Robert Lester Folsom AUTUMN LAMENT

Robert Lester Folsom
Autumn Lament
Abacus Records

A Perfectly Balanced Mix of Alt. Country Love Songs That Sound Perfect For Both Chevy Vans and Toyota Hybrids.

I suppose I have to issue a Disclaimer here; as the Producer of this release from Robert Lester Folsom was none other than our very own Roy Peak; who sent me an early copy.
As I regularly tell people when they talk about the extraordinary amount of albums we get through here at RMHQ, “You should see the size of the box with the ones that we don’t review!”
So to some degree, every album we review at RMHQ has to merit not just our precious time to listen to them; but your precious money to purchase them…… #BuyDon’tSpotify!
So; just because Roy was involved didn’t mean this album would necessarily pass our stringent barriers.
Just like when we were kids in a Record Shop, the first song has to catch my attention in one way or another; and the instrumental title track, Autumn Lament does that with ease. The uber-cool steel guitar and assorted instruments that combine to create an interesting and atmospheric tune to lead an album was a brave but worthy decision; and works far better than it should.
The first actual song, It’s Not You follows and the mood is something akin to those 1980’s albums that led into what we now know as Alt. Country; not quite Country enough to be Country and not enough zing to make them Country Rock either; but more than good enough to to still be listened to twenty years after release.
Perhaps that’s because several of these songs have lain dormant since the late 70’s, only to be brought to life earlier this year for this ‘Song Cycle’ about Love and relationships; which shouldn’t scare you; as each song appears to be here on merit; as opposed to ‘filler’ to move a ‘Rock Opera’ along.
Perhaps Robert will be disappointed in me; but I’ve just enjoyed listening to Winter Warning, Dancing With Piano In The Rain and Waiting For Summer on their own merits, without worrying about any narrative that links them together.
Presumably with the aid of the Legendary Roy Peak, Folsom comfortably manages to toy with our emotions using every gift a songwriter and musician has in his tool box; juxtaposing the gentle acoustic heartbreaker One More Song with the claustrophobic Hop Hop Hop Hop Hippity Hop and then closing the album with the down home Southern fried See You Later, I’m Gone, which genuinely sounds like Jason Isbell covering The Lemonheads.
That last song was going to be my Favourite Song for a couple of weeks; but recently the dark and brooding Missing You X 7 has evolved and unraveled in a way only repeated playing can do; so this now wins the title; but both are well worth checking out before buying the album.
I’d not heard of Robert Lester Folsom prior to receiving this album; which is a sad surprise as he seems to be quite ‘the big deal’ around Florida and South Korea too! Which is no surprise as he’s got a singing voice that burns into your Soul and songs that are certainly the equal of many of his current peers.

