The Rocking Magpie

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Welcome to the Rocking Magpie – a box-room on the Internet for my thoughts and musings on a variety of music, be it CD’s, Gigs, books and the occasional DVD – usually; but not exclusively based around all things Americana and Roots; but I love Ska, Soul and all things Mod too.

After years of writing reviews for numerous magazines and websites, in late 2014 I thought that the time was right to put everything under one roof on my own blog/website and decided to break up the band and go solo.

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Me? I live in the North East of England; but receive music from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and all corners of Europe (very little from the vibrant scene in my home region ; which is sad); and our readership reflects this, with followers in 74 countries across 4 continents who receive e-mail updates whenever reviews are posted; plus my data tell me we have ‘occasional visitors’ from 111 countries have actually visited the site over the years!

My priority, will of course be bringing you reviews of soon to be released CD’s as soon as I get them. Plus there will be the occasional preview of albums, videos and gigs that interest me; but primarily you will read EXCLUSIVE reviews of Country, Americana, Folk, Blues, Ska, Punk and indeed all things Rock & Roll where the music has actually been listened to…not just the regurgitation of a Press Release like most other websites.

I’ve accidentally evolved a ‘house style’ which means that, just like in the olden days when we visited a record shop I check out the artwork on the sleeve first and if it appeals I (‘ask to’) play the first track which is always the key to the palace of delights that will follow, which is why I still place such emphasis on that song; regardless of the artist being a household name or someone self-releasing something they have recorded in their bedroom.

Dig deep into the site; as the bonus is 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.

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Keep in touch; let me know what you think and what you want to read more of – and feel free to keep in touch rockingmagpie@outlook.com or on Twitter @RockingMagpie

We do like feedback, so leave comments, re-post on Facebook or RT at will.

Press the like/follow button for irregular postings of reviews that you can read or not as the case may be 🙂

FAO Bands, singers and PR’s…….like all other writers and bloggers I put an inordinate amount of time 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 proof!!!!

Alan aka The Rocking Magpie

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Dave Arcari – LIVE AT MEMORIAL HALL

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Dave Arcari
LIVE AT MEMORIAL HALL
Buzz Records

At Last……The Best British Bluesman At His Rawest, Finest and Most Honest.

I’m not sure if Scots Blues Troubadour Dave Arcari isn’t the ‘Hardest Working Man in Showbiz’! If you are lucky enough to be on his mailing list hardly a week goes by without him ‘doing something – somewhere’ and rarely the same thing twice.
He is and was a member of several bands covering many Blues genres; but as this Live Album shows……on his own is where he certainly shines his brightest.
Arcari introduces himself to an adoring audience while strumming his beloved Resonator; before gleefully sliding into Dreamt I Was 100; which warms the crowd up nicely.
HA!
Track #2 Cotton On My Back with it’s ‘potty mouthed’ chorus is more the hirsute and tattooed Dave we know and love!
For one man and a guitar he sure can make a big old sound; filling every cubic inch of The Memorial Hall and the RMHQ office with his ‘theme tune’ Whisky In My Blood, Homesick & Blue and most notably an old favourite Hellbound Train which is every bit as scary as Robert Johnson must have sounded in those Juke-Joints of old.
Of course Dave Arcari is a ‘Bluesman’ but as his fans know; he ain’t no ‘one trick pony’……this is a guy who was brought up in the Punk Generation and that raw ethos comes across in everything he says and sings……try listening to See Me Laughing to see what I mean……this is Hill Country Blues on amphetamines!
Then again, earlier on his takes on the Scottish Folk Ballads Parcel of Rogues and MacPherson’s Lament are both strikingly beauteous and show not just what an intricate guitarist the Big Man is’ but an emotional balladeer too, when he chooses to be.
Scots by birth and deed; but Dave Arcari is truly an International Musician as the inclusions of Texicali, Good Friend Blues and his most powerful song Devil’s Left Hand; any of which could be born and bred in the USA, but weren’t.
I already love the song 1923; but Arcari tells us it’s actually about his father it takes on an even deeper meaning; and to the uninitiated showcases Dave’s more sensitive side; even if the gruff vocals may not make that always easy.
Fans will scoop this up like ice-cream on a Hot Day; but if they get the chance to hear songs like Cherry Wine, Hangman’s Blues or the swinging Giving & Taking Blues (and) Music fans of all persuasions will surely become converts over night.
I could stick a pin into the track list and find a ‘favourite song’ but I’m going for one that actually made me sit up and listen; as it seriously surprised me on this recording for all I did know it previously. Another Chance will never trouble the Hit Parade for sure; but Arcari’s song hit me in the chest like a punch from a heavyweight……and his guitar playing is beyond superb too.
I’m now listening for the fourth time in two days and I can’t think their are any overdubs or cynical studio additions here; as this sounds exactly like any solo Dave Arcari show I’ve seen….spit, polish and raw honest music…..this is the Real Deal kiddies.

