BLUE MUSE Music Maker Foundation
Big Legal Mess Records

Keeping The Blues AND It’s Musicians Alive!

This is an interesting/fascinating/wonderful idea; an idea of eclectic and often ‘rare’ Blues songs AND a photography book AND a graphic novel all coming out to raise much needed funds for …………..
“Music Maker Relief Foundation – the non-profit organization that helps traditional, southern musicians who live in poverty and has been featured on PBS News Hour, CBS News, and NPR.

I’ve got a copy of the compilation album BLUE MUSE celebrating its 25th anniversary that will be released on February 1st 2019, but not had a chance to listen to it all yet never mind review it……but until then here’s the PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED Eric Clapton track MISSISSIPPI BOUND.

This is why you should pre-order your copy NOW……

“The album features contributions from Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and 17-time GRAMMY winner Eric Clapton (in a previously unreleased track), Blues Hall of Famer, two-time GRAMMY winner, and Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner Taj Mahal and GRAMMY-winner founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops Dom Flemons.
In keeping with Music Maker’s mission to preserve the musical traditional of the south by supporting the musicians who make it, the album spans a range of living southern music culture and fans will hear blues, folk, songster, jump blues, soul, Appalachian, garage blues, and gospel musics here. The 21-track set features liner notes by Vogue and Guardian writer Rebecca Bengal.”

“‘Blue Muse’ accompanies a photography book of the same name by Tim Duffy coming out February 25 on UNC press in association with the New Orleans Museum of Art; and an exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art premiering April 25.”

“Music Maker has supported over 400 artists over the course of its 25-year history.”

01) La Collegiale – The Grotto Sessions
02) Spike Driver Blues – Taj Mahal
03) Old Black Buck – Captain Luke
04) Route 66 – Eddie Tigner
05) I Got The Blues – Alabama Slim
06) Age Don’t Mean A Thing – Robert Finley
07) Polly Put The Kettle On – Dom Flemons
08) Hambone – John Dee Holeman
09) Snap Your Fingers – Algia Mae Hinton
10) I am the Lightning – Willie Farmer
11) D.O.C. Man – Dave McGrew
12) Sweet Valentine – Martha Spencer & Kelley Breiding
13) I Wanna Boogie – Boot Hanks w/ Dom Flemons
14) Mississippi Blues – Eric Clapton w/ Tim Duffy
15) Landlord Blues – Guitar Gabriel
16) Widow Woman – Drink Small
17) Cabbage Man – Sam Frazier, Jr.
18) Sing It Louder – Cary Morin
19) Loose Diamonds – Ironing Board Sam
20) I Know I’ve Been Changed – The Branchettes
21) Something Within Me – Theotis Taylor

For more information on Music Maker Relief Foundation, please contact Nick Loss-Eaton at or 718.541.1130 or Cornelius Lewis at 919.643.2456.

Paul Kelly NATURE

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Paul Kelly
EMI Australia

Engrossing and Totally Captivating Concept Album (of sorts).

