Jimmy Carpenter
The Louisiana Record
Gulf Coast Records

Classy Re-Workings of Louisiana’s Finest Songs.

Sax player Jimmy Carpenter?
Never heard of him …… but when I saw that this was being released on Mike Zito’s Gulf Coast Records; and Zito himself pitched the idea of resurrecting a bunch of Louisiana themed songs to Jimmy Carpenter I was intrigued; and then a cursory look at the track list had me instantly reaching for the ‘on switch’ on the office hi-fi!
The result is a total blast from start to finish with some old standards getting a shiny overhaul, a couple of long forgotten belters brought to life for a new generation and even a couple of songs I’d never heard before quickly becoming family favourites – what’s not to like?
The ‘party‘ or should I say; ‘Fish Fry‘ starts with a sultry rendition of I Hear You Knocking; which I predominantly know as the Hit single for Dave Edmunds in my teenage years; but here Carpenter takes it right back to its roots with some honkin’ sax playing and gorgeous piano playing courtesy John Gros.
This is followed by a truly stompin’ and dancelicious I Got Loaded, which I didn’t recognise at all, but still couldn’t stop myself shuffling my hips and then my feet, the first time I played it; as I pretended I was in a steamy dive bar somewhere South of Baton Rouge, instead of a cold kitchen in NE England as the rain fell outside.
To me, even though I didn’t necessarily know that these songs were of Louisiana extraction; the selection is quite impeccable and while being all eminently danceable; several are thought provoking too in one way or another.
I’m particularly thinking about Pouring Water on a Drowning Man and Travellin’ Mood which I knew previously, but in these versions made me think about the shadows in the lyrics that I hadn’t previously noticed before.
This also applies to one of the songs I didn’t previously know; Something You Got which is a real ‘bum hugger’ of a slow burning and danceable love song that could easily be rearranged for guitars and pedal-steel instead of sax and piano to be a Country Heartbreaker; if I’m not mistaken.
In these edgy times; it’s been a real emotional release to hear the honky-tonkin’ and reelin’ and a rockin’ Barefootin’ again. These cats really get in a groove on a song I first discovered many moons ago when Robert Parker’s original version was featured on a cassette given away with NME magazine, and became a staple on my mixtapes for years afterwards.
I didn’t recognise the title of All These Things; but as soon as I heard the longing in Carpenters’ voice on the Allen Toussaint standard, I had to kick back and just wallow in the sound all concerned have created just for us.
Somewhere in my collection I’ve certainly got another version of Lonely Lonely Nights; and I think it’s a little bit faster than this tear-jerking version; but I can’t be bothered to look for it as I’ve taken this glorious version to heart.
As I sit listening and typing this morning, two albums from my teenage years suddenly sprung to mind; as to some degree both Bryan Ferry’s THESE FOOLISH THINGS and Harry Nilsson’s A LITTLE TOUCH OF SCHMILSSON IN THE NIGHT changed the way I listened to music; and certainly influenced the eclectic collection I now own; while also introducing me to songs and singers I’d never have found any other way.
Which brings me to the difficult choice of a single Favourite Track on an album that needs to be listened to as a complete package rather than dipping in and out of; a little part of me wants to choose the swinging instrumental Rockin’ At Cosimo’s which closes the album; but Carpenter and Crew’s steamy and sensual reworking of Sam Cooke’s Bring It on Home To Me had the hair on the back of my neck standing on end; so it had to be a contender too.
But I’m giving the accolade to a song I’d never heard before hearing it hear; and it’s one that Carpenter’s voice really shines on ….. Cry To Me, a timeless ballad that just oozes class in every note and stanza from start to finish.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first received this album; but it very quickly got put next to the hi-fi as a ‘palette cleanser’ at the end of the day; and it’s been a welcome companion in the car too ….. if only there was a Saturday night fish-fry I could take it to, too.

Released September 16th 2022


RMHQ Radio Show Ep. 20 @NovaRadioNE

RMHQ Radio Show Ep. 20
Nova Radio NE
September 18th 2022

Another week; another Roots Rock radio show … only this week’s programme; like last week’s was ‘different’ … in as much as a National Minute’s Silence was due at the end …. which certainly focusses the mind.
With that in mind the mix was as laid back as I could manage; with no emphasis on ‘new releases’ although I still slid a couple in; as I did with local Newcastle acts.

