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Kat Riggins
Bluzpik Media Group

A Thrill a Minute Blues and Soul Roller Coaster Ride.

I knew absolutely nothing about Kat Riggins before opening the envelope containing her latest and second full lengthCD; but……and this is a huge compliment; the sleeve alone would have made me pick it up in a record shop and ask the chap behind the counter if I could hear a track or two.
Then after hearing the first couple of bars from the hypnotic opening track Try, Try Again I would happily have parted with 10 English pounds.
It’s a Soul song, it’s Blues too, it might even have a smidgen of Gospel in there too but this song contains so, so much more too.
Troubles Away; follows and slows things down with a real back porch Country Blues; with ‘vinyl hiss and scratches’ for added authenticity……and my, oh my what a powerful and expressive voice this young lady has. The type that sends shivers down your spine and used to have blokes queuing at the stage door with bouquets of flowers and marriage proposals.
Like all of the best Blues and Soul singers Ms Riggins manages to surprise at every turn; and rocking our world in a way you could never expect with Kitty Won’t Scratch, a feisty duet with guitarist Albert Castiglia they make the speakers shake and Fistful o’ Water she makes Janis Joplin sound like a teenage choir girl!
But it’s her slow and sensual songs that have won my heart ……..Cheat Or Lose could and should be a ‘by the numbers’ song; but this one with Darrell Raines sultry keyboards sounds like something I would expect to hear on Blue Note; and on Don’t Throw Me Away Kat turns the tables by being the one who done her man wrong; and begs……really begs for forgiveness.
To me; this album is primarily S.O.U.L with a side order of the Blues; with the emphasis being very much on the stories in the self-penned songs and Kat Riggins’ distinctive and emotional voice; with everything coming together in the finest way on the funky Tightrope and even more especially so the title track A Girl in a Boys Club; which comes very closely to being a feminist anthem; but is mostly a hell of a good fist bumping song for the end of the evening.
There’s even a ‘secret track’ tucked away in here too; with Kat letting her voice do the talking on a rather beautiful short and sweet acapella ‘interlude’ called Living Testimony, that could have been recorded in a Baptist Church and if it wasn’t should have been.
Then of course I am now obliged to select a Favourite Song; which has been genuinely difficult; but I’m going for Johnnie Walker; a thrilling and exciting Blues Rocker, but this one comes from the darkest pits of Kat’s heart; and the band glide in and out with some awesome licks and a ‘most Blues wailin’ mouth harp’!
I can only imagine how powerful and thrilling it must sound when played live.
Not for the first time this year; and I hope not the last, it’s unearthing albums like this one, her second and being able to hail artistes like Kat Riggins from Miami, Florida to the world at large that make all of the hours I put in worthwhile.

Released June 23rd 2018



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Speedbuggy USA

Enough Twang and Bang to Break 1,000 Hearts.

I do like a new musical sub-genre; even making a few up myself just for the Hell of it; but one of the earliest ‘genuine ones’ is/was Cow Punk; of which one of my favourite bands of all time were proud purveyors….Jason and The Scorchers. So for someone else to use that moniker to describe their music has to be of interest; doesn’t it?
Then, of course there is their swamp infested version of Last Train to Clarksville which opens the album……yes sirree Bubba; this is certainly going to be right up my street.
The songs come at you like baseballs in a pen; fast and furious belters like Rodeo Star and Get Around which leave you with sweat running down your face; then there are the deceptively slow curlers Sorry and Honky Tonk Singer which lull you into a false sense of security until you listen intently and two very Country sad tales unravel before your eyes.
But it’s Speedbuggy USA’s sidewinders that are among some of the most memorable songs here; Hold My Head Up High and Wood, Screws and Nails are the type of 99mph Twang that you’d possibly hear in a London Pub circa 1977 when Punk Rock was at it’s height; and these crazy cats would win any battle of wills with the spiky haired audience; or perhaps just the battle.
Fear not though, Speedbuggy USA know their way around a Bona-fide Country song too; and so they should after 8 previous albums; with The Devil With Me and South Bound being opposite ends of the Honky Tonk spectrum and both being packed full of the spit, swagger and enthusiasm we normally associate with bands like the Waco Brothers, The Blasters and of course Jason and the Scorchers.
Even though I’ve loved every single track on an album that should be played from start to finish with no stopping for toilet breaks; choosing a Favourite song has been quite easy; even if it is a tie!
The band’s seedy interpretation of Unchain My Heart is fabulous; and just like Clarksville proved earlier; if you are going to do a cover……make it sound like you wrote it yourself, and that’s what they do here.
The other is a song of their own; Shaky Town which is just the type truck driving Country love song that will make you want to put your arm around your lover and both sway in time to the waltz like melody, as singer Timbo runs an emotional gamut for 3 short but perfect minutes.
What’s not to like about a band with a pedal-steel that sounds like a 1,000 hearts being broken, guitars that weep, wail and sing, a drummer and bass player who keep time better than a shiny new Rolex and a singer in Timbo who sounds like his life depends on you hearing every single note that comes from his grizzled throat; and boy oh boy can they write and deliver a toe-tapping song!

Released July 6th 2018

The Cordovas Jumping Hot Club, Newcastle.

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The Cordovas
Jumping Hot Club
Gosforth Civic Theatre.