Released 1st September 2017
https://davearcari.com/about/

Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real

LUKAS NELSON

Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real
SELF-TITLED
Fantasy Records

Enough Atmospheric and Cinematic Southern Rock To Crush Your Heart.

Let’s pretend that Lukas Nelson isn’t the son of Willie Nelson or alongside his band has been the driving force in Neil Young’s band for the last couple of years and treat him with the respect any singer-songwriter/musician deserves…OK?
The album opens with the gorgeously sprawling 7 minute opus Set Me Down On a Cloud; a song that hints at the Band and CSN&Y at times; but is very much 100% pure Lukas Nelson and an amazing band.
A couple of songs later Fool Me Once is absolutely spellbinding in it’s deceiving simplicity, as the story actually unfurls like a Tennessee Williams narrative.
On Just Outside Austin Lukas’s voice and phrasing do sound uncannily like his father; but the beauty and the imagery of the lyrics are all down to the son and heir.
The more I’ve listen to this album; the more I’ve become entranced with Nelson’s ability to ensnare with his emotional lyrics and musical constructions; with no two songs sounding the same; but the album coming across as a complete Long Player in the old sense of the term.
We get a few laid back Southern Rockin and Rolling songs, like Four Letter Word and High Times to name but two; but the all encompassing smell of morning coffee, Jasmine and the California surf on Find Yourself, Forget About Georgia and Runnin ‘Shine are what I love here.
Oddly enough this is also an album that will sound just as good while driving on the highway as it will when kicking back on the porch or in the garden; as all of those songs and the gorgeous Fool Me Once truly are the sound of Summer……past, present and future; or at least they are for us here at RMHQ.
Favourite song, you ask? Not easy….not easy at all, but as I type I’m going for Breath Of My Baby; as it’s the type of delightfully intimate love song most of us and most songwriters too; sort of think about in our more lucid moments but never talk about out loud……. but Lukas Nelson does and does it with ease and class.
The album closes with the simple If I Started Over; with Lukas sounding even more like his father than his father does these days; and the quality of his words, not just here but across all 12 songs; prove that the DNA is strong, but also Lukas is doing it for and by himself……and that’s something to be very proud of.

Released August 25th 2017

http://www.promiseofthereal.com/

 

 

 

Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers – TEARS BEFORE BEDTIME

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Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers
TEARS BEFORE BEDTIME
Gin House Records

21st Century Classic Rock n Roll…..And I LOVE IT!

