The Rocking Magpie

rm logo 1

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.

yola 1beth-h-2shippy

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.

whitney-rose-cdmatracal cohen 88

 

 

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

linus

Advertisements

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – BLACK COFFEE

joe and beth b

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa
BLACK COFFEE
Provogue/Mascot Label

The Dynamic Duo of Blues Create a Modern Masterpiece.

Woah, Woah and thrice WOAH!
Give It Everything You’ve Got is one mighty way to kick start this latest album from this dynamic duo. I actually have a copy of the original version by Edgar Winter’s White Trash (bought for £1.99p I hasten to add) and it’s fair to say Beth Hart brings a whole lot more S.O.U.L to proceedings and Bonamassa gives his guitar a right royal thrashing on a song far heavier than anything on the couple’s previous outing SEESAW for years ago.
I’m not sure my head could have took a whole album at that level and pace; and thankfully it doesn’t have to as Kevin Shirley’s razor sharp production allows Beth and Joe to swoop and soar through every variant of Blues Rock and even Rhythm and Blues with consummate ease and it has to be said; grace.
The Royal Couple take it on themselves to reinvent a variety of Classic (and semi-classic) songs that many of will recognise; but not necessarily in this format; and in my opinion if you are going to cover a song at least do something different with it; and boy is that the case with Lucinda William’s Joy and the 110mph version of Saved, a song I associate with Billy Fury but originally recorded by LaVern Baker and now a fire and brimstone Gospel song in these trusted hands.
As is always the case the singer is always front and centre and Beth Hart doesn’t shy away from her role here; but the normally reticent Joe Bonamassa sounds like he’s having the time of his life as he throws in liquid gold riffs left right and centre; but especially noticeable during Soul On Fire and the sublime title track Black Coffee, which just may be one of his finest recorded moments; and found me playing Air Guitar along to it more than once.
I loved SEESAW and it’s probably the case that BLACK COFFEE is an even more ‘complete album’ with both singer and guitarist both subsequently ‘growing into their respective talents’ in the intervening years and that comes to the fore front on the beautiful Lullaby of The Leaves, an Ella Fitzgerald song that will baffle fans of both the first time they hear it; but this gentle Old-Fashioned Blues song will be the one many of us come back to and discuss lovingly in years to come.
While I adore that song; it’s still not my favourite on the album; that title goes to slow and down right dirty Damn Your Eyes. Lazy reviewers normally compare Beth to Janis; but one cursory listen to this album and especially the way she inhabits this Etta James song while Joe Bonamassa and band show incredible restraint behind her, will tell them that Beth Hart is BETH HART and a world class singer in her own rite; and Mr. Bonamassa too shows some really delicate touches on the electric guitar that will set your hair standing on end.
There’s not a lot else to say; two of this generations finest musicians blow the dust of an intriguing and often beguiling collection of songs from some of our finest ever songwriters and the result is outstanding; and it won’t surprise me one iota if this didn’t go on to one numerous prestigious Awards at the end of 2018.

Released January 26th 2018
http://www.bethhart.com/
https://jbonamassa.com/

Greg Sover – JUBILEE

greg sover jubilee

Greg Sover
JUBILEE
Blues Foundation

Cool Rhythm and Blues From Soulful Guitarist.

Even if I hadn’t already been aware of Greg Sover the cover of this CD caught my attention before I’d even heard a note; and opening track Emotional genuinely justified my choice to slip it into the Hi-Fi on a day when I received albums from several household names.
The Blues comes in many, many variants and we will each have our favourite format; but the slick voiced singer and red hot guitarist easily straddles the Soulful Rhythm and Blues style that I’ve loved for 40+ years. Think a pumped up George Benson or Robert Cray and you will understand why I swiftly turned the dial up to 9 that first and subsequent days.
Sover slows things down and dirty on the next track Jubilee; which features his awesome slide guitar and sizzling harmonica from Mikey Junior; and the song itself is pretty damn fine too.
The Philly native really shows his Soulful side on the sweet and tender Hand on my Heart which is the type of crossover song that not only wins fans of all ages; but wins awards too.
I Give My Love is a bit of a left of centre surprise as it’s a little bit Reggae and a little bit Blues-Lite but features some spellbinding guitar playing on a very danceable tune; especially if you’ve had a bellyful of rum.
Oddly enough for a 7 track EP JUBILEE manages to feature an edited version of Hand on My Heart as a closer; possibly for radio consumption, albeit a minute and a half shorter there’s not a lot of difference between the two versions.
Also there’s a live track Temptation; slow and sultry at heart but with guitar breaks that will blow any cobwebs out of your head; and boy does it showcase Greg Sover’s amazing voice and songwriting too.
Which then brings me to my ‘favourite track’ As The Years Go Passing By, the type of sensual yet cool Blues that you’d expect from Albert Collins or Robert Cray (whom I mentioned earlier) but ooh, ooh, ooooh is this the perfect accompaniment to a late night liaison with the love of your life; or perhaps that’s just the romantic in me.
As well as loving his previous album, Greg Sover was a featured artiste on the International Blues Artist of the Year 2018 album I reviewed a few weeks ago; and now I’m a fully committed fan.

