Hitman Blues Band
Not My Circus, Not My Monkey
Nerus Records/Self Release

A Righteous, Cosmopolitan and Shiny R&B Blast From Start to Finish.

Regular readers know our Modus Operandi by now; which is that I select albums in the way we used to flicking through the racks in a record store looking for inspiration; and when something captures our attention we ‘buy it’ then take it home and sit around our ‘metaphorical’ bedroom with friends, listening and talking about what’s on offer.
In this case, the album title NOT MY CIRCUS, NOT MY MONKEY just happens to be my current catchphrase after hearing Son #2 use it at Christmas!
So far; so good ….. but what about the music?
The titular opening track NOT MY CIRCUS (NOT MY MONKEY) lives right up to any pre-conceived ideas I may have had. A sordid tale of falling for the wrong woman in the wrong bar on the wrong side of town ……. this is what the Blues does better than any other genre.
Hitman Blues Band are a Classy R&B combo that can not just write but perform a blistering Bluesy song that not just makes you want to dance, but actually listen and consider the lyrics and story; via Russell ‘Hitman’ Alexander; who should know what he’s doing after 5 previous albums in this guise and several previous decades in a variety of other beat combos.
That one song along; with it’s searing guitar solos, funky brass section and glorious harmonies from the fabulous female backing singers ……. is worth the entrance fee alone.
Hitman goes all Rufus Thomas funky on track #2; Buy That Man a Drink; and if you ain’t dancing by now …….. you’re listening to the wrong record!
Just because a band is six albums into their career it doesn’t mean that they can always keep your attention; but The Hitman Blues Band certainly can; not just Alexander sounding like he’s having the time of his life poring out You Can’t Say No and/or the beautiful ballad Everybody But Me; but the band themselves are as tight as the proverbial drum; subtle as can be on You Don’t Understand and No Place Like Home; allowing Alexander to shine in a way; only pure professionals who ‘get it’ can; but when necessary they can still show restraint while blowing the roof off, as they do on Nobody’s Fault But Mine and album closer; the shufflicious Go Down Fighting …… which truly needs to be turned up to 10 to get the best from it.
Those subtle and majestic flourishes are on just about every song here; and I can only dare to imagine what a fabulous night this band can create; how else can you describe what’s just gone before then add the winging and swooshing, Walk With You and a stark Gospel version of John The Revelator being on the same album; and both sounding like you’d be missing out on something special if they weren’t there.
I’m certainly going left of centre for my choice of Favourite Track; there are too many versions of Dylan’s The Times Are a Changing to mention; but this here version is up there with the very best; imagine Eric Burdon and War, produced by Curtis Mayfield in an NY cellar; and you will get the stifling claustrophobic sound these cats produce.
Not for the first time I’m left feeling confused and disappointed after reading the attached Press Release; simply because Alexander raves about touring Europe and especially the UK where fans are more ‘open minded’ about this type of music; which we are …… yet before last Monday I’d never heard of Hitman Blues Band never mind seen them on their numerous tours in recent years!
I need a better set of friends if I’ve been missing out on music this good.

