Cattle and Cane “Navigator” (Independent, 2019)

Navigator’ is the third album by independent act Cattle and Cane who are siblings Helen and Joe Hammill, supported by a flexible group of musicians that includes members of their extended family. They have a strong following in their native North East of England and are hoping ‘Navigator’ will be their breakthrough album. Continue reading “Cattle and Cane “Navigator” (Independent, 2019)”

The Lonesome Ace Stringband “Modern Old Time Sounds For The Bluegrass And Folksong Jamboree” (Independent, 2019)

Canadian trio The Lonesome Ace Stringband reveal new existence in their fourth and aptly titled album, ‘Modern Old Time Sounds For The Bluegrass And Folksong Jamboree’. It is unsurprising to hear after a full preview of the album, that the band concrete so much history together. Performing at Toronto’s legendary Dakota Tavern as the resident band for 7 years is a sure-fire way to interweave a meaningful musical companionship. The setup, although lean, never fails to impress as banjoist and guitarist Chris Coole, fiddle player John Showman and bassist Max Heineman showcase their fresh arrangements of traditional bluegrass songs, bringing an individual character and tonality to the vocal arrangements as all three take turns to sing. Continue reading “The Lonesome Ace Stringband “Modern Old Time Sounds For The Bluegrass And Folksong Jamboree” (Independent, 2019)”

Hannah Rose Platt “Letters Under Floorboards” (Continental Records, 2019)

Hannah Rose Platt’s second album is 11 songs that range from the rock end of Americana all the way to the folkier side. It would be easy for an album of such varied styles to sound bitty and unfocused, so it’s a credit to her songwriting that it doesn’t. The album hits its stride with ‘Sculptor‘ the third song in, and one of several about relationships going or gone bad. Spread amongst these are some tales from history, including ‘Brooklyn New York’ – about Irish immigration – while ‘Josephine‘, which teaches us about singer Josephine Baker – is one of the highlights of the album. Continue reading “Hannah Rose Platt “Letters Under Floorboards” (Continental Records, 2019)”

Margo Raats “On The Run” (Fuego, 2019)

Although now London-based Margo Raats grew up on a ranch in Belgium (who knew there were such things?) and later in California.  She was also a finalist in Belgium’s pre-Eurovision qualifying competition, Junior Eurosong, in 2009 but has fortunately come a long way since then and her debut four-track EP is closer to the West Coast than the Flemish one, taking as it does from alt.country, indie-folk and a soupcon of the late Sixties. Continue reading “Margo Raats “On The Run” (Fuego, 2019)”

Yola, Gorilla, Manchester, 3rd December 2019

It’s been a big year for Yola. Her Dan Auerbach produced debut album ‘Walk Through Fire’ was released in February to wide critical acclaim. It has since gone on to be nominated for a Grammy Award for ‘Best Americana Album’ whilst Yola herself has also been nominated for ‘Best New Artist’. Given the current upward trajectory of her career, most of those arriving for tonight’s show probably realised that this may well be their last chance to see her perform in a small to mid-sized venue. Continue reading “Yola, Gorilla, Manchester, 3rd December 2019”

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters “Christmas On A Greyhound Bus” (Organic Records, 2019)

Christmas records can be a risky business – some become legendary but so many others should come with a gift receipt. Listening to ‘Christmas On A Greyhound Bus‘ from Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters is like opening a present from someone whose gifts never disappoint. Platt is a superb songwriter, a skill she applies to Yuletide without descending into the sentimentality trap that claims so many artists on the same mission. She and the Honeycutters continue to play their own brand of traditional country with just enough festive decoration. Continue reading “Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters “Christmas On A Greyhound Bus” (Organic Records, 2019)”

Wilco “Ode to Joy” (dBpm Records, 2019)

Approaching an album by Wilco is an interesting proposition for a committed Wilco fan. Is it going to be a magnum opus – ‘A Ghost Is Born‘ or ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot‘; a slight but fuzzy affair ‘Star Wars‘ or ‘Schmilco‘, or something different again – and there’s the rub. Wilco fans like different but not too different  – they are cut from the same cloth as Old Shakey.  They like it that he sticks the middle finger up to doing what’s expected but… but they’d really like to hear a new ‘On the Beach‘.
Continue reading “Wilco “Ode to Joy” (dBpm Records, 2019)”

Brady Harris “Keep Your Cover” (Independent, 2019)

This is a sweet and simple confection that punches above its short minute count on the strength of its songwriting, production and musicality. Opening with ‘Tell Me Why’, you could be fooled into thinking you’re getting a Neil Young cover, instead of which there’s a Macartneyesque ditty complete with whistling and some gorgeous harmonies and choruses.
Continue reading “Brady Harris “Keep Your Cover” (Independent, 2019)”

Frank Turner + Emily Barker, Alexandra Palace, London, 30th November 2019

Frank Turner’s sold out show at the wonderful Ally Pally was his 2,431st gig since setting out as a solo artist in 2004. This is, in itself, a phenomenal achievement and is a sign of his fans’ passion and of his incredible endurance. Turner has re-invented himself on this tour, delivering a very different show from his usual high-energy performances. This was a reflective affair with many fascinating or humorous stories used to introduce each song; these insights undoubtedly helped give a greater appreciation of the songs and was pitched perfectly. Continue reading “Frank Turner + Emily Barker, Alexandra Palace, London, 30th November 2019”

Beans on Toast “Inevitable Train Wreck” (Beans on Toast Music, 2019)

Beans on Toast may be a creature of habit, releasing, as he does, a new record each year on his birthday, December 1st. He’s been doing this for over 10 years now with his latest instalment, ‘The Inevitable Train Wreck’ being his 11th album. Over this time, Beans (or Jay McAllister as his mother probably calls him when she needs to give him a telling off) has recorded in a range of different studios with different producers, including Frank Turner and Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons. Continue reading “Beans on Toast “Inevitable Train Wreck” (Beans on Toast Music, 2019)”