Maya Rae
Can You See Me?
Black Hen Records

A Beautiful Tapestry of Interwoven Folk and Jazz

As my regular readers know; my modus operandi is to play an album a couple of times before reading the attached Press Release, so as not to pre-judge my own feelings about the music.
Well; when I did read the PR I had a wry smile, as Maya Rae first recorded an album of Jazz/Pop covers at the tender age of 13 and has subsequently sung and toured with many of Canada’s Jazz elite; which is why this delightful ‘crossover’ album has plenty of Jazz stylings, phrasing and even melodies; but just like RMHQ Favourites Allison Russell and Jeremy Lindsay aka Birds of Chicago who feature on a few tracks; this has just as many Folk leanings and even some Commercial swoops and swooshes too…… making the album very difficult to pigeon hole ….. so let’s go for Singer-Songwriter?
The title track Can You See Me? opens proceedings in the most delightful and charismatic manner. Even from her opening bars you know that you are in the presence of someone special, and then the way Maya Rae uses her voice, which can only be described as an opaque mix of satin and lace; is spell-binding at times.
When you listen intently to the words in the songs you will be stunned to find that Maya is still by 18 years old and her co-writer brother Gabriel; only a smidgen older.
For ones so young their songwriting is very ‘mature’ and Steve Dawson’s sublime production really brings songs like New For Me and Storm Leaf to sparkling life.
When you first hear Dawson’s scary guitar breaks on Freedom Fighter you may be forgiven for thinking the song is going into Soft Rock territory; but when May’s tragically beautiful vocals kick in; you are whisked away to the Whiskey – A – Go Go circa 1973 and you are sitting watching the new Reprise or Warner’s act among the musical cognoscenti.
I’m still shaking my head at the idea that Maya Rae is still only 18 …….. how can one so young write something as powerful as Lonely Ones or Mountain Angel? Or album closer Here too, for that matter?
Presumably Maya and Gabriel’s parents had a great record collection that the pair were brought up listening to; but so did my sons and they couldn’t write a song like The Sun Will Come Out Again; which captures the angst that a teenage break-up causes so intimately …… and beautifully.
Which easily leads into my Favourite Song here; Moon Girl. Part of me wants to dissect every single line in this tragic tale for you and another wants to keep it all Top Secret and let you feel the full force of two exceptional songwriters colliding like a Supernova when you are least expecting it ……. trust me this song will take your breath away; just like the first time you heard Beautiful on TAPESTRY or River on Blue; and if you are under 40 and not heard either ……. I urge you to do so, the day after buying this album!
It’s bizarre to think that at 18 Maya Rae already has the ‘road miles’ under her belt; but she has and with only a fair wind to ease her along, this album has the ability to blow her out into the Musical Stratosphere in 2020.

Released April 24th 2020

ArtistsCAN LEAN ON ME (Single) #Covid19


Over Two Dozen Singers Including:

Conceptualized by JUNO Award nominated musicians Tyler Shaw and Fefe Dobson, the two gathered other artists, producers and talent to cover the track from their homes, and completed the song in three short weeks with over 25 artists featured (for the full list of artists please see above). Produced by Jon Levine (Céline Dion, Alessia Cara, Avril Lavigne), mixed by Jason Dufour (July Talk, Lights, The Trews) and musical contribution by Dan Kanter (Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, bülow).

All proceeds of the #ArtistsCAN single are donated to the Canadian Red Cross to help fight COVID-19 in Canada.
Canadians can contribute to the initiative by simply streaming the song, viewing the official music video, or downloading the single.
To make a monetary contribution just text LEANONME to 20222 (standard text messaging rates apply) or go to

American Aquarium LAMENTATIONS

American Aquarium
New West Records

Raw, Lonely and Shiveringly Honest Country Music.

