Independent thinking: Tim Martin’s review of 2019

2019 was the year I reconnected with Americana and remembered what I love about the music. Given that I started writing for AUK this is hardly a surprise. What was a surprise was how many great new artists there are working away in the world of independent releases and just how good many of them are.

In line with my usual inability to keep up (Donald Trump? Who he?) I missed the Cowboy Junkies ‘All That Reckoning’ album in mid-2018, so this counts as a discovery for 2019. Seeing them live for the first time lived up to expectations. The songs from the latest record took on a new life especially ‘The Things We Do to Each Other’. Hopefully a live album will appear soon as it’s been a while since the last one.

My other favourite band Over The Rhine produced one of the albums of their career in ‘Love and Revelation’. I suspect I bang on about them a bit too much but they are one of the great well kept secrets of Americana, at least in this country. Try them, you’ll like them. Over The Rhine have managed to make crowdfunding work for them by going directly to their fan base. Someone who fell into the problems caused by Pledge Music’s failure was Danny Vaughn. Better known in the hard rock world, solo and with Tyketto, he worked with the brilliant Ultimate Eagles tribute band as well. The album that fell foul of Pledge Music, ‘Myths Legends And Lies’ is an Americana album with added rock elements and is worth a listen.

As Vaughn has found, keeping clear of the music industry mess is the best way of keeping control of your music. You only have to make a quick scan of the album reviews on AUK to see that the majority of releases are independent, with only the established names showing up on labels you have heard of before. In a world where Spotify pay tiny fractions of a penny per stream, self-released music is still healthy with Bandcamp, CD Baby and others making sure artists can make enough to make the effort worthwhile. One of the best examples of the “new way” is Gillian Nicola’s album ‘Dried Flowers’ reviewed by my colleague Gordon Sharpe back in June. A cracking set, as Gordon pointed out, that would probably never have seen the light of day without the $4000 raised on Kickstarter.

So end of the year, end of the decade and Americana is looking good. Thanks to Mark and the team at AUK for letting me join the party, and looking forward to the 2020s.

If you missed these in 2019 try them now…

Author: Tim Martin

I spend some of my time in Clevedon (Somerset) and some in Crianlarich (Scotland), but most of it on the road in between listening to Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty and Over The Rhine, or anything else that makes the miles go by quicker.

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