The Rocking Magpie

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Welcome to the Rocking Magpie – a box-room on the Internet for one man and a bunch of his Roots Music loving friend’s thoughts and musings on a wide variety of music, be it CD’s, Gigs, books and the occasional DVD. Usually; but not exclusively based around all things ROOTS:- Americana, Folk, Blues, R&B, all variants of Country, a bit of Ska, Reggae and Soul too.

After many years writing reviews for a variety of magazines, newspapers and websites I decided to break up the band and go solo in 2014; putting everything under one roof on ……THE ROCKING MAGPIE.

Me? I live in the North East of England; but receive music from all around the world….mostly  the UK, USA and Canada and our readership reflects this, but we have followers in over 130 countries across all 4 continents; plus my data tells me that ‘occasional visitors’ from 173 countries have actually visited the site so far; which is mind-blowing when you think about it.

Our priority is bringing you reviews of music that has actually been listened to and appreciatednot just the regurgitation of a Press Release  (like too many other ‘household name’ websites!).
We do this because we want you to get an Independent view from someone just like yourself; and in theory this will make you want to actually buy a copy not just scam a free listen on the likes of Spotify and Apple Streaming!
#BuyDontSpotify

Dig deep into the site; as the bonus is a myriad of my old reviews (400+), some dating back to 2010 which really are a snapshot in time – some I got bang on, others I raved about yet the album and artist still drifted into musical obscurity.
In January 2021 I’ve brought the RMHQ Music Hour Podcast back to life; it’s broadcast every Friday then available on Mixcloud alongside all of our back catalogue and every week will feature a musician talking about their ‘Gateway Album’ which helped get them to where they are now.


Keep in touch rockingmagpie@outlook.com or on Twitter @RockingMagpie

To ‘Follow’ us ,press the like/follow button for irregular postings of reviews that you can be read in the comfort of your own home…workplace, train or the loo (or wherever the case may be).
FAO Bands, singers and PR’s…….like all other writers and bloggers we put an inordinate amount of time and effort into these reviews; so please, please, please promote them on your websites, social media and the telephone ……they do actually lead to SALES….I have written proof!!!!

Alan aka The Rocking Magpie

If there’s one song that sums up our attitude to what we do and why we do it, it’s this song……. Rex Bob Lowenstein by Mark Germino

Future Folk FRIENDLY FACES DIFFERENT FACES

Future Folk
Friendly Faces Different Spaces
The Slow Music Movement Record Label

An Intriguing Mix That Helps Push The Boundaries of Folk Music.

Folk music has about as many definitions as it does sub-genres and folks involved.
One thing nearly all types of Folk music has in common though, is that it brings people together. Whether to experience it as a listener or as a performer.
Future Folk began as a collaboration of people spread across the globe with the intent of attempting to help push the centuries old tradition of Folk Music into new sonic territories.
Compilation albums can often be scattered in concept, and barely held together in mode; but this one feels neatly tied together from start to finish; a charming thread of musical silver running throughout, weaving it all together.
This could be a modern Folk supergroup, so intertwined are the disparate parts.
A few highlights: The duo of Alula Down – Kate Gathercole and Mark Waters, updates the ancient story of Orpheus and Eurydice with ethereal voice alongside feedback from a mobile phone along with guitar, bass, and percussion in the opening track “Sir Orfeo.”
Bróna McVittie’s “A Pity Beyond All Telling” fuses electric harp and synthesizer, with a mantra-like evocation that touches the soul, making it both haunting AND soothing.
Me Lost Me performs an improvised a Capella song, “Nightingale,” adding touches of digital effects which give the vocals a disconnected quality, adding an unearthly touch to an already beautiful performance.
Listen carefully to “This Is A Robbery,” by Pete Thompson and you will discover it is more than just the guitar loops and lo-fi samples that make up its musical bed.
The disparate vocals seethe, the tension builds, it’s a song about a snapshot in time, a moment that will change life forever for everyone involved.
Several of the tunes here are ambient, droning, a mixture of old instruments and twenty-first century digital manipulations; some work well ….. others?
Less so.
Yet, all are intriguing.
I’m not entirely convinced they’ve yet pushed Folk into entirely new places, but it’s a healthy attempt.
That said; I’m looking forward to hearing more from all of the artists contained on this magical album.