Released May 2020

Chris Riley CESTRIAN

Chris Riley
Nice Mind Records

Sharp and Canny Folk Songs From the Traditional to Contemporary

Like many ‘local singer-songwriters’ around the globe, Chris Riley has to adopt many guises to make a living; and we’ve previously reviewed two of his previous diverse releases; the Irish influenced Folk trio The Dicey Rileys and his Rhythm & Blues combo The False Poets, but here he throws caution to the wind and goes completely solo!
The opening song Syracuse features a deceptively clever acoustic intro which is sure to catch your attention; and Riley’s warm and expressive voice; hewn from the Durham coalfield takes us on a delightful journey to love in a foreign field.
The next track, Pocket Full of Rhymes could have been an alternative album title; as it’s the cornerstone for most every other song here; a gently observational and autobiographical song about the life of a wandering troubadour.
Like all of his peers in the Folk World; be that traditionalists like Ralph McTell and Tom Paxton or romantics such as Jackson Browne or James Taylor; Chris Riley manages to find beauty and interest in many things around us all, the things most of us miss and he manages to make Mad Machine into a brilliant example of a songwriter’s art.
Here Chris explores the dark side of life too on Gaia’s Answer and When The Roses Bloom, with both making me sit quite still and really focus on the lyrics each time I’ve listened.
As a collection of songs created over many years, it’s nice to hear his various influences and styles filter through each and every song, from Traditional Folk (both British AND American) through a bit of Country and coming out with some experimental, nee Prog Folk at the end!
Love songs you ask? Of course – the brittle Autumn Colours will send a shiver down your spine, and When The Roses Bloom too, but don’t expect ‘Moon in June’ imagery.
Then there’s the instrumental Fistful of Quavers nodding to the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns as it does; as well as my wife’s favourite snack at the same time. But; there’s also the creepy and poetic The Dirge; which is almost cinematic in concept and the guitar work tips towards the work of both John Williams and Martin Carthy, if such a thing is possible.
Although both are absolutely lovely; I’m by-passing Kirsten’s Song and the charming Charlotte’s Tune in my quest for a Favourite Song, and debating between two tracks. The first, and this is quite sad for a Reviewer of Universal acclaim like what I is; I’ve been sorely tempted to go for the title track Cestrian; simply because of the title ‘Cestrian’ (i.e a dweller of Chester le Street, which is about 4 miles from where I live and a drinking area which I regularly frequented in my youth); but the bizarre, almost Prog-Folk instrumental actually misses out to Fortune All Around Me; a wonderful song which evoked memories of the teenage me discovering Ralph McTell and Richard Thompson and the dark and evocative delights of British Folk Music which, when done well; is as good as any other style of music in the world; and Chris Riley has written and produced a minor gem with this one.
Chris Riley is probably too old with a day job to boot, to tour the world bringing his songs to adoring audiences of all ages; but thankfully his music will always be available to download and also buy on Compact Disc (for the hipsters out there) and bring joy to you and yours in the comfort of your own homes for years to come.

Released July 3rd 2020


Matt Hill
Quiet Loner Records

Modern British Folk Songs With an Expressive and Melodious Americana Undercurrent.

Aha! The Artist Formerly Known as Quiet Loner is back and (*Spoiler Alert) better than ever.
Matt Hill; for it is he is nothing more than a Folk Singer; and I don’t say that lightly. In whatever guise he takes, Matt’s songs are deeply rooted very firmly in the style of music we associate with Woody Guthrie, Tom Paxton and our very own Richard Thompson; imaginative, articulate and always fascinating stories with a historical basis that are destined to educate and entertain in equal measure.
When you read the lyrics to opening track Stone & Bone it feels like the poetry of Hardy or Larkin; but add a jaunty tune that includes a banjo, electrical guitars, a musical saw and a throbbing bass and you get a fabulous Folk Rock song about the ‘dead’ rising from the graveyard that the Square Mile Financial District in London is built on, rising and taking control!
Obviously I’m not doing it justice …… but it’s a fabulous start to a fabulous album.
One of my own ‘adages’ is ‘ don’t dismiss them; because all old people have stories to tell;’ and Matt proves that with his delightfully dark Save Your Pity; sung in the first person of a man on his death bed telling those around him to ‘Save Your Pity’ as he’s had quite the life, and a life most would never have guessed from looking at his wracked body.
When you get to know Matt you quickly find he’s quite the historian; and as I said earlier; in the mould of Woody and Paxton can put whole swathes of history into a lovely three minute song; and that’s exactly what he does with Billy’s Prayer; a tale of a young man from Salford (Manchester) who left his home in 1890 to make a new life across the Atlantic where he became the legendary boxer Battling Billy Marchant, who went on to become a hero in WWI too.
Preceding this is The Exile of DH Lawrence which details the last few years of one of England’s finest story tellers; who had been banished from his home country and left to die in Taos, New Mexico; and Hill captures the tale quite magnificently; especially the judicious use of feedback-guitar in the background.
Sometimes Matt Hill can’t stop himself; and actually introduces the song Four Corners himself; and in fairness this lifts a song about minutiae in a village in the writer’s family home of Nottingham; into a Classic Folk Song set to a parlour Jazz beat that will stick in the mind for days afterwards.
Boxing and history rear their head again in Bendigo; and Hill again, manages to unearth detail and diamonds from a life long forgotten; but sounds like it could easily be made into an actual film!
As I keep saying, Matt Hill is first and foremost a Storyteller and even when he writes a Love Song it’s always going to be complicated and personal; and that’s exactly what you get with the mystical If Love Should Rise and to some extent; Roll Me Out (In The Middle of The Night); which closes the album; too ……. no matter how bad you think life is; there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
This is a really special album in many ways; with each individual song being well worthy of praise but two songs stand above all others. Gary Gilmore’s Last Request should really be my Favourite Song here, as it taught me something about this ‘two bit’ killer’s story that I didn’t know; but more importantly it told me how special Johnny Cash really was; by actually answering the request to be Gilmore’s last phone call. Trust me; this is what Folk Music is really about.
My actual Favourite Song is Chains; and when I first heard it earlier this year it passed me by; but as 2020 had progressed it has taken on a life of it’s own as it’s very subtle and modern song about Slavery, past, present and future. Where it written or recorded today I’m sure it would have sounded a lot angrier; but it wasn’t and is even stronger the way Matt Hill’s distinctively warm voice sounds so sad; and when the haunting choir drift in and out for the first time; tears will come to your eyes.
There is a depth to Matt Hill’s storytelling and songwriting; Folk with an Americana undercurrent, that seems out of step with most everything else I hear in the idiom these days and I can’t recommend this album highly enough.

