Cowboy Junkies, Trinity Centre, Bristol, 16th July 2019

Surprisingly, this was Cowboy Junkies first visit to Bristol. The Trinity Centre is a converted church with a capacity of 600 and was pretty much full on a warm evening. The Junkies music has toughened up in recent years, particularly live. This means that some older songs now have a harder edge. Opening with a set mostly taken from the new album ‘All That Reckoning’, the standout songs were ‘The Things We Do to Each Other’ and ‘Sing Me a Song’. Continue reading “Cowboy Junkies, Trinity Centre, Bristol, 16th July 2019”

John Jenkins and the James Street Band “Looking for That American Dream” (Independent 2019)

Here is a notable and established band from Liverpool. The reliability of John Jenkins’ work is demonstrated in the title track ‘Looking for That American Dream’ which begins the record and captures the listener’s attention immediately with its references to ‘The American Song Book, John Denver and Dolly.’ You are in safe hands. Look out for the outstanding promotional video by Phil Calland. The rest of the album follows in its wake. Continue reading “John Jenkins and the James Street Band “Looking for That American Dream” (Independent 2019)”

Will Hoge + Curran, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th July 2019

So, the Australian minx, Kylie was playing the other side of town at the same time as this lot trooped in. Tremendously entertaining apparently, with glitter bombs, dance troop, synchronised light show etc. Also, no doubt, sequenced tapes, click tracks, covering backing singers. Colourful, fun, singalongs, a real show. But not a gig. Four people walking onto a stage, plugging in, frets raised, count of four and with a crash we are immediately lifted and off we go, that’s a gig. Continue reading “Will Hoge + Curran, Night & Day, Manchester, 11th July 2019”

Oh Susanna “Johnstown 20th Anniversary Re-mastered & Extended” (Continental Song City, 2019)

20 years after its original release, Suzie Ungerleider’s debut album as Oh Susanna gets a reboot. Following on from a vinyl only reissue earlier this year for Record Store Day, it’s now available on CD including five acoustic songs which were offered as a download for purchasers of the limited edition vinyl. On its release ‘Johnstown’ was critically acclaimed and it was championed here in the UK by Bob Harris. Back then it was tagged as folk-noir and there’s no reason to quibble with that as there are dark undertones on many of the numbers but what is remarkable is how contemporary the album sounds. Continue reading “Oh Susanna “Johnstown 20th Anniversary Re-mastered & Extended” (Continental Song City, 2019)”

Old Man Luedecke “Easy Money” (True North Records, 2019)

Old Man Luedecke is the performing name for Canadian singer-songwriter and banjo player Chris Luedecke who typically crosses a number of folk-ish styles in his music, and the new album ‘Easy Money‘ is no exception to that. It’s an album that takes a lot of inspiration from family, one way or another. The opening, and title, song is a banjo led light-hearted daydream of what life could be like if the money just rolled in – there’s no desire for a jet-set lifestyle though, no it’s more down to earth longings “I’m sure that I could spend my days / watching my children play / and getting them to school each day / I never stop dreaming about easy money”. Continue reading “Old Man Luedecke “Easy Money” (True North Records, 2019)”

Barzin “Studio 13 Session Live At Revolution Recordings” (Monotreme Records, 2019)

It comes as no surprise to discover that some of Canadian singer-songwriter Barzin’s music from his four previous albums has been used in films and on TV. The five tracks on this EP all have that rich, atmospheric depth that’s made to accompany reflective moments or big landscapes. That’s not to sell it short in any way, as together with his backing musicians he has created masterpieces of melancholy, exquisitely layered and performed until they become something to luxuriate in and enjoy. Barzin’s beautiful quiet vocals really come to the fore on these live recordings, aching with resignation and barely suppressed pain. Continue reading “Barzin “Studio 13 Session Live At Revolution Recordings” (Monotreme Records, 2019)”

Jim Lauderdale “From Another World” (Yep Roc, 2019)

‘From Another World’ is Jim Lauderdale’s, wait for it.. thirty-second album release. It is an astonishing accomplishment. Since releasing his first solo album 1991 he has released an album almost every year and sometimes more (there were three in 2013). Other artists with nigh on thirty-year recording careers take up much less shelf space with their back catalogues. And how many times have you perused the recording output of long-established artists lamenting that they haven’t made a really good album for years? The corollary of course is the much-respected songwriter who pumps out albums a little too regularly when an honest reflection might acknowledge that ever two or three records might condense into one that could have been a classic. So, hats off and three cheers for Jim Lauderdale for ‘From Another World’ – it’s consistently magnificent from start to finish; 12 original songs and forty-six minutes of top quality listening pleasure. Continue reading “Jim Lauderdale “From Another World” (Yep Roc, 2019)”

The War And Treaty, Under The Bridge, London, 11th July 2019

Hidden under the East Stand of Stamford Bridge stadium, the home of Chelsea Football Club, is Under the Bridge, a music venue that rivals the very best that London has to offer.  The stadium of course has seen both triumphic and disastrous sporting events over the years but on this Thursday evening the visiting team were The War and Treaty and the result was only heading in one direction – an undeniably triumphant debut UK performance. In footballing terms this would have been a thrashing. Continue reading “The War And Treaty, Under The Bridge, London, 11th July 2019”

Ida Mae, Kings Head, Dalston, London, 11th July 2019

Tonight’s gig marks the launch of Ida Mae’s debut full-length album, ‘Chasing Lights’, produced by UK West Country-based guru Ethan Johns. The Norwich husband and wife pair,  Christopher Turpin and Stephanie Jean Ward, now live in Nashville but have penned the album’s material while split between Holloway, North London and touring in Mississippi. Indeed, North American touring has dominated their recent time with the duo racking up an epic 30,000 miles epic across the USA and Canada. Continue reading “Ida Mae, Kings Head, Dalston, London, 11th July 2019”

Carly Dow “Comet” (Independent, 2019)

One thing that reviewing for AUK has taught me is that there are any number of great female vocalists out there. Carly Dow is one such and her album ‘Comet’ is beautifully sung from beginning to end. Dow is based in Manitoba and this is her second release after 2015’s, ‘Ingrained’.  ‘Comet’ is apparently the first to use a group of musicians, and it has to be said that they serve her well.  From what I have heard of her earlier material this is a move from pared down and minimal to a fuller sound.  If the prevailing mood is one of subtle mid-tempo then each track has its own little instrumental highlight.  Her Banjo is often to the fore; there’s a nice bass motif at the start of, ‘Like Coyotes’ and the Accordion distinguishes itself on, ‘Cut and Run’.  There are instrumental contributions everywhere that reward close listening. Continue reading “Carly Dow “Comet” (Independent, 2019)”