Bap Kennedy – Reckless Heart

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Bap Kennedy
Reckless Heart
At The Helm Records/Last Chance Records

Another Masterpiece From The Most Romantic of Irish Wordsmiths.

With more than a hint of mischief the album opens with the jaunty Nothing Can Stand In The Way of Love! The opening verse “Hey baby I know/I’m always gonna be/Between the devil/And the deep blue sea/I know that I’m just a man/Just flesh & blood/And nothing, nothing can stand in the way of love,”is a corker, even without the benefit of hindsight.
Kennedy’s voice sounds happy and the twang guitar coupled with a swing accordion backing makes for a real party toe-tapper and hip shaker.
Even in his Energy Orchard days Kennedy was always a Romantic song- writer, with a capital R. Track #2 the piano led, Good as Gold gently swings along with all the perceived wisdom of a man getting a second chance at life…and love, and again…is right up there with his finest recordings.
After all these years the songwriter still manages to surprise me. To a sweet Tex-Mex tune Bap takes on the roll of a troubled young man called Henry Antrim in 1880 in an American Border Town who knows his ‘days are numbered’ and talks to a beautiful Señorita about how he’d like to be remembered. Henry Antrim was the real name of Billy The Kid.
With a much faster electrified Tex-Mex style tune Por Favor is the perfect foil for Honky Tonk Baby which follows, midway through the album, and both show that the Belfast Boy has a real Country heart and Soul. That latter song; if I’m not mistaken is an ode to his bass-playing wife Brenda and twists the traditional ‘love song’ style on it’s head.
The title track, Restless Heart was released a few weeks ago as a ‘teaser’ and has received numerous self-merited radio plays. With addition of that honky-tonking piano and a Twangtastic guitar again, this soft and tender Country Rocker harks back to the days of  Kennedy’s Hank, Elvis and Me.
The album closes with another electric rocker – It’s Not Me, It’s You. A bit of a tongue in cheek rabble-rouser for the upper Middle Aged among us. Much like the mischievous opening track, the chorus on this track will have you chuckling as tears roll down your cheeks.
Choosing a favourite should be impossible when the quality overall is pretty damn excellent ….but it’s not.
Even if Bap had released Track #3 I Should Have Said 5 or 6 years ago it would have torn my heart to shreds in the way Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics always does when I hear it on the radio.
I was young & foolish/And I could not fail/I could see the big picture/And the devil in the detail/And I lived for the moment/In a circus ring/Now we all know better/Hindsight’s a wonderful thing/I should have said I love you.”
Who knows what or who Bap was writing about? Parents? Friends? Belfast? His brother? ex-Band mates? Bloody Hell……this song was written long before that horrible diagnosis but…….but…..as my father used to say “God acts in mysterious ways.”
Kennedy’s beautiful and touching words resonate with me and will you; but when you hear Bap almost whisper them through a strained voice over a diluted Walk on the Wild Side type backing your heart will crack wide open; and if it doesn’t…..you are logged into the wrong website!
I’ve been writing reviews for 15 years now and I’ve never loved music as half much as I do this album; but have hated actually having to write every single word on this page.
Those words will baffle some of our regular readers but the legions of Bap Kennedy’s fans across the globe; of whom I am a fully paid up member, will understand my heavy hearted sentiment.
Bap has had a glorious career, starting with his time with Energy Orchard (a Band that crossed the boundaries of Indie, Folk, Country and what was to become Alt. Country?) then at the behest of Steve Earle became an acclaimed solo singer-songwriter that has brought plaudits from across the spectrum and friendships (musical AND personal) with the likes of Mark Knopfler, Van Morrison, Shane McGowan…..and me.
After falling out of love with the music industry he then went and met and fell in love with Brenda, whom he married and amazingly (not really when you meet her) got his muse back and began writing some of the finest songs of his illustrious career with Shimnavale and The Sailors Revenge.
In late 2015 he began writing songs for a forthcoming album, and in the New Year went into the recording studio to begin the onerous process of making an album due for release at the end of 2016.
With Brenda now on bass and an assortment of exceptional musicians, Bap was really enjoying playing concerts again, then the night before he was due to play a Festival in Westport Co. Mayo (Ireland) he woke up with severe stomach pains and eventually allowed Brenda to take him to hospital……days later he was diagnosed with pancreatic and bowel cancer.