Rock & Roll has evolved into many different shapes and sizes since it first frightened our Grandparents in the 1950’s and 60’s; and we here at RMHQ love 99% of it; but nothing sounds finer coming out of the office Hi-Fi than the likes of our mates Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers paying homage to those original pioneers; but tearing up the rule book and making that ‘sound’ appear as fresh and exciting as it must have done before I was even born.
This record of unquestionable delights comes racing out of the blocks with the feisty Secrets & Lies; a tub-thumping and toe-tapping quifftastic slice of Rhythm AND Blues that instantly had my pulse racing alongside the razzle-dazzle guitar; and a rootin’ and tootin’ sax made me want to dance on a Tuesday morning!
It’s no real surprise that the pace slackens for Danger In The Woods which follows; with Ric crooning ‘to his baby’ on a song that bizarrely reminded me of Buddy Holly, James Hunter……and Bruce Springsteen all wrapped up together.
Who doesn’t like a lovely Rock & Roll love song? Well; if you do you are going to love Kiss Me Sometime; as it’s the type of delightful ballad that will appeal to love lorn teenagers and frisky pensioners with equal measure; and that takes some doing.
The tempo and temperature rises again for track #4 Ain’t Gonna Leave; a tightly wrapped bittersweet ‘will she/won’t she leave him’ tale full of BIFF-BAFF-BOP drumming, a heart-attack inducing bass and some sizzling guitar playing that would make Link Wray proud; and that’s without Ric’s purring and pleading vocal performance.
Now I’m going to jump to One Last Drink which closes this exciting little EP; WOW…WOW…WOW…..imagine Little Richard, fronting the Shadows with the Haggis Horns blasting away in the background…..yep; really.
Now; drop back a track to find our favourite song here; and one that I had to play first as it’s the RMHQ Family Motto……Can’t Do Right, For Doing Wrong! Wahay….this 100mph, adrenaline fuelled Rhythm & Blues infused Rock & Roller is every inch as good as I’d hoped and was a show stopper when the band ‘ripped a new one into SummerTyne Festival’ when they played it there last month.
It’s nice to say that the band have actually moved on quite a bit since the release of Cannonball their last EP’ and are prepared to take risks with their music; and not just play the same old same old for the Rockabilly circuit.
Bloody Love it from start to finish.

Released 9th August 2017

John Murry – A Short History of Decay

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John Murry
A Short History of Decay
TV RECORDS

John Murry got a lot of mileage out of his last album by playing the ex-junkie card, doing his damnedest to ruin his life, with that hint of a hope for redemption thrown in for good measure. It’s the same thing this time around, but at least he’s sincere about it. For me what makes him significant is more his unwillingness to compromise, his fearless drive, his talent for writing the kind of songs that make you think and feel at the same time. He delivers emotional performances that are rooted in realness, not fake histrionics masquerading as “emotive performance.” He takes chances. He doesn’t do anything unless he’s 100% into it. John Murry is a bit of a throwback and I mean that in a good way. His latest album, A Short History of Decay, isn’t as majestic, nor as noisy as Murry’s previous album, The Graceless Age, but is consistent throughout with a deep, dark throb and has a more pronounced dark country-western bent to the music. Murry is still writing with his heart—and often his gut—on his sleeve.

“Silver or Lead” starts out the album with understated guitar and a disjointed rhythm. Murry’s voice is all low growl and hopelessness. “Under a Darker Moon” is the closest we get to pop on this album, albeit Murry’s version of shattered pop with over-squeezed guitar and actually humorous lyrics as if Murry is openly mocking his own back story. The beautiful piano line on “Miss Magdalene” contrasted with the sizzling organ is a gorgeous counterpoint that needs no words to get its point across. The strongest tracks are where Murry’s sound and fury can barely be contained. Timidness, nor understatement aren’t his strong suits, but he does his best with them. “Defacing Sunday Bulletins” is a glorious, rolling noise-fest. Shattered cymbals and relentless, knife slice guitars. “Wrong Man” sounds like a lost Springsteen song from the Nebraska era, but with more contempt and acid. Murry’s previous, The Graceless Age, ended with a cover of “Thorn Tree in the Garden” by Bobby Whitlock and Murry keeps things consistent this time around by ending with a cover of the Afghan Whigs “What Jail is Like.” Murry has an ear for picking covers that work well with his other material, this one would even work on The Graceless Age, as it matches the sentiments on that album very nicely. And for a cover, this one song seems more personal and affords a deeper intimacy to the listener than the rest of the album, such is Murry’s power as a performer to bring out the smallest detail of a song and wring it full of personal meaning.