Oh Man! All of this Alt. Country and Americana ‘thing’ was still fresh and shiny when Maverick magazine sent me a copy of BURN.FLICKER.DIE in 2012 to review; and obviously at that time I’d never heard of American Aquarium.
But, an hour later my mind was completely BLOWN AWAY!
To this day they are still my bench-mark for similar (if such a thing exists) band related music.
So; even though RMHQ is now staffed with some really eloquent writers; this baby has remained hidden in my drawer for me …… and me alone.
The first thing you will notice; or should that be ‘feel’ is that while this is obviously American Aquarium with singer and songwriter BJ Barham at the forefront, this is a whole new direction for the ‘team’ …… this album is very Special indeed.
The epic Me + Mine (Lamentations) opens things i the most personal and beautiful way imaginable; with BJ tapping into the heartbreak that infests small town, Middle America (and beyond) in all its ragged glory. It’s fair to say that all of those White Supremacists I see waving the Stars and Stripes on TV News are gonna hate ‘Good Ole Boy’ Barham for writing this song, but hundreds of thousands more will hear it think he’s singing for and about them.
Even if the rest of the album was shite, this song alone would give it 4 out of the 5 stars it deserves.
Now; nothing else quite reaches these dizzy heights; but every single song not just has its merits; but needs to be heard by the world at large.
Six Years Come September sounds as claustrophobic and intense as a Love Song will ever get; and in its own way turns Alt. Country inside out …… and I have feeling Barham is actually singing about his own relationship and sobriety …….. describing this song as a heartbreaker only scrapes the surface of how you will feel when it fades away following Barham whispering
I’ve got a picture of you holding a picture of her/taped to the dash of my car.”
Already I hope you’re getting the drift that this ain’t Gung-Ho …… it’s as far removed from the CMA’s as Country Music gets ….. and that’s a damn good thing.
Any one who knows American Aquarium will already know that the band ain’t just about BJ Barham, this is very much a Band album with The Luckier You Get and Before The Dogwood Blooms both being very good songs made ‘great’ by a band sympathetic to the writers words and intimations in a way only years on the road can create.
In theory an album this personal and dark shouldn’t be a gateway for new fans to discover a band after 15+ years on the road; but if you accidentally hear Starts With You or the majestic The Long Haul I defy you not to need to dip into the band’s back catalogue and come out the other end financially poorer but emotionally richer.
It’s so difficult to look beyond Me _ Mine (Lamentations) as my Favourite Song here; but I’m not sure how often my tear ducts can take me playing it; which leaves the door open for How Wicked I Was which touched several raw nerves when I played it 3 x on the bounce last week; and The Day I Learned to Lie To You sounds like it could be The Band covering a Guy Clark song; which is quite the accolade coming from me.
The other song that gets an Honourable Mention, is another for the flag wavers to get their knickers in a twist over ……. A Better South! Trust me, Neil Young will be proud of American Aquarium when he hears it; and it will find its way to him sooner or later.
Which only leaves The Day I Learned to Lie To You. Phew, there’s enough power hidden in this relatively simple song to power a small town. Pathos – in buckets, introspective – of course; and most of all raw honesty; with Barham again writing a song that will have scores of people hearing it gulping and looking shifty as they look at their partners (literally or retrospectively I fear).
Even today, a good month after receiving LAMENTATIONS and playing it 6 or 7 times in between; I still feel an emotional wreck today listening intently for review purposes …….. leaving me feeling that this might be a Game Changer, for not just BJ Barham but American Aquarium themselves; finally giving them the accolades and applause they have always deserved.

Released May 1st 2020

Daniel Meade BULLETS and BONES (EP)

Daniel Meade
Bullets and Bones (EP)

Songs From the Coolest Honky-Tonk Jukebox in Coolsville.