Released March 15th 2021



West of Texas
Heartache, Hangovers & Honky Tonks
Pleasant Valley Ranch Records

Melodic Hardcore Country Music From a Connoisseur of the Genre

An album delayed in the making by around 12 years ; it’s been a long wait but very much worth it for fans of traditional country music.
The attention to detail throughout is sublime, right from the staged narrative photo on the cover, in the tradition of Country album covers from the time periods that these Classic sounds emanate to the thematic and musical diversity and unity heard on every track.
The title is almost a checklist of what to expect – Heartache? It’s here – “Foolin’” “This fool” “Sign of a broken heart” are just three that tick that particular box. “Hangovers”? “My whiskey life” “Whatcha drinkin?’” – yep, all there – and Honky Tonks – well, if that’s not obvious, you’re not paying attention.
Stylistically, this is no punches pulled, straight-ahead hardcore danceable Country Music.
None of that radio pop-rock guff – there’s pedal steel and Twang throughout; there’s even some Cajun rhythmic flavour – although not a Cajun accordion (pedantic Cajun accordion playing reviewer – sorry) on “Bayou Boy” and there’s a flavour of Merle Haggard too; on “Dead End Job Blues” and Western Swing on the aforementioned “Fixin’ to Love You”.
There’s low-down Twang on “You’re Still the One I Dream Of” which strays into early Mavericks territory and there’s a Dale Watson delivery and feel about “12 Steps to Drinkin.’”
Zinn’s vocals are suitably a melodious baritone and at times have something of the Ray Benson about them.
Despite all these influences, this album makes a wonderfully cohesive collection of lively and intelligent Country – and the occasional cussing gives it that extra Honky Tonk grit.
Listening to this album for the first time, the sound took me back to listening to Heybale on a Sunday night at the Continental Club in Austin and in many ways, West of Texas (despite – as their name suggests – being geographically over to the Californian coast) are their spiritual brothers in creating this melodic hardcore country.
All we need now is a bar room and someone to get the Lone Star beers in to complete the picture.

Review by Nick Barber

Released April 16th 2021




Dr Feelgood
Greatest Hits
Grand Record

British R&B at Its Magnificent Best …… and Still Rocking Today!

To some degree I could (and plenty will) have written this review without ever receiving the actual Double CD.
I am unashamedly a Dr Feelgood fan ……. wearing a tour t-shirt and drinking copious amounts of strong coffee from my Down by The Jetty mug as I type ….. just to keep the ‘vibe’ going.
But; just for you dear reader, I have sacrificed several precious hours over the last month listening to this latest package from one of Britain’s greatest and under-rated bands just so I can give you my honest thoughts … from 2021.
SPOILER ALERT; there’s obviously nothing here not to like, especially for fans ….. but I may query the sequencing and running order; which is why I thought She Does It Right a strange choice to start the 41 tracks with ….. but 45 seconds in; I re-booted, thinking ‘why the Hell not? It’s a belter!’ and it is.
That’s the thing with Feelgood’s songs; there’s not a bad one, is there?
OK, naysayers will point to their ‘formula’ but Hell’s Teeth man …… it works doesn’t it? And …. it worked for Muddy, Wolf, Hooker and of course Chuck Berry who all had a hand in this type of heady Rhythm and Blues music.
‘Greatest Hits’ may be a bit of a stretch; as even their most famous and memorable singles hardly dented the Pop Charts with Milk & Alcohol hitting #9 and Roxette and Back in the Night not even going Top 75!
But; to the likes of me and presumably you, Sneakin’ Suspicion, Hunting, Shooting, Fishing, Baby Jane and No Mo Do Yakamo are ‘Hits’ as I can sing every word and know where every break comes.
The joy for me though has been rediscovering old gems from albums that are long forgotten ……..
Shotgun Blues? WOW!
Violent Love? You couldn’t release that today …… but it’s still a belter.
Mad Man Blues? Double WOW!
There are plenty of surprises here too; I’d forgot (I’m not even sure I’d realised) how diverse their output was; especially in the early days. I Can Tell and especially the B-Side Keep it Out of Sight show a subtlety oft forgot.
Personally I stopped buying albums and even seeing the band after Lee Brilleaux died; so it’s been enlightening hearing the ‘new band’ (does being 37 years old still constitute ‘new’?) on the last third of the selection; starting with Dave Bronze growling Sugar Turns to Alcohol straight through the rifftastic Instinct to Survive, when singer Pete Gage more than holds his own in front of the Feelgood’s microphone; and his/their take on JB Lenoir’s Gimmie One More Shot is good enough on its own to keep the flame burning.
Even though Roxette and Back in The Night are both in my Top 20 songs of all time, and all of the singles from the bands first ten years merit being My Favourite Track here; I’ve decided to be contentious and go for a toss up between a song I’d forgot about and another I can’t actually remember.
The first is Jumping From Love to Love which borders on Heavy Rock, but never loses the bands trademark R&B swing and boy does it swing as Sparko’s bass shakes the rafters; and the other comes from the latter days, King For a Day (a live recording here, but originally from Stupidity) which shows what a brilliant, yet diverse band Dr. Feelgood could be and were well worthy of the accolade Kings of Pub Rock!
Obviously fans of all persuasions will buy this because it is what it is; but I urge you to buy this for the younger music fans in your family; you know …. the one with the Stones or Ramones t-shirt they bought from Primark; you will most likely change their lives in a heartbeat.