Artists: Jeffrey Silverstein, Andrew Tuttle, Avocet, Bróna McVittie, Ben McElroy, Alula Down, Me Lost Me, El Conejo, Black Brunswicker, Scott William Urquhart, Geir Sundstøl, The Howard Hughes Suite, Tracy Chow, Pete Thompson

The Slow Music Movement is an evolving organism with an ambitious evolutionary plan. It was launched in 2017 as a radio show & daily music recommendation service with a focus on largely laid back, quality music, from independent artists & labels that we’ve dug a bit deeper to discover. We then share that music across the social media landscape.

Every Bit Helps
We donate a percentage of all label /streaming revenue to Client Earth to help mitigate our environmental impact & try and make a difference.



Released 15th April 2021
Review by the Legendary Roy Peak.

BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://theslowmusicmovement.bandcamp.com/album/future-folk-friendly-faces-different-spaces



Will Porter TICK TOCK TICK

Will Porter
Tick Tock Tick
Gramofono Sound

A Real Humdinger For the Soul and R&B Cognoscenti .


As is my won’t I’d played this through twice before I picked up the Press Release to ‘tick the boxes inside my head’ …… only to find that this is a far more important release than I’d anticipated!
TICK TOCK TICK is actually a re-release, something we normally avoid; but this 2015 LP was only a Limited Edition in the USA, and only barely distributed across Europe; but is now finally getting World Wide distribution; and rightly so as it’s a real humdinger.
The title track TICK TOCK TICK starts the party and verily oozes out of your speakers like a late night Everglades mist. WOAH, WOAH and thrice WOAH! Will Porter’s voice?
Man …. it’s right up there with Bobby Womack, Barry White and even Brook Benton and Gregory Porter (no relation btw) and the groove will have you inadvertently shuffling feet, shoulders and hips regardless of age, sex or creed.
I instantly recognised the *second voice on the track; but I’m not going to spoil the surprise this early.
This is followed by the beautiful ballad Why Do We Get Blue; full of swooshing and cinematic strings that will whisk you off to a whole new dimension …… and one that Porter will keep you in for the next half hour or so.
There’s a whole lot of everything good and Soulfully Righteous on this album; Porter will melt your heart one moment with the scintillating and heart-breaking duet Make You Feel My Love (this time the lady’s *voice will be instantly recognisable to the Soul and R&B Cognoscenti) then pick you up and fill the dancefloor with Treadin’ Water and the ubiquitous Tear it Up!
Why have I never heard of Will Porter before?
In many ways this is Classic R&B but with some really neat Jazz and Soul tinges in the shadows that mean this is aimed at Old School Clubbers rather than hipsters; but they too are going to instantly fall in love with I’m Blue and the swoonsome Don’t Go To Strangers; which is just begging for a monochrome video set in a Harlem night club to accompany the release.
Choosing a Favourite Song here has been both difficult and awkward; as there is so much to choose from; and all classy and cool in equal measures; but two songs sprang to mind earlier today …..
Everything’s Going to Be Alright closes the album in timeless fashion; and baring in mind what has been going on across the world in the last 18 months; actually sounds like a Soundtrack to the second Roaring Twenties.
The second and actual RMHQ Favourite Song, has been a case of ‘right place/right time’ for the mood I was in the first time I played this LP; I Can Do Bad By Myself ……. WOW! A big production somehow manages to still allow a razor sharp set of love lorn lyrics to breathe and flow like volcanic lava flow of S.O.U.L right into the dark crevices of your heart; and that guitar solo half way through; sounds like a metaphor for heartbreak, all by itself!
There’s nothing else left to say; this album and Will Porter are finally going to get their just rewards as the public at large are now going to be able to buy it and wallow in its beauty for years to come.


PS Don’t let the inclusion of *Guest Stars Dr. John and Bettye LaVette fool ya; they are only here as accompaniment for a bonafide STAR!

Released April 16th 2021
https://www.willporter.com/

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https://www.willporter.com/shop

Gary Moore HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET

Gary Moore
How Blue Can You Get
Provogue/Mascot

Unreleased Tracks That Would be Career Highlights For Many of His Peers.