Released January 8th 2018
https://www.gregsover.com/

Glen Hansard – BETWEEN TWO SHORE

glen hansard x

Glen Hansard
BETWEEN TWO SHORE
Anti-

A True Modern Rock Classic.

I still smile at my ignorance when I received Hansard’s 2015 album DIDN’T HE RAMBLE; presuming he was a new kid on the block and I wished him well; only to discover (minutes before publishing) that he had been a key figure in legendary Irish Rock band The Frames for 25 years and had written and performed the music in Mrs Magpies favourite film ONCE! A hasty re-write meant no one would ever know.
Which all brings us today and his latest release; which has taken six years to cull together all of the pieces and only a couple of weeks in the studio to complete; and both timescales make perfect sense.
The opening track Roll On Slow is one of those songs that completely stopped me in my tracks. The Irishman’s gravelly lived-in voice reminds me of many of my favourite singers but is his own distinctive tones; and the hypnotic drum and bass reeled me in before some searing guitar and a classy brass section swing and shimmy the song into the dark of night. I love it!
Oddly things slow right down for an acoustic ballad Why Woman; which finds Hansard at his smouldering best on a lovely bittersweet break up song? (Mick Hucknall will be gnashing his teeth when he hears it; as it’s the type of song he’s famous for but never recorded anything quite as beautiful).
A couple of songs later Reckless Heart makes an appearance and again; I had to stop what I was doing and turn my head towards the speakers to pick up every nuance of this incredibly sad song; which finds the singer crooning in a cracked voice over a gentle guitar, drums and string section; and I defy you not to have to cough a tear away when the trumpet makes an appearance.
For a man with such an inestimable track record Glen Hansard still has the ability to surprise; Wheels on Fire is a bit of a passionate Soft-Rocker; but delve deeper and there is a political thread weaving through the fire and brimstone lyrics. Later Time Will Be The Healer is so clever you can listen on at least two levels; as it can be a plea to a lost love or if you are a cynic like me it just may be a commentary on the world we live in today and the politicians who govern us.
Favourite song? I’m pretty sure that will change every time I play this record; but today I will toss a coin between the ever so maudlin song about unrequited love, Lucky Man and Your Hearts Not In It; which is one of those perfect songs you find and keep for a midnight drinking and crying session when only ‘that song will do.’
Glen Hansard has nearly done the impossible here by making a timeless and classy Rock Album that will sit very comfortable alongside Van Morrison, Joe Cocker, Lucinda Williams and in our house Roger Chapman; but it’s also so very contemporary and will appeal to young adults who have never heard of those four singers.
Expect this to be nominated for and win numerous Awards later in the year.

Released January 19th 2018
http://glenhansardmusic.com/

Tommy Emmanuel – ACCOMPLICE ONE

tommy emmanuel bb

Tommy Emmanuel
ACCOMPLICE ONE
Mascot Label

A Guitar Masterclass From a Legendary CGP and Friends.

