Five Points Gang WANTED

Five Points Gang
Lunaria Records

21st Century Progressive Blues Experiment Siphoned Through, London, Texas and Chicago.

As we well know; you can’t please all of the people, all of the time hence our Bluesoligist Extraordinaire Jack Kidd returned this album to base, citing that ‘it was too noisy‘.
I on the other hand pressed ‘play’ one night in the car after a particularly venomous day at work; only to find myself turning the volume to the right three times!
I’ve played it 4 or 5 times now and can certainly see why it might not appeal to Jack; but hey ….. this is the Blues; in fact who or what actually defines what exactly is The Blues anymore?
For me it’s always been a fast moving lava flow adding and subtracting along the way.
Which is where Brit’ trio Five Points Gang come into the equation; they certainly sit in the Blues camp; but on the Heavy; and possibly even what we used to call Progressive Rock (NOT Prog!!!) arena and what they do; they do exceptionally well.
They throw down the metaphorical gauntlet straight away; with How Long; written just after George Floyd was murdered and contains the punchline; ‘How long to equality‘; which sort of takes off from where the legendary Free ended, without ever battering you over the head with any ‘message’ you are left to make your own decisions.
Grizzly yet fluid guitar aligned to drum and bass that are straight out of a British Steel factory and in the exotically monikered singer Joe Pearson; someone who appears to sing as if his very life depends on it.
I’m in for a million!
Apparently they have already released a Live album; but this is their actual debut album; and in my humble opinion they have certainly spent their formative years honing their craft; as all 13 tracks here are fully formed without an ounce of filler anywhere.
I will tell you how good these kids are; as I hadn’t read the Press Release before playing the album I had not a single inkling that they were British; yet when I know that they couldn’t be from anywhere else!
You see they deftly mix up both Chicago and Texas style Blues with ease and dare I say it; grace.
There are slight nods to Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan in All Points Bulletin, Let’s Stay Together and probably The Secret too; but it’;s a homage if anything and certainly not plagiarism, as these songs are purely Five Points Gang deluxe.
Not everything here is of the fire and brimstone ilk; with the band ‘slowing things down and getting funky’ on the rather beautiful All She Said, I See You Now and What Kind of Man which features some of the sweetest Rock guitar licks I’ve heard in a long time; subtle and silvery too.
What I particularly like here is the songwriting; it’s quite mature as it deals with relationships in all their ragged glory (finale I See You Now being a great example); and they still manage to treat their lovers as equals and even betters; thankfully not strutting any kind of macho nonsense we used to hear in Blues Rock; which hasn’t aged well, has it?
The songwriting is imaginative too, using imaginative metaphors to supplement actual memories (I guess and hope) on Love By The Gun and the funky-ass Made Man; which also feature judicious use of a wah-wah pedal ……. Dear Lord that takes me back to my teenage days; getting excited seeing a guitarist fannying about with a series of effects pedals.
As I said earlier Five Points Gang are British to the core; yet are so obviously influenced by America; which sort of brings me around to choosing a Favourite Song here. Like so many albums this decade bands no longer feel the need to write and record a Hit Single; so feel free to just write from the heart and hope someone out there will like the end result; which I obviously do; with two songs that captured my heart and imagination that first fateful night.

Track #2, All in All was the song I turned the dial up to 9 for …… and even if I hadn’t the car would have still been a’ Rockin’ ….. man does this song RAWK! Pearson’s guitar and vocals actually sound as if they are one; and Dinho Barral’s bass playing throughout manages to be both subtle and powerful at the same time; something both Andy Fraser and Jack Bruce would have been proud of; and they are both complemented by drumming from Gaet Allard that is meticulous and ghostly too. Trust me; if you ever hear this track on the radio you will presume it’s a lost Classic from one of your favourite bands; but you can’t remember who.
Even with that great song here; I’m going slightly left of centre for my actual Favourite; starting slow and sleazy then building and building to a crescendo; The Only One; a sad tale of loving, losing and partial redemption (this is a Blues album after all) somehow blends pieces of Free and SRV with Nirvana and Pearl Jam to create a whole new musical experience for this particular listener.
I understand why Jack didn’t like this album; and on a sunny afternoon when I was in a good mood I wouldn’t have either; but I wasn’t and Five Points Gang where just the thing I needed to blast away my own blues and replace them with yer actual Blues of the highest calbre; congratulations all around chaps.

