Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets + Sinead Burgess, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 9th June 2019

One dictionary definition of ‘perfection’ states that it is, “a state, variously, of completeness, flawlessness, or supreme excellence.” It is doubtful whether anyone at Nick Lowe’s sold out show tonight would have any hesitation in applying that definition to the man himself. From his earliest beginnings with Kippington Lodge and Brinsley Schwarz, it has always been apparent that Nick Lowe has a talent. His involvement with Stiff, and later Radar Records served to further underline that. However, the 1994 release of his ‘The Impossible Bird’ LP marked the beginning of a series of albums that have singled him out as one of the great British songwriters. Never one to stand still, Nick Lowe arrived tonight on the back of last year’s ‘Tokyo Bay’ single and this year’s ‘Love Starvation’ EP. On both releases Lowe is accompanied by Nashville instrumentalists Los Straitjackets and it’s they who are his current touring band. Continue reading “Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets + Sinead Burgess, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 9th June 2019”

Dave Fidler “Songs From Aurora” (27.27 Records, 2019)

With his second album ‘Songs from Aurora’, Mancunian Dave Fidler has crafted 12 tracks of smooth, laid back music with evocative tales describing subjects as diverse as life in a Haitian women’s prison, to getting perilously trapped beneath a collapsed house in the midst of a Los Angeles earthquake.  Listeners inclined to search for comparisons will certainly detect similarities with Crosby, Still & Nash and possibly even Nick Drake, and Fidler’s ability to paint pictures with his words, allied to a stripped back production, makes for a consistently crafted album.
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Norrie McCulloch “Compass” (Independent, 2019)

As many of you will no doubt appreciate early Americana is deep-rooted in traditional Celtic folk music that emigrated over to North America from Scotland and Ireland.  No surprise then that Ayrshire born Norrie McCulloch is fully at home and at ease bringing together Celtic folk and Americana in this his fourth album ‘Compass.’ This pleasantly constructed, thoughtfully produced album brings to mind the songs and sounds of  Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, The Grateful Dead with some Eagles-esque harmonies making it a delightfully easy on the ear, songwriting tour de force.

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Fabrizio Cammarata, The Sebright Arms, London, 29th May 2019

There was something ill fitting about Fabrizio Cammarata and his Euro entourage holed up deep within the vaults of this back alley retreat for beatnutz and shoegazers that is the Sebright Arms, way out in the frayed, albeit regenerating,  back pockets of Hackney. His recent album, ‘Lights’ has been well received since it was scrapped and rewritten during a period of inner conflict, the result being much more of a ‘band’ sound than the singer/songwriter we’ve known before. Perhaps the tour venues were chosen with this in mind as Fabrizio came charging out of the blocks with a toughened up, rock ‘n’ roll infused version of the all-new Fabrizio Cammarata. Continue reading “Fabrizio Cammarata, The Sebright Arms, London, 29th May 2019”

LeBarons “Summer Of Death” (Independent, 2018)

Just in case you’re a YouTube junky, chasing down the latest viral sensations, let’s clear something up – the LeBarons we’re talking about here are the alt-country band from Ontario, and not the Broadway and Disney musicals singing Mormon family from Utah. If you’re disappointed then…sorry…but this is, after all, Americana UK. Also, if you’re thinking “‘Summer of Death’ – that sounds like it might be nicely dark and introspective“, then again, sorry, but no. The LeBarons are a six-piece band with their music deep in the roots end of roots-rock, and ‘Summer of Death‘ is far from morbid – it’s exuberant and life-affirming, but not in a creepy or overly saccharine way. Continue reading “LeBarons “Summer Of Death” (Independent, 2018)”

Harrison Clock “Winesburg” (Birs Recordings, 2019)

Harrison Clock has been on the scene for thirty odd years and has forged a career largely under the radar with his first full-length album ‘On Greenwater Stream’ (a double LP collection of 20 songs) having only being released in 2016 via Birs Recordings. His follow-up record ‘Winesburg’ is a concept album based on a 100-year-old novel by Sherwood Anderson about a fictional town in Ohio and has conveniently been released in celebration of the centenary. Continue reading “Harrison Clock “Winesburg” (Birs Recordings, 2019)”

Jade Jackson “Wilderness” (ANTI-, 2019)

Jade Jackson’s sophomore album ‘Wilderness’ is her first music release in two years. The twelve track album focuses heavily on self-discovery using country and folk rock to aid in her storytelling. The first single released from the album ‘Bottle It Up’ is best described as a toe-tapper of a tune – a statement of independence while recognising those parts of a relationship worth valuing. Aided with humorous lyrics like: “I don’t need a man’s hands to open the jar/ Where I’ve captured and kept safe/The things that I’m willing to share with you babe” the song is fun and lighthearted, although the concluding line of the chorus, “If ever I get lonely gonna pour myself a drink”, isn’t probably one of which her doctor would approve. Continue reading “Jade Jackson “Wilderness” (ANTI-, 2019)”

Jake Xerxes Fussell “Out of Sight” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2019)

There are nine tracks on North Carolina folk musician  Jake Xerxes Fussell’s third album, ‘Out of Sight’, and in the sleeve notes meticulously explaining each one’s backstory, one adjective appears in all of them: traditional. But it’d be very wrong to assume that ‘Out of Sight’ simply picks up from where Fussell left off on his first two albums,  also made up entirely of  re-worked and often long-forgotten folk songs. That said, on his latest album, Fussell unearths songs from locations as diverse as County Offaly in Ireland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida and the Chattahoochee River separating Alabama from Georgia. Continue reading “Jake Xerxes Fussell “Out of Sight” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2019)”

Markus Rill and the Troublemakers “Songland” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)

Hailing originally from Germany, Markus Rill owes his Americana roots to his formative years spent in Austin, Texas. Playing with the likes of Townes van Zandt, and praised for his songwriting skills by highly respected artists such as Gretchen Peters, Rosanne Cash and Ray Wylie Hubbard, Mr Rill clearly has something to offer.
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Jesse Dayton, Sebright Arms, London, 7th June, 2019

With reports that around only 30 folk had attended his Manchester show two days earlier, there was some concern that the numbers for this Jesse Dayton performance in the East End of London would also prove on the low side, so it was somewhat reassuring to see increasing numbers of people wandering downstairs into the cavern-like setting of the Sebright Arms shortly after Russ Tolman had finished his set – particularly seeing as Dayton had already played at Red Rooster the previous Friday and the ‘Country on a Sunday’ festival in Putney last weekend. Continue reading “Jesse Dayton, Sebright Arms, London, 7th June, 2019”