Dust Radio
Shotgun Shack
Lunario Records

Scandalously Good North Mississippi Blueswailin’ Stompers with a Punk Twist or Two.

I’ll tell you how good this album is; Mrs. Magpie has walked out of the room not once….. but twice when I’ve been playing it!
Now, that’s not a derogatory statement about her taste in music; just that these five blistering tracks of raw Blues music which derive their origins from the shacks of North Mississippi, but actually come from the start of the Mersey Delta in Greater Manchester to be pedantic; but if played loud enough are capable of stripping paint off the doors …. I know; I’ve tried.
I’ve seen similar acts over the years and I’m always left stunned how just a handful of musicians can kick up such a ruckus and fill the room with an absolute Wall of Sound….. but they do.
Dead Man’s Crawl which opens proceedings is an hypnotic stomper, with the most blueswailin’ harmonica you might ever hear in this lifetime; throw in some of the dirtiest guitar this side of a scrapyard and some Shaman shakers; it matters not what the neighbours think …. let them move!
It’s fair to say in advance none of these five songs are of the introspective, bedsit troubadour variety …… this is the Primeval Blues from the History Books but with some razor sharp 20th Century Punk twists too.
The title track, Shotgun Shack comes next; and the walls will still reverberate; only now we get to hear Paddy Wells rusty vocals in all their glory while Tom Jackson goes off on a a variety of fascinating and meandering guitar solos that bely his place in the duo’s shadows.
Things slow down for the sultry Fault Line; which will surely have the happy loving couples swirling around the dancefloor of any and every Roadhouse these cats ever play.
The finale Siren Song, has a narrative and rifftastic melody that takes more than their fair of left turns, but never strays too far from the Blues Reservation to scare the hard core; but I can’t say the same for purists.
Which leaves Backslider; arguably the most commercial track here; but that’s like saying ‘in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King.’
There’s a hint of the Allmans about it; possibly even early Bob Segar and I absolutely love it, especially the hypnotic chorus; ….. hence it’s my Favourite Song here ….. and I can’t wait for a) the album which is scheduled for later in 2021 and b) a UK Tour.

Released May 28th 2021



Craig Cardiff
All This Time Running
True North Records

Intricately Constructed and Articulate Songs; Which Will Haunt You for Years to Come.

Apparently Canadian Singer-Songwriter Craig Cardiff has previously self-released 25 albums and EP’s since 1999; but this on the fabulous True North label is his first in 6 years and this is the first time that I’ve heard of him.
If ALL THIS TIME RUNNING is the benchmark; then the loss has been mine.
First of all I’m not sure I agree with his description of himself as a Folk Singer; I have him pegged as a Singer-Songwriter and I believe there is a very subtle, but significant difference ….. which we can debate at a later date.
The title track kick starts the album; and the first thing I noticed was Cardiff’s voice; part gruff and part velvety in texture but incredibly sensitive and expressive.
The song itself has an expansive feel to it; and I swear that there’s a banjo in the many layered musical backing to Cardiff’s intense and beautiful tale of love.
One of the reasons that it’s taken me so long to actually write a review; is Cardiff’s voice which he uses like an instrument all of its own; it’s like a cloak that wraps everything together in a way you find yourself not always taking notice of the words and stories; but that’s a good thing at times; but you really should pay attention as Craig Cardiff really can write a cleverly constructed and articulate song; the likes of which will haunt you for years to come ……. which has already happened to me with Yellowknife, Fire, Fire, Fire and the meticulous and bouncy Emm & May, which had me humming the melody and mumbling a few words late one night at work!
We all know the adage that songwriters should ‘write about what they know’ and Craig Cardiff does this with imaginative and colourful flourishes on Bryant Park, Greyhound SK and Wyoming; truly ‘painting pictures with words.’
My copy has a bunch of Bonus Tracks on it; and I hope yours does too; as the two versions of Moon are both worthy of inclusion; especially the Big Band rendering and the title track All This Time Running comes back with an Explicit Version; which would normally turn me off …… but we ain’t talking NWA here, just a slightly more punchy approach which does a great song no harm at all.
For my Favourite Song I’m actually torn between the Bonus Track Dirty Old Town and The American, which appears much earlier.
Dirty Old Town confused me at first; as I was expecting the Ewan MacColl song, made famous by The Pogues; but no…. it’s actually a rather lovely Modern Folkie missive with some really sharp and neat guitar work behind a love song we can all associate with.
The American, on the other hand is a a cool rootsy, Jazz tinged song; with swooping strings and a drummer who must have studied under Levon Helm (less is more?) making it the perfect accompaniment for a warm Spring/Summer evening preferably sitting on a veranda drinking something quite exotic …. which makes this easily my Favourite Track here; although the competition was very high.
Craig Cardiff covers a lot of ground here; dabbling in a variety of styles, that are all woven together to create a genuinely complete body of work; well worthy of his contempories all across North America … and beyond.