Released April 2nd 2021


Allen Ginsberg THE HOWL (Reed College First Recording)

Alan Ginsberg
Howl Recordings
Omnivore Records

Still Obscene in 2021? Close Your Eyes and Let the Poetry Fill the Tired Empty Spaces.

Allen Ginsberg is commonly known for two things: being a founding member of the Beat Generation, and the fact that one of his books, Howl and Other Poems, was banned for obscenity.
The Beat Generation consisted of Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Herbert Huncke, and Lucien Carr, all of whom met in 1944. The main theme of the Beat Movement was to push back against the passionless and pointless society around them. Their protests included reimagining the current forms of poetry and narrative, which in their minds did not express the real experiences of the post war generation.
Ginsberg’s Howl – first performed in 1955 – was, like his other poetry, an attempt to free verse from the academy and the forms which had trapped it; and to express truth regardless of the prudish tastes of polite society.
In 1957, San Francisco police arrested the publisher on obscenity charges, ultimately leading to a court decision in favor of the book.

It is the trial that jogged my memory. I had some vague knowledge of it, but to be honest my familiarity with the Beat Poets went no deeper than this; and a passing knowledge of Kerouac.
So, I began listening to this recording without many preconceived notions, other than the idea that at the time, the poems were considered obscene – at least by the San Francisco police department.
From our vantage point on the space time continuum, Ginsberg’s poetry does not seem incredibly shocking, but it was the case against Howl – along with another first amendment obscenity case, Roth v. United States earlier in 1957 – that allows us to be as blasé as we are about artists’ use vulgar language and topics.
Ginsberg frankly discussed sex and used words that were deemed too coarse for public consumption at the time, and for that alone, the modern world owes him.
Howl and Other Poems was one of the shots fired against the gatekeepers of public decorum who felt that some truths were too vulgar for public consumption. And it landed.

I had no knowledge of the poems themselves, although I did a bit more digging into the history of the Beat Poets. Ginsberg’s place in history is reason enough to listen. I suggest reading up a little on the Beat Generation and its adherents, whether before or after listening is up to you, but the context adds depth. While there has been some recent scholarship about the lack of a place for women in the group, it’s still interesting as a watershed moment in the modes and forms of writing, worth digging into as a way of understanding how literature and poetry landed where they are today.
The press release included with the recording is a great place to start. It provides a good deal of background about the Beat Poets, Ginsberg in particular and even the venue for the recording, Reed College, who’s t-shirt motto was Communism. Atheism. Free Love.

And now onto my own interaction with Howl and the shorter poems Ginsberg read at Reed College. The kind of people who listen to and review poetry recordings are foundationally odd.
I mean, right from the start that’s apparent.
I’ll cop to that. Not only is that true of me, the context in which I listened to this recording was peculiar as well and more than likely colors my review. Several nights a week, I have insomnia and I view the world through a hazy veil of sleeplessness.
If you’ve never experienced insomnia you may not quite understand the thin coating of anxiety and despair that colors everything after about 1AM, when you realize you will not be going to sleep, nor might you grasp the twisted resourcefulness that results in attempting to work during the flat, exhausting hours when your body begs your brain to just stop already.

I feel compelled to let the reader know most nights I listened to the Reed College recordings, it was during the blunted dreamless hours after 1AM and further into the night.
And during this time, I found Ginsberg’s voice rhythmic and palliative. Neither Ginsberg’s poems nor his voice ever reach a fever pitch in this recording, particularly in the short poems preceding Howl like Epithalamion, or Wild Orphan. Although, Kerouac might disagree with me – he’s quoted as saying that Ginsberg “wailed his poem, Wail, drunk with arms outspread”.
Maybe Kerouac and I differ as to what constitutes wailing. For me however, even when Ginsberg expresses emotion, Howl being the piece in which his voice carries the most passion, his voice is too precise and rhythmic to break me out of the flow, and it’s the feeling of being carried along on the current of the poem, perhaps, that soothes me.