Only a couple of years ago I’d never heard of Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly; but after immersing myself in his last three releases and now NATURE I can fully understand why he has ‘legendary’ status in his home land; and is a Multi-Award winner too.
This album is a bit of left of centre challenge for everyone concerned; including his fans, as it revolves around a number of poems that Kelly has set to music, which could all have gone horribly wrong in lesser hands.
Fear not; as Kelly’s almost soft-rock treatment of Dylan Thomas’s And Death Shall Have No Dominion sounds uncannily like Bob Dylan (if His Bobness actually had a warmth and depth to his singing!) and sets the tone for a startling album that lies ahead.
The electric guitars stay around for Kelly’s own For The One I Love, which has a ‘woo-hoo’ chorus and some delectable harmonies from the female backing singers.
The balance of songs/poems is exceptional as Kelly explores ‘NATURE’ in all its glory and from many different viewpoints.
Kelly’s adaptation of Walt Whitman’s With Animals has a dark, almost Native American melody to it which gives it a deep and perhaps even hypnotic effect which deserves utmost reverence when listening.
While the overall effect is totally engrossing; I was surprised to discover how short each individual track is; with only the glorious Bound To Follow coming in at over four minutes long; and that’s not even noticeable as every single song here bleeds into the next one to create something of (dare I say it?) …….. a Folk-Rock Opera; but without the self-centredness normally associated with such productions.
As a non-musician I’m never failed to be impressed when someone like Paul Kelly can find a work like Phillip Larkin’s The Trees which bored me rigid 45 years ago when I was at school; and have the imagination to turn it into a beautiful and engrossing multi-layered song that we have here!
It’s a similar story with Mushrooms, a Sylvia Plath poem which would normally be associated with fragile young things that sit poring over the words in a darkened room; but here I was left open mouthed at the beauty of the words and the gently introspective way Kelly and Friends wrap them up in delicate musical notes.
Just like the album the concept of NATURE in real life, is made up of many and varied particles and just when you think it’s a beautiful ‘thing’ along comes a prickly thorn to test your resolve; and here it’s A Bastard Like Me (for Charlie Perkins); which takes us on a dangerous road trip that we never expected; but it’s harshness (based on a real life story) helps us appreciate the beauty that surrounds it and us in life and on record.
Selecting a single song as a ‘Favourite’ is not really fair as Kelly has created a Masterwork that deserves and needs to be heard as a complete ‘piece’ (and if I’m not mistaken from the production; is also designed for 180 gram vinyl; but I could be wrong.) but, as is my won’t I will point you towards Paul Kelly’s The River Song, which features the Acacia String Quartet, a piano and a double bass with Kelly’s rich Australian voice never sounding better or indeed more expressive.
While the subject matter of the poems/songs here can be dark at time; ‘NATURE’ isn’t always about ‘smelling the rose, is it? And poetry itself can be quite deep and inaccessible at times; but Paul Kelly has managed to pull off a master stroke here; by not making a ‘preachy’ album; but one that is beautiful and engrossing; with numerous hidden messages that just might seep into tired old subconscious’s like mine.

Released October 12th 2018




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JP Harris
Free Dirt Records

 Authentic Bar-Room Country For a Cold Autumn Night.

Apologies to everyone concerned, as this review is now over four weeks late…… not because I didn’t like the album; far from it….but I’d somehow neglected to include it on my October spreadsheet!
Basically this was a regular travelling companion in the car during September; then gradually faded away until Saturday when opening track JP’s Florida Blues #1 blasted out of the speakers via my I-Phone and I was transported back to the hot and sultry days of Summer (pretending I was driving across the Florida/Georgia line rather than through industrial Tyne and Wear!).
Man…. Is this song a belter; echoes of classic Chuck Berry, Creedence and Bob Seger whizz through your brain as JP and the guys relive their younger days touring the back road dives of their collective youth in a way that actually makes it sound sexy and romantic!
The mood slows down to a more melodic pace for Lady In The Spotlight, and Harris’s world weary and worn down voice articulately tells a story that could perhaps have been included in A Star is Born to describe the way the Lady GaGa character was groomed by her sleazy manager.
While it’s becoming a staple in Country Music these days; JP really does capture the spirit of a man who has been far too dependent on the demon alcohol in the almost chirpy Why I Quit Drinking, finding solace in the minutiae of finally remembering what he did and where he did it the previous night.
I’ve heard a few dull songs on the subject; but JP’s song is very listenable and never preachy.
The album balance is fun, with the punchy Hard Road breathing fresh life into proceedings in the middle then ending with the rip-roaring Country Rocker Jimmy’s Dead and Gone; but in-between Harris explores the mellower and introspective edgy side of Country Music with wily and knowing songs like Long Ways Back and the heart-breaking Runaway which features Miss Kristina Murray on ghostly harmonies and Leroy Powell making his pedal-steel sound like tears stinging a cheek.
Even without the actual song being as good as it is, the title of the album Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing is as good a Country album title as I’ve ever heard; and Harris’s sharply observed and gut wrenching words really do it justice.
There’s a second drinking song here; and in my humble opinion I Only Drink Alone nicely juxtaposes Why I Quit Drinking, as it takes all the fun out of getting drunk as Harris alongside Mark Sloan on the most melancholy piano you will hear all year, take us deep into George Jones territory and don’t let us leave until the tears are dry; and for that reason it takes the prize of RMHQ Favourite Track with ease.
When I watch the CMA’S or even highlights from C2C I’m often confused as to what constitutes Country Music anymore; and perhaps ‘everything’ is Country Music these days; but for me JP Harris embodies what I want from it; great well written and authentic songs that are sung by a man who has lived every word (which is what he sounds like!) and a Bigsby on his guitar coupled to a scorching pedal-steel don’t go amiss either!

