Haley Heynderickx “I Need to Start a Garden” (Mama Bird Recording Co, 2018)

Listening to Portland-based Haley Heynderickx’s debut album for the first time, it’s forgivable to just lean back into the melodies, soak up the whispery delivery, and absorb the stripped back guitar work. There’s some gorgeous 60s-style folk music going on here. And then, bang. Haley makes you listen. There’s nothing like a quietly unassuming singer suddenly losing their shit and screeching “I need to start a garden” over and over to make you pay attention. Continue reading “Haley Heynderickx “I Need to Start a Garden” (Mama Bird Recording Co, 2018)”

Ragged Union “Lay My Ghost to Rest” (Independent, 2018)

This EP rocks. Ragged Union are a five-piece band from Bristol; these guys have been around for years as members of various bands, and one thing’s for sure – they know how to play their instruments. The proceedings get underway with a bang: ‘Lay To Rest’ is pretty much straight-ahead, hard-ass country rock. The sound, like the others on this EP, is very full, brimming with electric guitar and driving bass, punctuated by a heavy backbeat. A fine guitar solo makes the track even better. Continue reading “Ragged Union “Lay My Ghost to Rest” (Independent, 2018)”

Michael Plater ” Mythologies” (Reverb Worship, 2018)

Opening with the baritone spoken ‘The Officer’s Mess’ a track full of plangent acoustic guitar and melancholy piano lines, Plater lays his cards on the table early on. This is is a dark brew of folk allusion and portent squeezed through a Cave / Willard Grant filter. ‘Pretty Maids’ lifts the pace with a glorious poppy organ and sprightly guitar figure but is still rooted by the half spoken-sung vocal. As the album progresses it’s clear that a night at Michael’s is not going to be a flippant or giddy affair, the sheer weight of his vocal delivery sometimes undermining the really quite arresting production work and instrumentation. Continue reading “Michael Plater ” Mythologies” (Reverb Worship, 2018)”

Eli West, Lumpy Hills Adventure Playground, London, 11th May 2018

Turn off the lights, unplug the speakers, and welcome to the woodchip stage one of the finest flatpicking guitarists on the Americana scene today – Eli West. On a cool and breezy evening in a secluded corner of Islington, North London, the Lumpy Hills Adventure Playground took the award for the coolest named music venue anywhere in the capital city. Just off the busy Caledonian Road this creative space of rope-swings and wooden climbing frames hosted the Friday evening Nest Collective Campfire Club session. Continue reading “Eli West, Lumpy Hills Adventure Playground, London, 11th May 2018”

Helen Raven “Helen Raven” (Phonic Box Records, 2018)

This four-track EP from UK based Helen Raven is her debut release with all tracks having been written, recorded and produced by the artist. Raven describes the genre of her work as “Folk Noir” which is presumably a reference to the heavy influence of the French chanson style which gives a melancholic tinge to the songs. Accompanied only by guitar, Raven’s at times erotic voice is very much to the fore, although her singing style means that the lyrics are often hard to follow especially on the opening track ‘La Rou Ronsard.’ Continue reading “Helen Raven “Helen Raven” (Phonic Box Records, 2018)”

Joshua Hedley “Mr Jukebox” (Third Man Records, 2018)

Third Man Records is associated with Jack White’s crusade of rescuing the recording industry from the crushing banality of the digital sound and over commercialism that accelerated to the saturation point it currently enjoys. So what’s the story with the debut release from Joshua Hedley’s ‘Mr Jukebox’? Hedley is a highly respected sideman whose fiddle playing is regarded, quite rightly, as sublime by the Nashville trad. and alt-country community. Continue reading “Joshua Hedley “Mr Jukebox” (Third Man Records, 2018)”

Carter Sampson + Jesse Aycock & Lauren Barth, Glad Café, Glasgow, 12 May 2018

Oklahoma’s Carter Sampson is no stranger to these shores. Her trademark red boots have graced many a UK music venue over the past few years. This was the opening night of her UK tour promoting her  brand new album ‘Lucky,’ and  the healthy Glad Café crowd took to their seats in anticipation of the latest show from a very welcome return visitor. Continue reading “Carter Sampson + Jesse Aycock & Lauren Barth, Glad Café, Glasgow, 12 May 2018”

Phil Cook “People Are My Drug” (Psychic Hotline/Thirty Tigers, 2018)

OK, no cheating now.  Who do you know with a musical career that encompasses being a recording and touring member of Hiss Golden Messenger, has collaborated with the Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray, performed with greats such as Mavis Staples, Bruce Hornsby and the legendary John Prine and still found time to both play with, and be a Musical Director for, The Blind Boys of Alabama? (The more astute among you may have looked at the title of this review and made something of a bold guess). Continue reading “Phil Cook “People Are My Drug” (Psychic Hotline/Thirty Tigers, 2018)”

The Teskey Brothers, Omeara London, 8th May 2018

If cucumbers were any cooler then they would surely be the Omeara music venue in Southwark, London. Hip and trendy, this Cavern-esque style location would have hosted The Beatles if it had been open in the 60’s but on this warm Tuesday evening in May the intimate space was sold out to a lively young crowd eagerly awaiting one of Australia’s finest bands – The Teskey Brothers. Continue reading “The Teskey Brothers, Omeara London, 8th May 2018”

Charley Crockett “Lonesome as a Shadow” (Thirty Tigers 2018)

Like his famous ancestor Davey, Charley has certainly not taken the easy route to success having spent years hitchhiking and busking in the US and around the world. He then toured extensively throughout the US, gaining a reputation as a formidable live act as audiences grew. From there he recorded an album that paid tribute to his favourite Country and honky-tonk songs that gained critical acclaim and saw him likened to the likes of Bill Withers, Dr John and, of course, Hank Williams. Continue reading “Charley Crockett “Lonesome as a Shadow” (Thirty Tigers 2018)”