I was ‘late to the party’ regarding Gary Moore; pretty much missing out on his whole career before his untimely death 10 years ago; but thanks to those nice people at Provogue Records, who are keeping the Flame Alive with a yearly series of releases; I’m nearly up to speed.
Normally with albums that are full of ‘unreleased material’ my gut reaction is to shy away, as 99% of such music was left in the vault for a reason ….. it wasn’t good enough.
But yet again, Gary Moore kept songs back that would have been career highlights for many of his peers; and even a cursory listen to opening track (Freddie King’s) Tore Down let’s you know that this kid could not just play his electric guitar as well if not better than most; but what a voice he had!
Speaking of guitar playing; Moore does things on track #2 Steppin’ Out that are still illegal in several US States! By my normal standards it’s LOUD, but by Jove he has a delicate touch even when shredding the strings on his trusty guitar of choice.
Honestly, there’s not a Blues Fan out there that will hear HOW BLUE CAN YOU GET and think any track is ‘filler’ and there to milk the audience’s bank balance.
As per usual this album is a mix of Moore’s own penned love songs and a heady mix of his intelligent re-interpretations of songs by the Masters; and the new; and rather beautiful version of Love Can Make A Fool Of You will send a shiver down your back and by the time you get to finale, Living With The Blues you will know that you are in the presence of a Modern Master of the Blues idiom; very few of his generation, if any at all can combine the sensitivity of singing the Blues in all it’s forms with the way Gary Moore plays an electric guitar.
For a Favourite Track I’ve been torn between going for the stunning re-inventions of Elmore James’ Done Somebody Wrong and the heart-breaking ballads How Blue Can You Get? and In My Dreams, with the latter being in a similar vein to Parisienne Walkways; but with added zip; and on the former Moore pays homage to BB King, when he adds extra sparkle to a song I’ve loved for near 40 years.
So, today ……. cue drum roll …….. I’m going for In My Dreams, primarily because it suits my mood this evening; but Hell …… how and why Gary Moore left this in a drawer will remain a mystery for decades to come!
As I sit here I got to thinking about where Gary Moore sits into the pantheon of British and indeed Worldwide Blues Guitarists (for which he’s best known). Even though he packed concert halls across the UK and stadiums in Europe he barely gets a mention; and that’s not fair as his legacy is as good and probably more varied than many who have stolen a living for decades, hawking out the same few riffs over and over again to an ever greying audience.
Gary Moore – he’s Up There, both figuratively and literally.

PS When I last visited his home town of Belfast in 2013 his family and friends were petitioning for a statue in his honour; and now it’s picking up some momentum ……… I recommend you check the website out and do what you can; as Gary Moore was the original Belfast Boy.
http://garymoorestatue.com/

Released April 30th 2021

http://www.gary-moore.com/

BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://uk.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/gary-moore?utm_term=0_917a05dfe6-8ac83f755f-297640544&utm_campaign=8ac83f755f-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_11_11_12_08_COPY_01&mc_cid=8ac83f755f&utm_medium=email&mc_eid=ceea89a69c&utm_source=New+UK+Online+Press

Lauren Housley GIRL FROM THE NORTH

Lauren Housley
Girl From The North
Lovebird Recordings

A Dusty Springfield for the 21st Century?