PS I see the band have some gigs and Festivals arranged for October and April; with none being near to me ……. but I see that they are playing the legendary Whistlebinkies and Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh on consecutive nights ….. only a cheap train ride away and I can only imagine the sweat running down the walls!

Released September 24th 2021


Tommy Atkins TRUTH BE TOLD

Tommy Atkins
Truth Be Told
Self Released

Classy and Unapologetic 21st Century Country Music

Thankfully I’ve not had much time recently for actually putting pen to paper; which has actually allowed me to listen a bit closer to a couple of new and too some intent; ‘challenging’ albums …. and this is one of them …. and a very Special Release it is, in many ways.
That ‘extra time’ has possibly been essential here; as Tommy Atkins is Proudly Gay; and these songs not just reflect that; but are defiantly so in tone, texture and content; so much so I had to rewrite much of what will follow after reading the CD’s accompanying booklet.
In my defence I couldn’t care less what any musician’s race, creed, religion or indeed sexuality is …… as long as the music is good; I’m there.
In this instance after a couple of years of ‘will he/won’t he’ Geordie Lad,Tommy Atkins has pulled the best of his songs together and released them to reflect his very own life; and while listeners like myself will find several to be ambiguous in content; Tommy throws his Stetson down with the stunningly gorgeous Kiss Me Cowboy which opens the album like he’s been having #1 Hits all his life.
While there’s obviously a clue in the title I obviously missed ‘that’ the first couple of times I played it; just wallowing in the luscious Countryfried production and Atkins’ wonderful voice and beautiful story; until eventually the chorus ‘clicked’ and I found myself going “Oh!”
But; why can’t this be a boy/boy love story?
It’s not as if it doesn’t happen!
OK, just like It Took a Woman; my first instincts were that both songs should be edited to be boy/girl romances; just like so many Music Biz types had been telling Tommy for years ….. but, hey man …… it’s 20 bloody 21 …… the best music comes from not just your heart but your own experiences; and Tommy Atkins gives us both with aplomb and sheer class.
As he says in the accompanying booklet, he started songwriting as a teenager in NE England, then moved to Nashville where he worked as a songwriter for a few years; and he’s now a happily married 30 year old flitting seamlessly between the two musical hotbeds; and these sharply observed songs and stories chart all of the adventures a boy (or girl) has in those crazy and fun filled in-between years.
Speaking of ‘fun filled’ Atkins really gets to the heart of the matter with Cinderella’s Had a Drink and Time of The Month; both are Friday Night Yeehaw Friday Night tales; that will have many of us remembering what it was like trying to have a ‘good time’ during the three weeks leading up to payday, every month; and in the former …… hahahahaha ……. I’m not naming names, but it could easily be about someone very very close to me (in her younger days).
There is just so much to like here; primarily as this is the unapologetic Country Music they say ain’t made anymore …… check out Met The Man (featuring John Drake Hollier); here Atkins wears his influences not just on his sleeve but in the way he delivers his song; not caring two hoots if you think it’s cool or not …… this is the music he believes in 100% and damn the consequences.
Speaking of influences; it took me three plays to actually recognise the second track; Freedom; yup …. it’s the George Michael classico; but now turned into sadder than sad Country heartbreaker which will reduce even the hardest of hearts to absolute mush; and not for the first or last time here, features the divine fiddle playing of Michael Cleveland and pedal-steel from Smith Curry too.
Kiss Me Cowboy is an obvious single and has been a Hit on several charts; but I’m going Left of Centre for my actual Favourite; possibly a case of ‘right place/right time’ for me; as Stuck Behind a Tractor is an astonishing metaphor for looking at your life and needing to slow down; whether you know it or not. In another universe I can actually imagine Ashley McBryde or even Keith Urban having a humongous Hit with it in exactly the same format; but in my perfect world it will be just as humungous a Hit for young Mr Atkins.
The album comes to a rather beautiful close with Wild in The Wind, when the elder singer looks back on a first love with Atkins showing a way with words that the suits on Music Row will surely regret ‘getting away!’