Recorded in between hand sanitising and midnight feeds this ‘Solo’ EP (plus Michael Gahagan on drums from across the road) is a ‘Download Only’ release; and I can’t think of a much better way to spend 15 minutes during this Plague Infested Lockdown.
It certainly sounds like Meade was great having fun in the studio; which is what Good Ole Country infested Rock n Roll has always been about, surely?
Break Me Down to Pieces opens with some rather nifty pub/Honky-Tonk piano and then the grizzly guitar enters followed by Dan giving us his finest Hank impersonation ….. or is it George Jones? Who knows and who cares …… it’s a blast!
Bullets and Bones, the song is an uncluttered and unpretentious slice of maudlin Rockabilly as your ears may ever hear …….. with Meade playing his geetar as if he was born somewhere South of the Mason Dixon Line circa 1945!
When you first hear the opening bars to Through the Dirt you’re not sure where it’s going; but we find out soon enough ……. this is definitely George Jones territory but out of the South Side of Old Glasgow Town. Brutally inspired drum patterns and enough Presbyterian organ to fill a cathedral form a solid spine allowing Meade to attempt a take on a Scottish Gospel Rocker ….. or something like that.
Then …… it’s all over. Three songs is all you get ……. but the beauty here is …… you’re left wanting more …… more and then some more.
I wish that I could stop myself; but I keep using the word ‘Romantic’ to describe Americana (and beyond) these days ……. and this EP is the perfect example. While 99% of the times you hear these songs you will be listening in the car or perhaps on public transport, but when you do close your eyes (preferably when NOT driving!) you will think you are in a dive bar in the rough end of Bumfork, West Virginia or similar and someone cool is playing them on the Juke-Box in the corner.

Released April 30th 2020


Frank Turner
Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor

Proof that Something as Simple as Rock ‘n’ Roll Will Save Us All.

I’ve been a big fan of Frank for about 5 years. I love his story telling and love that his catalogue of songs is like a personal diary of him and his friends and the life he has led. On recent releases he has moved away from that somewhat, but is still a brilliant songwriter, and any new release is always something I look forward to.
This album was recorded at my local Newcastle City Hall in 2019; opening with a very different sounding THE BALLED OF ME AND MY FRIENDS with Frank speaking the opening verse before bringing the song to it’s more familiar sound. He then introduces his band, The Sleeping Souls during I KNEW PRUFROCK BEFORE HE GOT FAMOUS, and there is already a great vibe on this album with Frank’s voice sounding strong and him coming across very relaxed and happy to be where he is. 
JOURNEY OF THE MAGI tells the story of Princes, Kings and Queens and travel, but is really just a metaphor for Frank’s life as a  non stop touring act.

But in the end the journey’s brought joys that outweigh the pain”.

SUBSTITUTE is another one of those great songs that reminds us have how bad we have been in relationships over the years – and Frank certainly seems to have been an awful boyfriend in his younger years (he pretty much admits that while introducing the song).

I’ve had many different girls inside my bed, only one or two inside my head” is a truly brilliant line. 
Frank takes time to explain a little about the songs before the band kick in and start playing, and his explanation of ISABEL creates plenty of chuckles from the audience. I wonder if Isabel has ever forgiven him?
Another of Turner’s stories explains the idea behind REDEMPTION and why we really need to look at ourselves more than other people when something goes wrong. 
REASONS NOT TO BE AN IDIOT is one of my favourites from Frank as I think I can relate to it in a big way. They play this completely differently to the album version with a three chord rock n roll intro, but the melody is instantly recognisable. 
Next up is I AM DISAPPEARED. A subject matter that a lot of musicians seem to struggle with. The never ending need to be on the road and travelling and playing and the hurt of missing home and family and being desperate to get back. 
TELL TALE SIGNS is a song I’ve loved since I first heard it. The way Frank sings “God damn it Amy” makes it such a powerful opening line and then the story of a broken heart and how you never forget certain people and they affect you for the rest of your life, but that’s ok. “You will always be a part of my patched-up patchwork taped-up tape-deck heart” is such a great lyric and it’s a gift poets and songwriters have to be able to come up with lines like that we mere mortals will never be able to experience. 
ONE FOOT BEFORE THE OTHER, is up next and we get another story to explain his thoughts on death when he was an earnest and serious 19 year old. Very emo.
THE WAY I TEND TO BE, and THE OPENING ACT OF SPRING are joined with the tale of another failed relationship and how, as men, we tend to be a bit crap. It’s not an excuse, I know, but Frank knows he screwed up and he also realised what an amazing person he hurt and how he, and more importantly, his ex, can move on.
LOVE FORTY DOWN is not about tennis, as Frank explains (and we all knew really) but about hitting the big 4.0 and how it’s all ‘downhill’ from there. (Joke).
Romance is in the air, as a now married Frank sings about his wife and maybe just proves that hitting 40 isn’t actually all that bad; and that he/we can get relationships right.
Another fun story introduces THERE SHE IS.
DON’T WORRY and BALTHAZAR IMPRESARIO follow next before leading into PHOTOSYNTHESIS. Simply one of the greatest sing-a-long songs ever written. A subject we can all relate to make this an ‘everyman’ song.
Talk of faded dreams from your youth and mortgages, and working jobs you hate before the repeated refrain of 
And I won’t sit down, 
And I won’t shut up, 
And most of all yeah I won’t grow up”
make you think “f**k it, life is actually great!
RECOVERY is another song of redemption from drink and drugs and another uplifting chorus and the perfect ending “…one day this will all be over
I STILL BELIEVE is the perfect song to explain the power of rock n roll. Music has saved so many of us over the years and is probably the main thing we all come back to in time of need. This is as punk as Frank Turner gets, but its pop and its joyful and it has some of the most uplifting lyrics that will always be among my favourite ever written. 
And I still believe (I still believe) in the need for guitars and drums and desperate poetry.~
And I still believe (I still believe) that everyone can find a song for everytime they’ve lost and every time they’ve won.
So just remember folks we’re not just saving lives, we’re saving souls and we’re having fun.And I still believe.
Now who’d have thought that after all, something as simple as rock ‘n’ roll would save us all”.
The album finishes on a more subdued note with  BE MORE KIND. A song that we need right now with so much to deal with and it’s time we all just think about other people. 
This is a great record of a great singer and songwriter and his band. Newcastle City Hall is a two thousand plus seater venue but this album sounds like it was  recorded in a very intimate venue and that adds to its strength.
I love Frank Turner and if you give this a listen I think you will too. 