A long time coming, but worth the wait.
2021 has seen Lauren Housley not only become a Mum, but she’s also managed to squeeze in recording her next album.
The field of Americana, with which Lauren has mostly been associated is a wide one, and on this release, she reaches out to the edges of that genre and many places beyond and in between too. This musical magpie-ery is far from fragmented though; as this album sees Lauren formulating a mature body of Country-Soul drenched Americana loveliness.
“Bless His Soul” starts things off with pedal steel and twangy reverb-drenched guitar in reflective mode – perhaps an unusual comparison to make, but it is reminiscent of Sheridan Smith’s extremely underrated “A Northern Soul” album of a couple of years back, in both tone and musical style.
The catchily and jangily “Guaranteed Sunshine,” accelerates the album and is everything its title suggests – it’s a West Coast top-down driving anthem that Stevie Nicks would be proud of.
“What’s Troubling You Child” – straight outta South Yorkshire – is deep South of the States Southern Soul; and not for the last time here, the Dusty Springfield influences can be heard here; muted brass and soulful rhythm guitar give it that “Dusty in Memphis” feel, set off by Lauren’s very own gloriously rich voice.
“Sing To Me” which follows, starts with delicate Spanish flavoured guitar and is a song which evokes warm nights and tender romanticism – with Lauren’s vocal delivery being beautifully pitched on this – other singers might have been tempted to a degree of emotional exaggeration, but this is firmly on the side of sincerity and S.O.U.L.
“Breakdown” is of a similar tempo and is a tender homage to coming through the other side of life’s difficulties.
“Two Lovers Lost In Space” takes a trippier approach musically; and fans of the spacy style of Erin Rae (i.e. me) will love it.
There’s a cornucopia of melody on this album, but for me, the one that screams “HIT!!” is “This Ain’t The Life” – a 60’s stop-start beat, layered vocals and a BIG chorus that will work equally well in a club, a large concert hall or just in front of the mirror with a hairbrush – mix them all up and it’s a sonic delight.
“Why Are We Making It So Hard” then takes a turn towards late night reflection , wrapped up in rhetoric and girl group melody. Things stay deep and soulful on “Stay Awake to Dream” – Memphis soaked guitar and keys with washes of pedal steel, provide terrific backing to yet another classy – and classic – vocal.
The album ends on a more up-tempo note with “We’re Not Backing Down” is a Fleetwood Mac/Tom Petty union, via the American Sound Studio.
It’s absolutely amazing that this album was largely recorded in a Rotherham basement studio – it has the genuine feel of the American South throughout; from the musicians who know this sound and Lauren – who puts a very considerable vocal cherry on top of it all.
There is absolutely no reason at all why this album shouldn’t sell millions, quite honestly – forget limiting labels – it’s a timeless, classic album that puts forward Lauren Housley as a Dusty Springfield for the 21st century.

Review by Nick Barber
Released 23rd April 2021

https://www.laurenhousley.com/

BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://www.musicglue.com/lauren-housley

Heath Cullen SPRNGTIME IN THE HEART

Heath Cullen
Springtime in the Heart
Five By Nine Recordings

Grown Up Songs From the Bottom Left Corner of Rarefied Record Collections

We pride ourselves in trying to get our reviews out as near to the release date as humanly possible but sometimes that’s not possible for a variety of reasons; and in this case the album will be having it’s first birthday on the day this review goes out; but that also coincides with its European release ….. the wacky world of Rock and Roll, huh?
After all these years, I’m still a sucker for a great album cover; and this would certainly have caught my attention in a record shop ……. with a wonderful Mono photo of Australian singer-songwriter, Heath Cullen looking like a Mick Jones/Nick Cave/Tom Waits hybrid; and thankfully the music therein certainly matches the artwork.
The opening track, Things Are Always Looking Up has a sort of mellow Native American drum beat to it; and when you hear the opening verse:
“It’s a miracle this world
it grew up right out of the ground
we are seven billion monkeys
burning it all down”

you know you’re not in the presence of a Eurovision winner!
This is the dark singer-songwriter territory that inhabits the bottom left hand corner of rarified record collections; the ones that aren’t for the feint hearted.
Matched to Joe Henry’s pearlescent production and a group of highly respected session players, Cullen’s worn and weary vocals are the perfect combination for his enigmatic and thoughtful songs from very left of centre field.
For someone I’ve never heard of before; Cullen’s songwriting is quite exceptional and at times thought provoking as he prods the listener with a sharp stick on the title track, Springtime in The Heart as well as the bewitching The Last Match which describes a relationship from the ‘last chance saloon’ in a magic and tragic manner.
Between them, Cullen and Henry have conjured up a really, really special collection of songs here; somehow mixing Jazz and Country melodies to come out with songs as achingly beautiful as Cowboy Truths (for Sam Shephard) and Home too.
For my favourite Song I’ve been drawn to Cullen’s blood raw rendition of T Bone Burnett’s Kill Switch, which leaves us on a haunting note from Day #1, but the more I play the album track #2 The Song Always Remembers has grown and grown on my conscious and sub-conscious. It’s a song of love; but in the mode that we expect from Waits or Cohen; and then some ……. but to some degree that sums up the whole album; so that’s where I’m stopping in my quest …. The Song Always Remembers. Music doesn’t get much better than this.