George JonesAmazing Grace
Jimmy LaFavreThe Beauty of You
Cowboy JunkiesBlue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis)
Jason Isbell & The 400 UnitSave it For Sunday
Josienne Clarke & Ben WalkerMy love is like a red, red rose
Wayne HancockThy Burdens are Greater Than Mine
Yola CarterOrphan Country
Johnny CashBird on a wire
Kelly WillisThe Circle
Corey LeggeStrangest Times Aus
Aztec CameraWe ciould send letters
The ByrdsEight Miles High
Neil YoungSuch a woman
Shemekia CopelandBarefoot in Heaven
Colin JamesThat’s Why I’m Crying
George BoomsmaSoaking Southern Town
Martin StephensonWholly Humble Heart (Live)
ShipcoteNorth of England
Paul JonesIt’s got to be the Blues
Kaz HawkinsBelieve with me
Jay ByrdDays roll by
Caleb CoundleI don’t fit in
Matt AndersenPeople Get Ready
Bonnie RaittDimming of the dawn
Hank WilliamsThere’ll be no teardrops tonight
Willie NelsonFunny how time slips away
Dolly PartonMama Say a Prayer
Mahalia JacksonAmazing Grace


The Claudettes 
The Claudettes Go Out!
40 Below Records

Your New Favorite Band Have Made a Stellar, Timeless Record.

A well tuned piano in a temple of sound with a sensitive, knowing foot confidently dancing on the sustain pedal is an earful of delight.
Combine that with cleverly crafted songs, skillful and soulful musicians, a pear-shaped voice that is sent straight from the angels, Kevin Killen’s mix mastery, cinematic strings, rock solid bass and Michael Caskey’s drumming that puts you behind the kit with the band, and VOILA!
You have an opening track that slips you right into the pocket of “YES!” when you initiate what I am calling the Pure Pleasure Sequence that is “The Claudettes Go Out!

Billed as Sultry, Cinematic Noir-Pop From Chicago,
wielding a one-of-a-kind, piano-powered roots-pop sound, The Claudettes merge earthy blues and soul with pop hooks and punk spirit, writing an intriguing new chapter in American roots music,”
I am here to tell you that you can … and you should believe the hype…because They Really Do all of the above! 

Pianist/Songwriter Johnny Iguana takes center stage as the record kicks off with “A Lovely View,”  the airy studio embracing the piano and lifting it off into the ether to prepare the listener for the angelic, breathy vocals of Berit Ulseth.
The sparseness of this track sets us up for the sonic sweetness to come with tracks so diverse in genre that they recall Everything But The Girl, The Jam, Leon Russell and DEVO all at once. 

“Time Won’t Take Our Times Away” is the song I can’t stop listening to. 
Recalling an early Elton John/Bernie Taupin vibe with lyrics that compel the listener to tune out the world and finely tune in the song (what music is supposed to do), I keep going back for more, discovering another layer to investigate and love with each and every listen. 

“Cowboy” is a stone-cold hit that warns us about taking up playing music in a band as a bad habit that we should “give up for drinking” and recommends living in a “world without eighth notes.” 
This song makes me laugh aloud while marveling at The Wrecking Crew good vibrations that get me on my feet in the middle of my tiny NYC living room, spinning ceaselessly like the hypnotized music freak I am.

The final track, “The Show Must Go On (And Then The Show Must End)” channels a lost track from The Who’s “Tommy” and that’s no understatement.
A fantastic finale that demonstrates the bands ability, prowess and passion for collaborative music making. They are a well oiled unit and they graciously allow us into their conversation.
The last song has to be your best….” sings Berit as the album draws to a satisfying close, and you realize that you have a new favorite band who have made a stellar, timeless record that you will enjoy for the rest of your life.  

Review courtesy Emily Duff
Released 14th October 2022



Duwayne Burnside
Acoustic Burnside
Dolceola Recordings

Undisputedly Honest and Raw Mississippi Blues…. Bentonia Blues to Be Precise.

