Alison Krauss announces first new solo record in 17 years – Listen to first single

Alison Krauss will release her first solo album in 17 years this year (imagine what you were doing back in 2000 – taking it easy after the millennium bug’s non appearance probably). “Windy City” is out through Decca in the UK in March, and out of the blue today she’s also releasing the first single from the record: Losing You. The new album will feature ten songs selected with producer Buddy Cannon (Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard’s final solo album) – panning different eras and musical genres original/previously recorded by artists including Willie Nelson,The Osborne Brothers, Glen Campbell, Brenda Lee, Ray Charles and more.     Continue reading “Alison Krauss announces first new solo record in 17 years – Listen to first single”

David Crosby “Lighthouse” (Verve, 2016)

David Crosby’s new release is only his 5th solo album, a number that would no doubt be higher if it were not for the intervening CSN, CSN&Y, and Crosby-Nash albums that have appeared over the last forty eight years – not to mention the derailing of his musical talents in his bleak lost decade. It does represent an upswing in productivity though, appearing a mere two years after his last solo offering Croz. And if Croz seemed very much like a CSN album without the S and the N, but with such longtime musical associates as Leland Sklar, James Raymond and Shane Fontayne, then Lighthouse has the light jazzy feel that cropped up a lot on the last Crosby-Nash album (the imaginatively entitled Crosby & Nash). This is hardly surprising since Snarky Puppy bass man Michael League here contributes all kind of guitars, as well as being credited on most songs for music or lyrics or both, helmed the album as producer and adds vocals that are so very close to Nash that a couple of times the ear could be deceived. Continue reading “David Crosby “Lighthouse” (Verve, 2016)”

Various Guises “Tide Take Him” (Independent, 2016)

Various Guises are modern folkies – a duo featuring Blanche Ellis and Maya McCourt. ‘Tide Take Him Out’ is their debut EP. A short glimpse into a world of gothic flecked acapella suffused with sparse instrumentation. There is mournful cello beneath the intimate vocal harmonies and gently strummed guitar on the second track Green. Willow follows the same template with strong vocals and lyrics coloured by the cello played with a fierce verve. But this is not enough to develop these songs. There needs to be more of a palette to properly reflect the songs. Continue reading “Various Guises “Tide Take Him” (Independent, 2016)”

Jessica Rhayne “Song in Me” (Self Released, 2016)

You’d swear it was going to be Joni Mitchel from the opening bars, its achingly beautiful mid-tempo lament, with a china gong flourish landing like tears dropping in to a quickly emptying whisky glass – you know something special has landed.  It’s a record of the flourish, gorgeous embellishments that set this record apart, built like an old Merc, all hand finished leather upholstery and sweet tuned blocks.  Rhayne has gone that next step, great songs, great delivery, but with an ear that has fostered enough twang to feel Americana enough for the purist and pop enough to garner her widespread appeal. Continue reading “Jessica Rhayne “Song in Me” (Self Released, 2016)”

AJ Hobbs “Too Much Is Never Enough” (Independent, 2017)

Too Much Is Never Enough may be California-born and raised singer-songwriter AJ Hobbs’ debut full-length album but he also has two EPs to his name. His first Shit Just Got Real was released under the pseudonym of Carl King, and the second The Den Sessions was recorded in one day at musician, producer Ted Russell Kamp’s studio. Continue reading “AJ Hobbs “Too Much Is Never Enough” (Independent, 2017)”

Dirty Dozen: Corniglia

With recent reviews including, “a stunning single accompanied by an astonishing video”, “one of the most well-crafted debuts of the year”, “Endearingly sincere and wondrously imaginative.” (Happy Mag) and “pristine retro-pop, like something out of the late 60s. We are digging this.” (Power of Pop), Perth band Corniglia are causing a minor buzz with their debut single “Oh My Love”. Continue reading “Dirty Dozen: Corniglia”

Piano Magic “Closure” (Second Language Music 2016)

It’s a wee bit embarrassing to confess that despite a 20 year career, 12 albums and the late John Peel a fan of the band that this reviewer has never heard of Piano Magic. In defence they are not common or garden Americana UK fodder, their songs unfolding somewhat glacially over an electronic pulse that’s embellished by washes of guitar as Glen Johnson’s disembodied and almost spoken vocals slowly delve into existential conundrums. However there are several moments here when the songs positively soar, sometimes borne aloft on a waft of string arrangements.  Lyrically there are echoes of Nick Cave, L. Cohen and Momus while the arrangements have a mild whiff of The Go Betweens and The Walkabouts all adding up to some fine melancholic soul searching. Continue reading “Piano Magic “Closure” (Second Language Music 2016)”

Live: Ben Kunder & Sarah MacDougall – York House Concerts, 26th November, 2016

Image: Chris Priest

Playing as a duo in the round over split sets to an enthusiastic, if older, red wine sipping crowd Kunder and MacDougall win the room with, I would guess, a previously unknown set of songs, Kunder’s album, ‘Golden’ is one of the best of 2016 and its taught songwriting is always going to come away with the spoils. MacDougall, finger picked Martin and double denim, with songs about growing up reading Pippi Longstocking, living in the Yukon is full of unusual phrases and a very confused (and confusing) accent, reel the punters in, easily hooked.  Kunder is a wonderful blend of Young, Taylor, Simon and Van Morrison – he’s a hell of a songwriter, and his first trip to the UK is a definite success.  Continue reading “Live: Ben Kunder & Sarah MacDougall – York House Concerts, 26th November, 2016”

Nathan Bell announces UK Dates

He picked up glowing 5-star reviews for his latest album (for example “A stand-out album – poetry is coursing through his veins” – Maverick) ‘I Don’t Do This for Love, I Do This for Love’ – winning him more media exposure in the space of a few weeks than he had experienced for a long time,  plus being described as “really, really special” by Ricky Ross (BBC). Continue reading “Nathan Bell announces UK Dates”

Dirty Dozen : The Coal Flowers

The Coal Flowers is made up of singer-songwriters Joel Shepherd (lead vocals, piano) and Heather Shepherd (lead vocals). These siblings have been singing together in one form or another since childhood in the Appalachian coalfields of Kentucky. They are known for their intimate lyrics, tight family harmony and rich musical composition. Continue reading “Dirty Dozen : The Coal Flowers”