The choice of producer here, Michael Timmins, of the Cowboy Junkies, may seem at odds to Murry’s revved up dark soul searchings and primal therapy performances and, yeah, they kind of are. Murry’s darknesses are a fuzzy lot and require shadows from which to reveal themselves. A number of critics are praising the darkness and turmoil on this album, yet in my opinion, it pales considerably in comparison to Murry’s earlier output. He’s somewhat sleepwalking through this one, as if he’s too numb to do anything but feel his way down the hall with eyes shut, afraid to fall, where on The Graceless Age the entire album was like a headlong leap off a cliff and who cares or knows what’s at the bottom, but let’s find out. And if you want dark, it doesn’t get any darker than 2006’s World Without End, an entire album of true life murder ballads which Murry recorded with songwriter Bob Frank. THAT album can induce nightmares aplenty. And listen, if you’re brave enough, to “The Murder of Dylan Hartsfeld” from Murry’s earlier EP, Califorlornia, which is eight gruelling minutes of a terrible story made all the more sadder and darker when you find out it’s a TRUE story. Murry knows how to dance with demons, often giving them their due and keeping them on the run. He’s on the trail of hellhounds, and shows no fear. Or at least he can when he wants to. So yeah, I’m a little torn on this one. A lot of good, a lot of “could have been better.” This is still a good album, Murry is still a talented songwriter and riveting performer, but I’m still holding out for the next one.

Review Courtesy Guest Reviewer Roy Peak esq.

Released July 24th 2017
http://www.johnmurry.com

Roni Perry – PLACE YOUR BETS

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Roni Perry
PLACE YOUR BETS
Self-Release

Soulful, Feisty and Fired-Up Southern Indie-Country.

We loved Roni Perry’s 2016 EP Nothing Less Than This so got pretty damn hot under the collar when she told us she had recorded a whole LP of new songs…..but…..woah…..we weren’t expecting anything quite is ‘full on’ as this.
The album opens up with rockier song than anything on the EP and Neverland certainly gets the party started in Debbie Harry post-punk kinda way; and chock full of extra-spicy guitar too.
Five songs later Roni cranks up the Voltmeter again on her own penned Stormy Weather and her voice sounds just perfect as it battles Simon Beard’s electric guitar for prominence…..and wins.
While the young Devonian can certainly ‘Rock’ it’s the slower ballads that we like best here; with Dontcha Worry and the bittersweet Shooting Range both showing that not only can Roni Perry really, really sing a song….but write a great one too.
Harking back to the lo-fi of her EP Square Glass Bottle is a beautiful and deceptively simple song that will make your heart flutter the first time you hear it.
It’s actually quite difficult to pigeon-hole Perry’s music; as it’s predominantly ‘Indie’ with more than a shred of the Blues filtering through a few songs; but So So Wrong more than hints at a Country heritage too……something for everyone? I think so.
The title track Place Your Bets confirms that heritage with a Twangtastic foot-stomper that will have audiences bouncing along to it all over the country.
Although not an easy choice on an album full of interesting songs; I’m going with the brittle and acoustic Smokin’ and Drinking which closes the record as my ‘favourite track’ as it truly showcases not just a clever and articulate songwriter; but a young singer on the cusp of the next step in her career.

Released May 1st 2017

 

Lew Jetton & 61 South PALESTINE BLUES

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Lew Jetton & 61 South
PALESTINE BLUES
Coffee Street Blues

It’s The Real Deal When The Blues Gets Angry!