Well alright there….
I’m gonna get ready to do my thing and review this record; ….
sitting down to listen to the unadorned, compelling new record by Duwayne Burnside, I was thunderstruck by the gravity of the last name and impact of this hypnotic and authentic American artist.
The lineage is pure, undisputed Mississippi Blues…. Bentonia Blues to be precise; and the feel is for ‘real‘ on every level.
As Burnside so beautifully declares,
“… you can hear this music come right out of my heart, because that’s where my daddy put it.
Yes you certainly can, Duwayne and Thank You!

The son of the legendary, R.L. Burnside, Duwayne Burnside’s “Acoustic Burnside” is a return to the stripped down guitar and vocal “good-time” chug with a hefty serving of ancestral joy and deep-rooted love for an art form that was passed down in the mud, the blood & the bone.
From the first track; R.L.’s “Goin’ Down South,” Burnside’s slightly out of pitch guitar puts us on a road trip that feels as if the wheels will fall off at any moment and yet manages to steady and stay on course throughout.
There is fear and trepidation in every verse all the while remaining committed to the end that surely awaits.

His version of “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line” throws the swing into the tune and summons a metronome to measure the pulse of a classic tune, reinterpreted by a son for his father with reverence and delight.

“Poor Black Mattie” caught me like a fish on a hook; and I wiggled there for a long long while, bathing in the rhythm and cadence of the tale that took me to Memphis looking for my own baby too.
The guitar riff is so propulsive and this song is so H.O.T, as Duwayne puts it, “Cherry Red,” I swear that I broke a sweat just listening to it!
Transfixed and bewitched, I left this tune longing to know “Poor Black Mattie.”
A stunning portrait, simply painted by an artist who is uncomplicated by adornment but schooled in the craft of storytelling.

Throughout the record, Burnside pays homage to his father as well as fellow Mississippi Bluesman, Junior Kimbrough as well as several other legends via the songs, “Alice Mae,” “Goin’ Down South,” “Lord Have Mercy on Me,” and the ubiquitous “Dust My Broom.”
This record, released on Dolceola Records, a label fixed on preserving traditional music via analog-style field recordings, certainly captures that vibe, as it was produced by George Mitchell for R.L in 1968. Dolceola’s founder, Dan Torigoe has succeeded beyond measure in capturing the raw, unprocessed, natural sound for a modern audience.

“Meet Me in The City” is a departure with a most welcome effect.
More of a Soul song with a Blues feel, this tune captures a Sam Cooke overtone.
“Stay All Night” gets FUNKY A.F and it’s just what the doctor ordered.
The guitar is the star in this desperate lover’s plea to be loved all night long.
A gripping performance indeed.

“44 Pistol” contains a hook on the guitar that pushes the tune along, weaving Burnside’s excellent guitar work throughout.
Usually an electric guitar player, Duwayne Burnside implements the acoustic so deftly on this song that I can’t imagine it sounding any better on an electric.
He is so firmly set in the groove that it moves like a well-oiled machine.

“Bad Bad Pain” and “Lord Have Mercy on Me” finish off the record in syncopated style.
The latter, written by Junior Kimbrough adds piano and percussion and includes room sounds, starting the tune off with talking amongst friends in the room.
These tracks, alive with presence and vitality, time and place, capture the essence of the blues and the birthright that is Duwayne Burnside.
A rich compilation of songs and performances that come from a deep, delicious well of talent, as well as culture and generosity of spirit that will no doubt excite and encourage a new generation of Mississippi Blues acolytes and loyal, lifetime fans.

Review by Emily Duff
Released September 23rd 2022


Beth Nielsen Chapman CRAZYTOWN

Beth Nielsen Chapman
Cooking Vinyl

A Beautifully Aged Voice That Summons All The Tenderness In The World Via Her Outstanding Words

Calling all songwriters!
Listen up.
Beth Nielsen Chapman’s new record, CrazyTown, her 15th studio album is a masterclass in observational songwriting, rhyme-scheme brilliance and rhythmic genius.
An even dozen perfectly crafted numbers that epitomize and salute the heart and soul of American Roots Music.  