#Postscript Sadly Bap passed away just after 6pm on Tuesday 1st November 2016

Released UK 2nd December 2016

Released US 27th January 2017

http://www.bapkennedy.com/

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Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen – Death’s Dateless Night

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Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen
Death’s Dateless Night
Cooking Vinyl COODCD655P

Cerebral Celebration of Death In All Its Glory.

Australian’s Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen are of an age; like me when you go to a lot more funerals than weddings; and it was at one such occasion when they brokered the idea of recording an album of their favourite ‘funeral songs.’ A sentiment abhorrent to Mrs. Magpie, but one I have I have given a lot of thought to myself over the years.
The mood, for want of a better description is firmly set with the opening song Hard Times, with Charlie Owen playing a Presbyterian style piano and Kelly giving a doleful vocal performance, I had to fight back the tears right from the off.
At first I thought Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In was a peculiar choice until I sat and really listened to the words and it fits just perfectly; especially with the addition of Memphis and Maddy Kelly on harmonies.
I have actually been to a funeral when the Beatles’ Let It Be was played; but this stripped back to the bone version is by far more fitting for such an occasion.
Of their own songs the stark Meet Me In The Middle of the Air by Paul Kelly with Owen on Dobro is haunting and disparate, and in the right circumstances (wind, cold and rain?) just perfect for a coffin being laid into the ground. But it is his song Nukkanya, Aboriginal for “See ya” which caught my attention. First released on his 1994 Wanted Man album, the song really does capture the spirit of a loved one ‘passing over.’
Is it right to have a favourite song on an album like this? Of course it is!
The duo’s reading of Townes Van Zandt’s To Live is to Fly, sounds uncannily like early Bob Dylan and is deeply gorgeous and they breath fresh air into their reinterpretation of the Classic Irish song the Parting Glass but it’s a song that is high up my own list of songs to be played at my funeral that is my ‘favourite.’
I actually discovered the delights of Leonard Cohen via Joe Cocker singing Bird on a Wire and hearing Charlie softly playing the piano while Paul sings and strums an acoustic guitar will be perfect for own casket going through the curtains. Cue a weepin’ and a wailin’ from all in the Chapel.
I know Mrs. Magpie would hate the idea but just like the album, how cool would it be to close the ceremony with this adaptation of Hank’s Angel of Death? No? It must just be me then.
Combining songs by some of the greatest writers of the last 100 years plus a couple by Paul Kelly, the pair have recorded 12 songs that could and should be played at any ‘real music’ fans funeral….although I have a couple that are personal to me that would be added in too.

Released 7th October 2016

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Colin James – Blue Highways

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Colin James
Blue Highways
True North Records TND630

Classic Blues With a Hefty Shot of Rhythm and Style.

OOOOH…..EEEEE…..!
As usual I played this album a couple of times before reading the Press Release and when I did, it only confirmed what I’d decided – Colin James really does love the Blues.
While I only recognised a couple of tracks on those cursory plays; it turns out that this, James’s EIGHTEENTH album is actually a tribute to the guys he grew up listening to and so obviously influenced him.
The six time Juno Award Winner gets the show on the road with a blistering take on Freddie King’s Boogie Funk before immediately turning the tables on the next track with a beautiful rendition of the early Fleetwood Mac masterpiece Watch Out, with the Canadian more than just paying homage to Peter Green with his amazing bottle-neck solos while Jesse O’Brien and Simon Kendal both tinkle the ivories in the background.
Those two tracks very much set the mood for a delightful ride through the back-roads of Blues County via London circa 1965.
Even a cursory listen to this album shows that Colin James grew up listening to similar albums to me, and discovered the Blues from the likes of Clapton, Gallagher and the like.
His fluid electric guitar style certainly echoes memories of early Eric Clapton on William Bell’s Don’t Miss Your Water and Muddy Waters’ Gypsy Woman; bringing out nuances I’d not heard in years; and Steve Marriner’s ‘most Blues wailing harmonica’ solo on the latter is nothing less than spine tingling.
While I think of myself as a Blues Fan; I didn’t recognise at least half the songs here; but that’s no bad thing as hearing the beautiful Ain’t Long For Day and Going Down (by Don Nix?) when the band get low, down and dirty I was and still am in Heaven.
I now have several versions of Hoodoo Man Blues in my collection; first coming across the song when Rory Gallagher recorded it and it still remains a firm favourite; but James’s gives it a more Rhythm & Blues, Roadhouse treatment with some rather neat piano playing from Simon Kendall (again) while Steve Marriner tries to blow the reeds out of his mouth-harp.
I like to offer a favourite song at this stage; but you really can cover your eyes and pick anything and be impressed but I will point you towards the Riding in the Moonlight/Mr. Luck hybrid as it is R&B at its’s rawest with just James on acoustic guitar and the indomitable Steve Marriner on harmonica and I defy you to listen to any better Blues tune in 2016.
I’m far too young to have been around when the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers and The Animals were playing this type of music to young long-haired gadabouts in the early 1960’s, but was around in the mid-1970’s when The Blues Burglars, Junco Partners and and a host of other bands you’ve never heard of were treading the boards around the North East before hundreds of impressionable music fans who will adore this album and hopefully, go into Colin James back catalogue to hear and BUY his original music.