As the accompanying Press Release is pretty basic, I know very little about Lew Jetton & 61 South; but that’s probably a good thing as it allows the music to speak for itself and in this case it actually growls, snarls and shouts!
PALESTINE BLUES opens with the cool 4/4 foot to the floor Will I Go To Hell. Lew’s world weary croon slurs from the speakers in time honoured fashion on a song about a man with more worries than is good for him, and asks questions of his Preacher that the good man can’t quite answer honestly. Razor sharp guitar; pounding bass n drums and Blues wailin’ mouth-harp from JD Wilkes……that’ll do for me kiddo.
The buzz saw guitar licks on Oh My My sound equally angry and sad, as Jetton’s lyrics about a man stick in a dead end job which he hates but can’t change or give up punch you in the gut and trample on your heart.
The Blues covers many subjects; and Lew Jetton takes it on a very dark journey indeed; especially stark tales of battles with addictions in For The Pain, Don’t Need No Devil and Drinking Again but his clever way with words make them accessible to all.
I guess I have to use the term ‘favourite song’ for two absolutely stunning left of centre songs that both caught my attention the first time I played the album; and pressed repeat over and over again; so I could be 100% sure that what I was hearing was right.
Sold Us Out is a righteously angry Blue Collar song about the businessmen who squeeze every last drop from the workforce then leave town without a ‘Bye Your Leave. This is actually preceded by an even angrier song and one I ‘hated’ until I really listened to Jetton’s astute lyrics. When I first heard it I thought Mexico was one of those tired Red-neck songs playing out to all too simple stereotypes; but when actually listened to it’s narrated by a man who now lives on Government Handouts in small-town Palestine in Kentucky and hates himself and everyone around him because of it, as his pride ekes away day by day “Since my job went to Mexico.” Sadly it’s an all too common tale across the Western World and to some extent applies to me too……only my job ‘went to the internet.’
It wouldn’t be a Blues album without a ‘Love gone wrong’ song and we get a couple of doozies here. Drama is a slow and sultry musical melodrama and ‘Bout Time which closes the record is another classic 4/4 mid-tempo shuffle that ties up everything nicely with a raggedy ribbon; but still threatens to unravel at any moment.
That’s life in a nutshell, though, isn’t it?

Released 7th August 2017

http://www.61South.com

AJ Croce – JUST LIKE MEDICINE

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AJ Croce
JUST LIKE MEDICINE
Compass Records

Singer-Songwriter Bares His Tattered Soul To The World.

OK let’s get it out in the open now; AJ Croce is the son of the legendary Jim Croce. Does that make a difference to what you are about to read? In theory no; but in practice yes; as you; like I, will sadly compare and contrast this singer-songwriter’s NINTH album with the work of his father whom he barely knew; as he died when the child was but 2 years old.
Hey…let’s get into the music and leave the rest for the historians and pedants.
I do love a strong album opener and Gotta Get Outta My Head ticks every box. A slow burning Bluesy N’Orleans Voodoo pot-boiler straight from the dark pits of the singers heart. A very naughty rhythm and a punchy piano combine with Croce’s raspy voice to draw you in like a moth to a flame.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise; but it was to see track #2 The Heart That Makes Me Whole is a co-write with family friend Leon Russell; as it sounds like Joe Cocker should have sounded on the Mad Dogs album; which makes it a winner at RMHQ.
When you check out the sleeve notes you find an array of household names make up AJ’s house-band (too many to name); and alongside the imperious production skills of the legendary Dan Penn their separate and combined qualities really shine on the tip o’ the hat to Randy Newman Full Up and the sultry Southern Soulful Hold You when Croce’s voice purrs and slurs like a Tom Cat on heat.
The track The Other Side of Love, with it’s rinky-dink almost Classical piano intro doesn’t just sound darkly beautiful but when you actually listen to the lyrics you know you are in the presence of a Master Craftsman.
To some degree Name of the Game is a song that this album hinges on; as it is the last complete song that Jim Croce completed, but never released. In my humble opinion it’s a brave decision for AJ Croce to include it here, as it casts a shadow over his own musings.
Without knowing the heritage the song fits in very well; but it’s actually Vince Gill’s sweet, sweet guitar playing that makes it stand out.
Our favourite song here though, is the beautiful title track Cures Just Like Medicine; touches spots I never expected to touch and showcases not just Croce’s writing skills but the full gamut of his vocal ministrations and a band so hot they actually sizzle in the background.
All in all this is the type of album I dream of buying; and just perfect for those warm Summer and Autumn nights when you just want the world to drift by on a haze of Mint Juleps and pine on the breeze.

Released August 11th 2017

https://www.ajcrocemusic.com/

Graham Stone – UNTIL THE DAY

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Graham Stone
UNTIL THE DAY
Self-Release

Gorgeous, Heartfelt Everyman Songs for Every Man and Woman.

