King King & Dan Patlansky – Sage Gateshead

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King King & Dan Patlansky
Sage Gateshead

13th May 2016

The new job is making it harder and harder to fit in going to gigs; which is a real downside I never expected; but getting to see King King again; and at the Sage Gateshead was something I would; and did move Heaven and Earth for.
The opening act, Dan Patlansky has been getting some really positive mentions in the Press recently; and his latest album intrigued me enough to get to the venue bright and early.
The rather handsome South African opened his set with a long slow, burning instrumental that showcased everything that would follow…….loads of intricate fret work and the man himself twisting and contorting his face to match every note squeezed out of his battered Telecaster.

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While Patlansky is very good at what he does; apart from two songs; the harmonious Still Won’t Be a Man and (possibly) Lonely Nights; I was left a bit nonplussed by it all.
King King on the other hand tick all of the boxes I love about Blues Rock – a band who can play their instruments singularly and collectively as well as anyone on on the planet; songs that ‘mean something’ and a front man who makes me look gorgeous!
The indomitable kilt wearing Alan Nimmo was greeted like a conquering hero by the sold out crowd as soon as he made his way onto the stage; and there was a roar of recognition for opening song Lose Control; and when the cheering died down afterwards a grinning Nimmo thanked the audience; but told them to get even louder as the gig was being recorded for a live album…..a request which was taken to heart by the adoring fans.
Ever the showman; Nimmo prowls the stage like an extra from Braveheart as the other three band members provide a musical spine that most bandleaders can only dream of.
I was surprised that the magnificent Rush Hour was song #5 tonight; and Nimmo’s guitar playing was reminiscent of Taste era Rory Gallagher and the ‘ever cool’ Lindsay Coulson provided what used to be known as some ‘throbbing bass’ and the result was astounding; and the gig had hardly had time to warm up.
While most of the songs tonight came from the latest Reaching For The Light Album (which Alan may have mentioned was ‘up for an Award’ or two) but we also got to hear a wonderful performance of A Long History of Love, from Standing In The Shadows with Bob Fridzema nearly making his Hammond bleed; such was the intensity of his playing; and the cheers before and after nearly took the roof off the building.
While Alan Nimmo showed his sensitive side with the beautiful You Stopped The Rain; written and dedicated to elder Nimmo Brother Stevie; this was Friday night and this crowd wanted to Rock and Rock they got when the band cranked the amps to 11 for Hurricane and there wasn’t a face not smiling or singing along at the end.

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Then; just to prove how talented he is (and the band too), Nimmo Jr swapped his platinum Strat for a Gold lame Gibson Les Paul to honour his hero and original Glaswegian Rock Star, Frankie Miller….and this adaptation of Jealousy was stunning beyond belief.
The Strat came back for a spine tingling You Drive Me Crazy and the Gran and Granddad dancing spread like wildfire around the packed room.
The night had flown by and I couldn’t believe my watch when Nimmo introduced the last song of the evening; Stranger to Love and a magnificent closing song it was to.
After the obligatory ‘will they/won’t they’ charade; the band returned with a rousing happy-clappy-sing-along Let Love In; and 1,500 fans and a quartet of exceptional musicians all became one…..and the joy of live music will live on with gigs and bands like this.
A band of many nations; but King King play dirty Chicago Blues, but straight outta the mean streets of Glasgow.

http://www.kingking.co.uk/Home.html

Kaz Hawkins Band – Feelin’ Good

kazawkins cd

Kaz Hawkins Band
Feelin’ Good

Self-Release

Hallelujah! The Irish Queen of the Blues Delivers Her Masterpiece.