Released 6th July 2020


Will Hoge
Thirty Tigers

Intense and Personal Rocking and Rolling Alt. Country.

Will Hoge? Hmmmmmm …… Will Hoge?
The name rang a bell; but with so many albums flowing through RMHQ in the last three years my ever dissolving memory couldn’t place him. So I did what you would do; checked my previous reviews and Hey Presto!
Silly me ……….. I love Will Hoge!
Sure enough memories of long car journeys with his 2017 release ANCHORS blasting out of the windows came flooding back as soon as he began singing Midway Motel and that distinctive Twangy guitar sound filled the room.
While most every song here sounds deeply personal; they also tick many boxes for the listener too; even if you haven’t actually lived Hoge’s words they live out the romanticism (and the dark side of his Tiny Little Movies) which is also all I adore in Alt. Country, Country Rock and/or Americana.
The anthemic The Overthrow follows; sounding like Springsteen fronting the Heartbreakers singing a Neil Young song! Seriously; and trust me here; when played live those guitar and drum solos will last eons and you won’t care a jot!
Hoge describes himself as a Rock n Roller at heart; and even a cursory listen to Con Man Blues will tell you he’s not wrong! Angry, angsty and awesome in equal measures and destined to scare the bejasus out of your neighbours the next time you have a BBQ in the backyard.
As with all of the best; Hoge can put just as much anger and angst into an acoustic song; and here Is That All You Wanted Me For and All The Pretty Horses fill a gap that my heart has been waiting for all year.
I’ve only ever seen Will Hoge play solo; but imagine hearing the melancholia of My Worst or the sweet laid back Country tunes The Curse and The Likes of You with these musicians filling the silences ever so delicately must be an experience worth travelling long distances for.
Selecting a Favourite Song was never going to be easy here; as just about every song has its own merits in that regard, with some being Radio Friendly and others being destined for very personal playlists that no one else has access to; and that’s probably where I’m going with Maybe This is OK.
Again, Hoge has written an intense song from his own experiences that somehow manages to be about me too …… clever that; isn’t it? My interpretation of this Petty/Springsteen hybrid, is that it’s about someone who has made many mistakes in his life; but has actually come through it all reasonably well …….. which may sound like it’s about you too?
2020 is proving another very special year for the music we bring you on RMHQ and although it’s still only June; TINY LITTLE MOVIES (which neatly describes Hoge’s songs) will undoubtedly be in our year end Top 20 reviews; and also has the capacity with just a smidgen of luck, to be a game changer for this excellent singer-songwriter; and ‘performer’ too.

PS Somehow or other I appear to have missed MY AMERICAN DREAM from 2018 ……. there’s a PR out there who owes me an apology.