As RMHQ is a ‘vanity project’ for me, I love receiving albums and gig invites from Musical Household Names; but first and foremost I still love the thrill of discovering a brand new artist and screaming their name from the Internet Rooftop.
Such is the case with Graham Stone from Richmond Virginia who first got in touch earlier in 2017 when he planned to  release a 5 track EP which never materialised; instead Graham managed to finance the recording of this full size album of 10 songs…..and it has turned my head 360 degrees, upside down and inside out!
The gritty intro to Canyonlands which starts the album piqued my interest; and when Graham’s ‘worn leather’ and world weary voice oozed from the speakers; I instinctively leaned over and turned the volume up to get the best benefits from this delicious slice of Americana Pie.
Even today, a full week after first listening to UNTIL THE DAY I still can’t think of anyone else that Stone’s distinctive voice actually sounds like……and that’s a positive around these here parts.
His songwriting is flawless with the title track Until The Day and the brooding Flowers in Montana being both being highly articulate yet easily accessible too.
Stone’s eye for detail comes to the fore in that latter song as well as the Cowboy song, Free and Homeward which could have been schmaltzy in lesser hands; becomes a wonderful tragic Country song in the hands of Graham Stone and band.
While most songs here are beautifully intense ballads, Stone threatens to ‘rock out’ in true Alt. Country style a couple of times; but always pulls back from the brink until On The Run which closes the disc……and in true Tom Petty or Eagles style he lulls you in with a stark and almost Gothic melody then……WHAM! The band let loose and I accidentally found myself punching the air the first time I heard the chorus!!!
Aha…..you say; but what is your ‘favourite song’? Well; dear reader it’s a tie between two songs which follow each other and sort of blend one into the other. Oddly enough they are both about very strong women in the songwriter’s life; but two very different characters. Strong Constitution is about a woman from, ‘old Caroline’ with a “Strong Constitution and steel in her spine/with a spirit more precious than jewels/she won’t take shit from a fool.” At times Stone’s description of this beautiful woman; his sister echoed my memories of my own Mother; as it probably will you with yours.
The other is a more up-tempo and rockier song, full of fuzzy guitars and punchy bass n drums; Kathleen Jean (from Virginny-i-a!).
Another exceptionally descriptive story of a woman once married to a ‘black haired guitar man’ who ‘left her with seven kids’. Stone’s Mother; for it is she sounds quite a gal….and a woman I’d loved to have met.
These two songs; and the rest of the album sound a bit like The Eagles or such singing a Tom Russell or Slaid Cleaves song……..possibly……I think.
Please, please, please buy this album…….it deserves a huge audience and Graham Stone deserves to bring this gorgeous and eloquent Alt. Country Music to the world at large!

Released July 28th 2017

https://www.grahamstonemusic.com/epk

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters – Self-Titled

Amanda Honeycutters

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters
Self-Titled
Organic Records

Thoughtful and Articulate Small Town Country Music.

