The Cordovas
Destiny Hotel
ATO Records

Sharp and Melodious Alt. Country Rockers For the Discerning Music Fan.

When I received this I remembered previously ‘liking’ the Cordovas ……. but couldn’t quite ‘place them’ so did a bit of research on the website’s Back Pages and ….. AHA! It was a live review from 2018; and I was correct; I had liked them.
So with a tinge of excitement I pressed ‘play’ and SHAZAAM!
I was instantly whisked back to the late 1970’s; when Country Rock was all over the airwaves and what little spare money I had was squandered on albums by Little Feet, Allman Brothers, The Band and The Eagles too …… none of that snarling Punk Rock for me.
Opening track High on The Rail is as timeless as it’s contemporary; which is not meant to be a misnomer; as The Cordovas have taken all of the good things from those bands I name checked; put them in a Moulinex blender and come up with as cool a Summer Soundtrack as you are going to hear in October on the Eve of an Apocalypse.
Here at RMHQ we hear a lot of albums trying to tap into this style of Country Rock; but very few come anywhere near the quality that The Cordovas produce on Afraid No More and Warm Farewells, which when played loud(ish) come dangerously close to giving you a sensory overload and leave you feeling like you’re a little bit sloppy drunk, without ever taking a taste of alcohol.
Loving this album as I now do, I’m left wondering where it fits into the current world of media; social and actual. I can only think of two UK Internet radio shows that will comfortably fit Rain on The Rail and Man In My Head into their playlists; and maybe a couple in the US a friend listens to too; but National Radio?
Not a chance; and don’t even mention TV …… these cats are too cool for any TV shows I’m aware of.
But there’s always me, you, our friends and the age old ‘word of mouth’ isn’t there?
Aha! You ask, what though is the RMHQ Favourite Track?
It’s not been easy as nearly every song here has its merits and has had me either singing along or at the very least tapping a toe or two (plus when no one was watching I even played Air Guitar to one song!) but … ta da……. it’s between The Game, which is the type of track that’s absolutely perfect for long car journeys (think: The Doobie Bros. or Eagles) and the more laid groove of I’ma Be Me with its neat choppy guitars is a bit different from everything else here and therefore wins a very tightly run musical race.
DESTINY HOTEL is a good ole fashioned Long Player, the type you put on the stereo and sit back and listen to; rather than the type of thing that people flit in and out of on the streaming sites. Of course I could be wrong; but I doubt it …… this is music for Real Music Fans.
It’s all here; harmonies so thick and delicious you want to eat them with a spoon; short sharp and liquid gold guitar playing; occasional mandolin and organ (of the Garth Hudson variety) a bass player who barely touches his strings, and when he does it sounds like there’s ‘thunder in them thar hills’ plus a machine gun drummer who occasionally becomes a sharp shot sniper too; and even a ‘live’ or ‘one take’ feel to the whole album.


Released USA October 16th 2020
Released UK & Europe October 23rd 2020

Gitta de Ridder TO OUR CHILDREN

Gitta de Ridder
To Our Children
Little Memories Records

Songs That Remove the Line Which Separates Art and Artist.

With contributions from a Spanish guitarist, an English children’s choir, a string quartet from Italy, background vocals from Switzerland, horns recorded in Portugal, a smattering of Spanish goats, and Ms. de Ridder herself (from the Netherlands), this may be the most “European” album of music by a single artist that this reviewer has ever heard.
Gearing up for this foray, Gitta de Ridder traveled for most of a year throughout Europe, dressed in “traditional wear,” Dutch clothes—that is simple dresses and clogs, yes clogs.
You know: wooden shoes!
all while playing shows and festivals.
This is the artist “living the art” or perhaps even more precisely, a case of the artist removing the line which separates art and artist.
Not performance art exactly, but simply art and artist as one, breathing together. De Ridder gifts us with her strong, clear voice and a penchant for optimism severely lacking in many of today’s musicians.
Much like Jonathan Richman—a fearless, optimistic original if there ever was one— Ridder is a genre-fluid artist, capable of wearing many hats, jumping from one style of music to another without it sounding forced or weak.
“Capable,” “fearless,” and “optimistic” are words I would not hesitate to use in describing de Ridder’s art, along with multi-talented, and original.
The album starts out with the wistful “Like a Kite Released” featuring a wonderful Wurlitzer backdrop, fleshed out by de Ridder’s sanguine vocals. “To Wonder” has a more, shall we say, “Americana” feel, complete with pedal steel, while “Hypothetical You and I” reminds me of dark cabaret, and ‘The Clearing” starts with a flourish of Spanish guitar before moving on to darker, more frantic themes.
“Sing a Song Sing Along” is the perfect way to end this charming eight-song album with it’s hopeful melody and backing children’s chorus, but I would have to say that “Man of the Light” may be my favorite track here, especially with it’s “Hey! Ha!” background vocals and some superb trumpet playing that adds a fun bit of hopeful light to the track.
There’s a video for the song “Man of the Light” in which you can see de Ridder herself, cavorting around Europe in some of that “traditional wear” and obviously having a blast and making fans along the way.