Ginsberg has a real voice too, the voice of a person you might overhear in a restaurant or on the street. It’s not a voice for the theatre.
Not a voice for ringing oratories.
The voice itself does not compel
It delivers the words of the man who wrote them and it’s the words that are important; the voice does not overpower them or give them meaning in expression they would not otherwise carry. Ginsberg’s words have a feeling of viridity because of the ordinary quality of his voice.

The poems themselves are beautifully made.
There is irony.
There is humor.
There are observations that are at once distilled into discrete moments and yet there is a vaguely narrative quality as the images follow each other, as in A Supermarket in California in which he describes a night trip to the grocery store. Over Kansas was another with vivid images that seemed to form themselves into recognizable, almost but not quite, story-like patterns.
And so, as I listened late into night and into the wee hours of the morning, I found the rhythms of the poetry and his well-modulated voice took the place of dreams and I could close my eyes and let the poetry fill the tired empty spaces in my head.

My personal conclusion?
Ginsberg is now one of the companions of my sleepless nights, an alternative to dreaming. I will keep this on my playlist.
Whether or not you ultimately feel as at home in Ginsberg’s poetry as I did, is up to you, but the history is compelling enough a reason to give this a listen and see what you think.

By Julie Carpenter *Editor at Sacred Chickens website


RMHQ Music Hour Ep:13

RMHQ Music Hour
Episode 13
March 26th 2021

It’s all coming along nicely, but it doesn’r get any easier cramming 2 hours of music into 1 hour of radio! This week we’ve got a dodgy balance of old and new songs that will intrigue. fascinate and make you buy some music.
The Gateway Record comes from Canadian Singer-Songwriter Terra Spencer who has selected a fellow countryman; and coincidentally ‘Friend of the Rocking Magpie’ ….. Stephen Fearing.

Thanks for listening; stay safe, wear a mask and thanks for listening.


BDM Music

A Limpid Honesty and Beauty in Her Prose That Shines Through Every Song

Brigitte DeMeyer has been making music for over 20 years. Originally based in California, she moved to Nashville and succeeded in developing not just a career in music but in forging some very strong and tight friendships.
However, a family situation has meant that she needed to re-locate back to San Francisco and break away from Music City.
But through the wonders of modern technology, her conducive friendships somehow became stronger and tighter, continuing to function effectively, despite the distance.

Seeker will be her 8th. album since “Another Thousand Miles” debuted in 2001.
Having previously toured and worked with The Wood Brothers it was a no-brainer to not just involve them but co-write all but one of the songs with their multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix, who also took on the additional production duties.
Of course Oliver and Chris Wood join Mr. Rix on some of the tracks and Brigitte’s best friend and Godmother to her son; sister Alfreda McCrary can be heard on the backing vocals.

All the Blue” kicks off the proceedings with Jano Rix on his special shuitar, plus guests JP Ruggieri on pedal steel & acoustic guitars and Viktor Krauss on upright bass.
Brigitte takes both the lead and background vocals and tells the tale of a hardworking cowboy friend, with a haunting chorus of “but when the night comes, that’s when your soul hums, a poorboy looking at that rich mans run”.
Alfreda McCrary provides the backing vocals to the slinky “Cat Man Do” whilst Jano contributes more shuitar plus sublime piano and organ.

Just the 2 main protagonists feature on the bluesy protestations of “Calamity Gone”, whilst they are again joined by Ruggieri on serene acoustic guitar for the love song ‘Already In” touchingly dedicated to Brigitte’s husband, including the lyrics
We could be anywhere or nowhere,
I could be alone,
But if you’re there on the square
I call it home,
You’ll never know how to,
no need to convince,
but a heart that wants you,
you’re already in”.
Viktor Krauss returns on the jazzy “Ain’t No Mister” with further superb keys from Rix.

Poignantly dedicated to DeMeyers’ son, without being anyway near piteous, “Roots and Wings and Bones” is all about mothers who sacrifice everything for the well-being of filials.

The ambrosial title track “Seeker” was written when she had returned to California reflecting on missing all her buddies, some 2,000 miles to the East.

