Jane Allison LIKE MAGDALENE

Jane Allison
Like Magdalene
Horus Music

Highly Talented and Americana Influenced British Bedsit Country-Folk.

This is odd; I was 99% sure I’d reviewed Jane’s album Just Another Girl, but can’t find it in our archives …… oops, if I didn’t!
Whatever; that was the past and LIKE MAGDALENE is not just the present; but in some ways the future too.
For the uninitiated this young lady from the rather lovely town of Aberystwyth in Wales; seamlessly and charmingly straddles the Folk and Americana spheres with ease, with barely a trace of her natural accent in her singing voice; which will surely give songs like the torrid and dour opener Don’t Spill The Water; which has more than a hint of Rust Belt Americana to it; most especially in the breathy and breathless chorus; making it ideal for Roots Radio everywhere.
Like so few of her peers; Jane isn’t afraid to wear her influences on her sleeve; with the emotional Shower of Stars and Kiss of Peace sounding uncannily like adaptations of something Leonard, Joni or RMHQ Favourite, Gretchen Peters may have written; but not actually released ….. but; no … these are from the pen of Ms. Allison herself.
Alonza Bevan’s production make’s Jane’s crystal clear voice and fascinating songs shine throughout; dipping in and out of 60’s bedsit melancholia that relationships of all types can bring; with ease on If I Was Famous, Banks of the Landwehrkanal and Summer Wind; but never allowing this album to sound even the merest hint of depressing; these songs will appeal to anyone and everyone who knows what ‘darkness’ feels like; but there will always be light at the end of that particular tunnel; and here it’s in the shape of the powerful title track Like Magdalene, the delightful Shower of Stars and especially High Road (when the shadow of Joni circa Blue encapsulates every word).
Then, there is one other song that captured not just my imagination when I first heard it; but my heart too.
It’s been a tough old 18 months for everyone; and I’ve not been immune to my own ‘black clouds’ especially recently; and while I’ve tried to blank them out somewhat with Tamla Motown and/or loud Indie Music; nothing speaks to more than a song from someone who ‘has been there’ and I can only presume Jane Allison has; as Frayed with its massive peaks and troughs will touch many another soul as it has mine; therefore making it my Favourite Song on a rather exceptional album.
I guess if I were to ‘pick at the seams’ I would hear the Celtic influences of Jane’s roots; but to me this is quite simply as good British take on ‘Americana’ (which knows no boundaries!) as I’ve heard in years; in fact it’s so damn good, you would be mistaken for thinking Jane Allison was Canadian!

Released June 12th 2021
https://janeallison.net/

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https://janeallison.bandcamp.com/

The Flatlanders THE TREASURE OF LOVE

The Flatlanders
Treasure Of Love
Rack’em Records & Thirty Tigers

A Timeless Set of Old and New Classic Tunes That Define Americana.

As the publicity shouts, this is the first album from the legendary combo in twelve years and therefore … expectations are high.
Content-wise, lockdown has given the trio the chance to collect and finish recording songs of their own songs and a few covers that have appeared in their live sets, but had never been fully realised in the studio until now.
The covers chosen suit the harmonies and heartbreak that have laced the Flatlanders’ output over many years – the Everly Brothers’ “Long Time Gone” sounds just as fragile as that earlier take, but now adds a wry world-weariness.
Initial single release “Sitting on Top of The World” is a rollicking turn-taking ear-worm, whereas “Give My Love to Rose” is as much imbued with the spirit of Johnny Cash as you’re ever likely to hear in the 21st Century.
Arrangements throughout are unfussy and wrought from the road; with the story and the timbre of the voices to the fore.
Allocation of song to voice is strong too – Jimmy Dale Gilmore’s tremulous tones suit the melancholy title track “Treasure of Love;” whereas Ely and Hancock tend to take the narrative course on songs like “Satin Shoes” and “Mobile Blues”.
In the trio format, there’s a good mix of turn-taking and two and three part harmonies, which offer a great deal of light and shade – “Ramblin’ Man” being a perfect example of where the egos retreat for the benefit of the song.
With fifteen songs to go at, there’s plenty of variety too – favourites for me are all the ones where Jimmy Dale Gilmore takes the lead; but especially “The Ballad of Honest Sam” with its Western imagery and mythology – timeless and Classic.
One low spot for me is the inclusion of the jokey “Mama Do the Kangaroo,” which is no doubt a live crowd-pleaser, but which sounds somewhat one dimensional and jars against the other material on offer – still, when you’ve got a skip button and fourteen other excellent tracks, I’m not complaining.
Twelve years did you say?
Let’s hope it’s not that long before The Flatlanders’ catalogue is further expanded, based on this timeless set of Classic tunes, old and new.