#It appears Tommy Atkins was actually already a ‘follower’ of RMHQ on the Twitter long before a mutual friend; The Geordie Cowboy mentioned his name to me and I checked him out ….. I really wish that I was better at Social Media!

Released August 2021


Matt Hill RETURN OF THE IDLE DRONES (Greedy Magicians II)

Matt Hill
Quiet Loner Records / BANDCAMP

Righteous Anger and Heartbreaking Historical Political Tales told Via Melodic Sucker Punches.

The Artist formally known as Quiet Loner; Matt Hill had been a jobbing Folk Singer with a proper day job before he released his Greedy Magicians cd IN 2012; and the success; both quantitatively and metaphorically allowed him the confidence to ‘go it alone’ and become a full-time musician.
For me it was certainly a case of ‘right place/right time’ as Matt’s razor sharp political observations both historically and of the moment were just what I and the UK needed; although 99.9% of the nation still remain ignorant.
Although I’ve regularly prodded him for a follow up; Matt thankfully didn’t want to be defined by just one record …… and presumed our proud nation would also see through the smoke and mirrors of our despicable politicians in the meantime ….. sadly, he was wrong on the latter point.
So; here we finally have the follow up (of sorts); was the wait worth it?
Of bloody course it was!
I love Matt’s intro to track #1 King of Liars …… and the song itself sets the tone immediately; although Hill never resorts to hitting you over the head with his affiliations; the righteous anger that comes across in an ambiguous song that could be about our Illustrious Leader or just a plain old love cheat (one and the same surely?) shows what a clever and intricate songwrite young Mr Hill is.
This is followed by a relatively swoonsome Making Sense of The War; which is beautifully timeless; although edging towards a soldier returning from WW1 or maybe WW2; as the hero tries to get back to some sort of allotment drinking tea and working in his allotment; but always with those black clouds still in his peripheral vision. Something a lot of young and not so young ex-soldiers will surely associate with; should they hear it.
In the intervening years since Greedy Musicians first hit our turntables; Matt has had the time and resources to develop his writing skills, partly via his time as Songwriter in Residence at a museum in Manchester; to add sparkling detail to historical tales and songs like Strike; about the Matchgirls strike of 1888, Mob of Righteous Fury and Same Old Story; making them accessible for school parties and militant pensioner groups as well as people like you and I who grew up listening to Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie LP’s.
It doesn’t go unnoticed that Matt Hill and James Youngjohn’s ‘live production’ brings out the very best in Matt’s distinctive singing style; which as I’ve said before makes these powerful and political songs ‘easy on the ear;’ lulling the casual listener (if such a thing exists) into a false sense of security until the ‘message’ in the likes of Scraps and the staggering Times Are Getting Tough hits them square on the jaw after the sucker punches that the Ragtime enhanced, Talking It Out delivers like a fleet footed middleweight.
Obviously you are never going to hear any of these songs on BBC Radio or any of those sunshiny ‘Gold’ stations; (although BB 4 and/or Sky Arts could do a lot worse than create a documentary about both releases )but there will be plenty of intelligent presenters on the Internet who will have the wit to slip Scraps or The End of the World into their playlists for the musical cognoscenti like you and I.
With an album like this, with no obvious singles yet every song could easily be a single; selecting an actual Favourite is nigh on impossible; but I tried an old trick; which was to leave the review for an hour then try to remember a song or two that was still lingering …… which brings me to the starkly beautiful Build Us Something More and the awesome Born To Rule; undoubtedly about our illustrious Leader, Prime Minister and Man of the People ……. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. There’s obviously a sneer in Matt’s vocals all the way through; but the anger comes via James Youngjohn’s searing guitar licks, which sound like Rickenbacker laserbeams cutting through the defences surrounding your heart.
Whereas the original was very much from Matt’s Folk Singing background; RETURN OF THE IDLE DRONES has a lot more of an Americana ‘feel’ to it, with slide-guitar and a bit of Western Swing here and there; which is no bad thing; as while much of the subject matter is distinctly British in origin; the themes are very much Universal in 2021 and should be heard across the Western World each and every day.