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Released UK November 25th 2016
Released North America October 18th 2016

Various Artists – Highway Prayer (A Tribute To Adam Carroll)

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Various Artists
Highway Prayer (A Tribute To Adam Carroll)
Eight 30 Records

A Splendid Slice of Small-town Americana All From the Pen Of One Man.

Adam Carroll is a name hardly known outside of his native Texas but regularly turns up in the small print on albums by artists that I love and admire; and the same singers always go out of the way to name check him in concert.
Here a number of ‘household names’ in the world of Roots/Americana (or my household anyways!) have got together to pay tribute to a Master Craftsman; in the only way they know how.
The album opens with Rocking Magpie favourite James McMurtry giving his best Johnny Cash impression on a wonderful song called Screen Door. Written from the POV of a guy working in the kitchen of a BBQ the ‘devil is in the detail’ on this song of unrequited love for a waitress.
The way McMurtry delivers “You smiling through the screen door/is worth 1000 goodbyes/I’m looking out the screen door/where your face comes in the light” will pull on even the tightest of heart strings, and is testimony to Carroll’s songwriting skills.
Next out of the trap is another favourite songwriter around these parts, Hayes Carll with Girl With The Dirty Hair. There’s a hauntingly tragic beauty to this story of two misfits in a rough-ass town who find each other and then one of my all time favourite songwriters, Slaid Cleaves pours his heart and soul into South of Town.
Even if these were the only three names paying tribute, that I’d recognised I would have been impressed; but we also get Band of Heathens doing what they do best with Oklahoma Gipsy Shuffle and later the vastly underrated Terri Hendrix shows Tim Carroll’s songs are just as Country as Country can be with her footstompin’ rendition of Red Bandanna Blues and then Noel McKay and Brennen Leigh regale us with a song that was a highlight of their Show Stealing performance at SummerTyne 2016……Karaoke Cowboy.
As with all Various Artist albums there are a number of acts I wasn’t familiar with; but Mando Saenz singing Home Again and Danny Barnes with Smoky Mountain Taxi both had me checking out their own websites as their voices both intrigued me. The songs are pretty damn fine too; by the way.
Choosing a favourite song has been especially difficult as there have been pleasant surprises around every corner. Should I go with one of those four opening tracks from artists I already know and love, or somebody new to me? I’ve gone for the latter with a tie between the heart crushing late night intimacy of Hi-Fi Love by Jamie Lin Wilson and the Rootsy Twang of Black Flag Blues by Tim Easton and Aaron Lee Tasjan.
Carroll does get to make an appearance on the final track My Only Good Shirt, yet another intricately ‘simple’ song but from the lips of the man who wrote it and sung the way it was originally intended…..from the heart.
Tim Carroll’s songs and stories are staggeringly well written, personal and full of day to day minutiae with the occasional tongue-in-cheek line that will make do a sideways smile and will keep you coming back like the finest ‘page turning novels’ ……but why have I never heard him before?

http://adamcarroll.com/

https://eight30records.bandcamp.com/album/highway-prayer-a-tribute-to-adam-carroll

RELEASED October 28th 2016

Wayne Hancock – Slingin’ Rhythm

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Wayne Hancock
Slingin’ Rhythm
Bloodshot Records

‘The Train’ Rattles Along In Admirable Style.