Released October 5th 2018.



Laurie Jane & The 45’s ELIXIR OF SARA MARTIN

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Laurie Jane & The 45’s
Down In The Alley

Taking Some Old-School Louisville Blues Back To The Future

Where to start with this captivating new album of reinvigorated 1920’s style Blues songs?
Laurie Jane & The 45’s have been playing variations of Blues music in and around Louisville, Kentucky for longer than their cherubic young looks would have you believe and have decided to reignite the faded memory of Sara Martin, who in an era best remembered for Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith actually recorded a record on Okeh long before either of those legends went into a studio and then went on to write and record a further 100 tracks; some of which were recorded by Fats Waller and Sylvester Weaver. Yet I and I guess you have never heard of her.
That’s all about to change when you hear belters like opening track Late Last Night, where Laurie Jane takes Sara’s words and reinvents them as a sizzling 1950’s meets the 21st Century Rockin’ Boogie, with gutsy guitars and a saxophone that tries to blow the roof off.
Not every song here is from Sara Martin’s pen, but they are all songs she recorded and boy oh boy does this band of reprobates do her memory proud on the slow and seedy My Man Blues, but it’s the still crackling around the edges authentic versions of Strange Loving Blues and the raw Pleading Blues that make this album really extra special; and show the world what an expressive voice Laurie Jane herself has.
As long as I live I will never comprehend how a contemporary musician can hear an original 1920’s or earlier recording and have the imagination to dust them down, pick them apart at the seams and then put them back together to sound as if they’d been written in the last month, such is the treatment given to My Man Blues.
Arguably my introduction to such witchcraft was hearing Cream do Crossroads back in 1971; and I feel suitably impressed hearing these cats re-invent WC Handy’s Joe Turner Blues and another Sara Martin song, I’m Gonna Be a Lovin’ Old Soul and make them sit comfortably alongside any of the modern Blues songs I receive most weeks.
Although she doesn’t actually sound like her; Laurie Jane has the same swagger and self-confidence in her voice that I remember from Dame Maggie Bell many decades ago; on Can’t Find Nobody To Do What My Daddy Do and more especially the swinging Sugar Blues.
To some degree this could have been an LP of two very separate half’s as there is an appealing mix of Blues Rockers sitting side by side with richly authentic acoustic cuts, with ‘specially added crackles and pops; and it is one of those when Laurie Jane Duggins takes us on a super-cool midnight stroll with Sugar Blues, from the pen of Clarence Williams and now featuring some delightful electric guitar solos from Screamin’ John Hawkins alongside the piano of Cort Duggins and some truly spine tingling trumpet from guest Eric Snyder.
Everything about ELIXIR OF SARA MARTIN, from the cover artwork through the songs themselves and the memories they evoke is pure class from start to finish; and now I’d love to hear Laurie Jane & The 45’s pull out all the stops on an album of their own songs.

Released October 13th 2018


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Marianne Faithfull
Panta Rei/BMG

Reflections On a Theme As Time Goes By.