BTW The CD has two extra ‘bonus’ tracks on it; and one is a heartstopper deluxe; Pound Shop Albion which sums up 21st Century Great Britain (especially England) better than anything Van or Eric could dream of creating these days!

Released October 1st 2021


Joanne Shaw Taylor THE BLUES ALBUM

Joanne Shaw Taylor
The Blues Album
KTBA Records

She’s Not Just Got The Blues But a Heart Full of Soul Too.

I’ve always believed Joanne Shaw Taylor to be a very underrated singer and songwriter; so what generally makes my blood boil is when reviewers concentrate on her long blonde hair and ‘surprising’ ability to really, really play an electric guitar very well (for a girl!) ….. it’s 2021 for God’s sake …… why should that still surprise someone?
But it does.
Hopefully this album will surely make people take her at face value; under the tutelage of Joe Bonamassa and his new label KTBA; Joanne gets to show off all of her skills in a way; perhaps she’s never been allowed to do before.
While opening track Stop Messin’ Around comes from Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac; Joanne’s reinvention gives it a whole lot more fire and brimstone than the original; and the production is crystal clear allowing every instrument and especially Joanne’s distinctively husky vocal room to breathe and be heard by even the oldest of ears.
While initially disappointed to find none of these songs are Taylor originals; enough of these covers were unknown to me; so still sound as fresh as a daisy.
I’m presuming the choice of songs is Joanne’s and Joanne’s alone (as she is very much a single minded artist!) so when you hear her deliver stunning heartbreakers Lay Me Down Easy and the heartfelt Three Time Loser you know Joanne has great taste and the skill set to select songs that she knows she can turn into her own, without damaging the memories of the originals.
While it should be no surprise after six previous albums; Joanne still has the ability to surprise us with the way she adds her own twists and turns to her big band version of If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody and again on the jaunty Two Time Lovin’; which swings right on into and out of Bonnie Raitt territory without as much as a by your leave; as Joanne makes the song her very own.
Thankfully there are no boringly ‘obvious’ selections in the songs choice here; with Little Milton’s If That Ain’t a Reason and Magic Sam’s Keep On Loving Me sitting side by side and both getting a fresh lick of paint and a rebore to make them sound as if they had been written two weeks ago instead of half a century ago.
This is very much an album for ‘listening to’ from start to finish; revelling and generally easing on down to; so selecting a stand out Favourite is never going to be easy; but a couple do somehow manage to stand out from the exquisite pack; starting with Don’t Go Away Mad; featuring Joe Bonamassa alongside Joanne on guitar and vocals too; originally from 1991 by the supergroup Little Village comprising Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, Jim Keltner and John Hiatt; I don’t believe I’d ever heard it before ….. but love it now.
Perhaps it’s the mood I’m in at the moment; but Joanne’s ballades have really sent a shiver down my spine; and with a voice like hers again; it shouldn’t come as a surprise but ….. phew …… she takes the Don Covay/Little Richard ballad, I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (now featuring Mike Farris) into a whole other league that I genuinely never expected to hear from her … so hats off to Bonamassa and crew for bringing this out of her.
Maybe I’m wrong; but I thought Joanne Shaw Taylor’s career had stalled in recent years …… but here; the rest enforced on her during the last couple of years has been a Godsend and allowed her to kick start her career with this simply stunning and totally fresh approach to her first love; The Blues.

PS Even the cover passes the RMHQ test of being eye catching enough to stop the casual music buyer in his tracks and want to hear the contents if they stumbled on it in a Record Store!

Released September 24th 2021



The Music Gets Us Thru

Roots & Roll to the Max; Encapsulating the Entire Stars & Stripes with Taste, Touch and Passion

He may have been round the block a time tor two, but the experiences banked playing with all sorts of legendary R&B musicians provides a brilliant platform for Brad Vickers and his band the mighty Vestapolitans on his latest album.
Where did that name come from I hear you ask, well it intrigued me too?
I investigated and discovered that it is precisely spot on with the music that Brad and his band deliver on this album.
It emanates from a music piece originating in the 19th. century entitled The Siege of Sevastopol, vitally played in open tuning. Over the years the name has been bastardised and re-invented many times. Even Bo Diddley stated that he first learned guitar in Vistabol tuning (preferring open E whilst using a capo to vary the key).