Here’s a thing; several of my friends are huge fans of Tommy Emmanuel and one is an actual friend of his; with Tommy staying at his home when he’s in the Region, but I’ve never heard his work until now.
Shame on me.
For a man with a huge cannon of work already under his belt this is a fascinating project for the Australian who is a Chet Atkins inspired CGP (Certified Guitar Player) as he plays alongside 16 world class singer-songwriters on an eclectic series of songs.
Emmanuel’s trademark picking opens track #1 Deep River Blues and when Jason Isbell’s distinctive voice glides into the mix the world suddenly becomes lovely again. When Tommy also adds his own cracked voice to the song, my mistake at never hearing him before becomes all too evident.
What a great way to start any album; and it’s fair to say……things actually get better and better.
Song and Dance Man with Ricky Skaggs adding mandolin and vocals follows and I was left bewildered as I tried to find the words to describe it……Country? Tick. Folk? Tick. Bluegrass? Tick. A joyful combination on a beautiful tune…..find your own pigeon hole.
There are household names littered throughout this album, with Emmanuel not just sharing the stage with Mark Knopfler on You Don’t Want To Get You One Of Those and Rodney Crowell on Looking Forward To The Past but outshining them too. There are many lesser names too; but ones very familiar to RMHQ readers like Amanda Shires and Suzy Bogguss who both sparkle and shine on their contributions in ways I’ve not heard from either in years.
The real joy though is the series of surprises from artists I’m not aware of, let’s start with some instrumentals C-Jam Blues with JD Simo & Charlie Cushman and Keeping it Reel with Clive Carroll, Purple Haze (yes…that one) with Dobro Maestro Jerry Douglas and the sublime Djangology with Frank Vignola & Vinny Raniolo; all three showcase world class playing and should be a Masterclass for any aspiring guitar players out there.
But the surprises don’t just stop there; I didn’t think the world needed another version of Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay but the duet with JD Simo breathes fresh life into this beautiful classic and the cutesy opening to Rachel’s Lullaby brought tears to my eyes and Emmanuel’s picking alongside Jake Shimbukuro on Ukulele is almost Classical in essence but very easy on the ear.
But the biggest surprise here is also my ‘favourite track’ and we have to go back to the Rodney Crowell song Looking Forward to The Past; which finds a new spark in Crowell’s voice as Emmanuel and the band evoke memories of the Emmylou’s Hot Band on a firecracker of a song.
There’s not a lot else to say here as there’s not a bad track here with a few being truly amazing and I must now backtrack and delve into Tommy Emmanuel’s immense back catalogue immediately.

Released January 19th 2018

http://tommyemmanuel.com/

(Single of the Day) LAUREN RUTH WARD – Sideways

lauren ruth ward b

LAUREN RUTH WARD
Sideways

We’ve been aware of ‘Hairdresser by day…….singer by night’Lauren Ruth Ward; especially because her last few singles have trod a path very few others dare to tread in subject matter; and her voice and way with a melody won our hearts with ease.
Now we have the latest; SIDEWAYS; a sampler from the soon to be released WELL HELL (Feb 16th)and things just get better…..and now we can’t wait for the full album.

http://www.laurenruthwardmusic.com

Abe Partridge – COTTON FIELDS & BLOOD FOR DAYS

abe partridge

Abe Partridge
COTTON FIELDS & BLOOD FOR DAYS
Skate Mountain Records

Southern Gothic Alt.Country-Folk Fights Punk at Midnight Behind a Dingy Bar.

