Ags Connolly “Wrong Again” (Finstock Music, 2019)

Ags Connolly, one of the most authentic western swing artists this side of the Atlantic, has delivered once more with his third studio album, ‘Wrong Again’. Dwelling on similar terms to those previous, Connolly’s mix of bar side drinking songs and human sorrow will be a sure hit with existing fans who enjoy his continuation of Tex-Mex adventures. ‘Wrong Again’, recorded at Woodworm Studios in Connolly’s native county of Oxfordshire, pulls together an eclectic mix of well-seasoned musicians that reflect tastefully in the music. Continue reading “Ags Connolly “Wrong Again” (Finstock Music, 2019)”

The Blue Highways + James Hodder + Jamie Freeman + Howard Rose, The Betsey Trotwood, London, 18th & 19th October 2019

Unusually for what is essentially a brand new band, The Blue Highways played two shows back to back at the Betsey Trotwood in London’s Clerkenwell to celebrate their debut EP which was released back in August. The band (Callum Lury – lead vocals, guitar and songwriter; Jack Lury – lead guitar; Peter Dixon – bass guitar; and Theo Lury – drums and vocals) were joined on both nights by a horn section and kept the same playlist for both events. Continue reading “The Blue Highways + James Hodder + Jamie Freeman + Howard Rose, The Betsey Trotwood, London, 18th & 19th October 2019”

Jon Patrick Walker “Welcome to the Edge Times” (Independent, 2019)

Jon Patrick Walker is an actor by trade, used to performing in television and film studios or treading the boards of Broadway; so, it is no surprise that he inhabits his songs with emotion, character and wit. In recent years, Walker has been prolific and ‘Welcome to the Edge Times’ is his third full-length album since 2013. Walker’s songs are characterised by his delicately emotive singing and strong vocal melodies. Continue reading “Jon Patrick Walker “Welcome to the Edge Times” (Independent, 2019)”

Matt Patershuk “If Wishes Were Horses” (Black Hen Music, 2019)

“Matt-Patershuk-2019”‘If Wishes Were Horses’ is the result of Matt Patershuk’s collaboration with award-winning string player and producer, Steve Dawson. This album presents an inspired blend of blues and country delivered by Patershuk’s intimate and soulful vocals. The characterful acoustic qualities of the recording were achieved at Vancouver’s Warehouse Studio which is owned by Bryan Adams. The album is punctuated by four instrumentals which land like scenes from some forgotten western; you can almost reach out and touch the rocks and cacti.
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Malin Pettersen “Alonesome” (Die With Your Boots On Records, 2019)

One of the fascinating things about this music genre we call Americana is the increasing amount of very credible recordings we’re getting from musicians living and working outside the USA. We’re seeing artists from countries like the UK, Ireland, Australia, Sweden and others all turning in some very authentic sounding Country and Americana tracks. Latest in this long line of overseas pretenders we have Malin Pettersen, who hails from Norway. Continue reading “Malin Pettersen “Alonesome” (Die With Your Boots On Records, 2019)”

Awkward Family Portraits “Everything We’ve Done Up Until Now Except What We’ve Done Since ” (Holy Smokes Records, 2019)

Awkward Family Portraits are a Glaswegian group in the fine tradition of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks and on the UK front, Chilli Willi and The Red Hot Peppers from the pub rock era. Reflecting this tradition these self-composed songs cover rock and roll, rockabilly, western swing, 1920s through 1950s jazz, bluegrass, gypsy jazz and jump blues with largely fun lyrics that will bring a smile to everyone’s face. However, whatever the influences and genres of music covered they play music to dance to which has always been one of the prime functions of music. Continue reading “Awkward Family Portraits “Everything We’ve Done Up Until Now Except What We’ve Done Since ” (Holy Smokes Records, 2019)”

Bob Gemmell “Parts and Labor” (Sterno Bums International, 2019)

Parts and Labor’ is the first solo album from Big Medicine Head’s singer-songwriter, Bob Gemmell. It’s packed full of tales of the road, the struggles of working people and themes of personal redemption. Ranging from banjo-led songs to tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in a speakeasy piano bar, it’s a bit of a genre mix. Gemmell has a unique vocal delivery and songwriting style that could have held it all together, but sadly serves to make the whole thing feel a bit disconnected. Continue reading “Bob Gemmell “Parts and Labor” (Sterno Bums International, 2019)”

Caroline Spence + Roseanne Reid, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 24th October 2019

Reviewing Caroline Spence’s recentMint Condition album for AUK, fellow writer Rick Bayles awarded it that rare accolade a 10/10 score, describing it as “flawless” and “an early contender for album of the year.” A glowing testimony – but could she deliver the same quality live? The short answer on the evidence of this performance is an emphatic yes…and then some. Accompanied by her long time UK touring guitarist, CJ Hillman, Spence kept an appreciative audience spellbound for the evening with her striking voice, engaging stage presence and above all, a set crammed with songs of the highest quality. Those songs, drawn mainly from ‘Mint Condition’ and its predecessor ‘Spades and Roses’ were the platform for a performance that was, to borrow a word, “flawless”. Continue reading “Caroline Spence + Roseanne Reid, Night & Day Café, Manchester, 24th October 2019”

Ash Mountain “Black Gold EP” (Independent, 2019)

Manchester’s Ash Mountain have followed up last year’s three-track ‘Boom’ EP with a new four-track EP ‘Black Gold’. The band revolves around songwriters Tim Scott and Matt Jones and whereas ‘Boom’ showed initial promise, the new material is much more fully realised. The EP is a well-crafted slice of country-rock with all the expected ingredients: acoustic rhythms, pedal steel, laid-back vocals and nice harmonies. Where it differs from its predecessor is in its greater scope, variety and texture. It’s a more adventurous release and all the better for it.
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Sidney Lindner & The Silver Wilderness Collective “Summer Ghosts / Nightfalls” (Broken Sparrow and Burst & Bloom Records, 2019)

“Sweet brother moonchild / We’d talk til all hours / You told me about that time that you had all the power / You brought the sunlight / The rain brought the flowers,” Sidney Lindner sings of his late brother on the opening of the first album from himself with his Wilderness Collective. His haunting baritone, that rivals the likes of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, sets the tone for what turns out to be an ethereal set of songs. Continue reading “Sidney Lindner & The Silver Wilderness Collective “Summer Ghosts / Nightfalls” (Broken Sparrow and Burst & Bloom Records, 2019)”