Brad’s Vestapolitans have a regular core, consisting of Margey Peters – bass & vocals, Jim Davis – sax and Billy Rankin – drums, although they can be expanded with some top musical friends, from their base in New York, as is the case on this new release. Brad and Margey co-produced the album along with multi instrumentalist and multi talented VD King

This is not Blues for the sad, the lonely or the downhearted, no Sir ……give it one play and you’ll be stunned as to just how up-beat and enjoyable Brad and his band present their perspective on life.
Almost every point on the musical compass is covered, even adding fiddles and clarinets where appropriate, so not just Blues but some Western Swing, Cajun and Dixieland are all comfortably fused together to create an eminently joyous Saturday Night (even if it is really Tuesday) .

Two thirds of the 12 songs were written by either Brad or Margey with the remainder being covers of the well established past masters.
The catchy foot-stomping “Dumb Like A Fox” gets the party swinging; followed by a marvellous tribute to Jimmy Reed with a fine rendition of his “Take It Slow” which includes solos from the additional guitar of Dean Shots; plus a real bonus of harmonica from renowned Mikey Junior.

Whilst “The Music gets Us Thru” and “What in the World” are written by Margey and Brad respectively, both songs take a decorous nod to Chuck Berry with a superb set of horns coming courtesy of Jim Davis on the latter number.
There are slower ballad types too, with the classic Crescent City sounding “Please Don’t Say”, Margey’s “Now It’s The Time For Me To Sing The Blues” (which has some terrific piano from Dave Keys), not forgetting her “Grab My Car Keys” that includes restrained but beautiful slide guitar from Brad himself. Written and sung by Margey “Big Wind” introduces a hybrid ragtime style that encompasses a touching and congenial violin solo from guest Charles Burnham.

Standout tracks for me were the lively cover of Larry Darnells’ “I’ll Be Sitting, I’ll Be Rockin’” presented in a Bob Wills fashion with brass and splendid accordion; then Margey’s “Bird In My Tree” another where Brad’s sweet guitar break compliments Jims sax solo.
However, it’s the two tracks where Brad and Margey duet on the vocals that really captured my full attention, and as I write I think that their cover of Tampa Red’s “I Will Never Let You Go” with the clarinet and VD Kings accordion just about pipping the Honky Tonky cover of JB Lenoir’s “When I’m Drinking” for the accolade of Favourite Song.

All in all, The Music Gets Us Thru is a thoroughly enjoyable album that delivers a diverse mix of great American music.
What did tickle me though, there are no deep throated growls or screams, no “y’all’s” or “baby done left me’s,” with everything under perfectly lovely control with crystal clear annunciation too.
Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans sure can play ‘Roots & Roll’ to the Max; encapsulating the entire Stars & Stripes with taste, touch, passion and enthusiasm. I’m now going back in search of their back catalogue of 6 previous releases and I strongly suggest you ought to consider the same.

Review Courtesy Jack Kidd

Released on 7th. September 2021



Long As I Got My Guitar
Catfood Records

Effortlessly Rich Variety of The Blues.

Born in Jackson, Mississippi but now based in Texas, award winning Blues singer & guitarist Zac Harmon has been ’round the block a time or two and has an iridescent CV stretching way back to playing guitar as a 16 year old, with his Dad’s friend, Sam Meyers.
For more than 25 years he has followed his dream, playing and recording with an impressive list of A1 musicians, ending up in 2021 with a new album which he believes is the most memorable of his illustrious career.

This is his second album released on Catfood Records, following on from 2019’s Mississippi Bar BQ and again Zac has Grammy winning Jim Gaines as the Producer with the label owner Bob Trenchard on Bass. Trenchard also co-wrote 7 of the 10 songs with Zac making him one highly involved and hugely influential participant.
The recording was all captured at Sonic Ranch, Tornillo, Texas with the mixing and mastering completed in Tennessee.