Review by Nick Barber

Released 9th July 2021
https://www.theflatlanders.com/

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Mark Rubin JEW OF OKLAHOMA

Mark Rubin
Jew of Oklahoma: The Triumph of Assimilation
Rubinchik Records

A Cannily Handcrafted, Smart, Fun and Decidedly Relevant Album.

Mark Rubin, the self-proclaimed Jew of Oklahoma, and co-founder of the Austin, Texas Americana band the Bad Livers, says this about using the banjo to play traditional Jewish songs:
It’s an instrument of my tradition, and Yiddish culture is also my tradition, so for me, at least, I don’t see why not.
Rubin, who’s played in traditional bluegrass and country bands for decades, is set on setting the record straight and righting wrongs with his album; The Triumph of Assimilation.
Rubin has remarked that he has as much a right to sing Folk songs and play the banjo as anyone, regardless of his DNA.
“Jewish-Americana” is an apt, well-deserved, and fitting description.
Kicking off with “A Day of Revenge,” a song based on a poem by Mordechai Gebirtig, Rubin sets the stage for an album of Folk-based and Yiddish-fuelled songs.
“Revenge” comes off first as revenge fantasy, then makes a hard left turn before the instruments fade.
“It’s Burning” is a wake up call for everyone to realize the tools most needed to affect a change are available to us all as long as we’re willing to open our eyes. As a Jewish person currently living in New Orleans, Rubin understands fully the difficulties with staying kosher in the ham-laden Southern States.
His song “Down South Kosher (A Dance of Hunger and Reconciliation)” is less a novelty song and more a clever and witty social commentary disguised as a novelty song.
Of course, the best way to follow a song like this is with the darkest song on the album.
If Rubin’s goal with this album is to right wrongs, “The Murder of Leo Frank” is a great place to start.
Frank was wrongly accused of the rape and murder of Mary Phagan; then hung by a lynch mob.
Rubin sets the story straight once and for all.
One of the finest things about this song is Rubin mentioning folk songwriter John Carson and the injustice he caused by fanning the flames of antisemitism with his songs.
Carson, a racist and KKK member singlehandedly inflected as much damage as possible just to get attention and Rubin does a fine job of wresting that from Carson, with his factual lyrics and impassioned singing.
Which brings to my mind the murder ballad album World Without End by songwriters John Murry and Bob Frank—instead of singing murder ballads of old, they wrote entirely new ones, based on true events. Dark, violent, and certainly not for the squeamish, Rubin’s “The Murder of Leo Frank” would fit right in and that’s a hell of a compliment. “Yiddish Banjo Suite” is a medley of three Yiddish tunes performed on a five-string banjo. Lively and fun, bizarrely this would fit right in during a Saturday night Square Dance.
How long before one of the many Psychedelic Bluegrass Jam bands pick up on this one, as it’s ripe for jamming and layers of improvisation.
(WAIT A MINUTE, did I say “Psychedelic Bluegrass Jam bands?” Yes, sadly, I did.)
“Unnatural Disasters” is more wry social commentary because; hey, Fake News is all the rage these days, and you just know that the Jews are behind everything bad that’s happening; with their space lasers and global warming and ‘stuff’; don ‘cha?
“Good Shabbes” is actually such great advice this old gentile should take it up.
Smartest thing I’ve heard in a long while:
You can put that phone away, it can wait til another day.”
Okay, there’s more, but you get the gist of it. Mark Rubin, The Jew of Oklahoma, has crafted a smart, fun, relevant album and you should definitely give it a listen or three.
What? Would it kill you?