Aha! Wayne ‘The Train’ Hancock really is a ‘one off’ sounding quite unlike anyone else, especially all the pretenders to his self-made throne.
I only discovered his magnificent 1995 debut album Thunderstorms and Neon Signs a couple of years ago when I had my radio show. A friend with impeccable taste asked for the title track to be played on one of the very first episodes; and the album became a favourite of our listeners; but that’s in the past.
Three years since his last album hasn’t seen Hancock resting on his laurels; no sirree! Averaging over 200 gigs every year where he has honed these new songs like a razors edge; and the time is finally right for another dose of good time, Juke-Joint, Hill-billy, Swing with assorted love songs for good measure.
The album opens with Hancock introducing the title track Slingin’ Rhythm then counting the band in and …phew we then get the coolest, autobiographical ‘road song’ you will ever hear; and more than a smattering of red hot gee-tar…Mister!
While Wayne Hancock certainly has a distinctive ‘sound’ based around a head mix of Western Swing and Classic Country with a spine of Rockabilly in there too; but he somehow manages to never repeat himself.
Wear Out Your Welcome; even features some sweet guitar that owes more than a nod in the direction of Les Paul and Chet Atkins; but certainly doesn’t sound dated.
What may or may not be overlooked with Hancock is his song-writing and story telling which gets over shadowed by the way he sings. Divorce Me C.O.D is a very clever song based around a very Country ‘theme’ going back to Hank, George and the rest; but Hancock’s turn of phrase never sounds dated.
Dirty House Blues is a stunning little number featuring some absolutely sizzling pedal-steel alongside a chunka-chunka 4/4 back-beat that will have toes a tapping and fingers clicking all over the world.
OK I’m a sucker for a love song; always have been and always will be so the short and sweet, Love You Always is already a favourite at RMHQ, but there are two other songs that certainly take Wayne Hancock to another level.
Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine is the type of Country-Gospel I would normally associate with Hank Williams but this song has more than a hint of Woody Guthrie in it too and was spine-tingling the first time I heard it.
But….by far the favourite song at RMHQ is the Murder Ballad ‘Killed em Both;’ a fabulous song that has all of the hallmarks of a show stealer wherever and when ever Wayne ‘The Train’ Hancock comes to town.
Dog Day Blues and Small Bouquet of Roses are both the type of song that would have been Top of the Hit Parade in the late 50’s or early 60’s perhaps; but are probably ‘too Country’ for Modern FM Radio….but with the upsurge in specialist Digital Radio I’m sure you will hear them and just about all of the other songs here somewhere on the World Wide Web.

Released October 26th 2016

http://waynehancock.com/

EXCLUSIVE Ruth Theodore Interview by Cara Gibney

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Ruth Theodore Interview
by Cara Gibney

The shrewd carved words Ruth Theodore pens in her songs are intonated in a light, easy and smoothly versatile voice. It is English-accented to the bone; poems to music?
Her September ’16 release ‘Cactacus’ finely illustrates this, along with her own very unique guitar technique and specific tuning – born from the school of self-taught and perfected on streets and pubs while busking and gigging regularly as a teenager.
Hers is a story of kicking against the odds. Of being told as a child that the guitar was something she would never be able to play; of an accident that left her unable to speak, never mind sing. These just seem to have helped make her stubborn, more determined. There was “definitely an element of proving people wrong” she told me … “There’s nothing like being told you can’t.”
Later, one of the calmest, happiest times of her life was while rough sleeping in a shop doorway. “You know when people make those clever photographs where one person is still and other people are moving blurred around them? That’s how it felt,” she explained. “I felt calm. I had time. Becoming transparent is almost a position of privilege to me. I still walk the streets late at night trying to find a place where nobody will notice me slowly digesting and learning and writing and observing. Fuck I’m creepy.”
For the past decade though she has been based on a small narrow boat in London, and has converted a second boat into a recording studio through which she has managed to create an important music hub for musicians of different hues to meet, play and create. “We rehearse there, I develop my ideas there, we do live shows there and we have hosted some impressive international acts. It’s a relatively small space and initially people laughed at my idea of using it for all these things, but again, there’s nothing like being told you can’t!”
When Theodore was opening for folk-feminist-icon Ani DiFranco she became aware of “Cactacus’ producer-to-be Todd Sickafoose. “I spent a while listening to other records he’d produced and absolutely loved his style, she explained. “We were mutually excited by each other which was the perfect balance. A month or so later I was living in his home. Amazing really!”

