Bob Cheevers “Fifty Years Sampler” (Howling Dog Records, 2017)

In recognition of a half century of songwriting Bob Cheevers has pulled together a comprehensive 5CD, 83 song retrospective which covers, it’s claimed, ten genres of music, and taking a mix of songs from his albums as well as some unreleased recordings. I’m not completely sure what the ten genres are meant to be but country, western, folk, popular jazz, blues, rock, and singer-songwriter are all represented here on this ten track sampler. What it reveals is a hugely accomplished songwriter, and an idiosyncratic singer in the Willie Nelson mode. Continue reading “Bob Cheevers “Fifty Years Sampler” (Howling Dog Records, 2017)”

Brock Zeman “The Carnival is Back in Town” (Busted Flat Records, 2017)

Canadian musician Brock Zeman has had an excellent career and shows no sign of slowing up his output with his thirteenth release, the highly ambitious ‘The Carnival Is Back In Town’. 10 years in the making the album has already been scrapped once but Brock decided that it was worth taking a chance on and teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Blair Hogan and drummer Dylan Roberts alongside a number of other talented musicians, to have another go at bringing his carnival to life and it was well worth both his time and the obvious effort that went into creating it. Continue reading “Brock Zeman “The Carnival is Back in Town” (Busted Flat Records, 2017)”

Uncut wants you to ask Steve Earle some questions

The lovely people at Uncut have a regular “An audience with..” feature where they get their readers to send in questions to musicians and next up is americana legend Steve Earle.  They prompt readers with suggestions such as How did get cast in The Wire?, What was life like growing up in Texas? and What’s the best advice Willie Nelson ever gave him?  Although a better question would be, was the Dixie Chicks’ Earl(e) Had to Die a coded attack on you?  And what’s the collective noun for a group of jellyfish?  Send your questions to uncutaudiencewith@timeinc.com before this Tuesday.  And in the meantime watch this performance from Earle earlier (someone who is even more like him?) this year including an epic and magnificent Trump rant. Continue reading “Uncut wants you to ask Steve Earle some questions”

Why country music sings about drugs

Great article in RS Country today on a subject dear to my heart (since my other “head” is being a researcher in this field – not so much field work mind you) on a new study which finds that country lyrics contain more references to weed, cocaine and meth than rock or rap.  They report: “Drug references in music could be heard as far back as the 1930s. Jazz musicians, bluegrass artists and swing bands were among the first to sing about drug use, though the mentions were mostly casual. It wouldn’t be until the 1960s when pop stars, folksters and rock bands would talk about pot, cocaine, heroin, speed and other mind-altering substances on a regular basis.  Continue reading “Why country music sings about drugs”

Joe Martin “Small World” (Independent, 2017)

Youthful Red Rose native Joe Martin has crossed the Pennines to begin his musical adventures from a West Yorkshire base, physically at least. Spiritually he’s rooted in the 1970s American singer-songwriter world of Don McLean, Jackson Browne and James Taylor. These songs amply demonstrate that he’s worthy of a seat at their high table. Continue reading “Joe Martin “Small World” (Independent, 2017)”

John Murry announces new album, UK summer dates

John Murry’s new album “A Short History of Decay” is out in July and he’s announced a handful of gigs/festival dates around the UK to promote it, one of which is tonight if you’re lively. The album was recorded in Toronto and produced by Michael Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies, also featuring Peter Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) on drums and Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers, Gord Downie, Lee Harvey Osmond) on bass along with Cait O’Riordan (The Pogues, Elvis Costello). The album’s release date of 14th July was chosen because it is Bastille Day, and because of the French connections to the book “A Short History Of Decay” where John took the title from. There’ll be a new single released on the same day too called “Under a Darker Moon.” Here’s those dates and the track listing for the album. Continue reading “John Murry announces new album, UK summer dates”

Ha Ha Tonka “Heart-Shaped Mountain” (Bloodshot, 2017)

In which HHT continue to expand their brand of indie-Americana, sometimes resulting in excursions into areas that maybe should remain off limits. Mostly though they find a sweet spot where they find surging choruses that scream for a crossover hit and retain enough authenticity to not alienate a substantial part of their audience. So sensibly they kick-off with Race To The Bottom not so much driven by guitars but kicked and jabbed with a cattle-prod, with a chorus that you can sing along to on first listen (see below). They sound like the Kings of Leon without the disadvantage of the constipated vocals. There’s not a great deal of originality but they tackle everything gamely with huge enthusiasm and the proximity to Tom Petty I hear on Everything is easily shrugged away.  Continue reading “Ha Ha Tonka “Heart-Shaped Mountain” (Bloodshot, 2017)”

Martha Tilston “Stories” – Listen

‘Stories’ is the second single to be taken from Martha Tilston’s forthcoming album “Nomad” which is set for release on Friday next week. Speaking about the song, she says: “‘Stories’ is about climbing up from the difficult stories of childhood that sometimes trap us in a loop, tapping into to deeper/older stories that have guided us for centuries and noticing the love that has always been there.” Apart from for the ugly duckling of course. Or Rumplestiltskin.