It was so difficult trying to select a favourite track. Nevertheless, in a close second place on this glorious new release that undoubtedly straddles so many genres whilst never falling into any is “Louisiana” apparently DeMeyers favourite US City (and mine too btw).
Amazingly, she and I also agree on our overall favourite song, “Salt of the Earth” which is all about trust and connectivity, featuring the full contingent of The Wood Brothers plus Kris Donegan on electric guitar and once again Alfreda, just one of a choir of backing vocalists.

In summary, I thought very highly of her previous release “Mockingbird Soul” with long-term collaborator and another seriously multi-talented musician in Will Kimbrough. However, Seeker elevates Brigitte DeMeyer into the upper echelons of my all-time favourite female lyricists and singers.
There is a limpid honesty and beauty in her prose that shines through the ever indelible, magical music of Jano Rix; and means I need to revisit not just her earlier work but that of The Wood Brothers, as well.

Review by Jack Kidd (Broadcaster Extraordinaire) – “Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

Released on 26th. March 2021



The Odd Birds
Better Days

Taking 60’s & 70’s Folk Rock and Giving It a Contemporary Americana Makeover.

I wasn’t really in the mood for reviewing this morning; it gets me like that sometimes ….. but there were still 7 albums sitting around waiting for release this Friday and 14 for next; and they won’t write themselves. So; after two strong cups of coffee and a vigorous walk around the Park I’ve decided to go for an album/EP released last December!
This rather charming and vibrant mini-album came via the Producer Bobbo Byrnes tipping the band/duop off about the site; and apparantly they were already ‘followers’ (reminder: RMHQ is not a Cult) but had been a bit shy about offering this for review.
Coming from Southern California; double act Ron Grigsby and the effervescent Jennifer Moraca combine to create rather lovely Americana music that errs on the side of Gram and Emmylou and the UK’S finest exponents My Darling Clementine; as both singers have very disparate voices and singing styles but when combined …… WOW!
The slightly edgy Better Get Outta This Town opens the album with Grigsby sounding not a million miles away from Roger McGuinn; but the song takes on a life of of its very own when Jennifer adds her lovely voice on harmonies and Grigsby uses his swirling Hammond Organ like a threatening weapon.

The couple stray into 60’s Folk Rock territory with the delightful Jenny-Lynn (Won’t You Come Home); luscious harmonies, 12 string acoustic and a melody that sounds like a herd of butterflies coming at you out of a bright sun first thing in the morning.
Tucked away in the middle is Fly; a song so complex it’s nigh on impossible to believe that there are only two people on the recording …… it sounds like it’s a fully fledged six piece in the studio at 4am after a long and heavy recording session that was all made worthwhile by this rather excellent five and a half minutes.
With only 6 songs here; I’m surprised that they include two cover songs; and very brave choices they are.
The Odd Birds slow Little Feet’s Classic, Willin’ down to a lazy Southern stroll and choosing Jennifer to take lead could have been crazy; but …. do you know what? It somehow works ….. I don’t know why; it just does.
The other is probably a bit more ‘obvious’; but then again Gram and Emmylou seem to have gone out of fashion in recent years; so being reminded of their genius via Ron Grigsby’s grizzled and leathery vocal performance that is beautifully enhanced by Jennifer’s pearlescent voice does the original version no harm at all.

In another life that song would have been my Favourite Track; but one of the Odd Birds’ own songs actually edged it out on the line; Better Days is as dark and brooding as my mood today; today and hearing Jennifer Moraca sound like she’s fighting back tears as the pace quickens until you feel they are driving around a mountain bend that they might not survive; makes this a song you just have to hear!
While so many youngsters buy a buckskin jacket, Gibson Jumbo and wear their fringe like Roger McGuinn ……. they forget they have to have lived their life to the max; before their songs become authentic …… and that’s were The Odd Birds really come alive.
These songs sound believable; and have the capacity to live with the listener for a long, long time …. if not forever.

Released December 2020


The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco DON’T GO ANYWHERE

The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco
Don’t Go Anywhere
Bandcamp Inc.