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The truth of the matter is that it isn’t all that amazing. Looking back over the years one can see a build-up of events and characteristics that have brought Theodore to this point. Right from the wordy, thoughtful child that she was, to the truly unique talent that she grew into. “I was always in some kind of trouble and always having accidents” Theodore told me. “I was a deep thinker and I loved words and would write poetry all over the walls.”
Despite the trouble though she came from a household where her uniqueness was appreciated. “I was lucky enough to be encouraged to be myself and express myself so long as I wasn’t hurting anyone else.” By the time she was 14 she was writing her own material and performing. “The first song I wrote was ‘Over-expanding’ which I wrote whilst busking. I was 14 I think and had minimal guitar skills. I released it years later, to my own surprise.”
That bespoke tuning and technique has been key to her style ever since. I asked her how it began. “I figured out quickly that I could play almost any hit song on a guitar with one finger if I de-tuned it, and so this was how I began busking. I was earning money for myself before I knew how to play, which is definitely a blessing. It also allows me to experiment with more variables and step out of the mould.” And this is the point. Anyone acquainted with Theodore’s music will know that being outside the mould is fundamental to her writing. With her own guitar tuning, the basis of her initial compositions is an alternative to the norm. “These days I use around 9-10 different tunings or more and I won’t deny that it can make the stage performance a rubix cube sometimes but proportionally that’s fairly insignificant.” When she works with other musicians they work by ear. “I’ll sing their parts and they’ll find it and play it and so it doesn’t really matter what tuning I’m in. But sometimes a musician will ask me to give them an A so they can tune, and I look down at my frets and go “errrrmm…”

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Her September 2016 release ‘Cactacus,’ produced by Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Anais Mitchell) and released on the shiny new label Aveline Records, is her fourth album. It is a collection of nine folk-based tracks, shaded with Americana, woven with pop textures, throwing blues, jazz and other flourishes into the mix, helping the album to swing boldly from big landscapes, to love, to bone-deep feeling; from social vultures to whimsy.
The name came from a session “Sitting up late with producer Todd and his partner discussing album titles” Theodore explained. “It’s kind of a mix between Cactus and Spartacus and also mixed with wine and the inability to be able to pronounce our words properly! We all just fell in love with the word and that was that.”
Presented through her voice, her guitar, piano and backing vocals, there is a thread running through the album – of nature, of bare to the bone primeval call and response to our animal surroundings. The imagery of the songs – cinema screen scenery of buffalo, scavengers, carcasses, bones. Of temporary, ever changing settings, shifting with seasons. “My writing tends to always be quite brutal even if it’s gentle in delivery. My life at the time was yearning for something which I describe using these thirsty arid landscapes.”
Yearning in its most romantic form is offered in the album’s “Kissing in Traffic” and “Wishbone.” But when it comes to yearning, one cannot imagine a stronger example than the gorgeous “You Can’t Help Who You Love,” which took four years to write. It is a story of dealing with cancer, written from the perspective of the carer. “Oh I just managed to finish the damn thing!” Theodore responded when tentatively asked why it was a four-year piece of work. “It was a hard song to write because I would upset myself and have to stop, or I would feel like I wasn’t doing the subject justice. I feel a big sense of responsibility with such delicate subjects like cancer. You have to remember delicate people will listen and so when I felt I had done my very best with it. I let it out.”
Her cutting, shrewd commentary on the growing threat that the wealthy are to local communities in “Scavengers” brings us back to that arid landscape. There’s a yearning for fairness, shifting landscapes, the deep dark hue that change is not always for good. Theodore explained. “When I moved to the area I live in now there were only ten of us, all self-employed, skint, creative types looking for quiet and we would share coal and wood and brandy in the winter and the spirit of what we were doing kept us there. But in the last 2 years there is more than enough evidence that communities like ours and other alternative or minority communities are being driven out by wealth, and the wealthy are trying to buy what we made. Which is something that isn’t for sale. I like progress but I like politics and people more.”
Theodore and her band will be touring nationally in 2017, spending the latter part of this year writing and draft recording new material. Next year will be a busy year. “We’re busy hatching plans, so bring it on,” she told me. “Bring it on.”