Kicking off with “All Around The World,” I am immediately drawn into the record with a strong feeling of recognition and “belonging” in the lyric that draws me towards something I thought the past two plus years tore from my grasp….comfort. 
The freedom this tune exudes spills over into its well-crafted, pop-music celebration of joy and humanity.  The leap of faith begins at track one and I’m in! 

“Put a Woman in Charge” is a song I heard when KeB Mo’ released it with Rosanne Cash back in 2020.  Beth’s version is a completely different vibe; and sung with so much honesty, heart and conviction, you can touch the core of her impetus to write this anthem during such a crucial time. 

Beth Nielsen Chapman’s voice is beautifully aged and summons all the tenderness in the world on “With Time.”
A cello pulling on the heartstrings, sets off a full orchestration that slips us into a warm bath of remembrance and melancholy the same way Randy Newman pushes us over the edge with his ballads in “Toy Story.” 
Hello Pixar! This song is the ticket to your next animated feature full of feels….Believe me.

“Dancing With The Past” is a confident strut forward. that gives no f*cks and suffers no fools.  Surrendering to the “big don’t know” is something we all should do and figure out the steps to keep on trucking.
Beth Nielsen Chapman is singing the roadmap to make our battles disappear like shadows and keep dancing. 
I seriously could not LOVE this song more — and yes, I wish I wrote it!

“The Truth” is dark – but sometimes it is boys & girls (and all y’all).  The color of this song is different from the first five and well it should be.
Beth Nielsen Chapman really shines like that diamond in the dirt she’s singing about. It recalls Bonnie Raitt at her grittiest, but possesses its own vulnerable moments in the bridge that soars to heaven from the depths of hell, Hallelujah, “..let’s go home.”
The guitar work on this song is especially effective and I thank Producer, Ray Kennedy for this naked, stirring, three and a half minutes of reflection and gospel.

Catapulted into “The Universe,” this song is a sonic slingshot that flings us into everything all at once.  What I realized during the active listening of this tune, is that most songs need to be ingested multiple times. 
Just like babies who need to taste a food 17 times ’till they recognize it as something they like or don’t, we aren’t meant to swallow life in one bite or one gulp. 
We can’t be in too much a rush to get it over with. 
The overwhelming nature of it all does us in. And unlike “Dancing with The Past,” we can, and should go back for review, if only to fully understand what Beth Nielsen Chapman is trying to tell us. 

Each song is an important lesson told to us by a reliable, generous friend with a big heart and a great sense of humor.
They each and every single one touched me profoundly and for that I am grateful. 
The art of making records that are conceived, written, performed, produced, mixed, mastered and sequenced beautifully is a treasure, and this record is an entire trove overflowing with gems and prizes that will render the lucky listener richer from it’s inexhaustible genius. 
Now excuse me while I go listen again! 

Review by Emily Duff
Released 23rd September 2022



Hollie Rogers
Criminal Heart

Cleverly Constructed, Articulate and Sometimes Powerful Songs From Genre Defying Singer-Songwriter.