Contemporary All-American, Grown Up Pop Music From a Sleeper Unit Based in Essex.

The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco are riddled with many and various secrets ….. some I am privy too; and others that are part of an elaborate FBI plot to plant American ex-popstar sleeper units deep into the UK countryside; and when the time is right, will send them a codeword (‘Lockdown’ ?) so they can spread jollity and happiness across the airwaves.
Or not ….. depending on your imagination.
It’s got to be something like that; or why else would this 100% American belter; made in Essex sound so almost perfect and fully formed; if the Tail Fins hadn’t previously spent the the last 20+ years touring the Western Hemisphere and releasing Grammy Winning albums?
It all starts with the Reno’s Electric Stairs; funky Contemporary All-American Pop Music in all its fabulous multi-layered glory ….. What’s not to like?
Sadly most of the descriptive prose I want to use may likely put you off; and that would be a damn shame; as these songs; one and all, are perfect slices of intellectual, articulate and melodious slices of Grown Up Pop Music in the same vein as RMHQ favourites Barenaked Ladies and most of all; a band I fell in love with by accident when I once bought the wrong LP ……. Steely Dan!
While I don’t normally get lost in the rabbit hole that is full of vinyl fetishists; but these songs like Best Bitters, 1909 GTC and Here All Week are chock full of hidden musical chambers that you simply must take the time to listen either on headphones or most likely damn good (and balanced) hi-fi speakers to get the best out of the them.
If we use their new FBI names, 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco are; more or less, the brainchild of David Myers and Malcolm Moore who have proper day jobs; meaning these songs and their intensely clever and intricate arrangements are, to all intents and purposes …. a hobby!
Hence my FBI ‘Witness Protection’ theory ….. surely, Heligan Begin Again and J is For Genius (with that funky as Hell bass line!) can only be from musicians who studied at Harvard Tango University?
Also; I can only dream/fantacise about hearing Open Your Windows & Doors in all it’s Sgt. Pepper filtered through Pet Sounds glory at Sage Gateshead or even Newcastle City Hall with its majestic acoustics; but more than likely it will be at the Fox and Hounds on a Thursday night in the Latin Quarter of Chigwell; which is such a shame.
Even though I loved their last album HARVARD TANGO and was privy to a secret single a few weeks ago; nothing has really prepared me for the leaps and bounds Myers and Moore have made in the interim; which has made choosing a Favourite Track nigh on impossible; just about every song merits its place here …….’all killer – no filler’, but I’ve concentrated this morning and narrowed it down to three ……. the quirky Sparks-a-like Banana Beer and Other Cults; the self-depreciating Silverback and the slow and sultry Best Bitters; which really and truly sounds like it was the ‘secret track’ in the run off to first edition CD’s of Steely Dan’s Aja or Gaucho!
Seriously; and I know I am capable of excessive hyperbole some days but this album is a MUST BUY if you like any of the bands I’ve name checked above; or you just like Classy Music.