Released June 26th 2020
Buy it HERE


Tiny Little Movies
Thirty Tigers

Classic Songwriting, Hunger, Enthusiasm And Inspired R&R Passion.

Born and bred in Franklin, south of Nashville, Will Hoge has been recording for some 20 years now and is not your typical Country Music artist with just 3 chords and the truth; no he’s more your blue-collar song-smith, displaying sharp, perceptive, piercing and sometime witty lyrics more in the vein of Mellencamp, Springsteen or even Steve Earle.
From my own perspective, I was in the dark and completely oblivious to him until November 2016. Following a social media exchange with some like-minded music loving friends, they opened my eyes to Will Hoge.
I then delved into his back catalogue and subsequently have acquired just about all of his recorded works. So, I’m an unabashed fan and excitedly looked forward to hearing this latest offering.
What sticks out a mile is how lively and upbeat the music is, thanks to using his tight 3 piece road band, who collectively deliver well worn rock & roll, with amplified guitars, and high levels of energy that takes you to Motown, to Metal and eventually ….. almost CBGB’s style Punk like songs, that all benefit from some wonderful melodic hooks and then Hoge’s unique, gravelly voice.
I’m told they rehearsed the various arrangements for 4 days solid in East Nashville before descending on Trace Horse Studios and recording each song live to emphasise the raw chemistry of the band.
Midway Motel welcomes you into the album, with a strong back-beat from Allen Jones’ snare drum and lyrics that tell you this is not a 5 star Hilton “Not alone, there’s a bible and a telephone, with a TV that flashes off and on”. Maybe This is OKs theme could be autobiographical and almost sounded like one of Crowded House’s better numbers, whilst we have a relationship dichotomy with Even the River Runs Out of This Town, here Hoge reflects on the inevitable split with his girlfriend
I love you so much, I ain’t asking you to stick around”.
Then the tempo gets lifted up a few notches with That’s How You Loose Her before accelerating into Thom Donovan’s almost Johnny Marr type guitar riff that rips into Con Man Blues.
I almost chose The Likes of You as my favourite track with it’s gentle rhythm, Knopfler guitar sound and it’s nostalgic references to his new found love.
However, this evocative track was eventually trumped by the final of these 11 fine songs with All the Pretty Horses.
On this, Hoge and his band are supplemented with some background strings to create pathos and clarity to yet another failed relationship via these heart-wrenching lyrics:
You know the Mona Lisa, Just another rich mans daughter,
  Ended up with nothing but a broken down smile,
Don’t listen to the voices, You know just what the choice is
Time to wave goodbye, To all the Pretty Horses”  
When Will stretches his voice, stressing “what the choice is” it sent the proverbial shivers down my spine, and that hasn’t happened for some time. Will Hoge provides classic songwriting, covering various styles and genres, delivered with the hunger of youth, a genuine enthusiasm plus an amplified and inspired passion.
Review by Jack Kidd
“Messin’ with the Kidd” on 

Released in 26th. June 2020

Ruth Patterson SINK OR SWIM (Single)

Ruth Patterson
Pink Lane Records

The first time I ever saw Ruth Patterson was when Holy Moly and the Crackers played the JHC Home Fries at SummerTyne in 2012. On that day Conrad stole the show as lead vocalist; but there was something ‘special’ about the fiddle player when she sang her one and only song.
Subsequently her role in the band has built and built (as well it might) with Conrad eventually taking a step backwards as Ruth spent more time in the spotlight; and coincidentally the band’s success has grown accordingly.
Still an integral part of Holy Moly Ruth has now decided to take a sharp left turn, creatively and release her very first dark and brutally honest single under her own name ……. and according to me; the world is a better place for it!
Here’s Ruth’s own prose about the song:

“This is about living with mental instability and the battle to keep our heads above water”, Ruth states of ‘Sink or Swim’. “It’s written about a panic attack I had last year and I really felt like I was drowning… the loss of control, disappearing reality, not knowing when it will end.
Mental health problems are very prominent in my family and, growing up, it’s something that we were always able to talk about,” Ruth continues. “I am very fortunate to see my mental health as “normal”. We are all a little bit nuts and I think it’s part of being human. Being super sensitive,I feel everything around me in a really intense way: emotions, feelings,weather, sounds. Experiencing life in high definition can be wonderful but also destructive.At times, it can feel like an electrical storm in my head.
I guess this song is me sharing my own experiences and hopefully it will connect with other people that maybe feel the same way.It seems with everything that’s going on, the whole world is living in a state of anxiety. We’ve all lost a sense of control as our reality is so rapidly changing. Now, more than ever, we need to have these conversations.”