Review Courtesy Mr. Chris Harrison
Released April 24th 2020

Vanessa Peters MIXTAPE

Vanessa Peters
Little Sandwich Music

Not Just Any Old Covers Album This is a Return to a More Innocent Age.

I fondly recall a time when mix-tapes were all the rage. A friend would give you a carefully thought out cassette of songs from their personal collection—some favorites, some they thought you just had to hear right then.
I was given one once that seemed rather poignant as I was going through a bad romance and debating whether the relationship should continue or not. The lead off song on the mixtape was “Neither One of Us” by Gladys Knight, and every song after was dealing with broken hearts and failed romance, like the whole thing was written to me personally. Needless to say, I got out of that entanglement and moved on fast as I could.
Such was the power of the mixtape!
A while back I reviewed Vanessa Peters’ album Foxhole Prayers, admiring the jangly, rockin’ guitars and the sense of fun she exuded with her songs, so I’ve been looking forward to hearing her latest, a collection of songs written by other people, curious how she would make these songs her own. Cover albums are usually hit and miss for me. An artist picks their favorite songs and plays them either as near exact replicas of the originals, or as completely different versions in genre and mood. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. And sometimes, just because you really like a certain song, doesn’t mean you can always successfully manage it.
Thankfully, Peters has done an admiral job picking songs that showcase her clear voice and love for jangly guitar pop. Pulling off songs by bands as diverse from one another as the National, Patty Griffin, and the Eels is no easy feat.
But, turning them into Americana Power-Pop tunes is Peters gift to us. It’s one thing to take a chance, quite another to pull it off.
Peters’ version of Tom Petty’s “You and Me” is straight ahead and righteous, as is “The Weakest Shade of Blue” originally done by the always delightful Pernice Brothers.
My favorite of these are her takes on New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” which takes a different turn by slowing it down slightly and adding a mix of electronic ambience with piano and tambourine, and there’s also a surprisingly fun and solid take on the classic AM radio hit of yesteryear “Sister Golden Hair” by the seventies pop band America. (Check out the piano on this one, especially!)
I like that Vanessa’s versions of these songs (with admirable help from producer Rip Rowan) is as simple as it gets. No Wall of Sound needed, just straight ahead rock and country!
So who’s going to take up the next mixtape challenge? Whoever it is, you’ve got a tough job ahead of you to match this.