Every now and again an album comes along that absolutely blows me away and I can’t wait to share it with you out there in Internetland…….and this album from Alabama singer-songwriter Abe Partridge is one such.
COTTON FIELDS & BLOOD FOR DAYS arrived a few weeks before Christmas when I knew I didn’t have much time for even listening to music never mind writing about it; but when I saw the intriguing song titles I listened a couple of times late at night when I was doing my ironing; and then more recently at the crack of dawn while driving to work; and the sense of loneliness those hours create is just perfect for diving in at the deep end with Partridges rough and ready and deeply personal songs.
It was the stark opening track Colors that initially caught my attention; with Partridge sounding like a prodigy of Townes, Guy and Rodney the way his lyrics poetically twist and turn via a grizzled and lived in voice over a jagged acoustic guitar and  a cello or violin.
It was only on the third time I listened to track #2 Ride Willie, Ride that I actually realised that it was a love song from a songwriter to Willie Nelson; and the actual title is Ride Willie Ride (Or Thoughts I Had While Contemplating Both the Metaphysical Nature of Willie Nelson and His Harassment By The Internal Revenue Service) and boy; is the world a better place for this song being in it!
Just as I thought I had a handle on where Partridge was coming from track #3 I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker turned everything upside down. Who among us can resist a dirty electric guitar intro followed by the opening lines “Put on my black steel toes/and my free jacket from Goodwill/Gonna get me some dark sunglasses just like Dylan used to wear/ gonna go to my barber and tell him/won’t you do me the wildest of hair’? That’s not even the best bit; but I will leave you intrigued enough to buy the album and hear it yourself.
Like the very best of his ilk Partridge is no ‘one trick pony’ as that last song proves; but it’s his haunting acoustic ballads about his home town Out of Alabama Blues and The Ghosts of Mobile that make him stand out from his contempories and peers; and not just because he sounds like every single word comes from the darkest recesses of his worn out heart.
Choosing a favourite here hasn’t been easy; even before I actually heard it I hoped Our Babies Will Never Grow Up To Be Astronauts would live up to the title; and it does with ease; and it was a similar gut wrenching feeling I had with Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down; and hearing him channel his inner RL Burnside had me slapping the steering wheel with delight when I heard it that first cold morning.
But; and it’s eventually become an easy choice; Prison Tattoos is even better than I’d ever dared hope for from reading the title on the sleeve. This could easily be a lost Townes Van Zandt or Jim White song remixed by Nick Cave as the layers of choppy electric guitars and piano are played without the aid of a safety net as Partridge’s grizzled and Demonic voice purr out a delightfully dark tale.
WOW…….I love my job on days I discover diamonds like Abe Partridge; and you are welcome to fall in love with him too; there’s plenty here for everyone.

Released January 26th 2018
https://www.abepartridge.com/home

Johnny Dowd – TWINKLE TWINKLE

johnny dowd x

Johnny Dowd
TWINKLE TWINKLE
Mother Jinx Records

Left of Centre, Strictly Personal and Experimental Takes on the Great American Songbook.

WOAH….WOAH……and thrice WOAH there! This album from New York’s finest experimental Alt. Country Crooning troubadour is as far from ‘Radio Friendly’ and/or commercial as you can get; and even fans of the great man himself will listen with jaws hanging in wonderment as Johnny Dowd tackles a bizarre collection of songs from the Great American Songbook in his own inimitable style.
The album opens with something called Execute American Folklore, Again which Dowd wrote himself and isn’t for the feint hearted as this twisted slice of Beat Poet induced Electronica has a searing Hard Rock guitar spine and Dowd sounding like a man demented.
This is immediately followed by a scary version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star that will make my youngest Granddaughter burst into tears should she ever hear it. AHA! It was on the second play that I ‘got it’…..and remembered a series of long lonely nights in my teenage bedroom trying to ‘understand’ Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa records; especially Yellow Brick Road.
If you’ve got as far as track three The Cuckoo; which sounds like it was recorded inside the Hadron Collider; ‘understanding’ where Dowd is coming from is way down your list of priorities…….just get comfortable, turn on, tune out and let the vibes take over.
Just like those crazy cats before him Johnny takes classics like St. James Infirmary Blues, Rock of Ages and Tom Dooley turns then upside down, inside out and injects them with Hip Hop sensibilities, Beat Poet cool and Germanic Electronica in a way that will frighten the horses but make your heart beat like you are having a coronary.
Trust me, you’ve never heard anything like Dowd’s Country drawl over a dark beat box and razor like synthesiser on House of the Rising Sun. This ain’t nothing like the Animals version; and like everything else here nor is it intended to be.
If I have to choose a favourite; and for continuity’s sake I will; I will go for Oh, My Darling Clementine which is as near ‘commercial’ as anything gets here; as Dowd duets with Anna Coogan over a bizarre electronic Native American beat…..yep; it is that weird; but fun none the less.
Everything comes to a scary conclusion with Dowd narrating Job 17: 11-17 from the Bible no less and something I’m not overly familiar with; but strangely making absolute sense in this context.
Who knows what the intended demographic is for this amazing record as many of Dowd’s core fan base will be horrified at the experimentation here; but there will also be many out there who have been steadfastly hunting record shops around the globe and on the Internet for something so left-field it nearly comes back on itself; and this is for them; boy is it for them…..and God Bless Johnny Dowd for having the courage to record and release this awe-inspiring record.