If you like your music slightly left of centre, dark and brooding, grown up and thought provoking then this is the record for you.

BTW Just when I thought I couldn’t love him any more; on Heath Cullen’s website homepage he explains why you will never find his music on Spotify.
God bless you kidda.

USA Release 17th April 2020
Europe Release 20th April 2021

https://heathcullen.com/news

BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://music.heathcullen.com/






Dr Lonnie Smith Ft Iggy Pop BREATHE

Dr Lonnie Smith ft Iggy Pop
Breathe
Blue Note

Often Dark, Brooding and Dreamy. Jazz at It’s Finest?

I can only apologise for being so late with this review; it certainly arrived in time for the Release Date but …. you know; life just got in the way …. and this needed time and patience; which have both been in short supply recently.
First of all; in some ways this is an odd release, as the middle six tracks are Live Recordings from 2017 when Smith celebrated his 75th birthday; and they are bookended by two tracks with the Bad Boy of Punk, Iggy Pop supplying vocals ….. in itself; something well worthy of my time and patience.
Opening song; the Soul Classic; Why Can’t We Live Together? is quite dreamy; especially the way Smith plays the Hammond and Iggy; much to my surprise adds his part straight down the middle; who knew he could do crooning? Well, he can and the combination must surely beckon a full album in this mode one day?
Then comes Dr Lonnie Smith and his band; guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, drummer Johnathan Blake, as well as an expanded septet featuring John Ellis on tenor saxophone, Jason Marshall on baritone saxophone, Sean Jones on trumpet, and Robin Eubanks on trombone, and they moved me in such a way I thought I might cry like a baby when I first heard track #2 Bright Eyes (no, not ‘that’ one!) ….. it is simply beautiful; Jazz at it’s finest? A matter of opinion of course ….. but hey; the way these cats come together as one?
It’s not that what follows is inferior; far from it but Smith ‘challenges’ the listener at times; ok this isn’t the most dangerous Jazz I’ve ever heard (thankfully) but you have to invest time (and patience) to let the wonders of Too Damn Hot and Epistrophy unravel to get the best from the intricate musicianship from the players …. and it is worth it.
Smith and the compilers have a bit of fun at our expense too; adding Track 9 at #4 in the running order; but this noire instrumental could come at any stage and still send a shudder down your spine.
The album closes with Iggy Pop making his second appearance in the studio; this time on a cool reworking of Donovan’s Sunshine Superman; and KERPOW! It’s absolutely wonderful in a soulful groove; and was an early contender for Favourite Track; but two more fitting other tracks actually scrap for that title.
The 12 minute opus, World Weeps, first appearing in 2014 couldn’t be a more fitting soundtrack for where we are in 2021 after one of the worst years in the world’s history. Dark, brooding and almost ‘Prog’ in the way the piece plays out; with individual musical interludes segueing from one to another to create something that was heart stopping that night in 2017.
This is Jazz; but not as I know it.
The other track; and the one that possibly tips the balance is the only actual song from that night, Pilgrimage, featuring Smith’s daughter Alicia Olatuja on vocals; which with me not reading the bio or notes; came as quite a surprise and a rather lovely one at that, as Smith’s playing already had me mesmerised so when Alicia makes her appearance after a couple of stunning minutes; I actually gasped ……. much to my wife’s amusement; as I was listening on headphones!
Oddly enough; between immersing myself in this recording and now typing up my thoughts, I’ve been part of a playful ‘spat’ on the Twitter regarding Jazz. Much like my friends there, there’s a lot I’ve tried to get my head around over the years; and failed miserably to understand, with too much being the musical equivalent of the Emperors New Clothes; and far too many Jazz Buffs being ‘holier than thou’ when it comes to discussing this style of music; but I’m really, really enjoying and appreciating what I’m receiving these days; and long may it continue.