Deal With The Devil” is the lead track and gets the album off on the good foot, with Zac’s precise, stinging guitar licks interspersed between his strong vocal delivery. In fact this is one of 3 tracks that reminded me of the vocals and guitar of Robert Cray and that includes the albums title track “Long As I Got My Guitar” too.
But wait, there is so much more to this fine album with a couple of very smooth soul efforts where the guitar sounds much more like Ernie Isley than Bobby Cray to me on “New Years Day;” and then again on the more upbeat “Imagine A Prayer”.
Coming across more like a glossy Philly sound than either Memphis or Muscle Shoals is the polished, smoochy version of “Soul Land”, again including an albeit short but stand-out 6 string solo from Harmon.

Zac’s own band members supplement the studio boys on “Love For You Baby” with keyboardist Corey Lacey (who co-wrote the song with Zac) also used to good effect on three other tracks.
Lasting 5 minutes, the closing track, written by Zac and Bob, “Ashes To The Wind” is the longest song on the album but is well worth waiting for, featuring a churchy organ, giving the track an almost gospely feel with SueAnn Carwell and Corey Lacey earning their corn on the backing vocals.

However, the one track that highlights the diversity of music on offer here is also my favourite, “Crying Shame;” an imposing, Swampy, Cajun ballad that could easily have come from the pen of Bobby Charles, with Dan Ferguson’s authentic accordion the prominent ingredient in this delectable gumbo of a song. Once again Zac provides great tone with his guitar playing and adjusts the vocals slightly closer to swamp-pop icon Tony Joe White.

Long As I Got My Guitar is one of those albums that gets better the more you play it and the more you listen too;, the more you hear the subtleties of the musicianship and the imposing lyrics.
All in all, Zac Harmon and his team have delivered a splendid album, rich in variety that effortlessly mixes and melds several sub-genres providing a most enjoyable listening experience.

Jack Kidd aka “Messin’ with the Kidd” on

Released on 1st. October 2021



Ana Egge
Between Us
Storysound Records

Beautiful and Boldly Crafted Songs and Stories.

Conceived during songwriting sessions via FaceTime with Irish singer-songwriter Mick Flannery, and with the assistance of a dream journal that Egge had begun keeping, Between Us; the twelfth album by the Canadian/American songwriter—may be her most ambitious yet, and one of her most memorable. Helped along with a smart, taut production by Lorenzo Wolff who treats these songs as the gems they are, mostly utilizing musicians new to Egge.
(I don’t know if she is planning any live shows with these musicians, but if there are any, they will assuredly rock. These cats have it down.)
The first cut, “Wait a Minute,” kicks off with some perfect horns extolling a melody pure and simple before Egge sings about a relationship in need of compromise yet full of hope.
One thing I love about Egge is the way she uses horns on several of her albums in fun and distinctly inventive ways. The horns here weave and bob throughout the song, one picks up where another drops out, wrapping around the vocals.
Great stuff, always reaching, never missing.
Egge’s voice on these songs is always full of subtleties.
Often she will go softer where others will go loud, sometimes repeating a line only to twist the melody slightly for emphasis. You can tell she loves to sing and there’s nothing wrong with that!
Walk out back,
I’ll always find you,
head inside an engine,
with a wrench pushed in your back pocket,” she sings on “The Machine.”
A portrait of a man obsessed with working on cars to the point of being left behind by the ever-changing world around him, and the person who loves him in spite of it all.
“Heartbroken Kind” pairs an upbeat melody with a dark story some of us know all too well. Leave it to Egge to find a way to make a song about self destruction so free and fun to sing along with. “We Let the Devil” is a tale of modern trials.
We let the Devil come between us,
now he doesn’t want to go,
he wants us to keep fighting,
cuz he knows what devils know.” she sings beautifully.
People divided, no hope in sight, no true winners.
“We Lay Roses” is a tribute to a fallen soul—thoughtful and full of warmth.
Am I crazy or does “Want Your Attention” throw off some fun Family Stone vibes?
With guest vocals by J.Hoard, and some quirky sound effects, this funky tune is exhilarating and grooves like a MOFO.
My favorite song on this album for sure, the way it kicks, the dual vocal interplay, the way the bridge sneaks in after the stop. This song is pure infectious fun.
More like this, please!
Ana Egge keeps getting better and bolder with the crafting of each album. If this keeps up, who are we to argue?
Released 24th September 2021
Review by Roy Peak


Johannes Wamberg TABLOID

Johannes Wamberg
April Records

Boundary Expanding Melodic Jazz Fusion.

