Kristen Grainger and True North “Ghost Tattoo” (Independent, 2020)

Hailing from across the state of Oregon, Kristen Grainger & True North define their music as ‘Pacific Northwest Americana’, which, given the diverse subject matter of songs on the band’s latest release, ‘Ghost Tattoo’, seems a little narrow. This is an album with something to say on some of the big talking points of today, and using a clever weave of excellent original material and – for want of a better word – covers, ‘Ghost Tattoo’ certainly says plenty. Continue reading “Kristen Grainger and True North “Ghost Tattoo” (Independent, 2020)”

Barry Oreck “We Fit Together” (Ampersand Records, 2020)

Barry Oreck’s new EP; ‘We Fit Together’ is a ‘message’ record, which we know because he has told us so, in unequivocal terms. He has released the record earlier than planned because he believes in its ability to capture the zeitgeist and to speak ‘hard hitting’ truths to power “… five songs that are all highly relevant to the current situation”. Continue reading “Barry Oreck “We Fit Together” (Ampersand Records, 2020)”

Town Meeting “Make Things Better” (Independent, 2020)

‘Make Things Better’ is the third full-length album from the Boston based band and what a superb album it is full of fresh sounding, sublime harmonies and superb playing from a band that would be just at home in the back room of a bar or at an outdoor festival, although at the moment they’re a bar band without a bar and a festival band without a festival. Continue reading “Town Meeting “Make Things Better” (Independent, 2020)”

Richard Townend and The Mighty Bosscats “Ticket to Memphis” (Independent, 2020)

It’s not often that a review of an Americana album features a lead artist whose previous musical life saw him play and tour with a diverse range of stars such as The Platters, Tony Christie, Dana and even more bizarrely with Les Dennis, Ronnie Corbett and even Charlie Drake (apologies to either younger or non-UK readers who may have no idea who those last few people are, but if you’re really curious you can look them up online!) Such is the life of Richard Townend. Continue reading “Richard Townend and The Mighty Bosscats “Ticket to Memphis” (Independent, 2020)”

Bob Dylan “Rough and Rowdy Ways” (Columbia, 2020)

“Well you took your own sweet time with this” we can hear our regular readers shout given that this record has been released for a good week or so now and the world and her husband have been picking over the bones of the thing (also the heart, soul, kidneys and temporal lobe). Indeed lovers of the Euterpian muse have been positively beside themselves in their excitement and, indeed, willingness to chip in with an opinion or three regarding this new release coming, as it does, some eight years after the last issue of ‘fresh’ material. But, y’know, we’re all about the music here at AUK and care not a fig for other people’s opinions/reputations/pre-eminence. So we think that we should look at the album in terms of how good (or not) the music is on its own terms. Look – Bob Dylan is “Bob Dylan” and no one is going to dispute that. Better folk than us have had much to say about his contribution to the canon of popular music. But, similarly to the man himself, we are fiercely independent and will simply let our words speak for themselves. Continue reading “Bob Dylan “Rough and Rowdy Ways” (Columbia, 2020)”

Kai Clark “Silver Raven” (CD Baby, 2020)

There is no middle ground with tribute albums. They turn out either as a haphazard collection of fan musings with a lot of hits and even more misses, or as well-thought-out collected reflections on important genres. Too many of the former around, too little like the ones late great Hal Willner made. Essentially, making a good tribute album involves a well-thought-out idea, careful selection, and a true emotional element that treats the music that is being covered or re-imagined with respect and care. Continue reading “Kai Clark “Silver Raven” (CD Baby, 2020)”

Lauren Calve “Wildfire” (Independent, 2020)

Lauren Calve’s music is at the bluesy, rockier end of the Americana spectrum. Here you will find riffing electric guitars, on-the-beat drumming, pulsing basslines and most notably Calve’s powerful singing. Her voice combines projection and emotion throughout the seven songs in her `Wildfire’ EP.  The rock and roll pieces include the title track; a song of lust that Calve courageously admits is full of silly metaphors. `Shock Time’, based on Woody Guthrie’s journals, reflects on the appropriate reaction to political change.  Continue reading “Lauren Calve “Wildfire” (Independent, 2020)”

Tomo “Wayward Son” (Independent, 2020)

Wayward Son’ is the first independent release EP from Tomo, a Bristol-based indie-folk songwriter. It was all recorded and produced by Tomo at his parents’ house in Somerset. There are no trivial topics explored in this collection, the lyrical structure is poetic throughout but each song explores dark and introspective themes, which is in contrast to a consciously bright, albeit melancholy musical composition. Continue reading “Tomo “Wayward Son” (Independent, 2020)”

Teghan Devon “Little Lion” (Broken Juke Box Media, 2020)

Teghan Devon’s voice has the lyrical quality of an angel, that can be of no doubt. It is melodic, symphonic, harmonious. Her musicianship, and that of all the participants on this EP ‘Little Lion‘, is delicate and immaculate. Her lyrics thoughtful, real, and moving.
Yet, this project EP about the loss of her beloved dog, Sarge, does not quite work. Continue reading “Teghan Devon “Little Lion” (Broken Juke Box Media, 2020)”

Will Stewart “Way Gone” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2020)

‘Way Gone’ is the new EP from Alabama based singer-songwriter-guitarist Will Stewart and it’s a perfect example of good things coming in small packages.  This release may only be 6 songs and 23 minutes long but there is some pretty good music crammed in here.  The mini-album gets off to fine start with ‘Southern Raphael’ where some tight rhythms and jangly guitars build up to an end of track crescendo while the clever use of synths subtly adds to this tale of dive bar entanglement. Continue reading “Will Stewart “Way Gone” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2020)”