Track listing:

1. Aside (The Weakerthans)
2. The Weakest Shade of Blue (Pernice Brothers)
3. Bizarre Love Triangle (New Order) *
4. Florida (Patty Griffin)
5. Lodestar (Sarah Harmer)
6. Hard to Be (David Bazan)
7. Pink Rabbits (The National)
8. Sister Golden Hair (America) *
9. You and Me (Tom Petty)
10. Packing Blankets (Eels)

Review by The Legendary Roy Peak (*New album due soon!)
Released April 24th 2020

The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco HARVARD TANGO

The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco

Smile Inducing and Brain Engaging Grown Up Pop Music

After all of these years all I really know about The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco is one band member’s name; the one who sends things to me via e-mail! I’m at the stage now where I’m pretending we are spies sending coded messages that will help ‘save the world’ …….. yes; you’re right, Lockdown is finally getting to me!
My mysterious ‘contact’ first told about this release a month ago and I’ve waited eagerly for the actual review release; only for it to arrive on the first day of a three day ‘turn’ of 11 hour shifts at work ……. which meant I could download it and play it travelling to and from the ‘secret lock-down depot’ that I’m now based at.
So at 05.30 on Tuesday I pressed ‘play’ just as the sun was coming up.
In the past the Tail Fins have come across as a rather cool Bar Band ……. not here though but!
Things start to get weird right from song #1 the title track Harvard Tango which sounds a bit like Slash guesting with Steely Dan! Seriously ….. but it actually works exceptionally well and sets the tone neatly for what is to follow.
What’s not to like about a song called Dirk is Not a Bogey! Now this too is a bit ‘weird’ in a ‘compare and contrast’ manner with previous recordings; but when you listen a second and then a third time it is…. actually ……. let’s see……… fabulous? Yep; that’ll do.
This is Grown Up Pop Music in the style of Steely Dan or Barenaked Ladies; but the first name that sprung into my delinquent mind was the coolest band ever to come out of Manchester ……. 10CC! Plus, any song that name-checks ‘Dirk Wears White Socks’ is always gonna be a winner round these here parts.
Everything here is clever, vivid and most especially articulate …… wordy even; but never ever dipping into smartarsery.
The melodies are constructed in such a way you may even think whoever created Manogamy Pews or Dream Pharma was classically trained; or at the very least listened to a lot of Cool Jazz growing up.
Bros. Fairchild and Marlybone starts well enough in a gentle Alt. Country manner with some delicious Burrito style harmonies telling a historical style story that name checks Houdini; so I’m presuming it’s somewhat based on real events; but who cares; it’s just bloody lovely.
Something else springs to mind; remember when Three Dog Night re-invented Randy Newman’s Mama Told Me (Not To Come) ……. well; that musical dichotomy is here time and time again …… you will constantly find yourself thinking, how did they do ‘that’?
Where to go for a Favourite Song? I’m very tempted to go for 39 Grams, as it’s a belter and we already know it from a couple of years ago; but I’m afraid that there may be narcotic references in there; so I’m more inclined to go for the exemplary Queen of the Hollywood Extras, which precedes it ……. and is as good as anything ever produced by any of those bands I’ve already mentioned …….. Steely Dan, Barenaked Ladies and the amazing 10CC, all of which I’ve loved and adored for many decades so know what I’m talking about.
Just when all around us is going to Hell in a hand-cart; 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco may just be about to save the world with this smile-inducing and brain engaging album.

1. The Harvard Tango
2. A Yard of Pace
3. Take Me To Rutterford
4. 39 Grams
5. Bros. Fairchild & Marylebone
6. Dirk is not a Bogey
7. Monogamy Pews
8. Dream Pharma
9. Queen of the Hollywood Extras
10. Diving In Columbia (Harvard Tango Lament)

Released April 24th 2020


Ruthie Foster
Live at the Paramount
Blue Corn Music

A Big Band and a Big Sound That’s Full of Blues, Soul and More.