Released June 26th 2020


Prinz Grizzley
To My Green Mountains Home

Carefully Planned and Crafted Country Songs from From Downtown Austria.

The title of this, Prinz Grizzley’s second album, after “Come On In” forms the second part of a sentence – the full scope of which will be completed by the title of the third album (For those of you not paying attention at the back, that’s:
#1. Come On In
# 2. To My Green Mountains Home
This carefully planned and crafted approach is reflected through the release, where the songwriting stands to the fore – each track standing alone, but also as part of a cohesive body of reflections on the life and loves of the everyman – whether he’s from East Nashville, or the fabulously monickered Egg, Austria, home of Prinz Grizzley aka Chris Comper.
The fuzz guitar, pedal steel and soulful vocal of the opening track “You Don’t Know Love” explores how love is seen from different viewpoints and acts as a primer for many of the tracks to come, in lyrical content.
“Nothing Left But Scars” and “Keep The Fire High” both deal with failed love and musically bring in a few psychedelic touches with swirly organ from producer Beau Bedford on the former, whereas the latter is laced with a fuzzy bass-led cosmic cowboy groove.
“Meet Me at The Pines” is even lyrically bleaker with the song’s character wanting to save someone – who he himself has pushed to the edge, thus is the paradoxical nonsensical nature of relationships.
Things get a bit more hopeful in theme on “Longing For a Fire” where driving mandolin and harmonica create an adrenaline rush of hope for the singer who wants love but can’t change to get it – and “All I got is buckets filled with rain”.
Positivity and the finding of love is out there though and on “Drifting” – with Erin Rae featured on soaring backing vocals – there “ain’t no way back to solitude” because our hero, on the cliff-edge of emotional disaster has found love.
Elsewhere on the album, there’s a great deal of exploration of the working class everyman; “Rush Little Man”’s melancholy pedal steel underscores a talking blues which explores similar themes to Springsteen’s “Factory”, whereas father issues and wanting to be something different romps along to a train beat on the Texas Meat Purveyors’ style “Cutting Wood”.
There’s a tribute to the strength of women and how they support men on the Mexican rhythms of Magdalena but for me the album’s standout track is the Waits-ian “Shovel” a story of the immigrant working man who comes to town, works hard – and gets the girl, much to the chagrin of the locals who think he’d “better stick to the shovel”….
The title track is a fluid Gill Landryesque paean to small town life and tradition – and to feel part of something. Recorded live in a couple of takes, it’s a confident and snug performance which reflects the security that home can give you – and that theme is also played out gloriously on the final track which launches into Decemberists territory with the sea shanty singalong of “The Salty Life of Ocean” which reaffirms that everything may go to pieces  but you can always “go home to the safe shore”.
Prinz Grizzley with “To My Green Mountains Home” have delivered a carefully crafted thing of beauty – apart from Chris Comper and his band the Beargaroos, kudos must also go to producer Beau Bedford who has made sure that performances and sound match the sentiments perfectly to create a finely honed and mature record.
Looking forward to Number Three!

Review by Nick Barber
Released 26th June 2020


Gulf Coast Records

Just add Gumbo, Sazerac, Shrimp and Lots of Beer and The Bayou.