Released January 15th 2018

http://www.johnnydowd.com/

Keegan McInroe – A GOOD OLD FASHIONED PROTEST

keegan mcinroe c

Keegan McInroe
A GOOD OLD FASHIONED PROTEST
Self-Release

Timeless and Contemporary Songs of Protest and Hope.

We here at RMHQ loved Texan Keegan McInroe’s 2016 album UNCOUTH PILGRIMS and even though the songwriter himself liked our prose our review doesn’t get a mention on the latest Press Release (surprise, surprise!).
Hey, ho onwards and upwards; the actual title A GOOD OLD FASHIONED PROTEST didn’t just catch my attention; but made me growl, “At last!” through clenched teeth, as apart from a good few individual songs it’s not since we told the world about the Quiet Loner’s 2013 album Greedy Magicians that we have actually heard a complete album of such forceful and direct ‘political protest songs’ and these 9 tracks are just as eloquent and indispensable.
Opening track Talking Talking Head Blues; took me back to the first time I heard the Compleat Tom Paxton in 1971 as Keegan spits out a list of all the things that annoy him about current political life (with and without a capital P) and I found myself smiling and nodding with just about every line.
I just wish I’d listened to this record a month or so ago as Christmas 1914 is a beautiful and delicate song about that Christmas Day which has gone down in history when soldiers sang hymns together and swapped photos and cigarettes; as McInroe takes the role of a soldier who realises that these men and boys in grey uniforms aren’t really his enemy at all; but return to the trenches and the war carries on regardless. Have we not learnt anything in 100 years? #SIGH
Bastards and Bitches shouldn’t be something that I would enjoy; but the 60 seconds go by in the blink of an eye; and I had to repeat the song 5 times to catch every word as the singer recites his ‘poem’ at 100mph.
Nietzsche Wore Boots is a different type of poem; think of McInroe as a 60’s Beat Poet with a belly full of fire and brimstone using the German Philosopher as a modern day Moses. It’s certainly different; but impressive in it’s own way; as is Bombing For Peace; which has a ‘Parental Guidance’ note attached; but sometimes profanity really is the only way to get your message across and when Keegan sings “Bombing for Peace is like F*cking for Virginity’ you get the message loud and clear…..and he’s right of course .
Don’t worry; there are still plenty of contemporary Alt. Folk songs to get your heard around with Big Old River being ‘radio friendly’ until you unravel McInroe’s bitter lyrics; and then you will find yourself punching the air with unbridled joy that someone out there ‘gets it.’ The Ballad of Little Timmy Johnson is a jaunty little tune that is meant to lull you into a false sense of security; but again McInroe’s caustic lyrics will leave you breathless.
The beautiful yet bittersweet The Love That We Give is easily our favourite song here; a simple melody and a weary voice that bleeds passion on a timeless Folk song that has elements of Dylan, Paxton, Cohen et al in it; but is 100% 21st Century troubadour Keegan McInroe at heart.
Now; I also have one huge complaint here; and many of my local readers will stand by me in my righteous indignation ……what else was I to expect when I saw a song entitled Keegan’s Beautiful Dream? My heart skipped a beat as I expected this American singer-songwriter to extol the virtues of Newcastle United’s greatest ever Manager? Ha! Nope; young Mr. McInroe actually uses his own Christian name as part of another wonderful and timeless protest song that needs to be heard by his and your peers on a daily basis.
What a great way to start the new year; 9 highly articulate Protest songs and poems about the need to stop wars of all ilks and persuasions around the globe.

Released UK & Europe January 12th 2018

Released USA April 2017
http://www.keeganmcinroe.com

 

Cambridge City Roots Festival 2018

Cambridge City Roots Festival 2018
Feb 22nd- March 6th 2018.

WAHAY! How exciting does this look to start 2018? The World Famous Cambridge Folk Festival now has an exciting little brother of a Festival to whet the musical appetite and it just gets better, more exciting and….dare I say it, more interesting every year.
Just some of what’s in store includes performances from BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris’s ‘Emerging Artist of the Year’ Wildwood Kin, RMHQ ‘Hero’ and BBC Radio 6 stalwart Mr. Tom Robinson and Cambridge Folk Festival summer headliner, Ward Thomas. Some of the UK’s finest folk musicians appear in the form of John McCusker, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, and Megson. Elsewhere there will be award-winning comedy from Rich Hall as he performs “Hoedown” – a withering dissection of Trump’s America which finishes as a celebration of Americana with stand-up, improvised ballads, and amazing musicianship (described as “Blissfully funny” by The Guardian) – as well as what promises to be a fascinating live interview, with charismatic Canvey Island rocker Wilko Johnson. Further headliners also include Gambian multi-instrumentalist Sona Jobarteh with Cameroonian blues and jazz artist Muntu Valdo.

