At The Helm Records/Proper Distribution
Spiky Traditional Country Music From The Mean Streets of Rural Oxfordshire.
While the mainstream press have finally discovered the ever burgeoning ‘British Country Music’ scene; albeit the ‘poppier’ end, some of us have been championing singer-songwriters like Ags Connolly for several years now.
An exponent of what is now called Ameripolitan Music; this is Ags’s second album and the intervening three years have seen his writing not just mature but move forward leaps and bounds away from any ‘pigeon hole’. # As I write this review the legendary Tom Russell has just Tweeted that he has ‘just discovered’ Ags Connolly!
I defy anyone listening to the superb opening track I Hope You’re Unhappy to not presume it was from some high falutin’ Country Star from Nashville or more likely Bakersfield. Connolly’s way with words and the way he surprises you with the ‘twist’ in the chorus, coupled with the slight burr in his voice which is very reminiscent of his hero James Hand; make this one of the finest album openers I’ve heard in years.
While some of the songs like Neon Jail and Fifteen Years are best described as bitter-sweet (it is a Country Album after all!) there is a warmth radiating throughout which wasn’t apparent on the debut album; and also missing from a lot of other Country records these days.
Even as a fan of Ags Connolly, I have been left stunned at the lyrics and world weary delivery on the title track Nothin’ Unexpected and the slow, sultry Tex-Mex of Slow Burner.
Surprise don’t stop there as we even get a couple of waltz time dance tunes too; Haunts Like This is the type of song you dream of hearing when on holiday in the Southern States (but rarely do) and Do You Realise That Now; on which Ags fears he won’t find fame until 100 years from now.
Yet again I’ve come across an album, which is just that – a whole album of cracking songs, with one better than another but the tile of ‘Rocking Magpie Favourite’ is a simple choice…..When The Loner Gets Lonely.
Phew! What a beautifully sad song this is. The ‘world weary burr’ in the singer’s voice is especially evident on this tale as Connolly’s perceptive and razor sharp lyrics describe ‘someone’ we all have in our circle of friends.
While I’d love Ags to have a ‘hit’ with this, don’t be at all surprised if this song doesn’t turn up, sooner or later on a Superstar ‘Hat Act’ album.
Twangtastic guitar, sweet accordion, barrel-house piano, pure prairie fiddle, clever lyrics and luscious choruses come at you left, right and centre making this the type Country Music people say “Isn’t made any-more” but it bloody well is; you just have to search a little bit deeper than the discount shelves at Tesco and Asda!
Released February 3rd 2017