Billy Bragg & Joe Henry “Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad” (Cooking Vinyl, 2016)

Bragg anbilly-bragg-joe-henryd Henry recorded these thirteen railway themed songs whilst travelling for 65 hours along the 2,728-mile rail journey from Chicago to LA. The songs were guerrilla recorded at station stops along the way – the railroad is present at all times in the subject of the songs or adding ambient sounds to the recordings. These boho hobos have found a way to celebrate the railroad as a cultural icon without a hint of a blush; the songs are performed with such sincerity, affection and joy it becomes infectious – the morning commute never seems so romantic.  Continue reading “Billy Bragg & Joe Henry “Shine A Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad” (Cooking Vinyl, 2016)”

Chip Taylor “Little Brothers” (Train Wreck Records, 2016)

As a veterChip Taylor-Little Brothersan of the music scene for the last sixty years or so, Chip Taylor has earned the right to make what could be considered an indulgent album telling stories from his life and family. It sounds like it could have been made as conversation flows and reminicences come forth following a long and well lubricated dinner party with relaxed and easy storytelling coming from a voice that sounds honeyed and velvety and which delivers the spoken and sung word with charm and wit. This is not an album to get the blood racing and it needs a few listens to “get”, but it is a generous piece with all the right sentiments. Continue reading “Chip Taylor “Little Brothers” (Train Wreck Records, 2016)”

Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)

Landing somewhere between the Cramps and the Handsome Family, this one-off project creates its own feral sound. It’s a musical collage with a Gothic heart. It flirts with genre but shies away from commitment – instead it skids from one thing to another, the opener skitting between avant electronica, Morricone western soundtrack and something swampy. ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ makes a bid for coherence and ends up like Lee Hazelwood soundtracking a Roger Corman flick. Continue reading “Black Angel Drifter “Black Angel Drifter” (Bastard Recordings, 2016)”

Blue Rose Code: St. Andrews In The Square Glasgow Americana Festival – 5th October 2016

“I’m going to start with my most miserable song.” Thus opened the 10th Glasgow Americana Festival, the words spoken by Ross Wilson of Blue Rose Code as he opened his set with a solo rendition of the achingly beautiful “Pokesdown Waltz”. Well, Americana (and Country) fans do love their misery so no complaints there then especially when it’s a curtain raiser for Wilson’s latest sold out show in Mother Glasgow, the dear green place having clasped this Leith born troubadour to its bosom.  And while there’s a pedal steel on stage this is no country song jamboree, no tears in your beers, more reflections in a rain swept loch. Wilson and his current line up deliver his increasingly Celtic ruminations with wild flurries of notes which capture the grandeur of the Highlands along with the more introspective moments one has come to expect from a writer who has used his songs as a confessional on more than one occasion. Continue reading “Blue Rose Code: St. Andrews In The Square Glasgow Americana Festival – 5th October 2016”

Josh Birdsong “Simple Geometry” (Independent, 2016)

Josh Birdsong 2016Nashville-based singer/songwriter Josh Birdsong has released his debut EP of five contrasting and certainly interesting songs which seem to comprise a range of influences.  Recorded in Nashville, producer Stephen Leiweke has also stamped his identity on the sound with a smooth and clean sound that allows songs of original structure vital breathing space. Josh Birdsong claims influences as diverse as John Maher, Morrisey and James Taylor alongside the ambient sounds of Tycho. The EP also features the song ‘You and I’ which won the 2015 International Song-writing Competition from over 18 500 entries from around the world. No mean feat but it arguably isn’t even the best song on ‘Simple Geometry’.

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Chatham County Line “Autumn” (Yep Roc, 2016)

Chatham County Line 2016 The seventh studio album from this Raleigh-based four-piece delivers exactly what you would expect, top quality Bluegrass from a band still firing on all cylinders. Formed in 1999 in the North Carolina city, Chatham County Line have been producing thoughtful albums in the traditional style since 2003. Autumn is no exception to this tradition and demonstrates that the string-band format is no barrier to imaginative song-writing. There is a devotion to the tradition of Bluegrass and incorporation of a range of roots influences evident on the album, but also present is the subtle presence of the history of the musicians in rock bands, hence the arrangements may fly a little higher than expected. Continue reading “Chatham County Line “Autumn” (Yep Roc, 2016)”

New Dylan “No Direction Home” Box Set Features Unseen Footage

A reminder of that rather fine festival from a few years back comes by way of some nice news from Uncut who report: “A special edition of Bob Dylan’s No Direction Home is being released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the documentary.  The Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition contains over two hours of never before seen footage and interviews; it is also the first time the film has been made available on Blu-ray and digitally. The new set includes extended interviews with Dave van Ronk and Liam Clancy, plus an interview with Martin Scorsese about the making of the film.” Continue reading “New Dylan “No Direction Home” Box Set Features Unseen Footage”

Dirty Dozen: Ben Ford-Davies

ben-ford-davies, 2016The latest single from Ben Ford-Davies is by far the best he has recorded to date. Lyrically and musically.

Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?

I am from Adelaide in South Australia but I’ve been traveling Oz for many years always playing music. I’ve lived in Melbourne and Perth and Port Douglas (far north Queensland). Continue reading “Dirty Dozen: Ben Ford-Davies”

Second UK Americana Awards Announced for 2017

Following the success of 2016’s inaugural Awards, the AMA-UK (not to be confused with AUK, which people often do) has announced that the second annual UK Americana Awards ceremony will take place at London’s St John at Hackney music venue on Thursday 2 February as part of a two-day event which will also include an evening of showcases on Wednesday 1 February in various venues around Hackney and daytime conferences on both days.  Once again hosted by legendary broadcaster Bob Harris, the Awards will feature performances from nominees and award winners as well as the presentation of awards recognising both British and international artists working within the broad reach of the genre.
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