark Pales Ghost’ and the moving ballad ‘Burying the Moon King’, but Tromans’ vocal style has a strong hint of Young’s delivery on many of the album’s tracks. Continue reading “Owen Tromans “Between Stones” (Sacred Geometry, 2019)”

Richard Thompson – 70th Birthday Celebration, Royal Albert Hall, London, 30th September 2019

When you’ve had a career  such as Richard Thompson’s, supreme songwriter and guitar virtuoso, with many fellow musicians as fans, your 70th Birthday bash, of course, has to be held at the Royal Albert Hall. On 30th September, a star-studded line-up joined Thompson to play many of his songs  along with some of his old favourites and adding a few of their own.  Compèred by Thompson’s youngest son Jack – a self-described “Spawn of Thompson”- the night was split into two parts with the first half loosely following Thompson’s musical history in a chronological fashion. Continue reading “Richard Thompson – 70th Birthday Celebration, Royal Albert Hall, London, 30th September 2019”

Del Barber “Easy Keeper” (Acronym, 2019)

Too often these days, when an artist tries on the sound of the past he may get the music right – using all the proper amps, vintage guitars, analog equipment and such – and still not have anything interesting to put on top of it. Kind of like a hipster with a Civil War beard and suspenders who owns a vintage typewriter but who’s only capable of typing out Dick and Jane-level prose. So much posing, so little substance. It’s pretty simple: when your music and melodies sound like they could have been outtakes from the legendary mid-70s progressive country documentary, ‘Heartworn Highways’ – sitting around the kitchen table with Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Steve Earle – your lyrics better deliver. Thankfully, Del Barber delivers. Continue reading “Del Barber “Easy Keeper” (Acronym, 2019)”

AmericanaFest, Nashville, September 10th-15th, 2019

For Americana UK, this year’s Nashville experience ended where it pretty much started – at Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway. Hotfoot from arriving in the city around 7pm our assembled scribes headed straight downtown to see Joshua Hedley and the Hedliners. These showcases at Robert’s are something of a Nashville institution for both discerning locals and tourists – performing classic country sets from the 1950s and 1960s, Hedley’s velvet croon and stellar backing band which includes Buck Owens’ drummer and a long standing pedal steel player with Merle Haggard, demonstrate their encyclopaedic knowledge of country music and musical chops over a set spanning three and a half hours. Continue reading “AmericanaFest, Nashville, September 10th-15th, 2019”

EG Vines “Family Business” (Independent, 2019)

When his band called it a day in 2015, EG Vines decided to strike out on his own. Last year’s EP ‘Conversation’ put listeners on notice that there was more to come. Vines’ debut LP ‘Family Business’ is out now and it has a lot of good things going for it. The songwriting is intelligent but easy. The arrangements bring Petty, DBT, and the Black Crowes to mind. The production is top-notch, and while it leans Nashville, it doesn’t squelch the songwriter’s swagger that Vines brings to each track. For a debut album, that should be enough . . . but why stop there? Continue reading “EG Vines “Family Business” (Independent, 2019)”

Sean McConnell, Manchester Academy 2, 29th September 2019

When Sean McConnell came on stage without fanfare – clad in denim and holding his guitar, testing his microphone before beginning – the audience weren’t prepared for the powerful performance he was about to unleash.

Opening with the title track of his most recent album ‘Secondhand Smoke’ (which gained the rare distinction of 10/10 when it was reviewed here earlier in the year), his fantastic storytelling and powerful vocals went on to win over some new fans during the course of his opening set for country-rock powerhouse Ashley McBryde. Continue reading “Sean McConnell, Manchester Academy 2, 29th September 2019”

Chance Meyer and the Bloody 98s “Ashdown” (Independent, 2019)

Coming from a classic Americana standpoint the Bloody 98s’ album ‘Ashdown’ is a thing of beauty. This is hewn from the same tree as The Rustlanders, Whiskeytown and Bruntnell circa ‘Shot from a Spring’ or ‘Here Comes the Swells’. Big, wide-open sounds, full band and fuller harmonies on the choruses, bruisy guitars, pedal steel and lyrics drenched in the blue-collar experience. Continue reading “Chance Meyer and the Bloody 98s “Ashdown” (Independent, 2019)”

Andrew Combs “Ideal Man” (New West Records, 2019)

This is a very interesting album – not least because it’s asking you to expand the concept of what you consider “Americana”; and we’re not just talking about a bit of pop sensibility or some string washes. Combs is a Nashville based singer/songwriter, originally from Dallas Texas, and “Ideal Man” is his fourth studio album. Early comparisons, especially following his 2010 debut E.P. (“Tennessee Time”), likened him to Gene Clark and Mickey Newbury – and it’s easy to hear why when you listen to some of the cuts on this album. Songs like ‘Firestarter’ and album closer ‘You’re Like the Country’ are strong, narrative songs with great lyrical content and simple, tuneful melodies. Elsewhere on this album things get a little less identifiable and you might start to feel like Alice dropping down the rabbit hole! Continue reading “Andrew Combs “Ideal Man” (New West Records, 2019)”