What? You say this is Marianne Faithfull’s 21st album…….twenty one??? But I thought she was just a One Hit Wonder from the days when she was Mick Jagger’s girlfriend?
Let’s not the myth get in the way of facts, should we? So, let’s forget the past and concentrate on the present as I tell you about another album that will knock you sideways and if you give it the chance could become the soundtrack to your dotage.
Apart from some intrigue and being impressed with the packaging of this ‘Deluxe Edition’ I had absolutely no preconceptions when the luscious Misunderstanding first flowed from the living room speakers and Madame Faithfull’s mournful and flawed voice filled the room with a dark autobiographical tale that could be about my own sorrowful life, as much as it is hers. If I started quoting any of the magnificent verses here I’d end up writing out the whole song!
The co-write with Nick Cave, The Gypsy Faerie Queen follows and ‘epic’ is the only way I can describe this amazing Folk Song, that I wouldn’t have given the time of day to five years ago; but while it has echoes of both William Shakespeare AND Fairport Convention it somehow makes complete sense today; albeit in an incredibly abstract way.
Even without knowing Ms Faithfull has lived in Paris for many years now, there is a ragged and Romantic Gothic beauty to many of the songs here, that I associate with the City of Lovers.
Thoughts of Edith Piaf sprang to mind when I hear In My Own Particular Way, Don’t Go with Ed Harcourt’s meticulous piano playing and some delightful alto-flute too; and of course the the brittle and beautiful No Moon in Paris which had me looking out of the window at the night sky yesterday, as I played it.
A poet at heart, Marianne alongside Mark Lanegan take on Right Wing terrorists with a righteous venom in They Come At Night; and the amazing production and musicianship behind her cracked and angry voice make for a heart stopping 3 minutes and forty seconds that feel like a whole lifetime.
There’s a fascinating cover of It’s All Over Now Baby Blue which takes on a whole new sensory overload as Marianne uses Dylan’s words to look back on her long and eventful life from her Parisienne apartment.
Loneliest Person is, I presumed a brand new song written especially for Madam Faithfull; but it’s actually a total reinvention of a Pretty Things song from 1968’s Saucer Full of Sorrow and the mournful way our favourite Diva delivers the words over a dark and brooding arrangement take it into the territory I normally associate with my Mother’s best-loved singer Judy Garland in her latter days.
I nervously smiled the first time I heard this adaptation of As Tears Go By; the song normally associated with Marianne, but it turns out to be an act of genius as while the musical arrangement isn’t a million miles away from the original; hearing the words now come from the lips of a lady who has lived an amazing life, and sings….
“Now is the evening of the day/I sit and watch the children play/Smiling faces I can see/But not for me/I sit and watch as tears go by.”
Mick and Keith’s words finally make complete sense, and for that reason this is easily my Favourite Song on this album; and possibly of the next 10 years.
Before I close proceedings; I have to give a big RMHQ hug to Ed Harcourt who has co-written most of the songs here and has somehow, alongside Marianne managed draw on the artiste’s life, memories and thoughts to create minor a bunch of austere and profound masterpieces that will not just touch our hearts but stir them too.

#If I have one criticism here; even though the cover photograph is quite beautiful and even eye catching; I think there was a glorious opportunity to recreate the iconic Gererd Mankowitz photographs in the Salisbury pub from 1964 as this album’s cover.
Just a thought.

“We will always have Paris.” Rick Blane.

Released November 2nd 2018


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Lucy Grubb

Heartfelt Acoustic Country From the Flatlands of East Anglia.