After seeing Kaz ‘steal the show’ at the inaugural Belfast Skyline Festival a few years ago; and then falling in love with her Get Ready! Album in 2015 nothing, I repeat nothing prepared me for how I felt the first night I played this album.
Although I disagreed with a few people last year; I can see why Kaz Hawkins could or indeed was labelled as a Blues ‘Shouter’ in the vein of Janis Joplin or possibly even Same Maggie Bell; but Lordy there is so much more to her here.
The album opens with a live and raw Gospel song called Pray that will set the hair on the back of your neck on end.
Just as you get your breath back some of the funkiest guitar and bass glide out of the speakers before Ms. Hawkins delivers a vocal performance of epic proportions on the bittersweet It Ain’t You; making me put down my magazine and seriously concentrate; while my dancing shoes took on a life of their own.
While not exactly made ‘on a shoestring’ Feelin’ Good has a fabulous ‘sound’ to it; making me think it could easily have been made in Muscle Shoals or the like; back in the day when budgets were never ending.
WOW! From start to finish the title track Feelin’ Good is ‘epic,’ with Kaz and band coming together to create a sound akin to Etta James fronting Blind Faith on a Friday night. Powerful stuff indeed.
Then; the Funk is back with Don’t Run Away; a cracking song full of crackling guitar and some bass lines that Nile Rodgers would be proud of.
Then; Kaz immediately afterwards breaks your heart with the lyrically acute and emotionally brittle Because You Love Me; proving that there are definitely a lot more strings to her bow than just ‘The Blues.’
By the way; Kaz Hawkins has Soul with a capital S…..take a listen to Soul Superstar or the autobiographical This Is Me and tell me you don’t think this lady is from Memphis or Chicago and downtown Belfast, Northern Ireland. Go on; I dare you.
Just like in the olden days, Feelin’ Good is an ‘album’ in all its glory; with every song here on its own merits; but as is my won’t I have to pick a ‘best in show’ and it’s not an easy thing to do; but I will toss a coin; ‘heads’ for the Rocking and Rolling and ball breaking Belfast Town; and ‘tails’ for Kaz’s reinterpretation of the ever wonderful I Just Wanna Make Love to You; giving it a 21st Century makeover and will no doubt be a highlight; if not a showstopper when Kaz takes the show on the road.
Seriously; if you like Beth Hart, Susan Teduschi, or Janis, Maggie and Dusty you are gonna love this album. Trust me.

http://kazhawkins.com/

Released May 28th 2016

#PS This is a CD ONLY release; with no digital downloads available (which is a good thing!)

Beth Macari – Voodoo (single)

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Beth Macari
Voodoo (single)
self-release

Sexy, Sassy and Cool Slice Of Funkilicious Soul.

Beth Macari has been around the local music scene in the North East for a couple of years now; treading the boards and honing her craft; most noticeably as a regular guest of Nick Pride & The Pimptones.
Now the time is right for the flame haired beauty to burst out of the shadows on her own; and this sexy little number has all the hallmarks to blow the socks of Radio Executives the length and breadth of our fair isle; and if there are any in the likes of New York or Chicago reading this; you can thank me later.
Judge for yourself from this video; Beth can not only out sing the vast majority of female singers on the market at the moment; but by golly gosh she looks darn pretty too!
What more do you want? Click the link and order your copy now; then sit back and wait for the album that is due out very; very soon.

Released May 28th 2016

Father John Misty – Sage, Gateshead

FJM LILVIK

Father John Misty
Sage, Gateshead
14th May 2016.

Most people will know of Father John Misty as a member of Fleet Foxes, I being one and from afar mainly due to the hype, so I eagerly went along to his headline show at The Sage to see what the fuss was about and I did not walk away disappointed.

Support came from a an impressive trio from Houston, Texas called Khruangbin/ Very much a band of little words, in both song and interaction; but who needs words with the fine guitars of Laura Lee and Mark Speer and drummer DJ. There is even a little bit of glass-bottle playing and a wonderful homage to the purple one, Prince. For those enjoying their drinks on the foyer before the main act, you sure did miss a treat.

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The atmosphere in the The Sage was electric as soon as you walked into the building this evening and as soon as the lights went down in Hall One, Father John Misty and band made their way to the stage and it even managed become even more intensified. This was a hot ticket to have – completely sold out and even the first three rows were taken out to make it a standing/dancing area. In fact Hall One could have been totally emptied of seats as even those at the sides chose to be on their feet for the whole night. I was totally in ‘the zone’ from the get-go too.