Review courtesy Roy Peak
Released October 10th 2020



Josie Bello
Have Purpose Live Long

Atmospheric Lo-Fi Americana Worthy of a David Lynch Country Movie.

I’d not heard of Josie Bello prior to receiving this album; and took for-granted she would be a ‘Folk Singer’ of some sort because of the Agent I received it via; so what a pleasant surprise it was to hear some modern Americana drenched Country making its way out of my headphones on the opening (and title track) Have Purpose Live Long.
There’s some charming lo-fi and almost hypnotic pedal-steel, accordion and guitar accompaniment to Josie’s laid back song, with her vocals sounding ethereal in the mix.
Next up is Magic Of The Music; which is very nearly an instrumental, not dissimilar in construction to Blue Velvet; way back when but with a Honky-Tonk melody.

Once I’d thought of that connection I still can’t get that ‘David Lynch connection’ out of my head.
It’s pretty obvious that Josie Bello is from a deep seated Country background; but her melodies and arrangements are as far removed from Hank and Reba as you can get; this is music from her heart and financial success at the top of the Hit Parade is not on the agenda at all.
Even the most ‘commercial’ songs here; I Bleed Human and Party With The Saints will still only appeal to the cognoscenti among us rather than someone idly scrolling through Spotify; but then again if 1 in 100 who do that stumble on these songs and stick with them …….. they will most likely become lifelong fans.
I not only have an open-mind but a broad one too when it comes to music so I’ve got a soft spot for the heart crushing simplicity of Hole In My Heart. The first time I heard it I was left wide-eyed and mouthing ‘phwoar’ to no one in particular.
This ‘heartbreaker’ is actually preceded by the tender love song Twenty Five Years; which may or may not be loosely based on Josie’s relationship with husband Frank Bello; or if not it should be.
For a Favourite Song I’ve been sorely tempted to select Not The America of My Dreams; another ‘almost instrumental’ with its church like choir; but I’ve decided to go for All It Takes Is Time; another in Josie’s ‘alt-commercial’ style; as it’s a song of the highest quality that deserves to be heard by as wide an audience as possible.
That last sentence sums up my feelings towards the whole album; Josie Bello’s music takes a little from a lot of genres to combine to become something quite unlike anyone else I can actually think of; which is a rarity around this office.

Released North America 1st August 2020
Released Europe October 20th 2020


Sturgill Simpson
Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions
High Top Mountain Records (via Thirty Tigers)