Two weeks ago I arrived home from work to find six padded envelopes on the kitchen table; each containing Review Copy CD’S. A a couple were from ‘household names’ in our little community; but one caught my attention; an EP from a young woman called Lucy Grubb, simply because it contained a charming handwritten note asking politely that I give it a listen, as she ‘enjoys reading the reviews on RMHQ’ and thought I might like her songs.
Being as vain as I am it went straight into the CD Player as I made something to eat.
A three-part harmony opens first song In Common before Lucy’s lovely voice joins the proceedings for her love song to Johnny Cash. For a young lady from the Flatlands of East Anglia she sure can write and sing a Hill Country Song worthy of Allison Krauss or even Emmylou Harris.
Everything about it is captivating and I found myself looking over at the speakers, as if to confirm that this song wasn’t actually on the radio.
Storm follows; and the title is actually quite deceptive as Lucy skilfully uses that meteorological occurrence as a metaphor for a broken relationship.
Even two songs in on her second EP it’s plain to see Lucy Grubb has surrounded herself with some very capable musicians who compliment her tantalising vocal style, allowing her to build her stories while adding the background drama a good Country song needs.
The intriguing title track Dear Walter closes the all too brief EP with grace and mournful charm. The traditional Country backing is put to one side as Piers Hunt’s piano provides the perfect foil to Lucy’s acoustic guitar on a complex  song to a lost loved one.
I have to step back a track for my Favourite Song here; the mournful anti-love song Not Into Anyone, which touched my ancient heart but will break the aching hearts of teenage girls and boys across the country should they get to hear it.
Lucy sounds like she is living every word as a banjo; acoustic guitar and similar bass build the tension as Michael Trayhurn makes his drums sound like a racing heartbeat.
Judging by these four songs, Lucy Grubb effortlessly straddles the tenuous line between Americana and more traditional Country music, giving her the opportunity to take any and every path that her heart desires; and I’m sure she will find success in either or both.

Released 31st October 2018

Frankie Davies WHEREVER I GO

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Frankie Davies
Absolute/Stoked Records

Game Changing British Country Music Debut.

The rise of British Country Music in Britain is perversely quite divisive, as some (many) people appear to resent highly talented young people (generally) making good to great music in a format that they want kept solely as the reserve of acts from the Southern States of America.
Then, on the other hand people like Mrs Magpie have a much more open mind and treat each release on its own merits – she either likes it or not; regardless of the postcode the act was born in.
God Bless her; as this is the correct way to approach life and more importantly, Music!
Which brings me to Frankie Davies from Jersey in the Channel Islands, (Think Hawaii with clotted cream and delicious potatoes).
Even before you hear a single note you have to know Frankie has put the hours in, honing her craft on the road supporting anyone that has a Hank or Loretta record in their collection before finally getting her own headlining tour and the result after four long years is this, her debut album.
The album starts with the radio friendly single High on Love, and everything from the Tennessee Three style drumbeat through to the young woman’s sexily breathy vocals is straight off the Top Shelf, and could easily be mistaken for some brand new and secret act from Nashville. The 4/4 beat will have toes a’tappin in kitchens across the Country as it filters across the daytime airwaves.
After seeing Frankie a couple of times now, the fiery Not Your Game which follows and Don’t Hold Me Back, which has some tear-ass guitar at its heart are a lot nearer her first love; as she tells her man what their roles are in the relationship and not to ‘mess with her!”.
Then track #3 is a gorgeous heartbreaker of a ballad, with some mournful pedal-steel shadowing the tears in her crooning; and after only three songs you realise that this young woman has the chops to do a little bit of everything exceptionally well.
As I sit here typing Mrs. Magpie (who is patiently waiting to steal the CD for her car) is nodding her head and tapping her toes to each and every song, which is high praise indeed. Plus, it appears she prefers the Ballads All My Love, Open Road and The Sweetest Sound over the gentler and more introspective Front Row Seats and the wistful Asking For a Friend which opens with…
“Is it ok to eat chocolate in bed/and wake up with some in your hair”
which I think is extraordinary; for a debut album.
But, as usual she will eventually be proved right.
You probably won’t believe this, but…….. we actually agree for once on the honour of Favourite Track, which goes to the haunting Country Rocker Travelling Love, which (like several other songs here) has echoes of the Dixie Chicks and early Ashley Monroe, to it as it really highlights her singing skills but also her crafty and powerful songwriting too.
I will tell you what sets this album apart from the rest of British Country at the moment; if I was to drop a White Label copy off at a Nashville or Austen radio station and allude to it being a ‘secret recording’ by a Big Name American act, the DJ’S would sell their Granny to get the scoop and be the first to play this album.
Until then Frankie Davies will travel the highways and byways singing her songs to ever expanding and appreciative audiences until she becomes an overnight success.