Starting with Every Man Needs A Companion, everything ran smoothly with the crowd even filling in the gaps, which even FJM commented that they seem far too excited during the ‘in-betweens’ that it is quite unorthodox. In fact there is a lot of crowd banter from FJM and it is reciprocated; as FJM really knows how to work the stage. He gyrates along left to right and with the mic stand and there is a lot of ‘theatrical kneeling in front of the crowd’ and ‘grabbing of hands’ making the chosen few that get do get touched swoon and scream with excitement. I was caught in that moment too, even though I was far back in the hall. He is almost Jarvis Cocker like, but with sexier moves and Nick Cave in presence but with even more Sex Appeal! Impressively too is his guitar throwing to the stage man at the side; who thankfully caught each one. Fun Times In Babylon even has him strum his guitar with one hand on his hip. Very much a stage man is FJM and with the lines, “look out Hollywood, here I come” with the red curtains lit up glamorously highlights this stage persona and the backing band are just as much a part of it.

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FJM mentions that the crowd is one of the best he’s had, and I concur as it is one of the most excitable I have witnessed in this fabulous venue, so much so that for True Affection he gets everyone to stand up. We remained until the lights come on, but not before Honeybear which leads us into the much appreciated encore, when Father John Misty’s favourite ever love song is sung……. a cover of the explicit Nine Inch Nails ‘Closer’ which definitely echoes the love in the room for the man himself; and then he left us with Ideal Husband, shaking everyone’s hands who have spent all their ‘money getting drunk and high.’

Review and photos Courtesy Lil Vik aka Victoria Ling

Photo-Set : www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154010662455733.1073741948.84126455732&type=3

Nick Pride & The Pimptones – Go Deep

nick pride cd review

Nick Pride & The Pimptones
Go Deep
Legere Recordings LEGO 104

The British Jazz-Soul Invasion Starts Right Here!

I’ve said before that I discovered Nick Pride and the Pimptones by accident on an American website; only to find that on a sunny day I can walk to to Nick Pride’s house!
Hey ho…..that’s only important because it goes to show how truly International his take on music is.
While the Pimptones are prodigious releasers of music; I make this their fourth full release and in my humble opinion; is their most cohesive to date; possibly because of the inclusion of the delectable Beth Macari as ‘the singer.’
Go Deep opens with the smouldering What The Heart Wants; and the marker is well and truly thrown down, with Beth sounding uncannily like the singer people think Amy Winehouse may have become on a tune that will have the cool kids grabbing onto their girls as they shimmy left right and centre in their shiny loafers.
It’s always been difficult to ‘pigeon hole’ the Pimptones as they straddle Jazz, Soul, Funk with gracious ease and on Give It To Me they even add a hefty dose of Rhythm to the Blues.
Sometimes with music like this it’s easy to forget that there is a song hiding inside; but I beg you to listen to Baby Can We Start Again? And tell me that you didn’t think it’s a classic Atlantic track or maybe from label dejour Daptone. This is a Soul song worthy of Aretha in her heyday.
Ooooghhh….there are a couple of storming songs here over and above what I’ve already mentioned; Put Your Arms Around Me is as Funky as it is Sexy; with Chicago tinged Jazz montage tucked away in the middle. Then we have the Midnight Jazz of Good Day; well I say Midnight Jazz as that’s what springs to mind; but the overall feeling is a song extolling the virtues of love on a sunny day. Confused? You won’t be.
Now it’s time for ‘pick of the litter’; obviously the single Gotta Leave The Lady Alone; with it’s exhilarating guitar and bass combo; but I’m going have to plump for……..Nothin’ But The Good Times which closes Go Deep and showcases everything that is wonderful about Nick Pride & The Pimptones ‘sound’ and will be an absolute showstopper when played live.
I know Beth Macari has her own career in the ascendancy at the moment; but she sounds so comfortable here that it could be a marriage made in Geordie Heaven rather than a marriage of convenience that I worry about.

 

Released June 3rd 2016

Refugee (MOAS Charity) – Various Artists

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Refugee (MOAS Charity)
Various Artists
Brainfog Records

Eclectic Mix of Left of Centre Artists Combine for a Great Cause.