Released 1st June 2021
Review by Roy Peak

https://www.jewofoklahoma.com/

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Mary Hott DEVIL IN THE HILLS

Mary Hott
Devil in The Hill
Self-Release

A History Lesson from the West Virginia Coalfields That Needs To Be Heard By the Nation At Large.

As the last child of a generation of Coal and Tin Miners I’m a sucker for a song about the coalfields, be that my local community in the NE of England or further afield in Nottinghamshire or even Olde Americae.
This particular group of songs and stories come from a tiny spec in West Virginia called Fayette County; that 99% of Virginians couldn’t find on a map ……. but need to be told for the generations that follow.
Even the background to the original concept is fascinating; with an old Coal Mining store being bought and restored to become a museum; only for ex-employees to make pilgrimages and tell their own dark and torrid tales,
These stories from the Whipple Company Store and similarly bleak recollections of coal mining and railroading life from other parts of West Virginia have been suppressed for too long.
At first, the people themselves kept silent and hid the stories out of fear and indignity.
When they finally shared their tales, their validity was often doubted, shaming them into believing that silence may have been the better choice.
And now the people who shared these stories are gone.
It is up to us to remember and continue sharing our history from the perspective of the people who lived it.

The album begins with Don Dixon talking about the mining community and how these stories have been passed down orally from Father to son and Mother to daughter for well over a century.
The rest of the album is West Virginian Folk Singer Mary Hott and a band of musicians who sound like they too ‘feel’ each and every one of these songs in their hearts …. and their scarred lungs.
The first song is They Built a Railroad; and proves to be a sad cornerstone for all that is too follow; with the now, romanticised Railway bringing workers in and then take the coal out ……. but the thread that weaves throughout is the way the workers were horrendously treated; most especially when they tried to form a fledgling Trades Union and make their working conditions slightly better.
“Our ancient hills held a rich man’s treasure,
They carried workers from Ellis Island.
They brought freed slaves to work the mines.
They trafficked girls for comfort and pleasure.
Total power over humankind.”
Powerful stuff indeed.
Then there is Annabel Lee, which follows; and this particularly dark tale of a beauteous young woman who is brought in to town; to ‘bring pleasure to the men’ ……. if your heart doesn’t cry out by the last verse; you’re reading the wrong review.
The emotion in Mary Hott’s voice, as she sings her songs is a genuine 8th Wonder of the World; as she has the capacity to go from passionate Honky-Tonker/Murder Ballad one minute, The Spot then grab your heart the next; squeezing out sparks the next with Devil in The Hills; then follow that up with the Gospel Infused Rise Up WV; which mentions all of the creeds and colours that were brought in not just from across the State but the Country to work the mine; and still make them all sound like a cohesive story; and never patronising the listener.
A rather fabulous album comes to a natural close; with Mary slowing things down quite beautifully with the traditional Gospel Ballad, Life’s Railway to Heaven and finally slow and heartfelt version of Take Me Home Country Roads; which couldn’t be any more fitting.
Which only leaves me to select a Favourite Song; which is hardly fair …… but the two songs/tracks that jumped into my head last night were the haunting 48 seconds of Blair Mountain Ballad, which will send a shiver down your back; and then, there is Room of Lost Souls which ….. well …… honestly; this raw tale of a miner who first goes down the pit as an 8 year old then eventually dies when his son is the exact same age; and the circle goes on ……. and sounds like a long lost Bobbie Gentry song; and if it was it would be heralded from the Rolling Stone rafters.
As well as a bunch of amazing yet horrendous songs; wonderfully created and constructed you also get a booklet that details the background (and more) to each and every story …… and this alone should be available in every school across America ……. this is your History; don’t forget it….. like the Authorities want.

Released June 4th 2021
https://maryhott.com/


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Emily Barker, Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay at Jumping Hot Club, Newcastle

Emily Barker, Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay
Jumping Hot Club
Gosforth Civic Theatre
Newcastle
Saturday 29th May 2021.