Recorded in January 2019 at Austin’s Paramount Theatre, this album bears witness to Ruthie Foster’s “Big Band” sound.
Introduced by her daughter, opener “Brand New Day” puts her big voice to the fore – drawing on the tradition of traditional work and gospel songs, Ms Foster draws a powerful soulful sound sans band in the first half of the song, before punctuating the vocals with ever increasing instrumentation. “Might Not Be Right,” which follows is a co-write with William Bell and is fine late night Southern Soul that juxtaposes the state of the world with the state of “this girl” and her love.
The first cover of the album is Ruthie’s take on “Ring of Fire” but as she herself says in introduction – “This isn’t your grandfather’s ‘Ring of Fire’”. Lyrics apart, everything is deconstructed – melody and delivery are completely reinvented to get to the dark essence of the song; even the opportunity to use the ubiquitous horn riff with the big band is spurned to create something anew and well worth seeking out.
“Stone Love” which follows, starts with jazzy piano before transforming into a rambunctious late Motown shouter and judging by the audience response was a deserved crowd-pleaser.
“The Ghetto” strips the sound back to largely guitar and vocal, which again pushes Ms Foster’s powerful use of soulful dynamics within a song and helps to affirm the hopeful (but tautologous) message that “there won’t be no more ghetto for me”.
“Death Came a Knockin’ (Travellin’ shoes)” continues the journey through traditional forms and launches into ferocious gospel territory, with its use of an acapella opening, call and response and insistent brass, along with a lovely bit of distorted psychedelic guitar wig out.
“Singing the blues” which follows – after prolonged applause – isn’t the old Guy Mitchell chestnut, but the fact that it name-checks Bobby “Blue” Bland will give some idea of the classic R & B stylings contained within.
“Runaway Soul” ups the tempo again with walking bass; and to these ears is a fuller sounding “Dust my Broom” with a fine ascending saxophone solo that dips in and out and calls and responds with the lead vocal.
“Woke Up this Morning” (technical note) actually starts quietly (on this review copy) at the end of track 9 before getting a whole track to itself – at the point where the full band sound kicks in on the song; shifts of tone, rhythm and instrumentation help to build around the simple lyric.
“Joy Comes Back” continues the redemptive gospel, whereas “Phenomenal Woman” is grounded in more personal sentiments and is a proud celebration of womanhood fittingly done in an Aretha style.
The final two encore tracks “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Mack the Knife” take the listener into Sinatra-esque territory – the big band even evokes Nelson Riddle arrangements on the former and the final track pays homage to Ella Fitzgerald in both its introduction and delivery.
The album ends with a long fade and thanks to the band and bookends the show. Often with live albums, there is a disconnect between the “I was there” experience and the recording, but here a fine effort has been made with thoughtful sequencing and a well-separated, loud mix to give every player their due.

Review by Nick Barber
Released May 15th 2020


Willie Nile
New York at Night

Enough Coiled Energy to Actually Light Up NYC.

A wop-bopaloo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom! New York is rockin’!
That’s the opening track from the new Willie Nile album and it gets you out of your seat from the off – it name-checks the Ramones and Carnegie hall and several dozen other NYC glitterati with a bouncy singalong clap your hands boogie.
There’s barely time for breath and we’re into the bluesier “The Backstreet Slide” to a fast-medium train beat.
Track three and it’s time for a breather with the funkier groove of “Doors of paradise” which simultaneously evokes the Clash and Hall & Oates in delivery and melody.
“Lost and Lonely World” is straight out of the Levellers’ playbook with the anthemic double tracked opening vocals and hey-oh refrain, but takes its lyrical inspiration from Manhattan’s lonely suburbia rather than the Peace camps at Greenham Common.
Willie Nile treats his subject(s) in cinematic widescreen, always with one eye on the bigger picture, but enough focus on the details to conjure up the street detail.
That’s clear on “The Fool Who Drank the Ocean”, a mid-paced narrative stomper telling tales of mistakes made and its emotional reverse “A Little Bit of Love” which offers up hope for the future in a romantic partnership. Title track “New York at Night” returns to the sentiments and musical style of the opener, celebrating the metropolis at its most magical, and inspirational – and it’s a communal singalong celebration that offers fine air guitar (and drum) possibilities too.
“The Last Time We Made Love” takes the listener down into fragile, broken emotional piano-ballad territory; there’s a mixture of loss and joy in the lyrics, as befits the album as a whole.
“Surrender the Moon” lists nocturnal behaviour and dress – with the listener having to join the dots between the soundbites to make sense of the anecdotes set to a rushing rhythm.
“Under This Roof” starts as a solo acoustic strum and builds a tale of modest beginnings and emotional growth, whereas “Downtown Girl” is a celebration of people watching with a girl who’s quite a fully-drawn strong character herself.
The album ends with “Run Free” which is reminiscent in feel and rhythm to The Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket” with its running bass and piano underscoring a paean to a dream that is simultaneously universal and uniquely American in scope.
Willie Nile may have been devilled with music biz troubles earlier in his career, but he’s obviously bottled that coiled energy as it’s still pouring out of him in 2020 – “New York at Night” is an album that will leave you joyously breathless.