Simpson’s Back Catalogue Revisited and Re-Imagined in (almost) Traditional Style

Described in some quarters as a “surprise” Bluegrass album, the only surprise actually comes from the unexpected timing of the release; and Simpson’s timely decision to revisit a great deal of prior material, and less from the fact that Simpson is putting out as a Bluegrass album.
Simpson’s first band Sunday Valley exhibited many features of the genre (Check out their 2011 take on “Sometimes Wine” on YouTube which involves frenetic electric flatpicking and Bluegrass structures and chords almost turned into Cowpunk – ) – only to reappear here in a more traditional form.
Assembling an absolutely top-notch cast of players (Sierra Hull, Tim O’Brien, Mike Bub and Stuart Duncan to name but four) the quality of playing is absolutely stellar as might be expected.
What is there to gain from doing this then?
Well, apart from the musicians having a great time, this release places the songs to the fore – and to my ears, is all the better for the back to basics approach as I sometimes struggle with some of Simpson’s more far-out experimental moments.
That’s not to say that this is a firmly Traditional approach – Sierra Hull’s soaring reverby backing vocals on “Breakers Roar” and the out of tune/in tune slidey fiddle intro to “Just Let Go” are two of many little moments where Bluegrass forms are adapted and played with, but fully in support of the song – and there’s actual percussion on the album too – on a Bluegrass album!
“Life of Sin” from “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” comes across as a timeless Classic Bluegrass tune and “Turtles All The Way Down” now has the feel of JD Crowe and the New South with Waylon Jennings fronting them.
“Railroad of Sin” with its Bob Wills cattle calls turns into a frantic stomper and Scott Vestal’s banjo drives along “Sitting Here Without You” and many uptempo others.
Of the slower, mid-tempo numbers “Time After All” originally on “High Top Mountain” now allows space for more delicate leads and breaks and philosophical lyricism
“’s only time after all…
whereas “Voices” comes across as a dark old-timey narrative ballad (with the longest gradual fade you’ll hear in ages) – as on a lot of these reimagined songs, Sturgill’s lyricism now has more room to come to the fore.
By utilising more formal-traditional musical structures, the listener’s emphasis (well this listener anyway) is the voice and its message rather than the shock of the metamodern (sic)…Country Music.
Big credit to producer David Ferguson too, for constructing a dynamic and varied soundscape throughout with instruments appearing in and out against a solid rhythmic mix.
If you’re a Sturgill Simpson fan, then I can’t see how you can’t but love this take on his back catalogue – and there’ll be many who’ll prefer some of these versions to the originals (me!).
If you’re a Traditional Bluegrass fan and Sturgill Simpson wasn’t on your radar (unlikely I know) then this release might seem like the Next Big Thing in Bluegrass; in a fairly conservative musical form in many ways, this takes enough risks while maintaining sufficient respect allied to Simpson’s trademarked strong songwriting.
A win-win for Mr Simpson on all counts.

Review by Nick Barber

Released October 16th 2020

Vinyl released December 11th 2020

Andrew Cushin Where’s My Family Gone?

Andrew Cushin

Where’s My Family Gone?

As I’m away for a few days COVID-Busting, or something I can’t post this in the normal manner ….. but as Andrew is such a new and exciting talent I’m going to post his new single via my iPhone 🤞

Andrew Cushin is a talent that’s organically earning him a grassroots following: initially at home in Newcastle, where he sold-out The Cluny before officially releasing any music, and more recently with a huge socially distanced outdoor show as guest to Two Door Cinema Club. Andrew Cushin now adds to his rising profile by sharing his new single ‘Where’s My Family Gone’.

‘Where’s My Family Gone’ is the product of a mutual respect between Andrew Cushin and Noel Gallagher. The Oasis icon first discovered Andrew after he hearing an early demo of his single ‘Waiting For The Rain’, which prompted Noel to praise his “great natural voice.” Their friendship grew, which resulted in Noel offering to produce, play guitar and singing backing vocals on the new single.

“I wrote Where’s My Family Gone when I was in a dark place” explains Andrew. “I hadn’t been speaking to my family, or friends. I felt as though I had no outlet for the way I was feeling, and I wrote it in a little hotel room in Leeds before a gig. It started out as a darker track but the production that Noel has added to the song has pushed the track in a way that it’s now so much bigger and more uplifting. I can’t wait to play it live and see everyone’s faces when that colossal chorus hits”.

William Elliott Whitmore I’M WITH YOU

William Elliott Whitmore
I’m With You

An Exciting Voyage Of Country, Folk and Americana Discovery.