Released 25th March 2021



Loretta Lynn
Still Woman Enough
Sony Music

A Lesson in Maturity, Grace and Strength on Loretta’s 50th Album

Bearing the same name as her 2002 memoir, 88 year old Loretta Lynn’s latest release shows she is still anxious to prove herself. The material on the album contains little new in the way of composition – retakes of some of her own songs, covers of Classic Country tunes and collaborations with fellow artistes from across the span of her career are the order of the day here.
“Still Woman Enough” which opens the album, features backing from Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood – but there’s a strength and sensitive toughness in Lynn’s delivery which is ably assisted by her co-singers.
Bookending the album is the similarly titled, but older Lynn song “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and they seek to frame an album that is statement of feminist/feminine strength.
The musical backing throughout is no frills straight up classic country – honky tonk piano, fiddle, pedal steel and guitar make up the majority of what’s on offer – and that’s exactly how it should be.
Amongst the covers on offer there’s “Keep on The Sunny Side” which is a fairly straight rendition of the Carter family classic; “I Saw the Light” adds a shuffling snare drum ‘train beat’ to the Hank Williams song and “I Don’t Feel at Home Anymore” strips back the often used musical gospel setting of the song, to make it more of a personal sentiment.
Highlights for me are in the less predictable choices on the album – Lynn’s duet with Margo Price on Lynn’s 1971 hit “One’s On The Way” is the sound of the old guard and the new guard in full force in vocal and emotional harmony; and singing on issues which makes them thematically inseparable.
“Where No-One Stands Alone” attains a kind of world-weary gravity that was present on later Ralph Stanley recordings – there’s a mixture of power and resignation that’s very emotionally charging.
“I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight” occupies similar ground, – maybe even more affecting – but in waltz time.
“Coal Miner’s Daughter” is the most radical re-working – it’s now a sparse Southern voiced narration over a banjo soundscape drawn from the perspective of age.
Even approaching her nineties, Loretta Lynn is showing that artistic creativity needn’t be diminished.
The Loretta Lynn on this album develops a lesson in maturity, grace and strengthknowing her strengths, using them wisely – and adapting a changing (physical and metaphorical) voice to the material can produce beautiful work – and that’s what the Queen of Butcher Hollow is still doing – and long may she continue to do so.

Review by Nick Barber
Released 19th March 2021


USA https://lorettalynn.shop.musictoday.com/

UK & Europe https://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-Woman-Enough-Loretta-Lynn/dp/B08R27YVYP/ref=tmm_acd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1616190127&sr=1-1

Son of The Velvet Rat SOLITARY COMPANY

Son of The Velvet Rat
Solitary Company
Fluff & Gravy Records

Grizzled, Aching and Enigmaticly Poetic Folk Rock

To be perfectly honest I didn’t review The Son of The Velvet Rat’s previous albums DORADO and MONKEY YEARS #2, simply on the basis of the band/duo’s name ……. I regularly do the same if I don’t like an album’s artwork.
Childish? Perhaps.
But in my defence I think of the albums I receive as if I’m in a record shop flicking through the racks looking for something new and ‘interesting’ ….. okay, I may miss out on some gems, but it’s pretty much held me well over the years; and I doubt anyone has gone bankrupt because I didn’t write about their music.
So; as SOTVR haven’t changed their moniker so why am I writing a review? Well; I now have three copies of SOLITARY COMPANY from three very different sources in Europe and the USA …… someone out there wants me to hear them!!
So; not knowing what to expect, I pressed ‘play’ …… hmmm; interesting …… opening track Alicia is very, very interesting. The song’s construction errs on the side of Alt. Folk but with complex and fascinating instrumentation; and that’s before Georg Altziebler makes an appearance with a world weary and wheezy vocal; akin to Nick Cave or (check out our recent review) Harry Dean Stanton on a song of lost love and the despair it creates.
The titular Solitary Company follows and the mood Geog, wife Heike and a multitude of musicians creates is almost claustrophobic and certainly cinematic; of the Noir persuasion methinks.
As we flit in and out of the couple’s songs they get darker and ever more eloquent; touching on Leonard Cohen and Scott Walker territory at times; none more so than the windswept Remember Me and 11 & 9 (which I need to play again through headphones as I’m sure it will unravel like a roll of glittery wool if I do).
I’m pleased to say that SOTVR’s exemplary musicianship means that there is actual light and shade as the moods vary quite dramatically as the album progresses; Beautiful Disarray virtually ‘rocks’ in a mid-period Cohen manner; and Ferris Wheel is as near a toe-tapper as they will probably ever get; but still has the capacity to sound a little bit scary around the edges.
For my Favourite track I’m unable to choose between the Western tinged Remember Me and Stardust too, with its punchy drumming and rumbling guitars, and the other coming from the polar opposite end of the spectrum; The Waterlily and the Dragonfly which most certainly comes from the Leonard Cohen book of enigmatic Poetic Folk Rock music; and it just has to be sung in a grizzled, aching and dare I say it? Sexy tone like Georg Altziebler makes sound so natural.
It now appears that the three people who sent me copies of SOLITARY COMPANY know my musical taste better than I do myself; and this Austrian couple who now live on the edges of Joshua Tree are firm favourites at RMHQ.
Thank you all …… and most of all; thank you Georg and Heike.

Released March 19th 2021