“Oh no!” You may scream….”not another bloody charity record.” To some degree I agree with you; but as I’ve only ever reviewed one other such beast here; I hope you will trust my taste and judgement with this album.
I’m very careful about what I publicly align myself too; but had no reservations about asking for a copy of this disc when I knew the cause was to aid the the saddening influx of Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and beyond; especially now it has moved from the front, middle and even the websites of our daily newspapers. But the ‘deal breaker’ was the names that have donated songs to this cause; as I own music by six artists and two more are on my radar; so get comfortable….there aren’t many laughs here.
As the album has been astutely collated by Robin Adams there is a distinctive Scottish flavour to the artists involved, with the opening track How Not To Care, by the ever wonderful Duglas Stewart from RMHQ favourites the BMX Bandits is a rather lovely bittersweet love song, about the aftermath of a break up that sort of sets the tone for what is to follow.
Another name that has several albums on our shelves is Ricky Ross (Deacon Blue) who has donated one of his finest solo songs Baby What’s To Know; which in some circles is worth the entry fee alone.
One of the first songs I wanted to hear was Witchseason by the enigmatic Linda Thompson. A deep, dark and brooding piano piece; with Linda’s rich and expressive voice reminding me what a great singer and indeed songwriter she has always been.
Somehow I’d missed Bonnie Prince Billy’s name on the Press Release but his unmistakeable voice stopped me dead in my tracks when it filtered out of the living room speakers. Listening to this 3 minutes of brittle beauty had me again wondering why this chap isn’t filling The Albert Hall or such. There’s no justice in the world!
Another name that may be known to you is Roddy Hart; a firm favourite of several Rocking Magpie associates and again; his choice of song is a sad one; but what else would you expect on a record like this? The song itself; West like so many others here absolutely showcases his talents in just under 4 minutes.
Among the other tracks here there are a couple of absolute gems from singers I’ve not heard of; Jenny Lysander has stolen my heart with The Horn Still Blows, Rick Redbeard has a lovely voice and his piano led ballad Postcards had me checking his website for more information; it was a similar story with the gentle Celtic-Americana of Mike & Solveig with their song Ravioli.
There’s nothing here to skip over but for me there are two amazing stand out tracks; both for very, very different reasons.
A Geordie lad, and ‘friend of the Jumping Hot Club’ Richard Dawson closes the album with a track called To The Sea. I will best describe Richard as ‘an acquired taste’ but the inclusion of this this brave track not only shows what great taste young Mr Adams has; but hopefully will bring my hirsute friend’s music to the ears of a wider audience.
Which brings us to Robin Adams song itself; The Devil’s War and God’s Blue Sea; the one song that deliberately talks about the issue itself; and boy Robin doesn’t shirk from the subject matter.
If you are a cheapskate; but still love great Folk songs; download this song alone; but if you can….and you really should; download or buy the whole thing; you won’t regret it, apart from having to buy further albums from your new discoveries.
Plus; it’s a great cause that has already touched our hearts; now let it touch your bank balance.

http://www.moas.eu

Pre-order the album here – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/id1105992272?app=itunes

Released June 3rd 2016

Laura Cantrell – Jumping Hot Club (Gateshead)

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Laura Cantrell
Jumping Hot Club
Caedmon Hall, Gateshead

8th May 2016

This was Mrs. Magpie’s 5th gig of 2016 and one she even changed a shift at work to attend; so perhaps I am finally converting her to ‘the cause.’
We’ve both been fans of Ms. Cantrell since a friend gave me a copy of Not The Trembling Kind as a birthday present; 14 years ago and since then we haven’t missed any of her Jumping Hot Club appearances; and just like the previous three tonight; in the largish Caedmon Hall had been Sold Out for weeks in advance.
The support act, the duo My Girl The River were an interesting choice; as singer Kris Hughes had been in Laura’s ‘favourite band’ when she had first moved to Nashville many moons ago; and was giddily excited to finally have Kris and Joe Hughes (on Dbl. Bass) support her in the UK.
Plugging their new album This Ain’t No Fairytale; singer Kris regaled us with most songs back-story’s and while a couple went on a tad longer than necessary; (I got the feeling that the bubbly American likes to ‘chat’!) they did capture the imagination; just as the songs themselves did.
Second song in, Woods Behind Our House and the atmospheric title track with Joe’s hypnotic bass playing really stood out.

