First names announced for the 14th Gate to Southwell Festival

Nottinghamshire’s international roots music festival Gate to Southwell has announced the first names for its 2020 line-up, which includes English folk supergroup Show of Hands, Spain’s Anxo Lorenzo Band,  Folk Award 2019 stars The Breath, Glasgow-based  Ímar, Canadian roots duo Madison Violet, Scottish firebrands Talisk, masterful Canadian fiddle and guitar duo Pierre Schryer & Adam Dobres, ground-breaking Irish trio Cua, international combo Trackdogs, one of Ireland’s finest live bands The Henry Girls, exciting talent Blair Dunlop, Italians Veronica Sbergia & Max De Barnardi, French folk-tinged reggae from Simawé, English folk-swing favourites BeauBowBelles and Folking.com Soloist of the Year 2019 Reg Meuross. Continue reading “First names announced for the 14th Gate to Southwell Festival”

The Milk Carton Kids “The Only Ones” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)

With ‘The Only Ones,’ The Milk Carton Kids go back to their roots: acoustic guitars and ethereal harmonies delivering lyrics that detail all the emotions love evokes. Musical duos will inevitably be compared to those that came before, and while The Milk Carton Kids conjure everyone from Simon and Garfunkel to the O’Kanes, ‘The Only Ones’ prove they can confidently hold their own, alongside their influences. Continue reading “The Milk Carton Kids “The Only Ones” (Thirty Tigers, 2019)”

Van Life – Sunday Morning

Italian roots renegades Sunday Morning’s excellent new album ‘Four’ sounds much like a sunglazed heartland rock US road movie soundtrack. With the best part of ten years behind them in terms of touring and making records, this is a band that are totally at one with each other. It’s uplifting roots music that nods its cap to all manner of influences from The Replacements to Springsteen. Yet, far from a nostalgia trip Sunday Morning depicts a band refining their sound, with ‘Four‘ they have made a record that I’m sure will make a ‘Van Life’ piece in future months. It’s a perfect accompaniment to any trip! Americana-UK caught up with the band to see how life on the road works out for them.  Continue reading “Van Life – Sunday Morning”

Twain “Adventure” (Keeled Scales, 2019)

‘Adventure’ is the follow up to 2017’s highly acclaimed ‘Rare Feeling’ – an album that earned a 10/10 review from fellow Americana-UK writer, Scott Baxter, who described it, at the time, as “the finest album I’ve been passed since I first started reviewing albums for this site some 10 years ago”. That’s quite a substantial amount of praise and I was expecting great things from this album.
The thing about reviews is that, while we strive to be as objective as possible, a certain amount of subjectivity will always come into play so, perhaps I should hold my hand up and say that Scott and I have slightly differing musical tastes. Continue reading “Twain “Adventure” (Keeled Scales, 2019)”

Songs for the apocalypse: Toad the Wet Sprocket “Something’s Always Wrong”

In what feels like another lifetime ago these days, I lived in Sydney for a year after I left school, and one night after coming home from a late shift at the restaurant I worked in (as an appalling waiter) a band called Toad the Wet Sprocket named after a Monty Python sketch appeared on TV and I was spellbound. Thus began a three decades love affair with this Californian act which continued when I returned to the UK thanks to Bob Harris, and they remain one of the few “artists to see before I die” still on my list. Whenever I introduce them to friends (not literally), the track ‘Something’s Always Wrong’ is always the first track I reach for. 23 years on from its original release on the ‘Dulcinea’ album, and with all its magnificent chord changes and the arrangement, this still ranks as one of my favourite songs of all time.

Betsy Phillips “Like We’re Talking” (Independent, 2019)

In the 1970s cult science-fiction comedy novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, given the billions of planets floating around the universe, the description for Planet Earth is limited to two words: “mostly harmless”.  And, regrettably, “mostly harmless” could also apply to Nebraska-born singer-songwriter Betsy Phillips latest EP, ‘Like We’re Talking’.
Continue reading “Betsy Phillips “Like We’re Talking” (Independent, 2019)”

Geraint Watkins, Troubadour, London, 25th November 2019

Geraint Watkins’ gig at the storied Troubadour was one of the strangest performances I have seen. I could not decide whether I was watching something brilliant or a slowly unfolding disaster. In the event, I decided it was leaning to the former. What was at issue was that Watkins — a veteran musician who has backed the likes of Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler and Paul McCartney — was producing wonderful music from something of a shambles of a stage presence. Continue reading “Geraint Watkins, Troubadour, London, 25th November 2019”

Josh Rouse “The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse (Yep Roc, 2019)

Josh Rouse is the master of intelligent soft rock with a West Coast twist. Over the last couple of albums he appears to have lost his mojo somewhat but this collection of songs, old and new, celebrating the festive season, really marks a return to form as he ploughs his traditional furrow of slightly jazz inflected guitar based songs.
Continue reading “Josh Rouse “The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse (Yep Roc, 2019)”

Sail Cassady “Got The Pace” – Listen

Suicide is not always the quickest of deaths” sings Canadian ​Colin Craveiro​ aka Sail Cassady, explaining that “it’s a slow burn deep in your chest“.   Atmospheric it may be, capturing that bleakness that chills the soul as the days get short and the night become long cold periods of self-reflection, but ‘Got the Pace‘ is not the cheeriest of songs.  But then, not everything is always cheery, is it? Continue reading “Sail Cassady “Got The Pace” – Listen”