Not the most prolific of recording artists (this is her fourth album in 14 years); I’m guessing Hollie Rogers has a strong quality control system, that means only the very best songs ever makes it onto her albums.
The title track, Criminal Heart kick starts the album like a classic BSA or Triumph motorbike; it’s a bit of a ‘roar’ that could frighten the neighbours; but will go on to give immense pleasure to many other people who get the opportunity to hear it too.
I think it’s fair to say that Hollie’s songwriting and use of language is quite extraordinary for someone flying so low under the radar; with observations and especially her metaphors as good as any I hear from our household name counterparts in the New World.
Now I’ve said that; and this is a very personal thing, three songs here necessitate the addition of clean/radio versions for the delicately natured such as I.
The first is Strange; which really doesn’t need the sweary version at all; it’s not as if those inclusions make Hollie’s tale of jealousy at the end of a relationship any the more ‘powerful.’ It’s not as if the ‘F’ word really has the ability to ‘shock’ these days; is it?
Hey ho; but it means I’ve played the ‘radio’ version on my radio show and had some great feedback.
The other is Bring Me Some Peace; which includes ‘shit‘ and this time it flies past so quickly you hardly notice; but on the ‘radio version’ it’s replaced with ‘sh..’ and doesn’t harm the world weary wisdom in her story one little bit; so did we really need the first version.
OK I’ve spent too long writing about two or three words that won’t bring down Western Civilisation; but I feel it had to be said.|
Even when those two songs came on the car speaker; I still knew that both songs were very special indeed; and ….. they still didn’t come close to being my Favourite Song on the album.
Which isn’t true of the Electro-Americana of Girl on a Mission; it’s ‘different’ in many ways; not least the backbeat which is as deep as the ocean and the claustrophobic arrangement makes for a windswept and interesting four minutes; and this time; because of the way the song is constructed I had to listen quite intensely to hear where the ‘F Bomb’ was; and this time it’s hardly noticeable; and the ‘radio version’ made it into the running for Favourite Song.
Sometimes a song can be so cleverly constructed the listener has to sit back several times, letting things unravel and take on a life of their own; which has been the case with Youth, Sinner and the beautiful piano led City of Colour, which closes the album and makes you want to go straight back to the beginning.
Even though I’ve more or less fallen in love with this album and especially Hollie Rogers’ vocals; it’s not been easy trying to find a slot to fit this in in a record shop. Of course she’s a singer-songwriter; but in the ‘grown up’ Commercial mode of someone like Joan Armatrading and Nora Jones; but there’s an edge to songs like The Man You Had To Be and/or One Last Time which point me towards the likes of Beth Nielsen Chapman and Mary Gauthier, who write from a very lonely channel in the back of their hearts and appeal to music fans who are willing to invest in not just an individual song; but the album as a whole.
After all these years do I really have to explain that the song I choose as my Favourite isn’t necessarily the ‘best’ on an album? A Favourite is just that; a song or sometimes two that captures the attention and doesn’t let go even for a second.
Which has been the case with both the imaginatively emotional The Coast Road which really is as good as this album gets and proves what a suburb songwriter Hollie Rogers can be.
The other; Love and Distance features Jamie Lawson and Robben Ford; but you hardly notice them as Hollie focusses your attention from start to finish (and back again) …..with glorious ease.
I know next to nothing about Hollie Rogers apart from she’s just entered her thirties, is a single Mum and was/is a Spice Girls fan ….. which she attributes to her fiercely independent approach to her career and may even have influenced a couple of songs; and who am I to argue?

Released September 9th 2022


The RMHQ Radio Show Ep18 @NovaRadioNE

RMHQ Radio Show Ep18
Nova Radio NE
Newcastle Upon Tyne

Sunday 11th September 2022

It was an odd show this week; what started out as bit of a semi-political bit of fun taking jibes at the new Prime Minister; then on Thursday Queen Elizabeth died; changing everything at a stroke!
For a short while I wasn’t even sure the programme was going to go ahead; but it was agreed that every show on Nova Radio NE would play low key music that wouldn’t offend anyone; so a quick change to the playlist was made on Saturday, with other ideas sparking my mind as the programme went on.
As usual I managed to slide in some brand new singles and album tracks from local acts and British and American household names, as well as a bunch of songs from the recent past and a couple of oldies too. I started the programme with Guy Clark’s ‘My Favourite Picture of You’ and closed it with Nick Lowe; ‘The Rose of England’ …….. next week’s programme promises to be even more ‘seat of the pants!’

Guy ClarkMy Favourite Picture of You
John MartynCouldn’t Love You More
Emmylou HarrisEven Cowgirls Get The Blues
Ep 18David Adam ByrneLike I’m Elvis
23rd SeptWesley HannaBack to The Honky Tonks
Hannah AldridgeShouldn’t Hurt So Bad
Alabama ShakesBoys & Girls
Margo PriceBeen to the mountain
Willie NileLost and Lonely World
Tommy AtkinsWild in The Wind
The Sensational Country Blues Wonders! Life Is So Freaking Beautiful
Suzette LawrenceKitty Kat Scratch
Sam OutlawJesus take the wheel
Rory BlockYou’ve Got a Friend
ShipcoteSometime You’re Up
Roseanne ReidLevi
Billy BraggWaiting For the Great Leap Forward
The Ree-VahsHundreds and Thousands
Beth Neilsen ChapmanWith Time
Bap KennedyI Saw The Light
Hollie RogersStrange (clean version)
Jimmy CarpenterPouring Water on a Drowning Man
Kaz HawkinsFull Force Gale
Lowell FulsonReconsider Baby
Joanne Shaw TaylorJust No Getting Over You
Ruth LyonTrouble
Jason McNiffFisherman’s Blues
Ben Adair MurphyLet’s Make a King
Nick LoweThe Rose of England