Wahay!
Live Music is finally back!
Because of all the restrictions surrounding the first gig at this venue in well over a year, I only received conformation of my ‘seat’ an hour before the doors opened …… which initiated an excited drive across the city in the bright Bank Holiday sunshine, with Emily Barker’s A DARK MURMARATION OF WORDS not quite blaring from the speakers.
Once inside the venue it was equally weird and fascinating watching the limited crowd being escorted 2 x 2 to their pre-booked tables then given a full set of instructions, including how to order ‘table service’.
That said; if this is what it takes to get Live Music up and running again …… so be it.
Just to add to the ‘oddness’ of tonight’s event; the support act Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay were actually still in Nashville and being beamed to NE England via an HD Internet connection; which meant that they couldn’t hear or see any response to their songs.
Aha …… onto the music.
Following a nervy introduction Brennen introduced their first song as being a personal request from the Jumpin’ Hot Club promoter Graham Anderson; and what followed was quite extraordinary ….. Intergalactic Shipwreck Blues; a song I wasn’t previously aux fait with; but proved the perfect start to this particular evening.
As the song ended; and totally unknown to the couple; the applause from the 50 strong crowd was rapturous and as loud (per head) as the Beatles at Shea Stadium!
In fairness it took a couple of songs for the act and audience to settle into the scenario; but eventually everyone relaxed and the mix of new songs (Arlene and the divine Prairie Love Letter) with the couple’s standards (The Ballad of Tombstone Poker and Rosine (?) and After The Show) made their 45 minutes fly by.


The oddest thing for me was seeing the couple three times their normal size; and finally realizing what a scary look Noel McKay has when not singing ……. staring straight down the camera lens with cold beady eyes; and daring the audience not to appreciate Brennen Leigh’s singing voice.
The highlight was when Brennen introduced a fan favourite song; by saying she did understand the irony involved by them singing a song about the romantic idealism of Analog in Nashville, Tennessee and then High Tech beaming it thousands of miles to Newcastle, England.
The twenty minute break had regular Club attendees who hadn’t seen each other for a year or more, waving to each other and miming various ailments …… which could easily become a Saturday Night TV Game Show.
Then Emily Barker made her appearance; noticeably giggling with excitement as she and husband Luke Drinkwater set up their gear; then taking to the mic to welcome everyone and apologising in advance if she started crying at any time in the evening; as “getting back on stage after 14 months, meant so much to her.”
Although several friends in the hall had seen Emily Barker a dozen or more times over the years; this was my first time …… and even a minute or so into first song Geography made me see and hear why her fans are so loyal. Her voice (and songwriting) simply transcends what I know as Folk Music ……. as the night rolled on I heard elements and essences of Carole King, Emmylou Harris and Sandy Denny in the way Ms Barker sings and evolves her songs plus at one stage Emily and Luke embarked on the gentlest guitar duel I’ve ever witnessed.
The couple performed three or for songs from the recent album alongside a wonderful new single called Bound For Home; written and originally performed with Frank Turner; but tonight this lovely sad song was 95% Emily herself with Luke adding harmonies and an extra doze of melancholia by bowing his double bass ……. all of which sent the hair on the back of my head on end.
One of the joys of seeing a live concert is that there are no overdubs or any other jiggery-pokery; this is high-wire stuff; and Emily made a couple of mistakes mid song; starting again once and the second time simply raising her eyebrows, smiling and getting on with it …… that’s Rock and Roll kids.

As a newcomer to the delights of Emily Barker I obviously didn’t recognise several songs; but that mattered not a jot as this was a total joy from start to finish with Where Have The Sparrows Gone? when Emily’s crystal clear voice soared and swooped like the bird itself and then there was The Woman Who Planted Trees ….. phwoar what a powerful song and the story Emily told of the woman who inspired it was tear inducing to even an old soak like me.
The main set ended with Emily taking to a piano; and there was an effortless grace to both Sister Goodbye and Sonogram that to some degree totally unexpected if no surprise; judging by what had gone before.
For the obligatory Encores, Emily returned to her Folk Club roots with Billowing Sea and The Blackwood which brought another round of very noisy applause and a race between Emily and her fans to get to the Merch Table in the foyer!
For me, this was a really lovely way to get back into Concert going; seeing one act that was previously relatively unknown to me and catching up with a couple I’ve loved and admired for a few years now …….. Long Live Rock & Roll (in all its forms).

