Glenn Frey “Above The Clouds” (Geffen/USM 2018)

Glenn Frey will forever be associated with the Eagles, the band he formed with Don Henley and which came to define Country Rock in the 1970s. Sadly, Glenn was one of the flurry of musicians that left us recently, dying just over two years ago, and Geffen/USM have now decided to celebrate his solo career with a four-disc retrospective,  ‘Above The Clouds’. Continue reading “Glenn Frey “Above The Clouds” (Geffen/USM 2018)”

The Small Glories, The Green Note, London, 31st May 2018

Whilst it may feel like an extension of your own living room, an instantly familiar and cosy space, the unassuming exterior of The Green Note music venue belies its ability to attract the very best acoustic roots musicians from around the world. If you haven’t added its intimate stage to your performance CV then you probably haven’t fully graduated as a gigging musician. Continue reading “The Small Glories, The Green Note, London, 31st May 2018”

The Mallett Brothers Band “Vive L’Acadie!” (Acadia Recording, 2018)

Can you ever have too much whiskey? Well, probably, but not if you are in The Mallett Brothers Band. The tracks on ‘Vive L’Acadie!’ are steeped in it. For a band from Maine, it’s just as easy to imagine them propping up the bar in the deep south. Their sound is unashamedly country rock and they do it really well. The Mallett Brothers Band at their core are brothers Luke and Will Mallett who formed the band in 2009. Since then they’ve gone through numerous line up changes but have settled on a strong musical range for this latest album with dobro, fiddles and mandolin being used to underpin the sound throughout. Continue reading “The Mallett Brothers Band “Vive L’Acadie!” (Acadia Recording, 2018)”

Bennett, Wilson, Poole, St Barnabus Church, Oxford, 31st May 2018

What a night. Torrential rain. Flooding in and out of the venue. A support act using the Oedipal curse repeatedly during the final song of their set despite being in a very beautiful house dedicated to a higher power. Was there going to be divine retribution? In a word, no. This was a brilliant, brilliant gig. Curated by the irrepressible Mike Trotman of Empty Rooms – the promoter of choice in these parts – Bennett, Wilson, Poole delivered their album (in order) and then some, in spades. Continue reading “Bennett, Wilson, Poole, St Barnabus Church, Oxford, 31st May 2018”

Songs in the South: David Starr + Martha L Healy + Al Shields, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 30th May 2018

Glasgow’s very hip Glad Cafe hosted this night of singer/songwriters playing “in the round” as popularised by The Bluebird Cafe (in Nashville, although the Edinburgh eatery and venue of the same name hosted this self same trio several days earlier). An opportunity for these three talented performers to swap some of the tales behind their songs while interacting as each played in turn, it was an engaging and ultimately uplifting night which proved, at the very least, that the art of song writing is alive and well and that music is a bridge which spans nations and generations. Continue reading “Songs in the South: David Starr + Martha L Healy + Al Shields, The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 30th May 2018”

The Magic Numbers, Esquires, Bedford, 18th May 2018

Esquires is a grimy dyed in the wool rock venue that has hosted many of the aspiring greats over the years, including Coldplay, Oasis,  Dodgy and Richmond Fontaine to name but the few I have seen (Oasis may have been the Angel – life’s journey has had some impact). So, The Magic Numbers on a Friday night, what could be better? Some glorious harmonies and whip smart tunes in front of a sold out house. Brilliant…..or not as it turned out. Continue reading “The Magic Numbers, Esquires, Bedford, 18th May 2018”

Romantica “Outlaws” (Independent, 2018)

Minnesota based Romantica have been around for quite some time, having four previous albums to their name. However, there is some poignancy in this release which has been compiled from leftovers and tracks by frontman Ben Kyle that didn’t make it onto earlier albums for one reason or another because he was struck down by Lyme Disease two years ago and is still on the road to recovery. The experience certainly impacted Kyle significantly and the compilation of this album appears to have been a therapeutic and necessary diversion for him. Continue reading “Romantica “Outlaws” (Independent, 2018)”

Grant-Lee Phillips, The Lantern, Bristol, April 26, 2018

Amongst old carpeting and pompous high ceilings, Grant-Lee Phillips and his acoustic guitar look like they are about to play a secret gig in someone’s (admittedly rich) private living room. Even if it’s not the case, well, it feels like it anyway. When on tour, Phillips likes to strip it down to bare minimum, leaving behind his fellow musicians Jerry Roe (drums) and Lex Price (bass), who took part in the recording of his latest album ‘Widdershins’ released in February of this year. Being alone on stage doesn’t frighten him though. For Phillips, it’s like going back to the source of the album-making process just like a natural circle of life, from laying the foundations of the songs to the afterlife of his records. The experience allows him to play differently with some areas of the song too, cunningly tweaking and twisting them. Continue reading “Grant-Lee Phillips, The Lantern, Bristol, April 26, 2018”

Speedbuggy USA “Kick Out The Twang” (Wagon Wheel, 2018)

Speedbuggy USA are a classic sounding, country-rock and roll band coming out of Los Angeles with their newest release ‘Kick Out The Twang’. Taking inspiration from country acts like Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and American life itself and adding their own rock and roll twist, Speedbuggy USA take that inspiration and put their own stamp on it and they play it very well indeed. Continue reading “Speedbuggy USA “Kick Out The Twang” (Wagon Wheel, 2018)”

Findlay Brown “Not Everything Beautiful is Good” (Nettwerk Records, 2018)

Ambient/Psychedelic Americana is a genre not populated by many artists, but Findlay Brown continues to cut a groove that is somewhat idiosyncratic and to back this up, he even manages to sing about lovers living in separate dimensions who can only meet by travelling through a black hole. ‘Seven Hours’ definitely falls into the quirky storyline category. Don’t let this put you off though, there is certain poetic beauty to his fourth album ‘Not Everything Beautiful is Good’ and it continues in a similar vein to his last album ‘Slow Light’ as he explores many aspects of love, albeit with a somewhat melancholic tone as he searches for, in his own words, the “good wolf” in himself instead of the more self-destructive “bad wolf”. Continue reading “Findlay Brown “Not Everything Beautiful is Good” (Nettwerk Records, 2018)”