The Sensational Country Blues Wonders! THE ADVENTURES OF A PSYCHEDELIC COWBOY

The Sensational Country Blues Wonders!
The Adventures of a Psychedelic Cowboy 

A Brilliant Gathering of Interstellar, Sitar-Drippy Country & Blues Symphonies Straight From the Mothership

Recorded in Jersey City, NJ and remotely in Nashville, TN by Nashville Mastertracks’ Gary Van Miert, The Adventures of a Psychedelic Cowboy by The Sensational Country Blues Wonders! has succeeded in ripping a hole in the fabric of my Country Blues reality….And I totally dig it!

From the first track the ‘drugs’ have already kicked in!
Perhaps I was dosed the minute I put the headphones on, but what follows is a playful romp that feels something like Nilsson meets The Flatlanders with Sir Paul conducting the Byrds. 
“Breathe” wins my personal songwriting award for rhyming nostrils with apostles and its use of accordion and horns.
And yes, the beauty of breathing should be that you don’t have to try…but these days, I’m not so sure.

This record is one trippy Cowboy’s mind-bending journey on the cosmic plain with a bit of old timey gospel epiphany dripping via the radio dial and surfing the intergalactic airwaves; to inspire a young boy with mysterious music and curious sounds.
That light brought enlightenment and we are soaking in the rewards with each and every song by The Sensational Country Blues Wonders!

It’s lovely to meet another time-killing caterpillar stuck inside his cocoon!
I thought I was the only one!!!
The Kafka reference in a Country song has answered all my deepest prayers and I can now be reclaimed by my 12 strand DNA civilization to live the rest of my days on my birth planet.
I’m going home, whew!

“Life is So Freaking Beautiful” should be the new global anthem, and I’m not even being one nano particle of sarcastic.
Life IS so Freaking Beautiful and this song is sensationally simple and delightful. 
Honestly, the entire record is.

By the time you hit track 8, “I’ve Got My Mind on Memphis,” you’re in a squishy bubble of love and good time.
This song is a love letter to a musical town by a double-edged sark of a writer with a distinct voice that makes me think of Stan Ridgeway and one of my favorite songs, “Mexican Radio.”

Gary Van Miert has written and created a brilliant gathering of interstellar, sitar-drippy Country & Blues space-symphonies straight from the mothership, cruising the heavenly highway under the influence of heavy, heavy pith with B3 organ to bring it crashing through the barriers of time, space and adventure! Roam along with reckless indulgence and let this record take you home!
It’s pure fun and it’s so freaking beautiful! 

Review by Emily Duff
Released September 2nd 2022


Scott Matthews INTERVIEW by Liz Jones

Meeting Scott Matthews
September 9th 2022

Catching Scott at the start of his second UK tour this year, the first was in Spring as part of Robert Plant’s Saving Grace tour, followed by a return to Europe through Summer, it’s no wonder the interview was smiles throughout.
Contrast was the subject.
Optimism, the mood.
Scott found a way to make something beautiful out of lockdown, braving a new voice. A simple reaction to the situation, with imposed time used to brightly burn existing sparks of ideas.

After some 6 studio albums Matthews has created ‘New Skin’ during lockdown. It will feel for long standing fans like a completely new audio chapter in layered swelling electronic melancholy, so fully embraced, you might think the direction will be lasting.