Released 14th May 2021.



Paul Handyside LOVELESS TOWN

Paul Handyside
Loveless Town
Malady Music/Bandcamp

A Musical Arcade of Roots, Americana and Good Olde Folk Songs.

Aha! There’s a new album from Paul Handyside coming out and it pains me to say that neither Bob Harris or any of our popular TV shows Lorraine, Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton or even Later With Jools Holland will feature him; but all (apart from Bob ….. probably) will interview Tom Jones and the Tax Avoider from Take That and give them precious air time to promote music no one will buy.
Life’s not fair is it?
But the discerning music fans like you and I don’t need them; do we?
This is Newcastle singer-songwriter Paul Handyside’s fourth solo album; and I’ve been playing it on and off for two months now; sometimes when I was even supposed to be listening to someone else for review purposes.
I’m a great believer in the opening track being a ‘strong song’; something to capture the attention and …….. the title track, Loveless Town just might be the best song Paul has ever released.
A self-confessed Roots Songwriter; Paul goes all Hill Country George Jones siphoned through Steve Earle, with trusty sidekick Rob Tickell playing a lap steel as if he’s channelling the spirit of Buddy Epson …… I know that’s a lot to take in; but I’m not wrong.
Just as you try to get your breath back, Handyside and Tickell hit you with the sucker punch that is Light of My Life; a more spacious, but still maudlin love song that takes us on a journey of love that needs a video akin to a lonesome cowboy sitting on the trail, or possibly a travelling musician sitting in a windswept bus station at midnight with the only the moon and memories for company.
Beware; Paul is a Roots songwriter; not just Country Music; he can and does change direction in the blink of an eye; but his rich baritone voice and Rob’s symbiotic accompaniment take us on all kinds of journeys, not least with the gently swoonsome heartbreaker Don’t Let Your Heart be a Hotel or the bittersweet bedsit troubadour love song Only You and of course there’s the punchy Lord, Show Yourself which is Roots Music at its richest and most expressive.
As with many albums I’ve received lately; this was written and recorded during 2020 during various Lockdowns and Paul somehow keeping his head above water while working in the Health Care sector and Rob, like so many like him, losing his day job in the Arts; but those frustrations and occasional angry bursts come out in the music …… although not always literally.
With so much on offer here; it’s been incredibly difficult to select an out and out Winner of the Favourite Track accolade.
I first heard Paul sing Hartley Pit Disaster two or three years ago and it hit me like left hook to the solar plexus …… and I’ve subsequently requested it at two further concerts. A Modern Folk Song, about a real coal mining disaster at a local Northumbrian colliery that eventually changed the laws; and is actually best served by hearing Paul tell the story before you hear it. While a ‘local song’ it will touch the hearts of any and everyone from coal mining communities around the world where these tales are all too sadly commonplace.
BTW There are harmonies in the mix; but at some stage I’d love to hear this Paul and Rob perform this song with a Colliery Band and associated choir …… it bloody deserves it!
Anyway, that’s not even my second Favourite Song here!
I know …… but the quality of writing and singing is exceptional.
#2 is most likely the finale; another beautiful, if bittersweet love song Someone Like You that manages to marry the essence of modern Bedsit Troubadour stylismo, with Cowboy Country Music melancholia and imagery too.
Then, there is a song that kind of sums up a lot of what we have all suffered politically and even emotionally in not just the last two or three years; but in the case of Great Britain; 10 or more …….. Not In My Name captures the frustrations and angst of a nation; any nation and is surely destined to be a thunderous end of night sing/shout a long that initially brought back memories of a Red Wedge Tour many moons ago and if ever there was a time for a Folkie to turn up at the barricades with a guitar and a bag of full of Anthems; now is the time and Paul Handyside (with Rob too) is just that man!
His time has come …….. this by far; is probably/definitely Paul Handyside’s most complete and finest body of work so far; as I’m sure there is more and hopefully even better to come.