Interview by Cara Gibney

Photos Courtesy Jeff G  www.flickr.com/photos/jeffjeffjeffjeff/

 

LeBarons – Alliston (EP)

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LeBarons
Alliston
Bandcamp

The Heart and Soul of Small Town Canada in Words and Music.

We loved last year’s 7” single Trains, from Toronto band LeBarons and have waited impatiently ever since for the follow up; and whoopee-doo it’s actually a 6 track EP.
The atmospherically claustrophobic sound on that single continues on opening track Think Of You, with vocalist (and songwriter) Chris MacDonald and the band sounding like they were recording in the tiniest booth in the world, creating a song that sounds both intensely intimate and passionate in equal measures.
Track #2 The Brave has a slow and brooding opening with MacDonald baring his heart to a lover who may, or may not feel the same way. Band-mates Evan Levy on lead guitar, Casey Irvin on lap-steel, Po Karim on drums manage to create a pensive almost death-rattle behind him, as Megan Tilston provides ghostly harmonies. Tragically beautiful, is the best description I can come up with.
Things perk up with the inclusion of I’ll Come Back, a rollicking bar-room stomper full of grunge guitar, a fiery pedal-steel and machine-gun drumming rattling along behind MacDonald and Tilston.
That exceptional single Trains, is added and sounds just as wonderful as when I first heard it; but gets overshadowed by two new songs.
The album closes with a mournful and bittersweet Freightliner, that is quintessentially Canadian; effortlessly blending Lo-Fi sensibilities with an Alt. Country freshness and Celtic Folk story telling.
But; by far our favourite track, and the one on heavy rotation this morning is Oh California. The song rattles along like a Classic Muscle car on a sweeping highway, and MacDonald’s way with words (written and sung) is perfectly matched by Megan Tilston’s harmonies and a band playing as one.
LeBarons are one of those bands that are probably, sadly destined to be a ‘cult band’ with a hardy bunch of fans who pore over their every utterance…..don’t let that be the case…..buy this EP….tell your friends…..buy a copy for your parents/lovers Christmas Presents….whatever it takes. Make them stars!

Released October 10th 2016

https://lebarons.bandcamp.com/album/alliston

Malojian – This Is Nowhere (2016)

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Malojian
This Is Nowhere
Rollercoaster Records/Self-Release

Surf’s Up At Last For Northern Irish Troubadour.

I will never tire of boring people of the day I ‘discovered’ Stevie Scullion aka Malojian. I was reviewing the maiden Belfast Skyline Festival in 2013 when both Bap Kennedy AND Anthony Toner recommended him to me as ‘the one to watch,’ and they weren’t wrong.
He stole the show that day and really has gone from strength to strength with his previous two albums; and now just as he appears to think World Wide Musical Domination (or at least being popular in England) is beyond him, by solely concentrating on the Irish market (North and South) he has gone and released this record so low key I nearly missed it.
Earlier this year Malojian threw caution to the wind and flew to Chicago, in the Americas to record these songs at Electrical Audio under the tutelage of legendary producer Steve Albini and the results are…..bloody amazing!
Although I knew this ‘Folk Singer’ always had Pop sensibilities I certainly wasn’t prepared for the title track This Is Nowhere (Aren’t You Lonely?) which opens the record. The harmonies, jaggedly guitars and not least Malojian’s voice, now with a hint of vibrato has all the hallmarks of the only Beach Boys album worth listening to….Surf’s Up but with a very modern twist.
This is immediately followed by I’ll Be Alright, and my head was spinning as I grinned like an idiot. ‘Beautiful’ only goes part of the way to describe this sub three minute multi-layered mini-masterpiece.
Just like on his previous albums Malojian includes a lovely piece of whimsy in the shape of Calling Borneo; although I’d love to read the lyrics s I think there may be a hidden message here somewhere.
I’ve now spent three days listening to snippets of this album at every opportunity and last night was the first time I was been able to listen from start to finish and in that context a couple f songs really took my breath away. I’ll Be Alright with it’s jaunty beat over a deep story touched me in a way very few songs can; it’s as if it was written about me, now. I’m sure many others will feel the same way about it.
I know a lot of time and effort is put into sequencing albums; but it’s normally wasted on the likes of me; but tracks 4 and 5 could be a mini Love Story set to music and are two of Malojian’s finest songs. The first Lean On Me has some very touching lyrics and as it seamlessly glides into You’re a Part of Me my heart was swelling to the size of a football. The latter is my favourite song here; and is absolutely perfect for late night radio with the lights turned down low and you are all alone with your thoughts.
I can’t help thinking Stevie had spent the previous few weeks immersing himself in both Surf’s Up and The Beatles’ Revolver before allowing Steve Albini to provide a Master-class in production and engineering; adding luscious strings when necessary, but only to emphasis the beauty of the song and there is no better example than the finale, where we find the Northern Irish singer-songwriter at the piano on a song that has echoes of Harry Nilsson ….The Great Decline which showcases every single quality this young man has from his voice through his way with the English Language and especially the way he combines both.
This is the album I’d hoped but never dared dream Malojian could and would make and it deserves a much wider audience than just the Emerald Isle…..World Dominance awaits. Trust me!

