Fleet Foxes “Crack-Up” (Nonesuch, 2017)

Fleet Foxes have not been exemplifying the work ethic – having dramatically emerged onto the music scene in 2008 with the Sun Giant EP and then their eponymous debut it was a full three years until the follow up Helplessness Blues. That was three years in which the Foxes achieved an ubiquity rarely accorded a band with so little recorded material to their name. Three years pales into nothingness compared to the six it has taken to produce album number three. Continue reading “Fleet Foxes “Crack-Up” (Nonesuch, 2017)”

Ani Di Franco “Binary” (Righteous Babe/Aveline Records, 2017)

A new album from American Folk Rocker and Feminist Icon Ani Di Franco has to be cause for celebration, not least because she is one of the most creative songwriters out there and her music always engages and informs. This lastest release “Binary” is right up there with some of her best work. Written in the run up to the American Presidential election of 2016 it is very much of its time, with songs addressing the importance of reproductive rights (Play God), the need for empathy (Terrifying Sight) and the value of non violent protest and opposition (Pacifist’s Lament) – all themes currently playing out both in America and in the wider world. Di Franco’s work has always contained  a healthy amount of political awareness and is all the better for it.  Continue reading “Ani Di Franco “Binary” (Righteous Babe/Aveline Records, 2017)”

Joe Purdy, support Lydia Ramsey, The Horn, St Albans, 15th June 2017

Does it get better than this – a beautifully warm evening, driving off to see Joe Purdy for the second time in a week, Bob Harris Country on the radio and Bob’s interviewing Jason Isbell. Oh and he closes the show with Waylon’s Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love). Everything’s looking – and sounding – very promising. Things take a downward trend when arriving at The Horn to find there’s no crowd – and I mean, no crowd: the venue’s deserted. Even when the stage times roll around things haven’t improved all that much – can St. Albans and the surrounding area really only scrape together thirty odd people for Joe Purdy? Continue reading “Joe Purdy, support Lydia Ramsey, The Horn, St Albans, 15th June 2017”

Holy Moly and The Crackers “Salem” (Pink Lane Records, 2017)

Holy Moly indeed! There’s a lot of exciting music on this new release from North East Folk Rockers, Holy Moly and the Crackers, as they move away from their earlier folk-oriented material and explore a darker and more rock influenced direction. This album is a big departure from their previous sound, which was much more rooted in traditional folk rock. On “Salem” they’ve gone for a harder, rockier sound built around a number of songs that are more intense and starker in content than previous work. The results are a bit of a mixed bag – there are some glorious songs on here that really grab you by the throat and pull you in, songs like the opening title track, with it’s story built around the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s but used as a comment on the current rise of xenophobia and hate crimes.  Continue reading “Holy Moly and The Crackers “Salem” (Pink Lane Records, 2017)”

Steve Earle & The Dukes “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” (Warner Bros. Records, 2017)

Back in 2004 we had Steve Earle’s “Beatles” album – “The Revolution Starts Now”; then, in 2015, we had his “Blues” album – “Terraplane”. Now we have his latest release, his “Waylon Jennings” album – “So You Wanna Be an Outlaw”. Of course, none of these are an album of covers or an attempt to sound like the artists referenced; it’s more about Steve Earle wearing his influences on his sleeve and specifically acknowledging them in the way he writes and performs for that particular album.  Continue reading “Steve Earle & The Dukes “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” (Warner Bros. Records, 2017)”

Erin Rae And The Meanwhiles, Green Note, London, 20th July 2017

Raised in Jackson Tennessee Erin Rae has recently been Nashville’s popular choice for backing vocals and harmony work working with the likes of Margo Price and Andrew Combs. Her debut album Soon Enough saw her take the decision to step out from behind other artists and take centre stage and tonight she was  at the Green Note to promote her forthcoming album Putting On Airs while playing some songs from her acclaimed debut.  Rae has been described as Nashville’s best-kept secret but based on what I saw and heard tonight, she will not remain a secret for long. Continue reading “Erin Rae And The Meanwhiles, Green Note, London, 20th July 2017”

Hope in High Water “Never Settle” (Independent, 2017)

I covered Josh Chandler-Morris’ original EP, a few years back, and it’s always a bit odd to open a records PR and find yourself quoted back.  I find JCM voice a comfort – there is something reassuring in the records he makes with Carly Slade, I like the thought of their hometown Milton Keynes being the place where old punks end up, washed up maybe, and then the environs inspire them to make gorgeous Americana. Continue reading “Hope in High Water “Never Settle” (Independent, 2017)”

Zervas & Pepper “Wilderland” (Independent, 2017)

Cabin fever! Jack Kerouac spent 63 days working as a fire watch, on top of Desolation Peak in the North Cascade Mountains in 1956. Zervas & Pepper spent 28 days in a remote cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado late last year. Kerouac went on to use the material gained from that experience for The Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels. Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper spent the time writing songs for Wilderland, their triumphant new album, and also going for long walks, enjoying the tranquillity of undisturbed absorption in nature and relishing their solitude away from the distractions of mobile phones and the internet.  Continue reading “Zervas & Pepper “Wilderland” (Independent, 2017)”

Chastity Brown, Borderline, London, 13th June 2017

Chastity Brown apologises for the four year hiatus in her albums. “But I’m from Tennessee” she remarks. It could be that the record company need that explanation but it pretty much looks like every man and woman in here tonight is simply happy to see Chastity Brown back with new material no matter how long the break. Androgynous and self- assured, she grew up near Memphis but her adopted home for the last twelve years has been Minneapolis and the material on offer tonight from new album Silhouette of Sirens befits her biker boots, black waxed skinny jeans and jacket as there is a more obvious rock edge. Continue reading “Chastity Brown, Borderline, London, 13th June 2017”

Jeff Tweedy ” Together At Last” (DBpm 2017)

To some, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco were the people that made the noughties worth living with his and their shards of myopic observation and songs of equal delicacy and wanton destruction. ‘Together at Last’ is a collection of Tweedy’s songs stripped bare of ornamentation and simply placed one after another in no particular order featuring only Tweedy on guitar and vocals with the occasional toot of a harmonica to leaven the puritanical taste. And this is the vibe. Respectful, almost hushed reverence as classic songs unfold simply with stark arrangements beautifully produced in the now famed Loft studio. Continue reading “Jeff Tweedy ” Together At Last” (DBpm 2017)”