Released May 21st 2021




Jesse Terry
When We Wander
Wander Recordings

Laid Back and Easy Going Americana With Deceptively Killer Lines and Hooks.

As I’ve said many times over the years; “If I was aimlessly flicking through the racks of a record shop and stumbled on this; the cover alone would grab my attention and lead me to asking the person behind the counter if I could hear a couple of tracks.”
(Remember those days kids?)
The cool pic of a handsome young man in a Rough Rider jacket, looking straight at you, effortlessly leads you into the the laid back and easy going songs that follow …….. but; in the best TV Detective manner; there’s a glint in them there eyes that hides the fact that he’s more than capable of delivering a killer line or couplet when you’re least expecting it.
To begin with, the title track When We Wander gently squeezes your heart until you can’t breathe for fear of missing a note or sepia tinged image …… phwoar!
Jesse Terry has a such a lovely and yet deceptive voice that you would be forgiven for putting this album on as ‘background music’ ….. but; trust me here …… something will catch your ear and you won’t be able to stop yourself jumping up and taking said song back to the beginning; be it the sumptuously reflective Hymn of a Summer Night, the Honky Tonk delights of Pretty Good Hand or even the bittersweet love song, In Spite of You; all have something that will pique your interest and maybe even look back on your own life.
Seven albums in and 150+ shows a year don’t necessarily make for an apprenticeship that makes a songwriter this good; but Jesse Terry uses every single experience in his life to create his Art; and in many ways his songs are Art.
Our new friend Neilson Hubbard’s gentle production gives this a bit of a West Coast/Laurel Canyon vibe; with Ghost Stories and the punchy Little Fires sounding as if Terry had overdosed on Jackson Browne and David Gates for 72 hours solid and wanted to tip his hat in that direction; and the world is a better place for it.
While a wholly gorgeous and slightly edgy album from start to finish; on any other album the title track would be my Favourite Track; no question but such is the quality and class on offer it doesn’t even make the Top 3!
Little Fires, with its searing pedal-steel spine, has an easy going melody that lulls you in until the story unravels and you find you unconsciously have a tear in the corner of each eye and your bottom lip is puffed up ….. yup; it’s a bonafide heartbreaker.
Jesse Terry can also Rock It Up when he wants to too; and the powerful Hanging the Stars effortlessly straddles Classic Country Rock and the new fangled Alt. Country with ease and is just perfect for the radio on a hot and stifling Saturday night.
Then, there is the overall winner …….. cue drum roll …… the Springsteen inspired Strangers In Our Town.
Like all great songs it will appeal to listeners on different levels; but to me this claustrophobic love song had me looking at Mrs. Magpie and thinking; ‘come on ……. let’s us be strangers in our town‘ i.e. let’s look at our lives from a whole new angle … we’re never too old to Rock & Roll; are we?
All that’s left for me to say is to tell you about the Press Release; as is my won’t I skimmed down to see if my name was included (it isn’t) and then I saw a quote from a radio DJ.
Mercifully for once it wasn’t Bob Harris; but someone you’ve never heard of but has been a huge influence on my listening taste and hopefully broadcasting skills over the las 50 years ……. one Paddy MacDee from my local BBC Radio Newcastle.
At one stage Paddy had three very different shows running 7 days a week and wholeheartedly supported ‘proper music’ and especially the local scene, not just on radio but turning up to gigs on his nights off too.
So; if Jesse Terry is good enough for Paddy MacDee, he’s certainly good enough for the likes of me and you!!

