Glen Hansard “This Wild Willing” (Anti-Records, 2019)

This Wild Willing‘ is the 4th solo record by Academy Award and Grammy award-winning songwriter, Glen Hansard. Having originally cut his teeth with Irish band The Frames, Hansard released his first solo album in 2006 and has also written music for the film ‘Once.’ Hansard says about the writing process for this album, “This collection of songs is mainly made up of those that came through while improvising and following the melodic lines and threads.” ‘This Wild Willing’ was written in Paris, recorded at French Black Box studios and produced by David Odlum.  Continue reading “Glen Hansard “This Wild Willing” (Anti-Records, 2019)”

A Picture Made “Heal” (Goodspeeed Records, 2019)

On first hearing “Heal” seems a slight, meandering work that’s difficult to pin down – but this is an album that rewards repeated listening. The band’s music is quite difficult to describe, but it’s more indie than Americana, and the band themselves are quite elusive. They originally came to prominence in the 1980s and toured with the likes of The Replacements and The Call but they don’t seem to have any real online presence and information on the current status of the band, other than that it is a fourpiece and originated in Kansas and Missouri, seems thin on the ground! Continue reading “A Picture Made “Heal” (Goodspeeed Records, 2019)”

Tom Russell, The 100 Club, London, 29th March 2019

To say that Tom Russell was in a buoyant mood on-stage at the legendary 100 Club would be an understatement of huge proportions. There was a definite party atmosphere – Tom’s UK label Proper Records were out in force to support him and with good reason, the new album ‘October in the Railroad Earth‘ had sailed straight in at Number One on the official UK Americana charts whilst the new single ‘That’s when the Road gets Rough‘ was, he assured us, also heading for the top, and we believe you Tom. Tom Russell describes the album as “Jack Kerouac meets Johnny Cash in Bakersfield” and he’s not wrong – as he would prove through the night with a significant amount of the two sets coming from ‘October in the Railroad Earth‘. Continue reading “Tom Russell, The 100 Club, London, 29th March 2019”

Kristina Stykos “River of Light” (Thunder Records, 2019)

‘River of Light’ is the fifth studio album from Vermont based singer-songwriter Kristina Stykos. For the most part it’s an upbeat optimistic collection of songs which have the distinct feel of poetry set to various styles of traditional Americana music. Indeed, some of the lyrics are spoken not sung. Stykos explains the meaning behind the album title as follows; “Luckily humanity will come together as tributaries do, when it rains hard enough and each twisted stream straightens out its path with unerring focus. That’s right. It’s time, for we are the River of Light.” Thought provoking, spiritual, mysterious, full of deeper meanings and insights wrapped in clever word play is basically what we’re getting here. What we’re not getting is catchy hooks and memorable refrains. It’s an album one needs to sit and listen to in a contemplative frame of mind rather than sing along to while doing the dishes. Continue reading “Kristina Stykos “River of Light” (Thunder Records, 2019)”

Jacob Faurholt “Sad People” (Raw Onion Records, 2019)

Jacob Faurholt is a Danish folk singer-songwriter with over 10 studio albums recorded and released under his own name, alongside some more experimental work under his Crystal Shipsss alias. ‘Sad People’ is a collection of intimate songs with minimal overdubs recorded at his home studio in the town of Aarhus, Denmark and serves as a precursor to an upcoming full studio album to be recorded this spring with some local musicians. Continue reading “Jacob Faurholt “Sad People” (Raw Onion Records, 2019)”

The ACC “Beautiful, At Night” (Gypsy Child Records, 2019)

The Italian Americana scene is a bubbling, frothy affair and when mainstay band Lowlands dissolved, frontman Ed Abbiati got together with another of the mainmen of the scene – Stiv Cantarelli – and started to fashion some music shapes. Later on, Chris Cacavas, beloved keyboardist with Green on Red and many more, came on board and with a road hardened rhythm section featuring Joe Barecca and Antonio Pergini, the ACC were born and this is their debut disc. It is at the wild end of the spectrum – more Stooges than Sweet Nashville… Continue reading “The ACC “Beautiful, At Night” (Gypsy Child Records, 2019)”

The Maureens “Something in the Air” (Meritorio Records, 2019)

The Maureens’ third album, ‘Something in the Air,’ sharpens this four-piece from Utrecht, the Netherlands’ obsession with jangle-pop to a fine sepia-toned point.  Guitars ring, vocals tightly meld, choruses stick to the ears like aural confections.  The vocal harmonies of guitarist Hendrik-Jan de Wolff and bassist Wouter Zijlstra evoke both the seamless sibling connection of the Everly Brothers as well as the more playful stylings of the Turtles’ Howard Kaylan-Mark Volman variety. Continue reading “The Maureens “Something in the Air” (Meritorio Records, 2019)”

Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman “Stubborn Heart” (Lucky Number Music, 2019)

“Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman is a Jewish New York author. Readers here might be familiar with his account of the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue ‘On the Road with Bob Dylan.’ Sloman also wrote ‘Reefer Madness,’ a social history of the use of marijuana in the USA. He is a friend and collaborator with fellow Jewish writer and musician, Kinky Friedman. ‘Stubborn Heart’ is Sloman’s first album and one that he has wanted to make for a long time. Continue reading “Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman “Stubborn Heart” (Lucky Number Music, 2019)”

Maverick Festival Launch, Gibson Guitar Studios, 27th March 2019

The launch for this year’s Maverick festival, whose 2019 roster was recently announced on this website here, was again held at Gibson’s Guitar Studios in London’s West End. The overview for the 12th gathering in early July in the bucolic pastures of Easton Park Farm in Suffolk was provided by the festival’s founder and long-term director, Paul Spencer. Outlining the goodies to dip into this year, he flagged up that bluegrass and Cajun themes will be given some emphasis. He reminded us that key sponsors such as Southern Comfort and One Drop (carbon neutral mineral water) enable the festival to ‘punch above its weight’. Both beverages were available for guests and one option was accepted particularly merrily. Continue reading “Maverick Festival Launch, Gibson Guitar Studios, 27th March 2019”

Steve Earle and The Dukes “GUY” (New West, 2019)

In Heartworn Highways, the 1975-shot documentary which now seems like a premonition of the Americana trend, we see an increasingly raucous Christmas Eve jam filmed around Guy Clark’s dining room table. In the background is Steve Earle, barely out of his teens and looking younger. He had just joined Clark’s band as bassist, and they spent the next 40 years bonded in friendship by their love of the song. When Clark died in 2016, Earle said that one of his greatest regrets was that he never wrote a song with Clark. Continue reading “Steve Earle and The Dukes “GUY” (New West, 2019)”