Released October 7th 2016 (CD, Download and ltd. Edition 12” Vinyl)

https://malojian.bandcamp.com/album/this-is-nowhere

Slim Chance – The Poacher (2016) EXCLUSIVE

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Slim Chance
The Poacher
Self-Release

‘The Poacher’ was first released in 1974 by Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance and current bass player Steve Bingham had the great pleasure of actually playing on the original; and has has re created the same iconic bass line on this updated version and also sings lead vocal, accompanied by the fabulous Fishpool Philharmonic which is of course Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson doing a remarkable job! All three musicians played and recorded with Ronnie Lane during the 1970’s.
The single will be a digital only release apart from a small number of special edition single CD’s which the band will sign and be available at their forthcoming gig at The Half Moon Putney on Saturday November 12th so do come along and grab one if you can!

If you’d like to order your copy you can pre-order on Itunes.
http://www.slim-chance.co.uk

Released NOVEMBER 4th 2016

Anna Elizabeth Laube – Tree

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Anna Elizabeth Laube
Tree
Ahh..Pockets! Records #4

The Joy, Beauty and Power of the Singer-Songwriter Gift Wrapped On One Record.

One of the annoyances of being a reviewer is trying to find ‘pigeon-holes’ for the music on offer. When I was a lad and discovering Grown Ups music in the seventies Anna Elizabeth Laube* would have simply been described as a singer-songwriter and I can’t think of a more fitting description.
As I’ve said several times recently I’m under fire from the Post Office these days with albums arriving every day; sometimes three at a time; which makes selecting albums to listen to and then deciding which to review a bit of a chore…..as each obviously has its merits.
In the case of Tree by Anne Elizabeth Laube the pretty girls face with the enigmatic smile initially caught my attention on the cover; and Anna’s pleasing and toe-tapping cover of Dylan’s Wallflower which opens the disc, certainly lived up to the Album artwork.
The title track Tree follows and the singers warmly expressive voice took me me back to two of my favourite Singers from those halcyon days in the 1970’s when I would sit in a darkened bedroom trying to untangle the mysteries of the Universe by listening to Melanie Safka and (check her out) Twiggy. Yes, the original Supermodel was a singer too, with a voice that made me go week at the knees; in the same way Anna Elizabeth Laube is doing in 2016.
As with all of the best singer-songwriters Ms. Laube can tell a magnificent story with the subtlety of the finest poets, as is best captured in the title track Tree.
I’m a man of ‘a certain age’ but can still remember what it felt like to be in the first flush of love; and Anna captures that magical time so well on All My Runnin’ which features some gut wrenching pedal-steel from Dan Tyack; and on I Miss You So Much; the soft Alt. Country vibe is augmented by haunting harmonies and a maudlin harmonica intro and outro.
There is another interesting cover version tucked away in the middle; even though I’ve never heard the original! Anna Elizabeth has turned Beyonce’s pop hit XO into a very brittle love song; worthy of Joni Mitchell circa Blue.
For some reason; possibly because it’s quite dull, grey and rainy here at the moment, the song that has captured my heart is the gently swinging Sunny Days, which is as sweet as a lemon drop but also deep enough to bring a tear to the corner of my eye….although that may be dust (or not).
I wasn’t aware of Anna’s previous three albums before discovering her delights here; and judging by the gushing praise on the Press Release from some reviewer/critics I admire I will certainly be hunting them down like a mad woman on the first day of the Next Sale.

*Laube is pronounced – ‘Lau’ as in ‘now’ & ‘be’ as in ‘be’.

Released October 21st 2016