Although it genuinely intrigued me; the publicist’s hyperbole “Danish Jazz meets Disco & Donald Fagen” isn’t actually too far from my own description of what this amazing young guitarist has put together here.
The opening track I Love U genuinely sits somewhere between George Benson’s ‘hit period’ in the 80’s and the sort of things Kenny Burrell was famous for, if you were to ask me.
As I’ve said many times in the last few years; Jazz means a lot of different things to many different people and I’m slowly growing into it; after several decades of trying and the contemporary and melodious style Johannes Wamberg brings to the party seems to be right up my street.
The last few weeks have been hard for me and I’ve found great solace playing this album; with Altid, Hey B and especially Salme hitting the right notes not just figuratively; but literally too.
It’s fair to say that a couple of uptempo tracks could easily become theme tunes for American TV shows if the wind blows in the right direction; which certainly isn’t meant to be a criticism ….. hell, they are as complex as anything that many Legends have produced; just a lot easier on the ear with K being a prime example. I can easily picture a dark cityscape backdrop as an enigmatic PI shuffles down the street and gets into a beat up Corvette ….. but I do have a special type of imagination.
It’s the same with other tracks; putting pictures to the music …… but sometimes it’s best just to let the music do the talking and with Île Flottante and Ånder du stille, Wamberg’s orchestration alongside Oilly Wallace’s sublime sax playing; doesn’t just talk it actually sexilly purrs.
We all have different needs and likes with instrumentals of all persuasions; but one here has really captivated me; so much so Kong Louis has gone onto two very disparate playlist on my Itunes. This tune certainly sounds like Walter Becker sitting in with George Benson at Ronnie Scott’s Club one very ‘cordial’ Friday night ….. and it has a mellow beat that could even tempt me onto the edges of the dancefloor!
I know very little about Johannes Wamberg; but he seems to have been around the European Jazz scene for a few years and isn’t afraid to push boundaries and experiment; which makes this damn album is so hot it’s cooooool.

OILLY WALLACE alto saxophone

Released September 17th 2021



Air Cool Jenny
First Flight
Self Release

A Charming Bluegrass/Folk Hybrid With a Side Order of Classic Pop Harmonies Thrown in For Good Measure.

I can chose the Press Release perspective and pretend you and I already know who the constituent parts of Air Cool Jenny are; Helen Rose and Kramer Sanguinetti ….. but I won’t because I don’t.
Not that that really matters here at RMHQ; it’s just a niggling annoyance I have; because at the end of the day “it’s all about the music” isn’t it?
The answer should be a resounding YES.
Any hoot; Helen Rose and Kramer Sanguinetti are ‘multi-instrumentalists’ and songwriters who criss-crossed America before winding up in New York City where their stars finally aligned.
This, their debut as a duo is a lot of things as they combine their obvious writing and singing talents on what ends up being a charming Bluegrass/Folk hybrid with a side order of Classic Pop harmonies thrown in for good measure.
It’s taken a while; but opening track Pelican has really ‘grown on me’ over the last few weeks. To some degree Rose and Sanguinetti challenge the listener right from the get go; with the song about a ‘special spot on the Mississippi that the couple know” starting out as a whimsical and slightly nonsensical Folk tale that grows and builds until (and you have to believe me here!) the couple end up going full on Led Zeppelin by the end of the 4 and a half minutes are up!
The next track When I Rise is stunningly beautiful; with Helen taking the lead on a tender and heart-crushing love song; which has had me delving into her solo back catalogue btw.
Track III, Pissin’ on the Moon is a 100mph Bluegrass Twangfest that will even have Peg Leg Jake jigging around the room ……. I’ve not really got a clue what it’s actually about ….. but it’s a belter-deluxe.
In many ways this 4 track EP seems to be a Sampler of what the duo are capable of; as the finale; an ode to New Orleans; The River’s Gone has Kramer on lead and Helen supplying totally dreamy harmonies on a bittersweet song that has echoes of Laurel Canyon in every note and beat.
Yep; I think Air Cool Jenny are finding their feet here; and that’s no bad thing at all with each track being individually very listenable and eminently classy in it’s own way; but listening as a collective has been jarring on occasion; but in their defence I’ve been very busy lately and I’ve still kept coming back here for solace; so they must be doing something right.