The Rocking Magpie.



Shipcote & Friends LOCAL STARS

Shipcote & Friends
Local Stars
Low Fella Records

Rather Lovely and Thought Provoking Tales From the Mind of the King of Geordicana.

*Here’s my Bi-Annual disclaimer; Shipcote aka Graham Anderson Co-Boss of the legendary Jumpin’ Hot Club in Newcastle is one of my closest friends in real life.
That said; I sort of became his friend some time after first being a fan of his music, so I’m confident in my relevent impartiality …. or not.
In many ways; this album is ‘more of the same’ but that’s
a) no bad thing
and
b) after all these years; quite some feat!
For the uninitiated Shipcote treads a lovely path between Olde-Timey Country Music, gentle singer-songwriter fayre and what the cognoscenti know as Geordicana.
The opening track is quite delightful and took a while to unravel; as Lorraine is a an insightful look at being half of a pair of twins; and as he sighs they are actually like ‘chalk and cheese’ and; it’s the type of song that many siblings who get to hear it will appreciate the sentiments involved.
Just like all of his peers Shipcote wrote and recorded these songs during the various Lockdowns that blighted 2020 and early 2021; taking advantage of a window of opportunity when two people were allowed in a studio at a time (socially distanced of course) to actually ‘lay down the tracks’; so compared to recent releases this is quite a stripped back to basics recording; but he has still managed to try out the new fangled interweb to get the help of a couple of friends; most notably guitarist extraordinaire Bry Younger who adds sparkle to just about every song here; most especially the prescient Swiftly Drift Away, but the instrumental finale Saltwell Stroll Pt:1 is100% Shipcote himself …… proving what an underrated guitarist he is himself.
I’m not sure how long Oh, To Be Singing Again will last in Shippy’s live sets, as it’s very much ‘of its time’ …… about the cramped yet observational world of a singer-songwriter while cooped up in the house and unable to go outside ….. by Law; and it’s fair to say it’s a Classic of it’s type.
But there are a couple of other guests here and there too; local Popstar Rob Heron gets to duet/harmonise on the droll Let’s Get Set For Winter; and the pairing works a lot better than I’d have guessed beforehand
Gem Andrews appears like a Summer Breeze on Bad Situation; adding a bit of a Country-Swing tone to a dark song about the perils of being locked in the house for fear of the Pandemic outside …… and a pairing that I wouldn’t be averse to hearing a lot more of.
Just saying, like.
This is immediatly followed by Paris France which lurches back to Shipcote’s humble beginnings; neatly combining Hot Club d’Paris swing and sass with a singer-songwriter’s sharp observations; and again it’s been all too easy for me to take Bry’s guitar talents for granted over the years; but he totally excels here.
It never ceases to amaze me that songwriters can still delve into their imaginations to come up with songs like Slow Walk on Wheels. It doesn’t necessarily make sense in the literal context; but just sit back and wallow in the melody and delightful way the singer delivers his almost poetic words.
Can I take you back to Track #2 Paul Torday?
A rather lovely and thought provoking song about a Durham Lad and Author that found fame late in life yet died at the tender age of 67. I’d not heard of him before hearing this song; but the way Graham sings with tenderness made me delve into his background …… and I am now the proud owner of two of his books. The power of music?
Then, unlike on all of his previous albums; there are not just two but three really, really special songs here ……. all well worthy of plays on National Radio and your attention.
The first is Texas Rose; a razor sharp song about the songwriter ‘looking at himself’ both physically and metaphorically and coming out the other side with a song that 99.9% of us can relate too; or perhaps just me …… but I doubt that very much.
Swiftly Drift Away, yet again comes from the mind of a songwriter confined to the four walls that he calls home; and only his imagination and his memories to call on for a song; some have been better at this than others recently; but here Graham not just taps into his own subconscious but one that weirdly mirrors my own and I guess many of you reading this damn review …… spooky.
The other, just might be one of my Favourite Songs by Shipcote of all time; Sweet Sorrow; the other duet with Gem Andrews and featuring young Bry on some of the most spine withering lap-steel I’ve heard in many a year; just creeps up on you every time you play the album and covers you in a mist of beauteous loveliness; as the couple sound like two lovers who know their relationship is coming to an uneventful close; just like so many marriages …… pulled apart by the mundane things in life, rather than one explosive event.
There’s a robust simplicity to these songs and the album as a whole. As I say the circumstances that surrounded the writing and subsequent recording were (hopefully) a once in a lifetime thing; and Shipcote has managed to use them to his advantage on one of his finest and fearsomely honest albums.