While not really the most enticing Album cover you’ve ever seen; the photographer in me was actually drawn to the picture on the cover of Amanda Anne Platt’s fourth album; as it’s the type of ‘washed out’ photography I myself am experimenting with at the moment.
And, to some degree; and I doubt it’s by accident, that imagery actually gives you a feel of the lived-in Blue-Collar, small town Country music within the grooves of the disc that follows.
Amanda’s pearlescent voice slides gracefully from the speakers on the opening track Birthday Song; which isn’t the normal happy-clappy song the title would suggest; this is a woman looking backwards and forwards in equal measure and wondering what she has achieved and what the world holds for her in the future. We’ve all been there; and Amanda tells her story with style and elegance.
Long Ride follows and the mood doesn’t get much happier. The band sound wrapped as tight as a drum while Amanda pleads with her lover to stick on in there for ‘the long ride;’ and the pedal-steel and piano combine to add enough poignancy to bring a tear to a glass eye.
There are days when I’m staggered that a songwriter can still find a new angle on the age old story of a ‘tired relationship’ and boy does Amanda Anne have a way with words; Learning How To Love Him, finds her accompanying herself on acoustic guitar on a deeply moving song, that reminded me of Jeannie C Riley and Loretta, all those years ago.
Brand New Start is a similar sorry tale but played out to a Waltz beat and is as Country a Country Song as you will hear this year.
The first time I heard Guitar Case and The Good Guys (Dick Tracy) I thought they sounded a bit ‘old fashioned’ which is odd (and wrong!) as they fit in perfectly with the type of songs I love by ‘Ameripolitan’ artists like Sturgill Simpson and Sam Outlaw; so why can’t a lady fit into that sphere? Well, Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters can; and do stand side by side with those guys; but without the Trucker Cap.
Don’t fret, there are toe-tappers here too with Eden and the delightful Late Summer’s Child being a touch more up-tempo and ‘happier’ especially the latter (which is Mrs. Magpie’s favourite song here).
The band here are outstanding from start to finish and Amanda Anne has an spectacular vocal style, ‘pearlescent’ as I described it earlier; but it’s the songwriting that stands out here with two songs that I will choose as ‘RMHQ Favourites’……The Things We Called Home is 100% pure Honky Tonk and timeless; while Amanda and the band straddle the divide between Country and Alt like a tightrope walker on the rattlingly good ‘every-man song’ Diamond in the Rough.
In it’s own heartache drenched way, this has been a joy from start to finish……pure darn Country too; but real down-home Country that we now have to refer to as Ameripolitan; but it is what we know as COUNTRY MUSIC…..pure and simple.

Released UK August 4th 2017
Released US August 28th 2017
http://www.honeycutters.com/

Whitehorse – PANTHER IN THE DOLLHOUSE

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Whitehorse
PANTHER IN THE DOLLHOUSE
Six Shooter Records/Thirty Tigers

The Dark and Beautiful Side of Alt. Country.

A few years ago there was a slew of boy/girl Country duet album in the spirit of George & Tammy and Dolly & Porter; each had its merits but I fell deeply in love with ‘the one that got away’…….Whitehorse’s Self-Titled debut album, and tracks were regularly featured on my long gone radio show.
Subsequently the couple, Melissa McLelland and Luke Doucet have released another couple of well received albums; although they never arrived at RMHQ; and their solo careers have gone from strength to strength. So, it was with some excitement that I received this particular album; but with only really knowing them as a Classic Country Couple I wasn’t really prepared for the massive ‘leap to the left’ in their sound.
Epitaph in Tongues is a dark and aerie Lo-Fi song, full of beautiful harmonies, crunchy guitars and a song somewhere between the Cowboy Junkies and the Handsome Family. Strange at first; as it was so unexpected; but today…..WOW……the perfect accompaniment for a stormy Winter’s evening.
This is followed by a slightly chirpier track Boys Like You; but the use of loops and electronica still keep it away from even the Alt. Country mainstream as the couple use effects pedals and vocal inducers like Phil Spector on ‘ludes and strong coffee.
Once I’d got my head around it; I now love this album; especially the bitingly sharp Trophy Wife and the Gram influenced I Can’t Take You With Me (Charlene’s Theme).
Played loud in the car on a sunny day (and I did!) the quirky Pink Kimono is a great Country Pop tune; but the Electro-Country of Nighthawks and Kicking Down Your Door are sort of similar but so very modern they are almost Futuristic-Country…..and that’s a damn good thing in my humble opinion.
If I still had my radio show (and it’s a possibility kids) there are two songs here that I’d love to play for you; the beautiful and ethereal Grace and the wild and wacky Manitoba Death Star which is….well….it is what it is; and will scare some people and enamour others; which is surely what music is all about…isn’t it?
PANTHER IN THE DOLLHOUSE will and should appeal to fans of the Cowboy Junkies, Giant Sand, Barenaked Ladies and Jonathan Richman as everything here is of an incredibly high quality but way different from the norm; and the world is a much better place because of bands like Whitehorse who are prepared to take huge risks in the name of their Art.

Released UK August 4th 2017
Released Canada & US July 11th 2017
https://www.whitehorsemusic.ca/