James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LOW NIGHTS

James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band
Highlights of The Low Nights
Last Night From Glasgow

Classy Scots Roots Rock With a Healthy Dash Of Americana and Alt.Country on The Side

Sadly this album has been sitting; unplayed on my desk for quite a few weeks ….. I don’t know why either as everything about James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band ticks my musical boxes.
But; played it was three days ago and I then spent a whole evening at work metaphorically kicking myself, for nearly letting it go.
Opening track Gasoline is a fabulous slice of moody Americana with Edwyn’s imagery and imagination right to the fore on a song that could easily come from the John Prine or Sturgill Simpson playbooks with Calexico as a backdrop.
If you like that song – trust me; you are definitely in for the long haul.
While I namechecked Prine and Simpson back there; not everything else here is in the vein, as the band slickly move between the Alt. Country of Love Too Late, Jeremiah and; of course the harmonica heavy Blue while sliding waist high into the Country Rock swamps with Buy Me a Ticket, Is It Enough and the Twang Fest Stargazer which is a contender for Favourite Song.
Tucked away here and there you will also find things that more or less defy pigeon holing – as they are packed with all kinds of musical goodness – I’m particularly thinking of Sometimes We Fade and Because of You here.
Which therefore brings me to the difficult choice of finding a Favourite Song. Earlier I mentioned Stargazer as a contender and it certainly is; but last night I became overwhelmed by Never In Her Eyes; with its delightful rolling guitar backing is probably the most intimate song here and certainly the gentlest (although it’s a dark story when it unfolds) so this morning I’m plumping for that
In typical Scots fashion, there’s a whole lot going on here, with no single musical avenue to pin your hat on; although I’ve filed it under Roots Rock …. but don’t be surprised if they ever turn up second on the bill to some high profile 90’s Indie Band or better still someone at the top of the Americana Pops. But, better still if they turn up in a small club somewhere driveable I think that could be a stunning night of live music.

Released May 27th 2022
https://www.facebook.com/JamesEdwynAndTheBorrowedBand

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Dean Owens SINNER’S SHRINE

Dean Owens
Sinner’s Shrine
Eel Pie Records/CRS

A Magnificent Melting Pot of Influences; Created In Leith Via the American SouthWest

Last year’s Desert Trilogy was a favourite of this reviewer, so I was particularly looking forward to hearing the album that those songs were a precursor to.
Were my expectations fulfilled?
Read on….

Opener “Arizona;” an Owens/Nels Andrews co-write is an epic singalong in style; with washes of pedal steel and trademark Calexico brass bursts that always make me smile whenever they appear.
The Owens/Burns vocal pairing is sublime too – complementary and reinforcing each other into almost one voice.

Second track “The Hopeless Ghosts” appeared on the Desert Trilogy 3, replete with its Grant Lee Phillips guest backing vocal – Mexican in style with trumpet and handclaps – inspired by a Townes van Zandt comment about why his songs weren’t just about sad subjects, but rather hopeless ones – it’s far from that quality, dynamic and colourful in musical tone.

“New Mexico” which follows is probably the track which I’ve played the most from the Desert Trilogy Series and it’s here again in all its widescreen glory of brass, twang and pedal steel.
First heard on Dean’s debut “Droma” release, it’s gone from lo-fi to epic and in doing so, has found its true soul – it’s spectacular.
It’s juxtaposed in this release with the twilight melancholy of Compañera, inspired lyrically by old religious spaces.
Give me the strength to carry on/When I fall behind”
is a message we can all get behind, that of the strength supplied by a (compañera ) partner.
Tom Hagerman’s strings and Antonio Pró’s guitarron hold and embellish this tender tale of support from start to beguiling finish.

Another from the Desert Trilogy, the whistling instrumental “Here Comes Paul Newman” lands mid-album and its “Hud” inspired whistling, segues perfectly into a story of desperation on “The Barbed Wire’s Still Weeping”, of people crossing borders in search of a better life – again, for me Hagerman’s trembling strings reinforce the fear and emotion underscoring the core narrative, adding a power and fragility to the song.

“La Lomita” is another song inspired by a physical shrine, in this case a small chapel on the Mexican border and a place of refuge endangered by Trump’s border wall plan.
A gritty bullet mic-ed vocal adds a sense of menace and threat, allied to the repetitive chanting of “Cross the water/Cross the wire.”