Released October 26th 2018

Mick Terry DAYS GO BY

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Mick Terry
Emptyhead Recordings

Quintessential and Quality English Popular Music For the Heart & Soul.

I’ve just spent a few days listening intently to deep and meaningful singer-songwriters, for you to wallow in your own misery to late at night; then quite by accident I pressed ‘play’ when looking for someone else on my i-phone and suddenly the Autumn Sun began shining as Mick Terry resurrected my faith in good Olde English Pop Music with opening track Rocking In The Photograph!
Ha! I will tell you how quintessentially English this is he adds an extra three R’s to Photograrrrrf in the chorus.
While the rest of the record is nowhere near as ‘poppy’ this nod to the exalted days of Squeeze, XTC and maybe even Sir Nick Lowe was certainly enough for me to hunt out the disc and Press Release, put the kettle on and break out the chocolate Hob Nobs.
The delightful and bittersweet Emily Come Back follows and I soon found myself with my feet up and dipping another biscuit in my hot tea.
Now I’m sure Mick Terry was thinking more of Brit Awards or Grammys when he recorded this album; but hey……. What better way to appreciate quality music like this?
Obviously a song entitled Ignorance Is Bliss is going to get my attention, and thankfully this clever songwriter actually held my attention with his clever observations and mournful steel guitar, until I felt a tear I my eye.
For a man who has taken 8 years to follow up his debut release Mick Terry oozes quality and maturity in every song here with Everybody’s Talking and Stars both taking his ‘Englishness’ and rubbing it over with some West Coast magic powder until it sounds uncannily like he’s been produced by Phil Spector; making them swoonilly Radio friendly.
I’m onto my second day of immersing myself in the delightful tunes, melodies and songwriting here with Friends Like These and The End Of You And Me both being timeless and deceptively astute songs that will prove to be soundtracks to many a broken heart in months to come.
As I Said earlier this was something of an ‘accidental find’ for me and that’s what I love about this reviewing malarkey; because without that serendipitous twist of fate I’d never have discovered Pop’s a Dirty Word which is easily the RMHQ Favourite Song on an album full of classy songs that aren’t afraid of a melody or a couplet! What’s not to like about a song that name checks Dansette record players, Cockney Rebel AND Bowie hugging Ronson?
Is the world ready for Mick Terry? I sure hope so; because daytime radio bloody well needs songs like these to put a smile on our Pre-Brexit faces again.

