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”

Joe Pug “The Flood In Color” (Nation of Heat Records, 2019)

In what is turning into a vintage year for quiet reflective music we now have Joe Pug’s new album ‘The Flood In Color‘. Don’t be fooled by the sleeve which looks like something from a 1970’s Blue Note album, this is sepia-tinted acoustic music. What Crosby Stills and Nash would have called wooden music. With only one song coming in over three minutes and several closer to two, this is an album of vignettes. Brief stories backed mostly by acoustic guitar and harmonica with splashes of colour from strings, Hammond organ and accordion. Continue reading “Joe Pug “The Flood In Color” (Nation of Heat Records, 2019)”

Stuart Smith “The Sun EP” (Independent, 2019)

Stepping into 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, not to take a tour but to actually record your own songs, takes a special kind of nerve. Yet as Stuart Smith points out on his website, “There’s intimidation in that for sure, but there’s also a freedom in knowing that nothing you do will ever compare. So you can just do you.” Indeed, standing where everyone from Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to Howlin’ Wolf and Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm stood can be overwhelming, but it’s undoubtedly inspiring. Continue reading “Stuart Smith “The Sun EP” (Independent, 2019)”

Have Gun Will Travel “Strange Chemistry” (Mile Wide Records, 2019)

Have-Gun-Will-Travel 2019Fourteen years and 6 albums into a career that has seen them firmly established as home-town-heroes in Bradenton Florida, Have Gun Will Travel have decided that now is the time to embark on a quest for the great American rock record. In doing so they have studied at the fretboards of the masters: CCR, Springsteen and Tom Petty, but these are big shoes to fill and that they don’t quite fit is perhaps no surprise. Continue reading “Have Gun Will Travel “Strange Chemistry” (Mile Wide Records, 2019)”

Tyler Childers “Country Squire” (Hickman Holler Records, 2019)

Tyler Childers self-released his first album ‘Bottles and Bibles’ in 2011 aged 19. A bit rough around the edges maybe, but that release offered a glimpse of the potential that the young Kentuckian had. It also demonstrated a determination and single-mindedness that has not been eroded with the passage of time. Childers’ second and breakthrough album, 2017’s ‘Purgatory’ was produced by Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson and not only garnered widespread critical acclaim but also won Childers the ‘Best Emerging Artist’ Award at the 2018 Americana Music Association Awards. Continue reading “Tyler Childers “Country Squire” (Hickman Holler Records, 2019)”

Danny Vaughn, The Black Heart, London, 22nd August 2019

If it isn’t a reinvention it is at least a repositioning. Given that Danny Vaughn’s extensive CV  includes melodic rock band Tyketto and a stint with Waysted led by UFO axe man Pete Way, his heritage isn’t obviously grist to the AUK mill, nor necessarily are rave notices in Midland Metalheads (due respect of course). But bear with us on this….. the content and style has shifted notably in his impressive recent album ‘Myths, Legends & Lies‘. His other role with The Ultimate Eagles shows his softer side has always been there so it’s no coincidence that the new material calls to mind recent solo work by real Eagle Timothy B Schmidt. It’s like The Eagles but with a bigger belt buckle and more studs on the jacket or, alternatively, the harder end of the Black Crowes repertoire. Continue reading “Danny Vaughn, The Black Heart, London, 22nd August 2019”

Nels Andrews “Pigeon and the Crow” (Independent, 2019)

This is only the 4th studio album from Nels Andrews since he was selected as a winner in the New Folk Competition at the annual Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas in 2002, which isn’t exactly prolific by any measure. Perhaps it’s his way of keeping standards high. If so, it’s working, if the quality of ‘Pigeon and The Crow’ is anything to go by. Continue reading “Nels Andrews “Pigeon and the Crow” (Independent, 2019)”