Released September 10th 2021



Felice Brothers
From Dreams to Dust
Yep Roc

As Ever; Equal Parts Humorous, Deadly Serious and Always Thought-Provoking.

Whenever there is a new Felice Brothers album on the horizon, I get a little bit excited, and I’ve never been let down. Their latest album, From Dust to Dreams has managed to supersede even my normally high expectations.
It unravels like a rumination on the existential absurdity of twenty first century being.
In the past it’s proven all too easy for reviewers to offer sloppy comparisons between the Felices and Bob Dylan; however, in this case, the lyrical tapestry woven through album owes a debt to the literary surrealism of mid-sixties Dylan, if the songs on From Dust to Dreams are more clearly grounded, finding the surreal caught up in a wicked tango with contemporary pop culture.
In truth, I was sold from the moment I heard lead track Inferno with its choruses invoking the waning “Jean Claude Van Damme” of the late 90s.
This may be Americana, rich with traditional instrumentation, but there’s also room for piano ballads and even a little trumpet.
After all, the Felice Brothers and their leader Ian Felice have consistently demonstrated through their eight-album catalogue that they’re not afraid of pushing the boundaries and freshening up the genre.
Money Talks is a case in point.
The song’s introduction comprises a hazy piano laden dreamscape interrupted by the nightmarish sounds of a probing job interview, which gives way to a bouncy, bass-led, apocalyptic meditation on capitalist society.
The title of From Dust to Dreams is well chosen, highlighting themes that resonate throughout the album. It is actually the final lyric of the track Be at Rest: a tongue in cheek number, which masquerades as the reading of the eulogy come will of a recently deceased ‘Mr Felice’.
Death, dreams, religion and the follies of social construction haunt the album.
Perhaps, it is unsurprising that such subject matter drives the narrative, given it was recorded in a restored eighteenth century church.
Closing number, We Shall Live Again brings the album full circle.
At nearly nine lilting minutes long, it is also the track that channels Dylan most clearly, think Desolation Row style obfuscation,
I’ve been in most of these hotels on the edge of reality,
I even rode my donkey over the mountains of Argentina”.
Hegel and Proust are named dropped, as well as
St Francis of Assisi to the fans of AC/DC”,
as if offering the citations to mark the various moments of philosophical enquiry on the album.
This is not a one-paced record by any means.
Opener Jazz on the Autobahn has swing, a sing-a-long chorus and whooping, yet manages to maintain the album’s obscurantism.
Gentler moments lean more heavily on James Felice to lull us despite the dangerous nature of the world we’re being invited to explore.
Such is the case on All the Way Down
if you can die it’ll be all right
or the musical hall-esque Silverfish which is every bit as opaque as anything sung by Ian
my Honda Fit’s got mice in it, the biggest investment of my life’s infested with mice”.
Celebrity X is a track that will resonate with anyone despairing of the cult of celebrity and reality TV culture. Its criticisms are straight forward: anyone can be a celebrity these days, we pay too much attention to other people’s lives and fame can be a burden.
But it’s delivered in deliciously tongue in cheek fashion. Given the self-deprecating nature of the humour elsewhere, the Felice Brothers get away with a little bit of well-aimed, but still fun, vitriol here. Listen to find out what Celebrity U is doing with W’s wife.
From Dust to Dreams is an album that is in equal parts humorous and deadly serious but is always thought-provoking. It is another triumph for the Felice Brothers and will certainly be in the running for the best album of 2021.

Review courtesy Steven K Driver esq.

Released September 17th 2021