We discussed the reaction of fans to this ‘new sound’.
It’s for sure more contemporary than previous projects and the acceptance that he’s created “a marmite piece of work” as a labelled ‘folk’ artist it gives him cause for thought and reflection:
“Who can Scott Matthews can be as a songwriter?”
In his own words ‘New Skin’ is “a symptom of circumstance and intrigue”.
The intrigue in place years before, the circumstance creating a “catalyst for it” to be realised.

We agreed on disliking labels.
A hindrance to have to fit yourself into a club.
I can’t help but feel, however, that what Mathews jokingly calls the ‘Awkward genre’s list’ will be able to embrace this new record from several angles and find him a new and broader audience.
As he says, “There’s a lot of colours in there.”
I can imagine a chill and lo-fi festival crowd listening with moonlight and smokes, contently. Those same people, reacting just the same way to some earlier records, without knowing they were hearing the same man.
To find the link: it’s all warming and thoughtful music.

I asked bluntly: “Did you enjoy it?”

Yes. To be right in the heart of covid and having a brand-new experience of solace and discovery… part of me would wake up relishing what I could find each day. In the end I’m grateful for the opportunity, to have had the time to do this.”

The ultimate peace of mind, a long-term fan in Holland saying, “It’s possibly your best album yet.”
Some will tolerate, some will embrace and some will loudly fight your corner, as an artist who does a new thing.
What we should remember, we were the same people having to be different people.

“Amidst the chaos I still had to be creative and still parent a 4 year old.”

As an insufferable morning person, I was drawn most to the track titled ‘Morning’ and after a couple of listens to the album it is my favorite. Scott talked about a choice he makes to put something relatable in every song. We all have certain feelings about mornings, indeed. The song discusses “the Groundhog Day element of mornings, also the mourning side of things” [the morning still comes, through good and bad]. Its mood is positive; coping and living.

Where do I start taking in the morning?
Shuffle down the isle of the morning
Deliver my vows but I’m somehow stalling
To make a commitment to you.

An established and proven ‘pro-shed recordist’, Matthews didn’t need to learn a full set of new tricks for the making of ‘New Skin’. The tools and the know how in place allowed the ‘intrigue’ to focus on the playing.
“creating an organic sounds library, how to trigger noises, build them up mechanically” was new, to explore its electronic nature.

‘New Skin’ may be a happy experimental change for you or not, but regardless, it’s inspired a sister album taking the same songs right back to their bare singer songwriter birth. After a couple were played by Matthews during our chat, it’s clear the ‘6 string & voice’ acoustic art remains and the contrast allows you further into the songs and lyrics. He mentions he’s again ‘shedding another skin’; one triggered by the prior, ironically, seeing the pending release to be his most natural recorded sound. Talking about both albums,
“You are always aware of the consequences of the music you release. It flees the nest and then just exists in the world and you can’t do anything about it! I always have Paul Simon on my shoulder, reminding me.
‘What would Paul Simon say about this?’” I think Paul Simon and many of the great songwriters would encourage laying yourself bare and taking a risk.

A roots artist at heart, with several rich in the roots and acclaimed records under his belt, Matthews has more that earned himself the space to make an album in the world of the experimental. As so many musicians have through the alien years without access to our ideas, jamming and sparring teammates, the ‘solo’ project has been a common outlet. Matthews’ album ‘New Skin’ feels intricate, gently polished and worlds away from some of the ‘had a creative stab at it, here’s what I came up with’ music that came from 2020/2021.
Not to say this hasn’t been good, but it’s impressive to me personally how delicately and deeply ‘New Skin’ has been crafted.
It’s a project of complete involvement and acceptance in his new sound, which he seems to be at peace with as a side of himself that will re-appear whenever it feels right for his music.

I’m not much into direct comparisons.
Several have aligned Scott Matthews with Radiohead.
Personally, I hear touches of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ album.
Listen to ‘New Skin’ through a GOOD sound set-up, when you are in the mood for thinking and contemplating in stillness.
I’d advise also listening to his debut ‘Passing Stranger’ that cast him straight into the world of Robert Plant in 2006.
Listen to ‘Sweet Scented Figure’ and ‘Passing Stranger’ from the Live at Shepherd’s Bush album if you want the roots connection. The attention of Plant and Ed O’Brien shows you the range of people who get it.