Released July 9th 2021
http://www.shipcote.com/

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Ted Russell Kamp SOLITAIRE

Ted Russell Kamp
Solitaire
PoMo Records

File Under: Classy and Classic Modern Americana/Country-Rock With West Coast Overtones and Folk Undertones

We’ve been late to the party with Ted Russell Kamp; only discovering his multi-talents and great voice three years ago with his 11th solo album, WALKIN’ SHOES, which we loved to bits; as we did with the follow up, in 2020 DOWN IN THE DEN …… and without spoiling your surprise; SOLITAIRE is very much in the same laid back, West Coast Country Rock Singer-Songwriter vein and it’s held a special place lately in the Magmobile on weekend journeys around the highways and by-ways of the Kingdom of Northumbria.
Opening track My Girl Now is real toe-tapper and actually a bit faster than you think it is ….. try singing along ….. it’s nearly impossible without gasping for breath half way through. Kamp’s slightly raspy voice is almost perfect for this tale of winning a heart after a long and troubled courtship of sorts …… and very much sets the tone for what is to follow.
Probably best known as the bass player in Shooter Jennings’ Band; Ted is also a Producer of some repute too; but IMHO he is also one of the finest songwriters in the idiom as I’ve heard since the heydays of Country Rock in the 1970’s. .
Birds That Sing at Dawn finds Kamp’s already husky voice dropping down a key or two as he sings about a beautiful if flawed love affair……. ‘the one that got away’ ….. and I bet you don’t pout; as I did the first time you hear the chorus;
I’ll just sit here drinking whisky
Waiting for the birds that sing at dawn
.”
Like so many other songwriters; these songs came to Kamp as he was housebound during Lockdown I in 2020; and there’s a claustrophobic feel to a couple because of that; Be Your Man and Exception to The Rule are prime examples; with sparse arrangements that enable the singer to sound as profound and heartbroken as music allows.
While most of these songs are from the Country Love Song playbook; i.e. lost love and broken hearts are the threads that hold everything together; what else would you expect from titles like Only a Broken Heart and/or A Rose or Two? and they both live up to the billing; but don’t worry …… Ted Russell Kamp has a special way with his words and arrangements that will tug at your heartstrings while still allowing you a ‘knowing smile’ at the same time …. the intricate title track Solitaire, being the type of song we’d normally associate with someone like JJ Cale and again later on The Spark too.
We need to go back to the beginning for my Favourite Song on this rather fine album; and even then it’s a coin toss between two …… the intricate and articulate Path of Least Resistance being ‘one of those songs’ where I’ve been left thinking ‘where did that come from’? The use of imagery and metaphor is simply outstanding; more so from someone best known as a side-kick!!
The other follows immediatly after and is by far the most up-tempo track here; bordering on actual Country Rock and if you were to hear it on the radio you would presume it was a killer tune from Poco or The Eagles or maybe even The Pure Prairie League; but no sirree You Can Go To Hell; I’m Going to Texas is 100% Ted Russell Kamp and you need to hear this song ASAP.
One of music’s problems these days is that too many musicians get pigeonholed for lazy fans on streaming sites; which has to be a dilemma for someone like Ted Russell Kamp as I doubt there’s a genre called Classy and Classic Modern Americana/Country-Rock With West Coast Overtones and Roadhouse Undertones ….. but I could be wrong of course.

Released May 7th 2021
https://tedrussellkamp.com/

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Craig Cardiff ALL THIS TIME RUNNING

Craig Cardiff
All This Time Running
True North Records

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

WOW!
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.

https://www.craigcardiff.com/

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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.
Seriously.
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
https://www.paulhandyside.com/home

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Jesse Terry WHEN WE WANDER

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
https://www.jesseterrymusic.com/

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