Released March 26th 2021
https://shop.bluenote.com/*/CD/Breathe/6VFJ0WPJ000

Stephen Flatt CUMBERLAND BONES

Stephen Flatt
Cumberland Bones
Flatt Family Music

Using Everything in the Country Music Arsenal to Woo You Into Total Submission

Scanning through my ‘to do’ list the name jumped out me; and sure enough Stephen Flatt actually is related to Lester Flatt, he of Flatt & Scruggs; and yep ……. he’s actually a long lost Great Nephew; but that matters not a jot here, as he is very much his own ‘man’ without ever really drawing on that legacy, no matter how tenuous.
Stephen’s rich and expressive baritone comes at you like a ‘sucker punch’ on opening track Brother. Even the first time you hear this song you will imagine a sepia tinted video with a homestead, a sunset and a beat up old wagon somewhere ‘in shot’; but don’t think that this is Country by Numbers; far, far from it ….. Flatt uses that template exceptionally well; but isn’t afraid to ‘colour outside the lines’ when necessary.
I’m smiling as I type; because to me, this is Good Ole Country Music, the type you want to hear on the car stereo or on a Thursday night at a Roadhouse on the edge of town; before the big hitters come in on the weekend ….. it sure ain’t what you will hear or see on the Awards Programmes.
The pedal-steel cuts through many songs like metaphor for a knife carving out a still beating broken heart; none more so than when Flatt’s voice sounds like it’s on the edge of breaking during Logan Creek; not your ordinary heartbreaker; but one with a delicious twist that slowly unfurls.
Oddly enough, there is a good ole Bluegrass toe-tapper here; White County Shine; and it’s really rather bodacious and I imagine it will come late in the set when played live; as it’s a sure fire floor filler.
The more I’ve played this album; the more I feel that Stephen Flatt sounds and writes a bit like a young Vince Gill; while no doppelganger the Master’s fans are going to love One More Time (based on the moonshine theme, updated to reflect running meth when “the boy’s got a batch cooked” to finance a better life.), Gone Away and the rather swoonsome Hold You Tonight; so if you know a Gill fan …… give them a nudge in this direction.
Like so many of his generation, Stephen has a musical background outside the Country Music world; but he’s finally been drawn into the fold; and to some extent it takes a life of experiences to be able to write a song like Talking Like The Devil and deliver it in a way that makes the listener think …… “We have all been there!!!! “
That song is probably the most commercial here; but I’ve decided to go in a different direction for my actual Favourite Track; it although the judicious use of fiddle and mandolin means El Camino (1965) usually means that the its a Bluegrass tune; which is probably where it started ….. but it builds and builds until it’s nothing short of being a Honky-Tonking, Country and Western song that uses every thing in the arsenal to dance you into total submission ….. and I absolutely love it.
To some greater level; this is a solo album where Stephen Flatt is finding his feet; but none the less it’s a cracker and well worth checking out.

Released April 16th 2021
https://stephenflatt.com/

BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://music.apple.com/gb/album/cumberland-bones/1561525142?app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

*A CD and artist download will follow ASAP



RMHQ Music Hour Ep:16

RMHQ Episode 16
April 16th 2021

Four months in and our aim is still and always will be to bring you the best in new Roots Music and mix in some similar music from across the ages that you may have forgot about.
This week, after Bill Kirchen gets the show on the road with an alternate theme song; it’s all a bit rocky and noisy at the beginning, with a bundle of new songs from Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Vanessa Peters, Hitman Blues Band, Janet Simpson and Wily Bo and ED Brayshaw.
This week’s Gateway Record comes from local hero Paul Handyside and provides something of a surprise for me (and him too!).
I’ve slid in one of my favourite ever songs courtesy Chris Difford; and we close out with two songs for people everywhere who may have ‘one or two things going on’ that they can’t talk about.
The new songs carry on via Scotland’s Anton & The Colts, and we close out with yet another Alternate Theme song for the show, from Sturgill Simpson.

Bill Kirchen#16 PodcastToo Much Fun
Rev’d Peyton#16 PodcastRattle Can
Hitman Blues Band#16 PodcastAngel In the Shadows (remix)
Vanessa Peters#16 PodcastThe Weight of This
Wily Bo and ED Brayshaw#16 PodcastSINGLE Wild Dogs
Anton and the Colts#16 PodcastSINGLE where art thou April?
Janet Simpson#16 PodcastI’m Wrong
Chris Difford#16 PodcastFat as a Fiddle
Paul Handyside#16 PodcastGoodnight Lover
Bob Dylan#16 PodcastTears of Rage
Leigh Thomas#16 PodcastBeautiful Pain
Gretchen Peters#16 PodcastDancing With The Beast
Sturgill Simpson#16 PodcastLiving the Dream

RMHQ Birthday Celebrations

Hi; it’s my birthday on Monday (20th April) …. HOORAH!
But; as it’s been a horrendous 18 months for all of us but even worse for many ….. too many at the bottom of the pile, so I’ve decided to take advantage of the Facebook offer to donate to a Charity; and again I’ve selected SHELTER.
I’m not going to go along the pity route or beg or anything; but if you or yours has benefitted from a Review on RMHQ over the years I really would appreciate it if you would give a little to help those more unfortunate than ourselves at this time.