He is on tour in the UK right now, and very happy to be seeing familiar faces and playing to people, out of the shed.
This is a solo show, and to deliver certain tracks from ‘New Skin’ Scott confesses he’s now gigging with “A few guitars and a … laptop. Can you bring a laptop to a gig? What’s going on there?!”
He’s aware, humble and open.
Catch his remainder dates on the website: https://www.scottmatthews.uk/tour-dates

Interview by Liz Jones

A Different Thread CALL OF THE ROAD

A Different Thread
Call of The Wild

Americana Meets Roots and Folk in a Downtown Real Ale Bar

The last few weeks have been quite manic at RMHQ and while I’ve never made the time to put pen to paper for this utterly charming and beautiful album; it’s been a ‘go to’ whenever I’ve needed to calm down and relax.
I try not to talk about the troubles and strife the pandemic caused musicians but when there are only the two of you and one lives in the middle of England and the other in Carolina, the combination of technology and longing make for exciting bedfellows.
The duo’s second album of ‘Americana Meets Folk in a Downtown Real Ale Bar;’ opens with some jaunty guitar picking and even jauntier whistling; followed by Rob Jackson delivering a dark song of love that simply drips with emotion and sits on the cutting edge of Country-Folk that so few can manage to create as classioly as this.
This is immediatly followed by From The Cradle to The Grave, with its haunting harmonica interludes and Alicia Best taking lead with Rob behind her on harmonies that can’t stop me thinking back to the first time I heard Gram and Emmylou; albeit in a more Transatlantic Folkie modus operandi.
Let’s not get too carried away with that ‘thought’; Rob & Alicia aka A Different Thread are as different as chalk and cheese compared to the Golden Couple; but their individual voices and harmonies are just as breathtaking.
I don’t think that I’m alone in thinking that the one positive of the pandemic on music is the high standard of songwriting that has come out the other end. Perhaps not having to write an annual album of songs to promote via a tour has allowed songwriters to allow their songs to evolve more organically than usual ….. it’s only a theory; but the songs on this album in general are a bit deeper than on the previous offering; and the song constructions and musical arrangements; while deceptively simple are worthy of a ‘big time’ recording studio with a household name twiddling the knobs.
I’ve always been a sucker for a harmonica; and here A Different Thread use it with gay abandon throughout; apparantly replacing both a pedal-steel and piano in the making of this album; but again …. that’s just a theory; but I think I’m not wrong.
The key here though; is the high quality of the songwriting and storytelling; with Alicia sending a shiver down my back on Get Close and later on Ode To The Leaving of Liverpool she deliberately makes the listener feel uncomfortable; yet unable not fall in love with the desperate way she takes an age old ‘theme’ and make it sound like it was yesterday they were standing on the quayside bidding a fond, if tearful farewell.

Robert on the other hand has a much deeper voice; but one he uses to the max on Behind The Curtain, which simmers like a tarry rope towards the explosive ending; and he too can take a left turn when necessary; which he does with thoughtful introspection on the starkly gentle Try To Ask You, which does have an actual pedal-steel in the background.
While I was as charmed as I was surprised by the Celtic flavoured, claustrophobic instrumental Linda’s Crossing which ends the album; it somehow manages to be the perfect ending to the album; but I’m ruling it out as a contender for the accolade of Favourite Song, as an instrumental can’t be a song … or can it?
The accolade will go to the winner of a coin toss between the windswept The Devil You Don’t; which also has a Celtic ‘tinge’ to it; but not aligned to any single land of that persuasion …. as it could just as easily be sung in Cornwall as it could Clonakilty or Campbelltown in Scotland …. or by any of their American ancestors.
The other is the actual title track, Call of The Road which comes in at Track #3; and when you first hear Alicia’s wistful vocals sounding like a coiled spring as the sound from the shadows behind her combine to sound emotionally charged as a Summer Storm, you know you are listening to something very special indeed.
Hopefully the financial stress put on them by the pandemic wasn’t too harsh; as the resulting album, with only a little bit of an onward wind could be a game-changer for A Different Thread.
Here’s hoping.

Released 1st September 2022