As regular readers know; much like my teenage years with Motown and Stax, then later with Stiff Records these days I’m always pre-disposed to anything released on the Bloodshot label.
Not everything always tickles my taste-buds; but 95% is a pretty good success rate; doncha think?
Before I received this a month or so ago I’d never actually heard of Mr Whitmore, although he has previously released 7 album (3 on Anti Records and one on *Bloodshot!) and even though his preferred instrument of choice is ……. the banjo I was still prepared to listen with an open mind (as always!).
Well, I’m glad I did; as this has been quite the voyage of discovery.
Although I shouldn’t have been; the ‘old timey’ feel of first track Put It To Use still took me by surprise. Banjo, fiddle and a grizzled vocal add together to give a Hill Country/Folk sound, which isn’t what I expect from Bloodshot ….. but why the Hell not; as it’s a bit of a dandy, now I’ve got my head around it.
Phew; William picks up his acoustic guitar on the next song, Solar Flare, and it’s nearly as clever as it’s melodious; and yes …… there is a melody and even a catchy chorus on what, to all intents and purposes is a Folk song.
For his eighth album; there’s something of a ‘sampler’ or ‘Best Of’ feel; as he never sits still, with no two songs sounding the same.
With that in mind; his distinctive worn and lived-in grizzly voice carries everything along like a wonderfully worn leather suitcase; ‘the tales it could tell’ ….. which is exactly what we get here.
I love the rambunctious Black Iowa Dirt and the toe-tapping Honky Tonk of My Mind Can Play Cruel Tricks On Me just as much as the passionate Alt. Country songs History and Save Ourselves; which is quite some feat when you take them out of context they sound as if they are by completely different acts.
Which is actually why I’ve become smitten with the whole damn album; every time I play it something new springs out to make me study his words as much as his cleverly constructed musical arrangements (even the solo acoustic songs are complicated).
This will most likely change tomorrow; and then again next week, but tonight I’m torn between two songs as my choice of Favourite.
I’m Here is the type of intricate Folk Ballad I normally associate with Rod Picott or Slaid Cleaves; and that’s high praise indeed.
The other; and I’m erring on the side of saying it is my actual Favourite Song here; is a brave choice for me as it’s played out on the banjo and a ‘talking Blues’ very much in the style of Tom Paxton; and yes MK Ultra Blues certainly is my Favourite, as it’s so very different from what I normally like …. and has really captured my imagination.
If I was to start re-discovering William Elliott Whitmore’s back catalogue, I could do worse than start with *KILONOVA (which it turns out I actually own!)
Bloodshot completists like myself are in for a nice surprise when they buy this; and I hope is existing fan base love it as much as I do; but if you are a Music Fan with a broad mind I urge you too to give this a try; I very much doubt you will be disappointed and pretty sure you’re going to find a few songs that will live in your sub-conscious for a long time to come.

Released 16th October 2020



Uncivil War
Alligator Records

A Compelling and Enjoyable Album that Spotlights A Brilliant Voice.

It’s not that un-common for talented children to follow in the footsteps of their successful parents, especially in the world of popular music where there are indeed, numerous examples.
Johnny ‘Clyde’ Copeland was an accomplished Blues and Soul singer who won a Grammy in 1987. Sadly, he passed away in 1997 just as his, then 18 year old, daughter Shemekia was establishing herself on the scene and thankfully they managed to tour together before his untimely demise.

Undeterred, Shemekia chose the same pathway and she has now recorded eight fine studio albums since 1998. Following on from the success of 2018s “Americas Child” Alligator Records now release studio album #9 with “Uncivil War” and it’s an absolute cracker.
Retaining musical genius Will Kimbrough as Producer is a master-stroke, he also co-wrote 7 of the tracks with John Hahn, alongside a couple of covers include a Rolling Stones hit, a Little Junior Parker classic and of course, one from her daddy’s old catalogue.

Musically, we have a real hybrid, effortlessly fusing Gospel, Blues and R&B with Americana. Shemekia handles the sometime lyrical turbulence, covering lost friends, historic racial strife and even gun violence with genuine aplomb, making each song more personal than political. Indeed the jaw-dropping lead track “Clotilda’s on Fire” tells the story of the last slave ship to arrive in America, actually in Mobile Alabama in 1859, 50 years after the slave trade was banned, featuring a blistering lead guitar from Jason Isbell, himself from that same Yellowhammer State.
Dobro maestro, Jerry Douglas gets to play his lap-steel on the gospely “Walk Until I Ride” and the title track “Uncivil War” too, where Jerry’s good friend and mandolin icon Sam Bush sprinkles his magic dust over the poignant lyrics:
Same old wounds we’ve opened before, Nobody wins an uncivil war”.