“Land of the Hummingbird” (ft Gaby Moreno) reappears from Desert Trilogy 2 and placed in context of the album it introduces a tale of fictional dark romance after the darkness of reality. Naïm Amor’s guitar adds a visceral thrill of emotional charge which plays nicely against Moreno’s fluid vocal and Burns’ rhythmic piano.

There’s a call for ecological effort on “We need us” and it’s a message conveyed emotively with down in your boots twang, sparkling trumpet and stirring strings. “When it’s gone – it’s gone” is the message – and it’s one you can’t argue with. “Summer in your eyes”, another co-write with Nels Andrews follows and it manages to simultaneously combine hope and melancholy, both lyrically and melodically, allied with spacious production that lifts moments of piano and distorted guitar into the mix.

Final track “After the Rain” is also the first single from the album – inspired by an Ansel Adams photograph, it offers a glimpse of hope – its pulsating balladry, held back from bombast with washes of organ and pedal steel leaves the listener with the earworm of “shine on like the road – after the rain.”

Well, I wasn’t disappointed – as stated, I loved the Desert Trilogy and “Sinner’s Shrine” fulfils my expectations in the way that it stands as a fully realised and sequenced work – it’s a proper album, not just a collection of tracks; and therefore deserves to be played sequentially from start to finish – away with your shuffle!
Last year The Desert Trilogy Series soared immediately into my favourite releases of the year and stayed there – and Sinner’s Shrine has just done the same – a magnificent release.

Review by Nick Barber
Released Friday 18th Feb 2022 (CD/digital)
The vinyl will follow eventually (got caught up in the global vinyl shortage).
https://www.deanowens.com/

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ED Brayshaw RANDOM REPEAT

ED Brayshaw
Random Repeat
Mescal Canyon

Gallus Blues That Owes As Much to The South Side of Glasgow than the South Side of Chicago

Although he’s been in around several British music for donkey’s years; ED Brayshaw only came to our attention two years ago via his collaboration with Friend of RMHQ, Wily Bo Walker; but that long wait has been well worth it.
While I’m bored with artists still telling me that they wrote and arranged their 2021 albums during lockdown; I think it’s actually quite prescient as it allowed writers the time to go back over their work in a way that constant touring probably denied them; meaning many songs and arrangements are less rushed and now fuller and often more ‘professionally’ constructed.
That’s certainly not meant as any form of slight against ED Brayshaw’s previous release; which was chock full of energy and passion ….. but here; I get the feeling that this is more the album that he’s always dreamed of releasing under his own name.
RANDOM REPEAT opens with the glorious Storm Warning; which first appeared on a Wily Bo Walker album years ago; but I hardly recognised it in this guise; and there’s something to be said about Brayshaw’s keen observations that this song is even more ‘on the button’ in 2021 as it was 6 years ago.
While Brayshaw’s warm growl singing style is very much his own; but this song and a few more that follow remind me of Graham Parker and his SQUEEZING OUT SPARKS and ANOTHER GREY AREA albums; a heady mix of anger, passion and divine melodies!
#2 Don’t Change The Way I Feel; a slower acoustic led song; that simmers until it eventually nearly boils over when the squealing electric guitars join the fray; may or may not be a metaphor for the yin and yang we all feel about ourselves; or sadly may be a literal tale of a troubled man whose life is leaving him on the edge.
Even when Brayshaw writes a love song; he doesn’t follow the moon/june route as is apparent from Probably Correct and Just a Night; when Brayshaw sings about and even channels his inner Stevie Ray Vaughan; which both owe more to the South Side of Glasgow than the South Side of Chicago in the the band play in the most swaggering gallus fashion.
I especially like the way Brayshaw uses light and shade across his songs in a musically cohesive manner; one minute he’s singing a gorgeous acoustic Country tinged missive like Tennessee Blues, or the soulfully sweet Take It Away then slinking around the bar on the sleazy and funky Fade Away, and making all sound like blood brothers.
Then, it all comes to a close with the bittersweet instrumental Petite Fleur that closes the disc.
Which also brings me to my choice of Favourite Track.
At first it was obviously going to be the BB/Freddie King influenced Probably Correct which features some sublimely sizzling guitar breaks and a song that many of us will actually correct with; but the more I’ve played the album the more I’ve been drawn to After The Storm, which errs on the side of Americana-Folk in the way Brayshaw takes us on a road trip fraught with danger and fear with his tale that nods towards Steinbeck, Guthrie and Kerouac for content while using a heady Leslie Harvey/Gary Moore guitar hybrid that sounds like a coiled spring to add extra pathos to what is already a stunning song.
From even a cursory listen; it’s all to easy to appreciate why ED Brayshaw has been a go-to guitarist ; but I’m really happy to tell you that he’s been hiding his songwriting skills under a bushel over those years and I love his slow and sultry singing style too.