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While I personally could have done with a couple more up-beat songs like Are You Still in New York; I could see why Laura Cantrell went to great lengths to get them to support her.
After a short break (which had a queue backing down the stairs for the merch stand!) Laura Cantrell was led through the crowd by the legendary singer-songwriter Shipcote; to join her guitarist Mark Spencer and bass player Jordan Caress on the stage; and before I go any further can I salute Ms. Caress for wearing a Siouxie and the Banshees t-shirt!
The set opened with Pile of Woe from Laura’s breakthrough album Not The Trembling Kind; which she told us was first released 16 years ago!
Next up was Can’t Wit from Laura’s most recent album; and I hardly recognised as Mark Spencer filled it with some really cool Chet Atkins style guitar licks; turning it into a delightful piece of old-school Country.
While including a host of rarely heard songs from Trembling Kind; Laura was promoting a new BBC Sessions CD/LP/Coffee Mug/Tote Bag combination; with a couple of heartfelt introductions regarding John Peel who was a an early advocate of her work (check her website out for some cool freebies too!) and tonight’s version of Little Bit of You was dedicated to the Great Man.
It would really take something to overshadow Laura Cantrell at a JHC gig; but Mark Stewart came very close with some amazing guitar playing throughout the gig; most noticeably when he turned a beautiful wooden guitar into a ‘pedal-steel’ on All The Girls Are Complicated and then a cover of Bonnie Owens’ You Don’t Have Very Far To Go; then seamlessly adding some more stomping Chet Atkins licks on Laura’s ode to Bonnie Owens, The Queen of the Coast. Boy; can this guy play a guitar!!!
As expected in this lovely Council run venue; time was of the essence as there is a curfew; so the chat was cut short as more songs were shoe horned into the set; with Do You Ever Think of Me and All The Same To You both sounding sublime tonight.
I don’t know if she actually meant to throw a ‘Spoiler’ in; but she told us that she had already pre-recorded the gorgeous Two Seconds for a future edition of the Andrew Marr TV Show….and there’s me thinking it was 100% live!
I’ve mentioned before; that my love of live music comes from the excitement of seeing and hearing something that will never happen again; and that’s what happened during the ‘Cashtastic’ version of Big Wheel tonight; when something went wrong with Laura’s tuning mid-song; but the band kept on playing and our heroine sang like a trouper.
Then we had the encore ‘charade’ with Laura leaving the stage; only to beckon Kris to join her for a song I don’t recollect hearing before; Can’t Tell a Soul; and their voices intertwined majestically; leaving me hoping for a collaboration sometime in the future.

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Then Mark and Jordan joined the duo for the Merle Haggard song, Sing Me Back Home.
Even after seeing Laura Cantrell perform seven times now; tonight was a very special concert; with all of the constituent parts; including a very knowledgable and appreciative audience combining as one.

Laura Cantrell http://www.lauracantrell.com/
My Girl The River http://www.supertinyrecords.com/mgtr/
Jumping Hot Club http://www.jumpinhot.com/

The Sons of Southern Ulster – Foundry Folk Songs

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The Sons of Southern Ulster
Foundry Folk Songs
HT Records

Growling Indie Meets Alt. Country via The Back Room of a Pub.