Money Makes You Ugly” has highly rated blues guitarist, 21 year old Christone “Kingfish” Ingram playing the lead. Then, a N’Awlins shuffle kicks off the affectionate tribute to legendary Mac Rebenack; entitled “Dirty Saint” this has Kimbrough adding his subtle guitar licks plus there’s some superb organ and piano from Phil Madeira to compliment the memorable chorus of:
“Dirty Saint, Dirty Saint, Might be in Heaven, but probably ain’t, Played so sweet, make a woman faint, There’ll never be another Dirty Saint”.
My favourite track though is the cover of unifying and uplifting “Give God The Blues” which was originally co-written and recorded by Phil Madeira (with Shawn Mullins and Chuck Cannon) in 2012 off the conceptual ‘Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us’.

Up-tempo “She Don’t Wear Pink” was co-written by John Hahn and Webb Wilder, who plays cool rocking guitar in tandem with the one and only Duane Eddy.
Junior Parkers “In the Dark” slows things down with her sultry vocals bouncing off the twin guitars of the producer and yet another legend: Mr Steve Cropper.
Appropriately, the twelfth and final track is a smooth cover of her dad’s “Love Song” that appeared on his Flying High album.

In summary, it’s a compelling, enjoyable album that certainly spotlights the brilliant voice of Miss Copeland but it can also be appreciated for the very high calibre of musicianship from the players and the undoubted masterly production provided by Kimbrough.

Released on 23rd. October 2020

Jack Kidd

Messin’ with the Kidd” on

Juanita Stein SNAPSHOT

Nude Records

Intimate Songs of Sadness Delivered Beautifully and Intricately.

A couple of years ago one of my favourite ‘intimate’ gigs was when I saw a Juanita Stein gig at The Cluny in Newcastle; and even stranger was the fact that it was her record that was being played on local radio as I parked my car that night.
The 4 Howling Bells albums made with Juanita and her twin brothers, Ari and Joel were all excellent indie releases and they had built up a solid following after re-locating to Brighton from Sydney; when in 2012 she started work on her first solo album before the release of ‘America’ and ‘Until The Lights Fade’.
To further demonstrate her ability she assisted with vocals on The Sleepy Jackson album – another very good offering IMHO.
Her latest release is heavily tinged with sadness after the sudden death of her father with AML but that sad event is now a taper to light her way through an album that she describes as ‘littered with symbolism’ as the songs featured are dashed on instant reflections – a dream of a relative, a crow outside a hospital room, a toy snake etc – all minor but the birth of an idea leading to a song.
Her very soft and gentle voice glides through the opener ‘1,2,3,4,5,6’ about the ability to take risks after due consideration of the effects of the decision. She admits that writing the songs for ‘Snapshot’ came thick and fast, leaving her with a load of demos to turn into the finished article.
The opening notes of ‘L.O.T.F’ take the listener straight into a catchy number dealing with ‘being raised in the land of the free and needing to hear the blackbirds‘. A bluesy rocky number with a tremendous guitar backing.
The tempo is eased off with ‘Lucky’ as she questions if she is mentally tough enough to deal with the changes in her life – ‘that’s your life as darkness is followed by rage’.
A shout from the heart of the situation she suddenly found herself in.
You are a snapshot of my life – only a photograph remains
in the title track where the loss is most vocally well handled.
Out of sadness comes some light, as part of a snapshot of her mind. ‘Hey Mama’ does what it says in the track as she ponders her search for how her Mama feels but maybe they can sing the blues together.
If I am giving the impression this album is a very sad one, I have to stress that it is, the overall theme of the album is sadness; but the songs are delivered with a beautiful voice and even I hadn’t really appreciated that voice until I saw her sing .
If you sound better or as good live as on record a gig goer can’t ask for any more than that.
A favourite track?
That would probably be ‘Mavericks’, a song that benefits from her full range and the following track ‘The Reckoning’ takes her into the upper reaches to emphasise that the reckoning is inevitable, with the heavy guitar backing adding to the importance of meeting ‘The Reckoning.’
The final tracks ‘Take It Or Leave It’ dealing with the choices you have in her position leaving you ‘dancing with the unknown’ and ‘In The End’, an upbeat finale that regardless of what fate deals us we have to not ‘lose our heart as we all lose someone in the end
I have to admit I am a lover of female singers; and Juanita has produced a lovely little set despite the sad events that brought it all about.
Out of that darkness has come what I feel is her best album to date, by some way.
A fine tribute to her father.
Juanita is assisted here by her brother Joel on lead guitar, Jim Wheelwright on bass and Evan Jenkins on drums and it would be wrong of me not to recognise their importance in getting the listener to take notice of the loss and to make sure of a better future.
The album was recorded over an 8 month period at Agricultural Audio near Brighton, although her previous albums were from USA studios.
The change was worthwhile.
Again, let me stress that although the grain of an idea began with sadness this is not a sad downbeat album. The theme is sad but the delivery of the whole package is the complete opposite.
Get those live gigs at The Cluny and invite her along asap.