At the start of ‘Lockdown’ I was transferred to a new depot an hour from home, which was a Godsend as it meant I could listen to whole albums travelling to work and back again.
Music can play tricks on the mind if you’re not careful, so as soon as I heard the opening salvo to the first track here; One Of Those Days my Hyundai i20 metamorphosed into a ’71 Ford Bronco and my bus driver uniform into a plaid shirt and well worn Wranglers; and I miraculously drove the back-roads from Tucson to Tucumcari and Tehachapi to Tonapah instead of plodding along the A19 in Wearyside!
What a song and what a band! Classic Southern Rock, with twin guitars fighting for your attention, a Hammond Rhodes that swirls like a swampy mist and a bass/drums combo that’s even tastier than a cocktail made with Jim Beam’s finest……. and that’s without Jeff McCarty’s smouldering vocals.
It’s obviously all too easy to get lost in the amazing melodies and solos across this album; and no one will blame you if you did; but there’s so much more here than LeRoux’s insanely catchy choruses; as if you listen properly, the songs and stories are exemplary from start to finish.
While I can list the musical ingredients in this heady musical cocktail; LeRoux assemble them in a way that they make their very own; and I defy anyone to test the DNA of Don’t Rescue Me, The Song Goes On or even No One’s Gonna Love Me and tell me definitively who the Father was ……. the lineage, yes……. but not the actual Daddy.
LeRoux want it known that they ain’t ‘Southern Rock’ …… they are the Sound of Louisiana; and when you hear the last three tracks, Lifeline (Redux), then the fiery instrumental Sauce Piquante and their ‘signature tune’ New Orleans Ladies, you know instantly that this music could come from anywhere else on planet earth.
I was tempted to go leftfield for my Favourite Song and choose the spiky Nothing Left to Lose as it is a real bonafide head down, gut punch Boogielicious Rocker that I’ve loved most of my adult life; but there’s another scorcher that has been something of an ‘earworm’.
Now; I’m not 100% sure if Lucy Anna is a love song to a young lady of the same name; or more likely a luuuurve song to and about the band’s home State of Louisiana or both ……. who knows and who the Hell cares? But; if it’s the latter it’s a wholesome sing-along, fist in the air Anthem that will close any or every concert the band ever plays; and if it comes on in a Roadhouse juke-box expect to clear the table to accommodate dancers of all ages and abilities. Then again, there just might be a little lady somewhere in the Bayou who has had a Classic Rock Love Song written about her …… lucky gal.
For what it’s worth, in 1975 I went along to Newcastle City Hall to see The Warner Brothers Music Show featuring Tower of Power, Montrose, Little Feat, Graham Central Station, the Doobie Brothers, and Bonaroo …… all for about £1.50 and it changed my life; and it’s fair to say LeRoux could easily have replaced any single act that night and fit in perfectly well.

Released June 24th 2020


Maceo Parker
Soul Food – Cooking With Maceo
Funk Garage/Mascot Label

Smouldering Soul and Fiery Funk From a Master-Craftsman.