RMHQ says “What’s not to like?”

Cambridge CityRootsline-upjpeg

Mary Gauthier – RIFLES & ROSARY BEADS

mary gauthier xc

Mary Gauthier
RIFLES & ROSARY BEADS
Proper Records/Thirty Tigers

Dangerous, Timeless and Poetically Beautiful Songs of Struggling After War.

Only a couple of months ago I was chatting to a friend and we got to pondering about Mary Gauthier and wondered when she would be releasing a new album; and a week later what should pop through the RMHQ letterbox but this…..the quaintly titled RIFLES & ROSAY BEADS.
As I took the disc from the packaging I raised my eyebrows on seeing the enigmatic artwork on the cover; and ‘that’ title. Knowing Mary’s work of old and coupled to the album cover I immediately knew this wasn’t going to contain many laughs……and nor would it be intended too.
The opening track Soldiering On is breathtaking the first time you hear it. As with the other ten songs here this is a co-write with someone from a non-profit programme called Songwriting With Soldiers; and the rawness of the lyrics and the powerfully dark production tells a story that a simple singer-songwriter could never begin to articulate.
Track #3 The War After The War treads similar territory to Slaid Cleaves recent album but here the tale of a proud Soldier returning to his home fractured on the inside will send a shiver down your spine and make you feel very proud at the way this young person (their sex isn’t made clear; and nor should it matter) keeps ‘fighting’ to get back to some sort of normality.
Okay; Mary Gauthier has had a hand in editing and no doubt even writing all of these songs; but when you listen intently you hear an eloquence that far surpasses many of the albums I receive on a weekly basis; ‘write about what you know’ springs to mind and when I listen to the starkly delicate It’s Her Love and Brothers you wouldn’t wish ‘what they saw and know’ on your worst enemy; but it makes for two amazing songs that should be heard by every politician in the world on a daily basis.
The poetic title track RIFLES & ROSARY BEADS encompasses the full scale irony that these young people have encountered on a daily basis from the day they chose to ‘sign-up’ through to now when all they have is memories ……and memories that they can’t shake off no matter how hard they or the Doctors try.
Finding a ‘favourite song’ isn’t easy at all; as every single song here is here on merit and tells a story that simply must be heard; and no single story is more worthy than any other but I will point you towards two that brought tears to my eyes more than once over the last couple of weeks.
Bullet Holes in The Sky is a timeless story that will resonate with Vietnam and Korean War veterans as much as it will with the young men and women who are in and leaving the military in 2018. Bittersweet hardly describes the mixed feelings of pride and horror at what these people have seen and done ‘for the greater good.’
The other…..phew……Iraq……certainly isn’t what the ‘great and the good want you to hear’ when they touch their hearts while looking wistfully at the Flag. Mary takes on the role and words of a young woman whose ‘enemy wasn’t Iraq’ but her fellow military mechanics who sexually harass her and eventually take her to the brink. Sadly this is a story that will resonate with women of all persuasions and professions; but is all too common in the various military institutions around the world.
While as far from Gung-Ho as you can get; Stronger Together which closes this remarkable album manages to be a song of hope and love written from the perspective of the soldiers, sailors and airmen’s families who have to battle on alongside and sometimes despite the people they love.
Every song here tells a real story; and none of them come from the John Wayne School of heroics; these are real people recounting real experiences and real memories with the guidance of one of America’s premier songwriters and the results are truly staggering and beautiful in equal measure.
I doubt you will ever hear any of these songs on public radio or even read a review of the album in National magazines or newspapers; such is the strong sentiment in each individual work; but trust me……..this is an album every single person in Western Civilisation should hear at least once…..then send a copy to your politicians who keep War Mongering then sitting behind their big oak desks and counting their profits while the combatants come home and Fight The War After The War.

Released January 26th 2018
http://www.marygauthier.com/