Classic Americana Albums: Robbie Fulks ‘”Country Love Songs” (Bloodshot, 1996)

It’s late July 2019 and my latest Bloodshot records update drops through the electronic mailbox. My excitement is palpable. Finally, after 23 years, one of the finest records ever to pass through my CD laser beams was coming out on vinyl and I would be able to hear (and smell!) it in its full glory.  Robbie Fulks’ ‘Country Love Songs’ was about to become only the third album in my entire accumulation deemed so special as to be purchased on more than one format*. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Robbie Fulks ‘”Country Love Songs” (Bloodshot, 1996)”

Songdog “A Happy Ending” (Junkyard Songs, 2020)

Songdog, Lyndon Morgans and confederates Karl ‘Pod’ Woodward and Dave Paterson have released eight albums without rising above the radar. 2017’s ‘JoyStreet’ was well-reviewed with AUK’s own Jeremy Searle describing Morgans as a genius. Nothing on this new set would suggest that we need to change that view. Opener ‘Lavinia’ drifts past like a Celtic mist. The words set the tone for the album, ruminations on the passage of time and its effects on the soul. Continue reading “Songdog “A Happy Ending” (Junkyard Songs, 2020)”

Audrey & Hugh “Sisterman” (Independent, 2020)

The duo is an abiding force in Americana music and, more recently, male/female pairings have come very much to the fore – the Civil Wars (before their split), Shovels and Rope, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The Handsome Family and many more. The latest addition to these ranks may well be singer-songwriters Audrey MacAlpine and Hugh Trimble, operating under the stunningly original moniker of Audrey and Hugh! Continue reading “Audrey & Hugh “Sisterman” (Independent, 2020)”

Kim Richey “A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer” (Yep Roc, 2020)

Kim Richey’s ‘A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer’ is a 20th-anniversary edition of her 1999 album ‘Glimmer’. And here’s the dilemma: should this album be reviewed as a comparison to the original? Or should it be reviewed on its own merits, without reference to the mother lode? After all, they are the same songs, recorded by the original artist, albeit, as she says, “reinterpreted”. Well, no matter, it is a fine album and the decision to re-do the songs more than justified. Continue reading “Kim Richey “A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer” (Yep Roc, 2020)”

Anna Lynch “Apples In The Fall” EP (SJ21 Music, 2020)

It’s been seven years since Anna Lynch released her debut album (little heard but first-rate) and returns with this poignant EP steeped in American rurality. A wanderer around her country, her roots in the apple growing Sonoma County in Northern California are referenced in the title track, where she returns from her sojourns to find change, the old apple picking traditions and buildings replaced by grape harvests and the wine industry. As on all these tracks, Lynch’s voice is centre prominent, supported by her acoustic. Continue reading “Anna Lynch “Apples In The Fall” EP (SJ21 Music, 2020)”

Hello Emerson “How To Cook Everything” (KF Records, 2020)

Hello Emerson, of Columbus, Ohio and led by English Lit grad Sam Bodary, release their second album intriguingly titled ‘How to Cook Everything’ for us to contemplate, cogitate and digest. And sure, dip into it and you will find ten narratives about buildings (actually not many) and food (a scattering) and a few that generally explore coping with the slings and arrows of life’s outrageous fortunes. There are, I would wager, not too many songs in anyone’s record collection in which the story revolves around a book which, having given as a present, falls apart in the reader’s hands (‘Kyle Kerley’). Therein lies a taster for what this album offers.  The entrée ‘ The Last Dinner’ sets the mood, dressing up for a restaurant that is beyond the singer’s means forefronts the purpose of the farewell meal. Musically it sets the tone too, this is song-writing as story-telling set to a score that builds from a single acoustic guitar to a rich peak with pedal steel, brass, piano and strings. Continue reading “Hello Emerson “How To Cook Everything” (KF Records, 2020)”

Green Leaf Rustlers “From Within Marin” (Silver Arrow Records, 2020)

Ever wondered what Chris Robinson does in his spare time? Well, it seems he’s fond of playing locally in Marin County with a bunch of buddies in a band called the Green Leaf Rustlers. And not just any old buddies as the band consists of Robinson (guitar, vocals) along with Barry Sless (David Nelson Band, on guitars and pedal steel), Greg Loiacono (The Mother Hips, on guitars), John Molo (Bruce Hornsby, on drums), and the legendary Pete Sears (Rod Stewart, Copperhead, Jefferson Starship, on bass). According to Robinson, “Green Leaf Rustlers are a Marin County hippie hayride, rockin’ and rollin’ through our favourite classic cosmic country covers and keeping the good people dancing the night away under star-filled western skies.” And that just about sums up this two-disc vinyl live set. Continue reading “Green Leaf Rustlers “From Within Marin” (Silver Arrow Records, 2020)”

Migrant Worker “Migrant Worker” (Independent, 2020)

Reviewing a new release, particularly a debut release, by a band you’ve never heard of before, is always going to be something of a lottery. As with any lottery, most of the time you are likely to find hopes turning to disappointment. Occasionally, you may be rewarded with a small win. However, without wishing to flog the metaphor to death, the debut album from Migrant Worker can be considered as striking the jackpot. Continue reading “Migrant Worker “Migrant Worker” (Independent, 2020)”

Eliza Gilkyson “2020” (Compass Records, 2020)

Just to get this out there, this album is scarily prophetic. Quite how two-time GRAMMY™-nominated singer Eliza Gilkyson knew to write this and call it simply ‘2020‘ is beyond me. The first listen to it was pre-virus and it was frightening enough then: there are plenty of references to racism, gun violence, terrorism, and climate change. But now, in our new world of illness, fear and panic, the songs are even more arresting. Continue reading “Eliza Gilkyson “2020” (Compass Records, 2020)”

Arbouretum “Let It All In” (Thrill Jockey, 2020)

Baltimore based band Arbouretum’s latest offering is an eclectic mix of folk, blues, Americana and 70’s psychedelia. At its best it is fresh, nuanced and absorbing. At its worst it is a so-so retreading of well worn musical paths. Opening track ‘How Deep It Goes’ is a stylish political statement. Jangly guitars give the feeling of sun-dappled forests and reverb galore increases the trancelike atmosphere. This is Arbouretum at their best. Dave Heumann’s vocals pierce through the wall of sound but don’t overpower it. Everything sits in a perfect balance and the song clicks along wonderfully. Continue reading “Arbouretum “Let It All In” (Thrill Jockey, 2020)”