LP Released 30th October 2018
CD Released Nov 16th 2018


Rich Krueger NOW THEN

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Rich Krueger

Left Of Centre Urbane and Expressive Country-Folk

I was sure I’d reviewed Rich Krueger’s debut album LIFE AIN’T THAT LONG in late 2017; but it appears I only actually posted his Christmas single instead……yet I can vividly remember listening to it several times.
I must have been otherwise engaged at that time with the recuperating Mrs Magpie.
Singing songs about their favourite Bars is a staple in Country Music; but I doubt Toby, Keith or Kenny would ever dare set foot in (Kenny’s) It’s Always Christmas Here) which kick-starts the record in a glorious left of centre manner that I love; and it kinds of reminds me of The Jerry in my home village of Craghead, in deepest, darkest Co. Durham but without the cocktails.
You can tell that Rich Krueger is obviously an educated man; by the way he writes and builds his songs, but they are always about real people in real situations with Waltz (Terpsichore) being a classy example as he drolly describes the girl, “She throws back her hair back/as she laughs/Her hair’s as wild as an arsonists dream” as a haunting fiddle and hypnotic drumbeat play out in the background.
When you hear it; you will know exactly the type of girl he’s singing about.
Many of the songs here are quite complex; but still accessible if that isn’t too big a contradiction. He himself cites Jacques Brel, Tom Waits and Robbie Fulks as inspirations and you can hear that in the intricately clever In Between Kingfish and In Regard of Flight, both of which academics could immerse themselves in for years and still not unravel. But not all songs are to be taken literally, are they?
But Krueger also delves back into his traditional Folk roots with the Celtic tinged Yesterday’s Wrong (Green) on which I can nearly visualise him singing with a finger in his ear.
Personally, as much as I like Rich’s songwriting skills I absolutely love his warm and distinctive voice; especially on the love song Elizabeth and the jaunty toe-tapper Me & Mr Johnson, which is about his relationship (fantasised) with Bluesman Robert Johnson.
There are left and right turns throughout here; but any album that can include songs as diverse as Por Que No Me Amas (Love Me) and Yesterday’s Wrong (Green), yet still make everything sound cohesive is alright by me!
Like most singer-songwriters of my acquaintance Rich Krueger has a day job to pay the bills; and that makes a feint appearance in the glorious O What a Beautiful Beautiful Day, in which he describes the joy and horrors of childbirth in the quirkiest of manners; as he draws on the regular 80-100 hours a week he spends as a Doctor at the University of Chicago!!!
Then of course there’s my Favourite Song and it’s one that caught my attention first of on the track list; but when I heard Girls Go For Arseholes I couldn’t stop smiling as my mind drifted back to my own teenage years ……. And even today I see this song being lived out every day around me.
Not only; but also this song contains one of my favourite lines for years…..
“they make me laugh/until I fart.”
How Rich Krueger’s found the time and inclination to write a bunch of songs as strong and eloquent as these is beyond me; but I am so happy he has…….as you will be when you first hear this album and will then pass on his name to all your friends too.

Released October 26th 2018



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Joe Matera
Mercury Fire

Aussie Rocker Goes Acoustic, Thoughtful and Very Very Articulate.

It’s no surprise that I’d never heard of Australian Joe Matera before, as he is something of a ‘Rocker Dude’ releasing many albums under his own name; and being a ‘guitar hire’ too, for plenty of household names touring Europe and The Empire.
But, this tattooed and bandanna wearing electric guitarist has now discovered his more sensitive side and written and recorded this EP of acoustic songs in the classic singer-songwriter style.
Simply because the title of the opening track will confuse the Hell out of his existing Rocky fan base, I very nearly made All Night Long my Favourite Song even before I’d heard it.
Now I’m well versed in all six songs I’m not too sure that the gentle ode to his Troubadour lifestyle couldn’t still win that most coveted of accolades.
Like everything else here, it’s well constructed and considered in the way Joe tells the story in a tender voice that belies his time on the Rock and Roll circuit.
I think it was the third time I played it that the subject matter of Inside Looking Out hit me like a brick. Perhaps it’s the smooth delivery; but Matera’s harrowing tale of the mass migrations that are blighting not just Southern Europe but North America too will ring your emotions dry too.
He drops in a similar twist with his bittersweet observations in the break-up song Movin’ On; which is a really angry song sung in a wistful and reflective manner; and could easily be covered straight up by any number of female singers.
The biggest surprise for me is how Matera’s songs have made me overlook his outstanding fretwork throughout; but now I think about it he has the eclectic style of John Renbourn and the authority of Richard Thompson in the way he underscores Take a Look and the title track Waiting For The Sun, which is another song with more twists than a roller-coaster and closes the EP with as many questions as it has answers.
Then of course there is the actual RMHQ Favourite Track; and a choice that will make regular readers smile; as instead of being contrary as usual I’m going for the actual radio single Semantics. But then again, Matera is being contrary releasing a very wordy, erudite and intelligent song as a single. For readers of a ‘certain age’ think Sting or Lloyd Cole or; and one of the world most under rated songwriters Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout fame and you will understand where this song; and probably the other five too are coming from.
As I’ve alluded to, these songs could easily fall into being ‘background music’ if you’re not careful, but when you listen to the words; there is nearly always a sharp sting in the tail that is well worth seeking out.

Released 21st September 2018