Taken from Khari Wendell McClelland’s new album ‘Freedom Singer’ which has re-arranged and re-invigorated a set of songs that were contemporary with his great-great-great-grandmother’s escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Some are quite well know – like ‘No More Auction Block’ – but others are being dragged from historical obscurity and given a shining new coat of paint and presented once more as a reminder of just how hard life could be in the Land of the Free only 150 or so years ago.
Susan Levine and Doug Kwartler are The Lied To’s – and the lies they both got told have to do with love and romance as they each weathered bitter divorces and were left to pick up the physical, financial, and emotional pieces. Fortunately they put this emotion into their shared music to come up with a debut album in 2015, with the next one, ‘The Lesser of Two Evils’ due out on May 11th featuring this perfect travelling with no real destination song.
Joel Levi is blessed with a strong and mellifluous voice, and it’s put to good use on this new single from his upcoming self-titled debut album, due out in May. The Nashville based singer draws on that evergreen area of inspiration – marital disputes. Is she at fault? Is he ? Is it both? Is it neither? Will they work it out? Maybe, there’s some hope as Levi honestly sings “I don’t want to talk about this later / I’ve got to tell you how I feel”.
The creative bluegrass band named after what would probably be quite a traumatic experience reunited in a Minnesota cabin only a few months back but they’ve already laid down enough tracks for a new studio album – ‘Life is Good on the Open Road’ comes out on May 4th and the second single from it is called ‘The Middle’. Frontman Dave Simonett explained to RS: “The first single was a faster bluegrass song, and this one’s a little more poppy. We’re doing that as a way to represent the entire record. This one fits, ironically enough, right in the middle as far as vibe goes.”
Hiss Golden Messenger have teamed up with indie label Spacebomb Records for new track ‘Passing Clouds’ and they’re donating all proceeds to Everytown For Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization working to end gun violence. The track will be available from midnight tonight (USA midnight, although not sure which one of the four that is) through all download and streaming services, as well as Bandcamp, with a pay-what-you-want-option for those wishing to donate more. MC Taylor said in a press release: “We’ve been told for so long that a change in gun laws is next to impossible. It is not. We’ve been told that the NRA, and the politicians whom they buy, are too powerful. They are not. The young people in Parkland, Florida, have proven that. I am on their side. I am on the side of peace, hope and love, on the side of grieving parents and spouses and co-workers in Parkland and Newtown, in Aurora and Las Vegas.”
A set of tunes from Peter Knight and John Spiers based around the traditional songs and tunes ‘The Cuckoo song / The Cuckoo’s Nest / The Cuckoo’s Nest (Longborough Morris)’. It’s a masterly medley that moves from an elegiac take on a well known song to the vigorously pagan glory of the Morris. Now, where’s our sticks and hankies ?
Kim Richey is mixing with the right people – on the first single from her new album ‘Edgelands’ she had Chuck Prophet contributing, and elsewhere on the album there’s the likes of Robyn Hitchcock and Kim’s about to go out on tour supporting Gretchen Peters. Names have been dropped – and so has this new single which sees Richey enthusiastically rejecting a wild youth – “I’m up and running from the way I was before” she claims. And we almost believe her.
On stage Nicholas Gunty and Brian Powers are Frances Luke Accord, a duo that is all about delicate finger-picked guitar and close harmony vocals. It’s a timeless sound that inevitably leads to Simon & Garfunkel comparisons, and it’s true that there’s plenty of poetry in the lyrics of new single ‘Maria’ with arresting images of a love that is strong enough to illumine a darkened world “if the sun goes dark someday / all the stars fall out from space / oh, solace me, my enlightened one / with no stars and with no sun”.
There are not so many mother and son folk duos, but if they could all sound as good as Madisen Ward & The Mama Bear then we’d be all in favour of this being the next big trend in folk. Ruth Ward had her own career going in the sixties and seventies, but took time-out for family. Well, what goes around comes around and as Madisen explains “My mom started to become a fan of the things that I was writing. She would tell me, ‘Hey, I’m gonna take a break during this show. You should go up and play a couple songs…she started playing on my original songs, and the songs just started to take shape more and more and kind of almost develop their own sound.” And it’s a great sound.
‘Liberty’ is the new album from Lindi Ortega – due out in May, it was recorded in East Nashville and produced by Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes Earle, Rayland Baxter), and she’s shared the track ‘You Ain’t Foolin’ Me’ exclusively with AUK this morning. With a dark undercurrent and some great production, she told us: “Some southerners say the phrase “bless your heart” may have negative connotations, and while it appears like a lovely thing to say, it is sometimes meant in a mean-spirited way. I was drawing from that concept when I wrote this song. The mean folks parading as angels but we know they ain’t no angels.” Ortega is embarking on an extensive world tour in support of the new record, reaching the UK in early June. Dates below.