Review by Nick Barber aka EFSB Photographer to the Stars.
Released 15th May 2020
Buy here –


Robert Jon And The Wreck

Southern Rock Doing What Southern Rock Does Best – Make You Feel Good.

Summer’s coming and what better time to get some Southern Rock on the player and get the car on the road (after lockdown obviously)!
Robert Jon and the Wreck are a  five piece from Orange County, California, who have been together since 2011, and I believe this is their 5th studio album.
The band’s sound is steeped in Southern roots music from Blues and Country straight through boogie and rock. Great harmonies, great musicianship  and overall a classic Southern Rock sound with a commercial edge. That’s is not a criticism – quite the opposite in fact.
I often feel rock music is maligned if it crosses over but these guys get the balance just about perfect. Songs about drinking, girls and heartbreak is very much a staple of Southern Rock music, but who cares? That’s what makes it work, and it’s something we can all relate to whether you are from Texas or Oxford!
The whole album is full of memorable hooks that stick in your head long after the album has finished, which just makes you want to go back and listen to it again. Two or three listens in and you are already singing along!
Album opener, and first single OH MISS CAROLINA remembers the one that got away. A lifetime of remembering a first love and what went wrong. The sound reminds me a little of Whiskey Myers, and I couldn’t pay a bigger compliment than that. 
WORK IT OUT is more of a classic soul/blues sound with a great use of backing harmonies and brass instruments. Jons’ lead vocals are fantastic on this song. 
Next up is another broken heart song. CAN’T STAND IT  finds our guy missing his lover when all he wants is her back in his arms. A really poppy song with another fantastic hook and more great soulful backing vocals. The twin guitar sound near the end has a real Thin Lizzy feel to it too.
Next up is yet another heartbreak song – although this time I think he just wants an excuse to have some company while he gets drunk!  The title, TIRED OF DRINKING ALONE gives you a clueThat Thin Lizzy sound makes a comeback on DO YOU REMEMBER. Thinking back to being seventeen, when nothing mattered but fun, girls and endless days with no damn responsibilities. 
THIS TIME AROUND is a cool slower song with more great vocals and harmonies. 
The album kicks up a gear on DON’T LET ME GO. The heaviest song on the album with a hook that just won’t leave your head. I can just imagine how good this will be live. My favourite and another excellent lead vocal.
Electric piano eases into another slower song, ONE LAST TIME, which builds to a great climax with keyboard and guitar battling out to the subdued ending.
GOLD is another heartbreaker. Our hero realises he has been cheated on and messed about enough and it’s time for his lover to go and get married to ‘the other man’. Cracking guitar solo in this one , and more great vocals. 
The last two tracks are a little different to everything else on here. 
LAST LIGHT ON THE HIGHWAY PT1 is just guitar and vocal, which leads in to PT2 with the same opening riff but a rockier version of it, which then gets heavier and heavier and even more guitar laden. This leads into a very similar sound to UFO’S LOVE TO LOVE and just when you think this song is a complete departure from what this band are about, they hit in with a riff that put us back in familiar territory. It’s definitely a different sound to everything on the album but still fits in. 
All in all this is a great album with so many things to recommend it and nothing at all that will stop me checking out the bands entire back catalogue.
If you’re a fan of Whiskey Myers, Blackberry Smoke or Southern Rock in general there is a lot to like here. 

RELEASED May 8th 2020
Review by Chris Harrison