The Living Street “It Won’t Last” (Independent 2019)

If you only heard ‘Home On The Road’ the first track off The Living Street’s second album ‘It Won’t Last’ you might think you were about to hear the last great summer album of the year before autumn takes a firm grip. With its banjo, acoustic guitars and a little bit of what sounds like a penny whistle, you’d be yearning for some sun whilst warming yourself to the band’s delightful harmonies. However, the rest of the album doesn’t really live up to the opening track and the other eight songs disappoint a little in comparison. Continue reading “The Living Street “It Won’t Last” (Independent 2019)”

Alasdair Roberts “The Fiery Margin” (Drag City Records, 2019)

Alasdair Roberts continues his exploration of traditional song structures, melodies, and instrumentation with a foot – and an ear – in the present with his latest, ‘The Fiery Margin.’ Joined again by bassist Stevie Jones and Alex Neilson on percussion, Roberts expands his sound, and deepens the traditional touch, with the addition of Irish violist Ailbhe nic Oireachtaigh. Together they form a sound that’s both timeless and relevant to these times. Traditional Scottish, English, and Irish forms lay a perfect foundation for Roberts’s expressive vocals. Continue reading “Alasdair Roberts “The Fiery Margin” (Drag City Records, 2019)”

The Harmaleighs “She Won’t Make Sense” (Nettwerk, 2019)

The Harmaleighs is a Nashville duet formed by guitarist Haley Grant, bassist Kaylee Jasperson and Susan. Technically, that should make a trio, right? But truth be told, Susan is not a real person, as she’s just a cover name personifying Grant’s anxiety. And that is at the focal point of the band’s sophomore record ‘She Won’t Make Sense‘, as its ten tracks form a dialogue between Grant and her inner self. The wording is direct and gives a raw representation of what’s going on in the songwriter’s mind, and that’s a nice change from stories about heartbreaks, birds and flat tires on country roads. Continue reading “The Harmaleighs “She Won’t Make Sense” (Nettwerk, 2019)”

Matthew Squires “Visions Of America” (Independent Release, 2019)

As the world continues to pick up pace and we struggle not to be left behind, it’s sometimes almost panic inducing to contemplate the impossibility of listening to all the new music available. Artists also have to clamour for attention, the ‘back in the day’ ritual of flicking through album covers in the local record shop having long been replaced by the casual thumb-flick-scroll through playlists. What makes us stop and play? For an artist like Matthew Squires, noting that ‘no one buys CDs anymore’ putting out material has ceased to be a physical thing (he will DIY burn you a copy if you want, and don’t mind it not being shrink-wrapped). He doesn’t make much money from his albums of course and he doesn’t see that as a problem until he wants to make a new one. ‘Visons of America’ comes to fruition as a self-released, crowd-funded effort. This is music as co-production, a community of artist and supporters and, as a small measure, the Americana UK pages as part of that to offer sign-posting in the increasingly crowded music digitalverse. Continue reading “Matthew Squires “Visions Of America” (Independent Release, 2019)”

Over the Hill Festival, Witney, Oxfordshire, 26th August, 2019

For Over The Hill’s inaugural festival you couldn’t hope for a more bucolic setting than Cogges Manor Farm. Set in the outskirts of Witney in Oxfordshire, its grounds comprise a beautiful manor house made of Cotswold stone, surrounded by common land and with farmyard animals in situ. The festival is simply but elegantly accommodated in two tithe barns, with the musical turns alternating between the two stages. Continue reading “Over the Hill Festival, Witney, Oxfordshire, 26th August, 2019”

Merival “Lesson” (Merival Records, 2019)

From Toronto comes the debut album from Merival, aka Anna Horvath, though to say album is a bit of a stretch at less than 25 minutes, with some of the 8 tracks being barely songs. Horvath called the album ‘Lesson’ as “thematically, the idea of self-exploration and learning underpins the record, a glimpse into a world under construction”. Unfortunately, Horvath’s musical style is also under construction, and some of the tracks could be seen as atmospheres rather than songs, emotion and expression very evident, but a frustrating listen. Continue reading “Merival “Lesson” (Merival Records, 2019)”

Dan Bern “Regent Street” (Independent, 2019)

Dan Bern has been relentlessly creating things for at least the last quarter of a century, very probably longer. Paintings, books, radio stations, and, most relevant to our interests here, songs. Twenty-five releases deep he shows no signs of slowing up; his latest effort, ‘Regent Street‘ is Bern at his prolific, sardonic best. Having lost two of his finger-tips in a snowblower accident at the beginning of last year, Bern was unable to play guitar for an extended period. Continue reading “Dan Bern “Regent Street” (Independent, 2019)”

Red River Dialect “Abundance Welcoming Ghosts” (Paradise Of Bachelors, 2019)

Red River Dialect are a Cornish troupe, a vehicle for the songs of  David Morris, a man who seems to take life quite seriously as he finds inspiration in the nooks and crannies of Celtic legend and misty landscapes. An inward looking soul on a spiritual voyage of discovery, Morris took the band to Wales to record this disc prior to him undertaking a nine month retreat in a Nova Scotia Buddhist monastery and it has sat, awaiting his return, in order for the band to promote it on their imminent tour. Continue reading “Red River Dialect “Abundance Welcoming Ghosts” (Paradise Of Bachelors, 2019)”

Jeremy Squires “Poem” (Independent, 2019)

North Carolina’s Jeremy Squires has been battling his personal demons for the past few years by writing songs – they’ve helped him to overcome depression and anxiety. His previous releases, including 2017’s ‘Collapse’, have recounted his struggle with mental health issues, and his latest, ‘Poem’, which is his fifth album, also isn’t afraid to deal with the darker side of life. Continue reading “Jeremy Squires “Poem” (Independent, 2019)”

Israel Nash + Leslie Stevens, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 26th August 2019

Coming to the end of a long series of tours promoting his latest album ‘Lifted’, Israel Nash and his road warriors are by now fully blooded and it showed tonight as they treated this audience to a magnificent 90 minutes of epic sounds. Freely trading on his Neil Young comparisons, Nash adds a splendid dollop of cosmic American music consciousness to his songs allowing them to spiral well beyond any accusations of being a mere copycat. There were moments tonight when the mesh of pedal steel, blissful guitar and glowering rythyms just about blew your head away. Continue reading “Israel Nash + Leslie Stevens, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 26th August 2019”