Well; this is certainly an album where you shouldn’t ‘judge by the cover.’ I understand that JJ Kelly and DJ Meagher who make up the band are indeed Sons of Southern Ulster by birth; but that moniker will surely alienate them from certain parts of Ireland and the UKL itself. No? Then there is the cover photo; a quaint picture of some men in flat caps; but hey….it’s actually an IRA Brigade from 1916…….so far; it’s everything I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole; but thankfully they had previously sent me a video that made me want to hear more; a lot more….so we will bypass the other stuff; which bares very little relevance to the musical contents within.
Opening track The Pop Inn; is a biographical song about the pub they visited as teenagers; and performed as a type of ‘talking Blues’ crossed with sub-Clash guitars and chorus. The details are personal to the guys; but brought back many memories of the Kings Head, Punch Bowl and the Jerry of my own youth. Places where I too learned to drink, smoke, argue, play video games and discover a whole new world of music via the big boy’s tastes on the juke boxes.
Cavan Cola is a story in a similar vein; but the guitars this time are straight outta Derry via the Undertones! Personally; I bloody love this song!
Looking at Kelly and Meaghan’s photos they are a bit younger than me; but there references are along the same lines…..listen to the whip sharp guitars and dry vocals on Kung Fu Kicks; and you too will be dragged back to backstreet youth clubs of the 1970’s (or later?).
Then; of course we have the brilliant Rock on Tommy! A phrase I and my friends real out at least once a week much to the bewilderment of anyone under 40 (or not from the UK!). Another tale of a misspent youth in a small town; that will make many of us smile non-stop for 4 minutes and leave the rest shaking their head.
Thankfully politics and religion don’t ever make an appearance here; not even on For The Love of Jesus; which is actually a doom laden tale of needing to get away from their claustrophobic small town; and see the world beyond……all played out as a sub-punk Blues (if such a thing exists).
Foundry Folk Songs closes with more introspection and stinging guitar accompaniament; with the song Sons of Southern Ulster an epic aural landscape condensed into 4 minutes.
This album is ‘different’ in many ways; and that’s ‘different’ in a good way. Listen with an open ear and it’s a set of well constructed tales of Small Towns and small people anywhere in the world; and should be appreciated as such.

http://www.sonsofsouthernulster.com/home.html

Released April 2016

The Westies – Six On The Out

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The Westies
Six On The Out
Pauper Sky Music

The Real Sound of Downtown Americana.

Who are the Westies and why should you love them? A simple question; but with a very complicated answer.
The constituent parts are husband and wife Michael McDermott and Heather Horton; but in reality The Westies are everybody on the sidelines and in the shadows of every run down city and town across North America and beyond; as McDermott’s stories rival Blue Collar spokesmen like Bruce, Steve and Neil for grit and honesty; and will stir emotions across the globe ; as our various economies take more swings than an amateur golfer.
My ears instantly pricked the first time I heard opening song If I Had a Gun; as it sounded uncannily like Mark Knopfler from the Dire Straights; but when I pressed repeat the lyrics were a damn sight darker and edgier than anything the amiable ex-Geordie has ever recorded.
The song that spawned the name for the couple’s record label, Paupers Sky follows, and while it’s got a danceable beat to it; it’s another song that needs to be listened to over and over again, to get the whole message; then you will want to micro chip it into every politicians forehead; so they can slowly begin to understand what the Working Classes and even Middle Classes are going through these days.
Some of the songs here are breathtaking in the way McDermott strings his words together; try The Gang’s All Here. A melancholy Irish lament that masks a bittersweet love song; that will bring a tear to a glass eye; well it made mine mist up.
Ha……The Westies can even do subtle!
I’d heard the song Henry McCarty several times; and was slowly falling in love with it; and then the ‘penny dropped’ – it’s actually the story of Billy The Kid; told in just under seven minutes; and is as a fine a song as Tom Russell never wrote…..which is as big a compliment as I can give!
Santa Fe, which follows is a straight up Americana Rocker that owes a tip of the hat to Bruce’s The River; but no more than that as it really; really showcases The Westies ‘sound’ in all it’s magnificent glory. That sound definately revolves around McDermott’s proudly expressive voice and words; but let’s not forget Heather Horton’s magnificent violin playing (soft and gentle when necessary but raucous too when called upon) plus her harmonies verge on the Angelic on a couple of tunes.
While every song here is pure Westies; they manage to seamlessly glide between out and out Rockers, intimate love songs, tales of woe and in the case of Once Upon a Time a ‘confessional’ that would easily have made its way onto any of Johnny Cash’s American Man series of albums.
Best song here? Phew; that really is difficult but I will try to choose between the softly atmospheric tale Sirens, which closes the album or the passionate acoustic-rocker Everything Is All I Want For You; which probably shades it (today).
According to the Press Release McDermott claims to be ‘two years clean and sober’ which may be why I’ve never heard of him or The Westies before……but that my friends is why you should tell your children don’t do drink and drugs; because in this case it most certainly stifled a great talent and if Heather can keep him on the straight and narrow heralds the dawning of a new talent.

http://www.westiesmusic.com/

Released June 3rd 2016