The third album from Michael Gallagher, performing as The Mining Company, is a gently, intelligently romantic record, largely focused on themes of loss and separation. As on previous releases, the quality of the songwriting and musicianship is consistently good, supported by atmospheric, dreamy production and lush arrangements. Continue reading “The Mining Co. “Frontier” (Independent, 2019)”
Naomi Sparrow and Rob Stroup have been performing together as Moody Little Sister for some years. The duo’s new album, a follow-up to 2016’s ‘Wild Places’, takes them in a new direction, exchanging piano-driven songs for a guitar-based sound that they describe as “Southwestern Americana Soul”. There’s still a pop sensibility and the album is full of radio and ear-friendly melodies and arrangements. Continue reading “Moody Little Sister “Great Big Mama Sunshine” (Enchantment Records, 2019)”
The exemplary Judy Collins has not let the grass grow under her feet – having completed an album and a tour with Stephen Stills, and then her own solo touring schedule, she has still found time to get back into the studio for a winter-themed album in collaboration with Norwegian singer Jonas Fjeld. Anticipation to hear this new release was only increased when it was casually mentioned that the pair had Chatham County Line as their backing band – it’s a natural grouping since Fjeld has previously recorded three of his own albums with the band. It sounds like it could be a dream of an album – and it is. Be warned, if you choose to read on you’ll encounter superlatives. Continue reading “Judy Collins & Jonas Fjeld “Winter Stories” (Wildflower Records/Cleopatra Records, 2019)”
Breaking out of Scotland, Rachel Sermanni gifts us her 3rd full length release ‘So It Turns’. Sermanni opted to release this record independently after previously working alongside Rough Trade Records and Middle of the Road Recordings. In her previously released albums, Sermanni incorporated darker and grungier sounds compared to what we’re being treated to this time around. Continue reading “Rachel Sermanni “So It Turns” (Independent, 2019)”
Based out of East Nashville, Tennessee, Drew Holcomb has been making excellent roots-rock music for around 15 years and in ‘Dragons’, the latest release, he has continued that standard. This is an album with lots of energy and positivity, covering a few diverse topics, but with the underlying thread of Family throughout. There are songs referencing his wife (singer Ellie, who features on the album), son, grandfather, brother and the Family itself, all of which extol the virtues of each of those relationships with Holcomb. He clearly considers himself to be a lucky guy in the family arena.
Continue reading “Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors “Dragons” (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers 2019)”
Hailing from Houston, and now LA based, this is the first full length release from Jason Hawk Harris, and some first release it is. Though clearly showing its writers’ country and alt-country roots, a wide range of influences outside this core is evident in this exceptionally well produced album, with compelling vocals from Harris.
Continue reading “Jason Hawk Harris “Love & the Dark” (Bloodshot Records, 2019)”
The Highwomen are Country music’s latest “supergroup”. Comprising Brandi Carlile, Natalie Henby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires the group came out of an idea from Shires to form an all-women group as a homage to the legendary Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson) but also as a means to promote female artists on Country radio stations and at music festivals. The band claims to have been influenced, in part, by the Me Too movement and is aiming to raise awareness of female artists in the country genre in particular and in music in general. All lofty and worthwhile aims but do the band live up to the “supergroup” tag and will their music make the radio stations pay attention? On the evidence of this, their first album as a band, the answer has to be a, slightly qualified, yes. Continue reading “The Highwomen “The Highwomen” (Elektra, 2019)”
M. C. Taylor’s shape shifting collective, Hiss Golden Messenger, is very like a ship whose course is set by its captain’s moods and emotions. Pre release talk of Terms Of Surrender being, “Taylor’s journey through a tumultuous year of trauma and psychological darkness, hoping and working towards redemption and healing, and the conflicting draw of home and movement,” perhaps led some to expect a dark and brooding work. It’s true that there are moments here when Taylor is addressing some meaty issues (and that’s not something he’s shied away from before) but the album’s voyage is at time glorious with Taylor’s winning combination of glistening folk, rock, blues and soul engaging from start to finish. Continue reading “Hiss Golden Messenger “Terms Of Surrender” (Merge Records, 2019)”
Musically, Kendra Almalie is someone who is hard to put in a box, but on her debut album she offers up an ethereal sonic richness that conjures up comparisons to the likes of PJ Harvey at her most unconventional. When discussing her music, Almalie has said that she comes up with the melody first and the words follow later, usually ending up being something akin to an interpretation of a dream. This composition choice feels evident in the sprawling rise and fall of the music along with the sparse lyrics (although some tracks are entirely instrumental). Continue reading “Kendra Amalie “Intuition” (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, 2019)”
Hailing from progressive Massachusetts, and labelled as ‘folk’ award-winning Bastoni, it seems, actually keeps her feet firmly rooted in traditional country music. Many of the tracks on this album, mostly a collection of break-up songs all written as her marriage was ending, would sit well on any elite female country/folk/blues artists album, including the one cover and the longest track on the album which is a beautiful, very secure version of Dylan’s ‘Workingman’s Blues #2′. Continue reading “Lisa Bastoni “How We Want to Live” (Independent, 2019)”