Released May 14th 2021


RMHQ Music Hour Ep:20

RMHQ Music Hour
Episode 20
May 14th 2021

It’s that time of the week again …. MUSIC HOUR TIME!
It’s another eclectic mix of old, new, borrowed and Bluesy …… with a great and slightly surprising Gateway Song from Martin Stephenson; plus brand new tracks from fellow Geordies Shipcote and Paul Handyside; plus Dust Radio alongside Classics and rarities from the great and the good across Roots Music.
Twenty shows in and we still haven’t played the same song twice ….. and nor will we.

Linda Ronstadt#20 PODCASTBlue Bayou
Jeremy Pinnell#20 PODCASTAint Nothing Wrong
Nanci Griffith#20 PODCASTEverything’s Coming Up Roses
Malcolm Holcombe#20 PODCASTThe Empty Jar
Bap Kennedy#20 PODCASTReckless Heart
Jaime Wyatt#20 PODCASTDemon Tied to a Chair in my Brain
Dust Radio#20 PODCASTDead Man’s Crawl
John Clifton#20 PODCASTBrand New Way to Walk
Green on Red#20 PODCASTTime Ain’t Nothing
Hurricane Ruth#20 PODCASTWho I Am
Curse of Lono#20 PODCASTSaturday Night
Paul Handyside#20 PODCASTLight of my Life
Shipcote#20 PODCASTslow Walk on Wheels
Martin G Stephenson#20 PODCASTWe Are Storm
The Doors#20 PODCASTRiders on the Storm


Steve Goodman
It Sure Looked Good On Paper
Omnivore Records

Keeping The Flame Alive.

For a man who died so very young; Steve Godman appears to have left a fabulous legacy and goldmine of songs in his back catalogue.
This latest release from those fine folks at Omnivore Records is a rather loving look at a bunch of demos, rarities and oddities long forgot by even his most ardent fans.

It’s obviously no surprise that City of New Orleans opens the album; only as a band demo; not that you would know it, as it sounds fully formed and staggering in its beautiful complexity and observational detail; and its no wonder that it has become a timeless American Classic as the years have gone by.
OK there will be some pedant reading this who will tsk at my next sentence; but what follows; including a bunch of demos is all new to me and therefore; I can and will treat this as a brand new album ….. which it is.
While fundamentally ‘of his time’, Goodman’s style is genuinely timeless and if you didn’t know better Yellow Coat, Kiss Me Goodbye Again and The Water Is Wide are all as astute and sharply observed as anything I hear from Millennial songwriters that grace the RMHQ turntable, yet were written and recorded over 40 years ago.
Of the oddities here, the charming Face on The Cutting Room Floor was written, but not used in the film Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid; and that title track is here too; plus there’s the stupendously atmospheric Six Pack, originally cited for a Kurt Russell film but has remained hidden until now …… and the world is a better place because of it; and if you are an Alt. Country Band looking for a ‘hit’ ….. look no further my friends.
As there are 20 songs here I can’t discuss each and every one; but Climb the Hills to The Dale, The Dutchman and The Auctioneer certainly deserve to mentioned ‘in despatches’.
This then brings me to my choice of Favourite Song.
The class and quality that Steve Goodman brings to everything here; even the demos makes this quite difficult, but I’ve narrowed it down to three; the title track alone ‘tickled me’ and the half-baked song itself lives up to the title; and the band ‘demo’ Hands On Time, yet again surpasses many songs of a similar ilk I’ve heard from so called ‘stars’ of more recent years.
Then; there is the song that I played first simply because the title appealed to me … Eight Ball Blues; and (again) it not just lived up to; but surpassed its billing.
Phew; why was this not a #1 hit? It’s every inch as good as anything I’ve heard from the same period (Paxton? Chapin? Ochs? Rush?) or beyond; and better than most, with Goodman’s articulate observations and use of metaphor as good as anything his peers ever managed in their homes on Millionaires Row.
As I said earlier there’s a lot here that today’s singer-songwriters can learn from and for bands to dip into and utilise for their own nefarious gains; but also to keep the Steve Goodman memory alive and well in the 21st Century.

Released May 14th 2021

Maggie Bell & Stone The Crows RE-RELEASES

Maggie Bell & Stone The Crows


Repertoire Records

I’ve been a fan of Maggie Bell since the night her I saw her with Stone the Crows on OGWT as a teenager; though sadly I only ever owned second hand copies of her Suicide Sal and the Best Of LP’s; which is why these re-releases have so excited me ….. even though I haven’t heard them yet.
All I can do tonight is pass on the info from the Press Release and wait patiently for my review copies to arrive….