Review: Bill Redhead

Released October 23rd 2020

Dave Alvin HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED (Single)

Dave Alvin
Yep Roc

Anything new from Dave Alvin is a thing to be celebrated around these here parts, partner and when it’s as tasty a taster for a new album as like what this is …… well, it’s cans, cans, cans!!!!
I’ve not got the album yet (but the track list is as fascinating as it’s intriguing) ….. so; with no further ado ………. GRAMMY award-winning guitarist, singer, and songwriter Dave Alvin shares “Highway 61 Revisited,” a cover of the Bob Dylan classic and the second track unveiled from his first solo album in eleven years, 
From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordingsout November 20 on Yep Roc Records.  
Recorded at Craig Parker Adams’ Winslow Studios in Los Angeles, Dave (on vocals and electric guitar) was joined in studio by Greg Leisz (electric guitar), Gregory Boaz (bass), and Don Heffington (drums).

From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings Track listing:
1. Link of Chain
2. Highway 61 Revisited
3. Variations On Earl Hooker’s Guitar Rhumba
4. Amanda
5. Albuquerque
6. Mobile Blue 
7. Perdido Street Blues 
8. On The Way Downtown
9. Inside
10. Krazy And Ignatz
11. Peace
12. Man Walks Among Us
13. Beautiful City ‘Cross The River
14. Dynamite Woman15. Who’s Been Here
16. Signal Hill Blues 



MIKE PLUME Lonesome Stretch of Highway

Mike Plume
Lonesome Stretch of Highway
Royalty Records

Songs To Make You Think; and Your Heart Beat a Little Bit Faster

Okay, I admit that sometimes first impressions will get the better of me.
I received this album for review and first scanned the song titles. Song number two made me roll my eyes and shake my head.
What kind of cliched cornball song was “I’ll Be Your Huckleberry” going to be? I then filed the album away until I could get to it, forgetting all about the title.
About a week later I popped it into the CD player in my old work van and was tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, saying to myself “Not bad! Hey this one rocks pretty hard!”
And then the chorus hit:
And if your sundae needs a cherry, I’ll be your huckleberry.”
Well hot damn!
It’s THAT song!
An ear-worm of a love song that rocks and with perfect accordion accompaniment to boot!
So yeah, I was wrong. Definitely not cornball, and definitely not cliche at all. I could make a list a mile long with artists that should be populating current Country radio; instead of the mindless dreck which passes nowadays, and Mike Plume would most definitely be on it.
This is Country Rock with a nod to the classic side of Country, tearing off down a long stretch of highway, telling the truth, and hoping for the best.
“Summers Around Here (Don’t Last Forever);” could be a lost Springsteen song, but no, just another Country Rocker by Plume himself. 
Recall when I said that Plume should be on the radio?
Well, both “Perfume and Gasoline” and “Remember to Forget” not only fits in with Adult Country radio, but does it one notch better.
Plume paints a great story about family and trying to live through the heartache of your kids becoming adults, and then one about long ago love and what goes through our heads upon meeting old friends.
Plume is a smart writer, doesn’t go for the easy cliches, you can tell he’s taken his time with these songs, poured over every detail, as well as pouring his heart into them too. 
Lonesome Stretch of Highway by Mike Plume is ten perfect Country songs, that rock when you need them to, ease back on the gas a bit when required, and make you think; all the while making your heart beat a little bit faster. Really, what else do you need?

Released September 11th 2020

Review: Roy Peak