I’ve always had eclectic musical tastes, but Funk and Jazz-Funk have mostly passed me by; probably because I associate both with Nightclubs, and being the boring old sod I was as a young man, hardly ever visited such establishments.
Oddly enough; the older I got the more intrigued I became; but apart from a couple of George Benson, Commodores, Jeffrey Osborne (and Various Artist) albums, the RMHQ cupboard is bare.
So, I grabbed the opportunity to review this with both hands!
I presume most people reading this already know Maceo Parker’s backstory; and if you don’t there’s more than enough on the internet to fill a Tuesday evening in; so I will get straight into the music!
The ‘groove’ starts with more relish than a NY Hot Dog on opening track Cross The Track; a slinky dance floor filler that’s just as listenable in the comfort of your own home; but be prepared to find yourself dancing when you least expect it.
I don’t even know if Nightclubs still exist; but if they do just like that first song; most every cut here is destined to make you want to cut a rug; with or without the love of your life opposite you.
For the unaccustomed like myself there’s a glorious mix of old and new songs here; all sprinkled with Parker’s saxophonic diamond dust and superbly soulful singing voice.
Of the songs I recognised the Good Doctor’s Right Place/Wrong Time gets a 21st Century makeover, with the Voodoo slightly diluted but the Funk turned up to the MAX! Then there’s The Meters’s, Just Kissed My Baby which I actually have on a VA album; but hardly recognised in this format which sounds like something Allen Toussaint may have recorded; which isn’t as odd as you’d think; because Maceo follows it with a reworking of Toussaint’s own Yes We Can, Can ……… which sounds as cool as it’s apt in the current Geo-Political climate!
I’ve never really been a Prince fan; but Parker’s slow and soulful rendering of the Purple One’s Other Side of The Pillow sounds as if Parker had been listening to Brook Benton and Nat King Cole on the ride to the studio; and that’s meant as a huge compliment.
While not my favourite Aretha song; Maceo and friends really do add extra edge and Funk (of course) to Rock Steady and bring it right up to date.
Of the new tracks; Hard Times evokes more memories of the Blue Note Club than it will Studio 54; and it adds a really cool vibe to an otherwise uptempo album.
I’m not sure when Compared To What was first written; but it’s got a real hard edge to the Maceo’s message in the lyrics; and without being outright angry; it could easily be the Sound of Summer 2020 across America, in the way that Curtis and Marvin managed many moons ago.
Which brings me to my Official Favourite Song here; it was very, very nearly the finale Grazing in The Grass with Parker’s saxophone sounding almost Angelic; but man you have to have big cajones to include a song MACEO; (instrumental actually) named after yourself; but Maceo Parker does it with poise, self-assurance and Class with a capital C.
This is Maceo Parker’s 16th full length album; but the first in 8 years and …… yes indeed; it’s been well worth the wait.

Released June 26th 2020


Tenille Townes
The Lemonade Stand
Sony Music

One Foot Firmly in the Ghost of Country Past; The Other In The Future!

Yes, country music and pop music are still getting blurred together nowadays, most often with mixed results. Now, I’m not going to argue the pros or cons of either, that starts to get a little bit into that “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” mentality, and reminds me of the arguments I’d have with co-workers about new bands: “That ain’t rock ‘n’ roll!” they’d say and go back to listening to Journey or Styx while I’d slip a New York Dolls cassette into my Walkman and go hide in the back of the file room.
Everything—especially music—is relative to one’s own likes, prejudices and experiences.
So, now that’s outta the way, and we can get to the matter at hand: the debut album by Tenille Townes, originally from Canada, now based in Nashville, USA, home of much of America’s (and the world’s) popular music. Townes has assembled twelve songs on this album, called The Lemonade Stand, with production from Jay Joyce, who’s worked with Emmylou Harris, Little Big Town, Patti Griffin, and many others.
The album as a whole has a punchy, modern pop sound, but still manages to keep its country roots firmly in place. The lead off track “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking),” is ‘oven ready’ for radio, as is “Holding Out for the One,” and “White Horse,” but it’s the song “Somebody’s Daughter” that is the standout single here for me; as there’s plenty of songs out there about relationships, but not enough about our relationship with people from a less privileged stratum of society. Not that this alone gives it a reason to be listened to—this is pop music after all, we need something to sing along with, a good beat to latch onto, a catchy melody amidst all those words—and Townes makes this one work well despite the heaviness of what could be such a sensitive subject matter.
Lines like:
With the shaky hands
On the cardboard sign
And she’s lookin’ at me

tells me that Townes is no one trick show pony, and to follow that later with:
Now this light’ll turn green and I’ll hand her a couple dollars
And I’ll wonder if she got lost or they forgot her
She’s somebody’s daughter
tells me she’s in it for the long haul, not just writing and singing dance pop fluff.
As for what passes today as Modern Country, this song rocks honestly and makes you think.
This one is timely, for sure, but also timeless, and that’s where it really hits home.
My other favorite on this album is the charming “I Kept the Roses,” which reminds me a little bit of Tywanna Jo Baskette (who’s been missing in action for way too long.)
This is the tune here with the most character. One foot firmly in the ghost of Country music past, the other unafraid to stand out and be different. Townes’ voice is perfect for this sort of song—I’m hoping for more of this on her next album.

Review courtesy The Legendary Roy Peak esq.
Released 26th June 2020