Morton Valence “Europa” (Bastard Recordings, 2017)

Were it not for the declaration on the album cover that “millions of us…consider ourselves as both citizens of the UK and Europe” Morton Valence’s latest release would represent the subtlest political album you’re ever likely to encounter. At first glance it’s a collection of multi-lingual cover versions, capped off with a reworking of the band’s own Sailors’ Return. Look a little closer and there’s a subliminal message here : je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais takes Serge Gainsbourg’s song and makes of it a lament for the EU Referendum vote, following it up with a crackling Weimer republic version of Wenn ich mir was wunschen durfte that hammers home the message. Continue reading “Morton Valence “Europa” (Bastard Recordings, 2017)”

Mike Felten “Diamonds And Televisions” (2017, Independent)

It’s refreshing to come across an Americana album that’s essentially a fun listen, so kudos to Mike Felten for that feat alone. A Chicago native, he’s been a record store owner, open miker and gigging troubadour for the best part of half a century. Daresay that he’s pretty much seen it all… Continue reading “Mike Felten “Diamonds And Televisions” (2017, Independent)”

Ezio “Daylight Moon” (Jazzhaus Records, 2016)

Daylight Moon is the ninth studio album in a career spanning 26 years from Cambridge-based band Ezio. A popular online encyclopedia would have us believe that this is a folk music band, but judging from the smorgasbord of musical sounds and styles found on this album that is a far too simplistic description and exposes the limitations of trying to pin labels onto musicians.

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Tim Grimm and the Family Band “A Stranger In This Time” (Cavalier Recordings 2017)

One of the leading Folk and Americana exponents, Tim Grimm, delivers his latest album rich in imagery and potent of lyrics. The personal, the political and the social are all examined, alongside tunes of real beauty delivered with glorious textured vocals. Tim is supported, in writing and recording, by his sons Jackson and Connor alongside his wife Jan, who weighs in with harmonica and vocals. Continue reading “Tim Grimm and the Family Band “A Stranger In This Time” (Cavalier Recordings 2017)”

Dougmore “Outerboros” (Independent, 2017)

‘Outerboros’ is the debut full-length from New York native, Douglas Jay Goldstein. He is a lifelong banjo virtuoso who started to study the instrument at the tender age of 9, and whose talent has led to him playing on many sessions. Adopting the moniker of Dougmore, he is venturing out of his safe zone on his first studio release, recorded in New York’s legendary Magic Shop Studios (used by Lou Reed, The Ramones and other legendary artists), and shows clearly that his talent stretches beyond his banjo expertise. Continue reading “Dougmore “Outerboros” (Independent, 2017)”

Little Lapin “Wake Up With The Sun” (Independent, 2017)

Juxtaposing comparisons with Regina Spektor and Laura Marling against kind words from BBC Cornwall perhaps paints, somewhat immediately, a picture of rural English gentility. And quaint though this, Little Lapin’s third outing, undoubtedly is… unfortunately, it’s also a touch inconsistent. Continue reading “Little Lapin “Wake Up With The Sun” (Independent, 2017)”

Glenn Yoder & The Western States “Inherited Darkness” (Independent 2017)

Glenn Yoder’s been churning out top-class Americana for a dozen years or so, and is now managing to both move with the times while remaining true to his roots. Since 2013, he’s been working with The Western States, a band of no-nonsense harbingers of swing who know they bring out the best of each other in an environment conducive to foot tapping. Continue reading “Glenn Yoder & The Western States “Inherited Darkness” (Independent 2017)”

Beth Bombara “Map & No Direction” (At The Helm Records, 2017)

St Louis resident and punk rock refugee, Beth Bombara, might lack some of the credentials and accolades of her long-serving influences, Gillian Welch and Aimee Mann, but on this, her fifth album (sixth if you count her release with The Robotic Foundation), she delivers a collection of songs that strongly suggest that she deserves attention. Continue reading “Beth Bombara “Map & No Direction” (At The Helm Records, 2017)”

Jason Eady “Jason Eady” (Old Guitar Records, 2017)

Six albums in and Jason Eady goes eponymous… could there be a hint of self-reflection and insularity in the mix? This album is certainly a distinct departure from the overt twang and clatter of his previous work, and the subtlety and far more gentle vein prove a welcome relief. Acoustic throughout (pretty much without exception) and deviating little from the ‘original Nashville sound’ (think Willie Nelson meets Kris Kristofferson meets [albeit latterly] Lyle Lovett),  the record presents the artist as a purveyor of familiar musical staples – indeed there are no rules that come even close to being broken here. Continue reading “Jason Eady “Jason Eady” (Old Guitar Records, 2017)”

Nathan Bell “Love > Fear (48 hours in traitorland)” (Stone Barn Records, 2017)

What to do when you’re a singer songwriter who, after a an early shot at fame petered out, spent a lifetime grafting in business before returning to the music world and slowly carving out a reputation as a commentator on the current stare of the nation only to find that, overnight, the world was turned upside down? Nathan Bell was comfortably ensconced in the (somewhat) hermetic world of roots music with a set of albums (his Family Man Trilogy) which saw him rooting around themes of family, work and middle age and which were noted to be following in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, Dylan, Steve Earle, Guy Clark and Springsteen. Plans were afoot for the next episode with Bell wanting to delve into the intricacies of relationships and love surviving everyday issues but on November 8th 2016 it all went belly up. Continue reading “Nathan Bell “Love > Fear (48 hours in traitorland)” (Stone Barn Records, 2017)”