Thanks in advance; stay safe, wear a mask …. give what you can, if you can.

Alan x

LINK
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010682380077

OR Directly
https://england.shelter.org.uk/donate?reserved_appeal_code=20200401-DF-14&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6-SDBhCMARIsAGbI7Uj_cYbefaQmEdVopwL4Hj-hJgWwmWsvaCGT5xGkTIuWtmiAkj2IeKcaAmJfEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Alex Roberts LIVE AT THE VIC INN (Colchester)

Alex Roberts
Live at the Victoria Inn, Colchester (Feb 2020)
Self-Release/Bandcamp

Exciting, Intriguing and Very Intimate Contemporay Folk Music.

I’m not sure why; perhaps it’s an age thing, or a rare side effect from the AstraZeneca anti-Covid jab; but I’m being drawn to Folk Music at the moment.
Mercifully not the ‘finger in the ear’ type about fair maidens and flagons of ale; but rather some really exciting and innovative music by the likes of Alex Roberts.
This is his ninth album and because I don’t move in the same circles, I’d never heard of him before he sent me a very polite e-mail a few weeks back about this release; but I’ve had a couple of days when this is all I’ve played at home.
For a Live Album recorded in a pub; the sound quality is exceptional; adding a warm texture to Robert’s well rounded and expressive voice, but oddly making his acoustic guitar playing sound as sharp as a cutthroat razor; right from the opening track Wandering Aengus.
I don’t want to put off my regular readers when I tell you that this is a re-working of a WB Yeats poem; fear not …… this is actually a darkly beautiful tale; accompanied by bouzouki playing so intricate, I swear at least two strings must have become entwined by the end.
Yes; of course this is Folk Music; but the universal kind that you ‘get’ where Alex Roberts is coming from when you hear his plaintive rendering of Leadbelly’s In The Pines …….. woah…… woah and thrice woah; while this is stark and brooding; you can not only hear a pin drop in the room; but I guess the audience were afraid to breathe out for fear of spoiling the hypnotic mood coming from the small stage.
If you’re still not convinced; Roberts’ almost reinvents Richard Thompson’s Modern Classic; Vincent Black Lightning, slowing it down to a snail’s pace which allows each word and note to hover above you before fading into the ether.
Strangely with those two songs here it’s actually Alex’s own songs that are why this is album is worth taking a punt on.
Love Too Strong is exactly what you would hope a song of that title would suggest; only better; and the oddly titled Petrichor is just as quietly stunning even if you weren’t to know that it is a love song to the singer’s wife.
Personally I love the way Robert’s generally doesn’t start singing straight away on his songs; allowing his dexterity on the guitar enough room to guide you towards the words like a flickering candle; nowhere better than the biting Carry Me and The Pyramid too.
Even though this is a Live Album, most of the extraneous bits have been edited out; leaving the music to have the frisson of a live setting; but no boring whooping and wailing to get in the way of future plays.
Now; selecting a Favourite Song has been difficult; as so much here is well worthy of your valuable time; yet easy as who among us doesn’t like a song about a Peregrine Falcon?
Seriously I was smitten with Hacking Back to The Wild the first time I heard it; not realising what the subject matter was. But; the more I’ve heard it it, the more this particularly moving song has stayed with me.
It’s songs like this one which leave me standing in awe at the skill and imagination that musicians have and use to paint pictures with words and music alone, in a way I can’t even dream about, especially when they are as delicate as the instrumental, Durdle Door.
For the uninitiated like myself Alex Roberts comes from the school of Folk musicians that spawned John Martyn, Richard Thompson, Bert Jansch and arguably; the young Tom Waits and that’s not too much of a stretch; trust me.

Released April 20th 2021
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