John Murry’s debut, 2013’s ‘The Graceless Age’, made many of that year’s Best Of lists. While it was his debut, Murry was already 34 and had recorded two albums with legendary Memphis singer-songwriter Bob Frank and an album of Waylon Jennings covers with Chuck Prophet, and it was clear that he was no ordinary artist. He was adopted into the family of author William Faulkner and was brought up in Tupelo, Mississippi, which helps explain his exploration of southern gothic and his absolute understanding of the various roots of rock’n’roll. The critical acclaim did not translate into commercial sales and the same was true of his second album, ‘A Short History Of Decay’, written following the break-up of his marriage and a move to Ireland. The ‘Tilting At Windmills’ EP is John Murry’s debut release on Submarine Cat Records, a new UK independent label. It collects various cover versions recorded at various times over the last 10 years. It is a short memo, pending the release of a full album in 2021. Continue reading “John Murry “Tilting At Windmills” (Submarine Cat Records, 2020)”
At AUK we are now well into our quest to find the ‘Top 10 Americana Albums Ever’. Over the coming weeks and months each AUK writer will in turn, present their own personal selections. When each writer has had their say, a shortlist of the most frequently chosen albums will be drawn up and voted on, in order to generate the definitive AUK writers top ten. This week AUK stalwart and institution Paul Kerr steps up to the podium.
Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous had the rare but very rock and roll feat to have “died twice”, the first time in 1996 when his heart stopped beating for a few minutes following a drug overdose. That he returned and gave us one of the most beautifully fragile records ever recorded, ‘Good Morning Spider‘ was both a personal blessing and a gift to everyone else, albeit the sombre tone perhaps reflecting his experiences. Sadly Linkous committed suicide in 2010 but left a legacy behind of tracks such as ‘Junebug’ with its naturalistic evocative imagery: “Your cousins… they’re gods to the seas. The March afternoons. The sun and the moon.”
It isn’t often that a record reminds the listener of Ray Davies, Mark Linkous and Tom Waits, as this one does. It has the lyrical sensibility of Davies, the clatter and oomph of Waits at his most extravagant and it has the shifts in tone, the juxtaposition of the abrasive and the beautiful as mastered by Sparklehorse. This eclecticism raises it above the usual level, enabling him to use bold swipes like the way the brass slashes across ‘Problems of Your Own’, changing the arc of the song. And how many are brave enough to use the bullfrog rumble of the tuba as Johnson does on ‘Put the World on Standby.’ Continue reading “Ady Johnson “London Songs” (Independent, 2018)”