Stone The Crows released their self-titled debut album in 1970, and featured the impressive guitar talent of Les Harvey, younger brother of the great Alex Harvey. Also in the band was bass player / vocalist Jim Dewar, who would go on to be a stalwart of the Robin Trower powerhouse trio of the mid-seventies, and also drummer Colin Allen, a former member of Zoot Money Big Roll Band. The band were managed by the formidable Peter Grant, who also managed Led Zeppelin, and under his guidance Stone The Crows made solid progress through their four album tenure on Polydor Records. However, tragedy struck the band when Harvey was fatally electrocuted onstage at Swansea University in May 1972. His replacement on guitar was the mercurial, diminutive Jimmy McCullough, formerly of Thunderclap Newman, who would go on to join Wings, with Paul McCartney. McCullough completed the recordings for their final album, ‘Ontinuous Performance, before the band split for good in 1973.

After the split, Maggie Bell commenced a solo career. After recording two solo albums which were unreleased, she eventually released her first solo foray, Queen of the Night, in 1974. She followed this with the sparkling Suicide Sal in 1975 (recorded at Startling Studios – owned by Ringo Starr, and featuring guest slots from Phil May (The Pretty Things), Jimmy Page and Pete Wingfield)  both of which were released on the Swan Song label, which was owned by Led Zeppelin and Peter Grant. Despite good reviews and extensive touring, the albums failed to sell, and Bell would go on to front the band Midnight Flyer, again under Grant’s management.

Maggie Bell would later achieve a greater profile as the vocalist on ‘No Mean City’, the theme from the long-running ITV detective series Taggart.

Maggie Bell still tours and performs regularly (Lockdown permitting!) in the UK and Europe.

Released June 25th 2021


Eddie Turner CHANGE IN ME

Change In Me
7-14 Records

A Man Who Doesn’t Follow the Well-Worn, Accepted Format in Creating His Art

Born in Cuba and raised in Chicago Eddie Turner was exposed to a cornucopia of musical influences growing up; jamming with his pals at school, hanging out in alleys or; better still, even sneaking into shows whilst underage to watch true icons such as Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix or later; The Clash.
Turner grabbed an early opportunity to be part of Zephyr for their last album in 1985 and was then invited by his buddy Kenny Passarelli to form The Otis Taylor Band, a commitment that lasted 10 years and included recording 5 albums, up to 2004.

As a solo artist Eddie has previously released 3 studio solo albums; plus the one live effort of ‘Naked In Your Face’ which nicely leads us to the ten new tracks on Change In Me.
Again, he involves his good pal Passarelli, as well as Tim Stroh, to assist with the production duties whilst the album was recorded in both New York and Colorado. With a plethora of styles clearly developing from his eclectic taste in music this is not just any old genre bending album.
In fact, the magazine Classic Rock Here And Now states that “Turner has developed a sound that’s informed by tradition, yet adventurous enough to not be limited by it.”

The title track Change In Me starts off proceedings with a cool tempo, subtle guitar and B3 working together, supporting the lyrics with an added bonus of a sultry female backing vocalist.
It’s an impressive start highlighting the fact that unlike so many of todays artists Eddie knows when to leave things out of the mix.
One of 3 covers, Hendrix’s “My Friend” provides a very effective, albeit pedestrian vocal, almost like Jimi’s own droll delivery on his posthumous ‘The Cry of Love’ album.
Lou Reeds “I’m Waiting For My Man” again paints a vivid underworld of danger and intrigue, complimented by further effective female backing vocals.
The third and most distinctive cover comes from the pen of Chicago Blues Legend – Willie Dixon and is as vastly a different version of “Hoochie Koochie Man” that I’ve ever heard, but you know what … it works.