E D Brayshaw on Guitars and Vocals

Philip Brannan on Rhythm Guitar

Nick Bevan on Bass and backing vocals

Paul Baker on Drums

Released 15th October 2021
https://edbrayshaw.com/

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Daniel Meade EVER WONDER WHY YOU GET OUTTA BED?

Daniel Meade
Ever Wonder Why You Get Outta Bed?
From the Top Records

Scots Troubadour Goes Indie on Complexly Emotional Album

Even though I am a fan of all things Meade; and I generally love the way his music changes direction with every release, ‘never recording the same album twice’ as many of his contemporaries do; I have actually struggled with this album.
It’s certainly not because ‘Meade Goes Indie!’ that’s always been there in bits n pieces; AND he plays in the Ocean Colour Scenes, so it wasn’t a surprise in the slightest ….. just ….. I don’t know.
I’m guessing like so many other releases recently it’s more ‘me’ and the various moods I’ve been in ….. good, bad and Mwaaaahhh; and this album has possibly been a bit too ‘close to home’ to at least two of them; although this morning the sun is shining and there just might be a spring in my step as the office hi-fi is shaking while it plays …. and the individual pieces are finally coming together.
That, dear reader is the biggest problem we face here at RMHQ; actually listening to the music and dissecting it for your consumption; not just cutting n pasting the accompanying Press Release like our more famous rivals.
Hey Ho …. onwards and upwards.
The title track; EVER WONDER WHY YOU GET OUTTA BED? gets the party started in the most unconventional manner. As the title suggests, it’s not the happiest song Dan Meade has ever recorded; in fact it sums up how many of us feel these days; not just Post-Pandemic (which isn’t quite Post-Anything), it’s just the world at large …… and Meade captures that darkness exceptionally well, with the claustrophobic and tightly wrapped arrangement almost perfect for the contempt, anger and even fear of and at the world, that the narrator feels.
It’s not as if this is even the darkest song on the album; far from it ……. Sometimes The Rain Don’t Get You Wet opens with a crescendo of Indie guitars and a Brass Section that sounds like it’s STRAIGHT OUTTA BARLINNIE; and the song shows how adept at digging into his psyche and that of those around him that Mr Meade has always been; and later he delves similar mines with the more traditional style that we associate our Scottish Roots Troubador with; The Choices That You Make and the raucous Professor Longhair inspired piano led I’m Too Tired to Sing The Blues too.
Now that the pieces are finally dropping into place; the complex arrangements on the rocking and rolling By The Book and Watcha Doin’ To Me, which both skirt the Glam Rock of Roy Wood’s Wizzard, neatly mask yet more dark prose meaning plenty will dance along merrily to two quite depressing stories; which shows what a clever and thoughtful songwrite Daniel Meade is (and always has been btw).
Speaking of ‘complexities’ I’m still not 100% sure what the full story is in More So The Other Than The One is really ‘about’ ….. it shouldn’t really matter; but I’m convinced that there’s a barrel load of surprise waiting to unravel sooner or later.
With all that going on; and baring in mind my own personal struggles here; two exceptionally well crafted songs really, really stand out; and have done since Day 1.
The finale, Now I Laugh is a bit of light relief after all of the darkness that has preceded it; not ‘laugh out loud’ light relief; but more Glam-Indie that shows that there just might be light at the end of the tunnel; that’s not a train!
The other, Look No Further highlights Meade’s more sensitive side and features Ms Cara Rose on another Indie drenched missive that sounds like Dan is glaring at the Oasis Brothers; and snarling ……. “this is how ya dae it MAN!” And for that alone; but it really does deserve it ….. LOOK NO FURTHER really is my Favourite Song here; and if that type of cafe or coffee bar still existed; would undoubtedly be a Jukebox Hit.
Not all albums are ‘instant’ with me; they couldn’t possibly be …… and but I’ve dug in deep and EVER WONDER WHY YOU GET OUTTA BED? has, and I’m sure will to continue to grow on me …… Congratulations to Daniel Meade for having the bravery to write and deliver a complexly emotional album; that will touch the hearts of a great many who hear it.

RELEASED October 29th 2021
https://www.facebook.com/danielmeademusic/

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