Jazzy piano keeps “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa” yomping at a pace with the familiar female vocals providing answers to some of Eddie’s comments and observations.
The lyrics to “This is Your Night” tell another haunting almost mysterious tale starting with the scene setting lines
Revenge is a serenade that lasts through the night,
Jealousy’s soft parade,
the Angels are right”

with the repeated memorable lyrics of
You pour me another wine, then you realise,
This is your Night”

completing each verse.
Just for a change, drums and bass prominently feature on “Standing on the Frontline” before some Ernie Isley type guitar licks punch through the funky backbeat.

It’s not exactly easy listening as you plough your way through this album; but the more I’ve listened, the more I like it. Push me for my Favourite Track then it would have to be “Dignify Me” which steps the pace up a gear or three, each verse ending with catchy punch-lines

“You’ve got to dignify my presence,
Dignify my soul, my soul…..Dignify

Undoubtedly, Eddie Turner doesn’t follow the well-worn, accepted format in creating his art, with mostly machinating lyrics and downbeat melodies that ignore the well-worn paths to popularity. To me this borders on him being somewhat enigmatic and probably an acquired taste that will fly over the heads of the masses.
However, all power to his elbow for sticking to his personal idiom and patently not changing himself just to optimise any potential sales.

Jack Kidd aka “Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

Released on 14th. May 2021

Sarah Klang VIRGO

Sarah Klang
Pangur Records

Raising The Bar For Modern Pop Music With a Neat Retro Kick or Two.

My usual listening procedures for reviewing albums is to stick them on the iPhone and then listen on my morning walks.
No interruptions.
Nobody talking away in the background.
Two or three listens of the whole album and I can commit to print.
As I was knocking up the first draft of this album review I was actually playing it on my PC when my wife wandered in to ask; who it was as ‘she has a dead catchy voice’ – praise indeed as it’s fair to say our musical tastes are at opposite end of the music spectrum!
On this occasion she was right, as Sarah has a ‘dead canny voice’ and has put out a ‘dead canny album’.
For non North East of England readers ‘canny’ is an all encompassing word meaning an array of things; but in this instance it means ‘really jolly good’.
I had enjoyed Sarah’s first album ‘Love In The Milky Way’ and it had certainly done well in her homeland of Sweden as a Grammy winner and a chart topping artiste; and then following that up with the equally successful ‘Creamy Blue’ which had led to her being added to a First Aid Kit tour.
The opener ‘27 Pounds’ rattles in with a real bang as she immediately hits the listener with her very quirky vocals; while the electro/drum backing hits the tight notes – a mix of an older pop track with a modern twist; and it is followed by a very catchy ‘Fever Dream’ with an infectious beat to lead us to know this isn’t going to be a simple ‘sit back and listen’ set – much more like a musical slap in the face.
Sarah admits to a love of 60’s and 70’s pop and this demonstrated at its best on track 3 ‘Canyon’ with its neat American twist; and for me, the high spot of the first half of the album.
The guitars are a throwback to those 60’s hits we know and love; with the jangling guitars taking it all it down a notch on ‘Anywhere;’ where the Americana feeling comes through at its best. Song delivery and backing hitting a perfect twosome.
This is vintage sixties pop at its best, from ‘the saddest girl in Sweden’ and it’s rare to hear nowadays an album that sets the bar early on and then manages to raise it again and again, as the tracks roll by with the first drop of a few notches with ‘Girls’ – a sad piece of a relationship where no matter what, it’s the same mistakes that control the relationship.
A very sad song and beautifully delivered.
If you like strident guitars and a different type of vocal, ‘Ghost Killer’ is the one for you – certainly a song that would not be out of place on a Ward Thomas or First Aid Kit set.
If I was a ghost killer I would set you free’.
Even on the must softer and more laid back tracks like ‘Spell’ I feel Sarah Klang’s delivery and her quirky voice (in a nice way) are spot on to retain the standards set from the first few bars.
As we approach the final tracks there is again a more measured sound on ‘Love So Cruel’ and ‘Love Blues;’ where the gentler guitars and the production of Kevin Anderson dovetail on a gentle and haunting backing.
The aptly named ‘The End’ brings a smashing album to a delightful finale – another nod to the 80’s to complete an album to be proud of.
If there is any justice this album should bring Sarah to the notice of music lovers that may have previously been out in the cold.
An excellent album and a pleasure to have had the opportunity to bring it to the attention of others.
There are literally loads of high quality female artists and albums out at present – but add I recommend that you add Sarah Klang to that list – it will certainly get me through a good few more walks.

Reviewed by Bill ‘Two Jabs’ Redhead




Annie Keating
Bristol County Tides

A Pandora’s Box of Americana Introspective and Imagination.

I forget when I first encountered Annie Keating; perhaps at a gig or most likely via the album FOR KEEPS that I reviewed for Maverick Magazine; but it’s fair to say she has accompanied me on many of my darker moments over the last few years …… and she didn’t even know it.
Music touches people in a million different ways of course; and while you’d not think of Ms Keating as a purveyor of ‘sad songs’ (she isn’t) but she can not just tell but sell a ‘sad song’ and make it sound ever so personal to the person on the other end of radio tubes.
Here; the opening track Third Street took me by surprise the first time I heard it as it’s a lot ‘heavier’ than I’d expected …… in a damn good way too; as the Bass pushes down on your chest as the swirling electric piano sounds like the wheels are coming off and then, on top of that, Annie spits out her weary tale with a squint in her eyes …… I can only dream that one day you will idly be driving along in your car and this comes on the radio!
Like most every singer-songwriter these days; Annie used the claustrophobic time enforced on her and her family during the recent Pandemic to write …… and write she has; as this album has 15 tracks on it; and not a single note or word should be edited out.
While tucked away in the family home Annie has been forced to delve deep into her imagination; and once that Pandora’s Box was opened the likes of High Tide, Marigold, Shades of Blue and the enigmatically titled Bittersweet sound like they must have poured out in the middle of the night and into the daybreak with only coffee as a friend.
There’s a clever mix of light and shade across these songs; with many coming from Annie and her Band; but then of course she decides to dip back into solo singer-songwriter mode for the brittle and bewitching Song For a Friend and Half Mast too.
While Annie has always been a sharp and canny songwriter; there’s a feeling of maturity and even sageness that comes with ageing across this album; and which makes choosing a singular Favourite Song excruciatingly difficult …… but that also meant I had to play it an extra couple of times to help decide; which was no hardship whatsoever.
Eventually I’ve narrowed it down to three very different tracks; Track #2 Kindred Spirit sounds like the type of song Lucinda has been trying to write this last 15 years or so; and the cracked world of the love lorn is a lot better place for Annie actually doing so; here’s the opening verse …….:
There’s a Grace in the way you walk/a lazy kind of way you talk
I like the way my name rolls off your tongue
There’s a sadness about where you’ve been/I feel it coming off your skin
A look behind your eyes like you’ve been stung.

Good? Huh?
The metaphoric Lucky 13 on the other hand, opens with a beautiful guitar solo; and eventually Annie slurring the chorus will make you clench your teeth and hope for a happy/happier ending;
Slot machines, Kings and Queens / I’m betting on Lucky 13
Just what you like/a little thrill ride/ losing inhibitions by midnight
will she have the happy ending she craves?
Only keen eared listeners will ever know.
Tucked away in the middle is the charming Doris; a gorgeous introspective tale of a strong woman who arrived in America circa 1959, drinks Johnnie Walker red – straight, smoked a Dunhill pipe, and is now 83 and getting younger every day. Doris just happens to be Annie’s Mother btw. Americana/Folk Music at its very best methinks.
Then’ of course there is the slow and seedy Hank’s Saloon …….. imagine, if you will Bruce and Lucinda being locked in a Motel room with no air con and not being allowed out until they had written a bonafide Hit Country Song for George Jones …… then it might sound a bit like this.
Not an easy choice; but Hell ……. Hank’s Saloon has to be my Favourite …… it’s cooler than a penguins bum!
After 7 previous albums it’s probably unfair of my to still compare Annie Keating to anyone else; but I feel that’s the best way I can to explain the high quality of not just the songwriting here; but the consummate light and shade in the way Annie has constructed and helped produce these songs ………. there’s a lot to appreciate here; but most of all BRISTOL COUNTY TIDES is an album from an artist at the top of her game and something you can allow yourself to settle back and just wallow in.

Released May 7th 2021


RELEASED UK May 7th 2021
RELEASED US June 4th 2021