Because of my awkward shifts at work attending to gigs is becoming increasingly difficult for me these days; but this one fell on my long weekend off; and following promoter Shipcote’s fulsome praise for this Nashville band a trip across town was in order.
By the time I arrived all of the seats were taken but there were still a few standing positions with good views of the stage.
Opening act John Wilkins is a singer-songwriter from a fishing village further down the coast called Sunderland; and someone else Shipcote told me about earlier in the year after being impressed at a Songwriters Circle.
As usual my musician friend was perfectly right, as Wilkins proved thoroughly entertaining, sounding somewhere between someone like John Martyn and Roy Harper; albeit with a gently abrasive singing style.
Two; no three songs from his thirty minute set really stood out; Halfway From Wearside, a rolling Blues about being away from his home town; Big Shot (?) with it’s delicate chorus and the ‘accidental encore’ (the promoter was otherwise engaged removing a drunk so the act just kept playing) Twice In Love; which was a pleasant surprise as it compared love the second time around with shopping at an Oxfam charity shop!
Because of the slight over run there was a very short break leaving people still at the bar as the Cordovas arrived on stage; starting with the drummer and slowing being joined one by one by his bandmates. Their introductory instrumental became even longer than expected as there were problems with a microphone; but that’s one of the joys of live music, isn’t it?
Quickly sorted the show quickly went from strength to strength for this relatively unknown 5 piece band with twin lead guitars and three part harmonies you could swim in.
Very few songs actually had intros, as the band just kept keeping on; at one stage I even noted that I couldn’t always tell when one song ended and another began as the three singers seamlessly switched from one to another.
Each certainly had their own distinctive and rather wonderful styles; and when they joined together in harmony………my knees nearly buckled.
I did pick up on a couple of titles though; Louisiana Hurricane and Just Because He Can (with its cheeky false ending) both sounded like something Little Feet or the Allman’s would have gone on to record; but that’s no surprise with twin lead guitars is it?
On a hot, stuffy and stifling Summers evening The Cordova’s understated Country Rock was the perfect soundtrack, with only bass player and singer extraordinaire Joe Firstman showing any showmanship; screwing his face up when singing and even jumping off stage to serenade the front row at one stage; but first and foremost The Cordovas are all about the music and what sweet music they make.
During Southern Rain I swear you could smell the acacia blossom and then during the cool groove of Common Desire it really was like being transported to Memphis on a steamy Friday night.
The time genuinely flew by and I had to check my watch as the band bade us a farewell after 75 minutes; but hang on…….who’d have thunk it; they came back for a well prepared couple of encore songs.
First of all it was Firstman alone at the piano singing something called I’m Leaving; which my mate Ian correctly suggested sounded like Randy Newman; and it did which was very impressive.
Then he introduced the two guitarists Lucca Soria and Graham Spillman who twisted and juggled a rather neat and impressive rendition of Sweet Home Chicago which yet again, showcased their skills and dexterity on their electrical guitars.
Well; what a fantastic night we all had and what a discovery for RMHQ……now to get hold of their next album.


Full photo-set by HarrisonaPhotos https://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/The-Cordovas/

Luke Tuchscherer PIECES

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Luke Tuchscherer
Clubhouse Records

Roof Down, Wayfarers on, Press Play…….

The exotically monikered Luke Tuchscherer’s previous album came to us straight out of left-field a couple of years ago; a SE England lad living in NYC and playing Americana with a side order of Country Rock shouldn’t add up; should it? But it certainly did; and I’m pleased to say……still does.
Just as I was leaving the house the postman handed me three packages, which I opened in the car. The first was this CD, and knowing I’d liked that previous album put it straight into the stereo.
Yes sirree Bub! The fizzing and feisty opening track Sudden Getaway was the start of a perfect soundtrack for last minute drive to work in the British sunshine. Wayfarers on and a delightful dose of Anglo-American Country Rock blasting out of the windows as my right foot was pressed firmly to the floor; what’s not to like?
Company Girl (Needs a Company Man) follows and my mood just got better; as a swirling organ, luscious guitars and a delightfully flat vocal took me into Neil’s Trans/Freedom and Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road arena and there we stayed for the next half hour.
Stay with me here; this isn’t no homage to Neil or Steve or anyone in particular by any stretch of the imagination; as subsequent plays reveal many other lines of enquiry; but those fuzzy guitars and razor sharp observations will appeal to the rockier end of the Americana world that Neil made his own decades ago.
Tuchscherer has his very own way with lyrics; with Batten Down The Hatches being a straight forward song about preparing for the stormy season…..or is it? Could it be a clever song about the political situation in his adopted country? Only he knows; and we can guess.
After half a dozen exciting songs based around the electric guitar we get Ghosts, a wonderfully atmospheric acoustic road song with a man reliving and revisiting his past as one chapter in his life closes; and hopefully another brighter one is just around the corner. It’s a very clever and articulate song; that was an early contender for the Favourite Song accolade.
I love the way Luke straddles the Country Rock and Americana boundaries with no shame whatsoever; as good music is just that……good music.
That first day PIECES fit my mood perfectly well; but subsequently songs have unravelled revealing some very interesting stories masked by that fantastic band. Requiem is a pseudo-political tale about the have and have nots in our world, and the anthemic title track Pieces which follows is another punchy view on the world we live in with my favourite line of the week,
“Some Folks are born/but never live.”
Ain’t that the truth!
Then there is the song that actually takes the title of RMHQ Favourite Track; See You When I See You (For the Whybirds). A love song to Tuchscherer’s former band The Whybirds who were a staple of the nascent Alt. Country scene before it had a name and certainly long before it became cool. Just like that band itself this song will go over the heads of many who hear it; but for many of us and it’s fair to say members of any other band who hears it will get a tingle in the tummy and a tear in the eye.
“Don’t look back/never look back.” Don Henley once sang; but sometimes you have to, to move forward and with this beautiful song Luke Tuchscherer can and will move on to the next stage of his burgeoning career and hopefully get the success that his former band deserved, but never received.
Just like that last album; PIECES is something you can listen to on many levels; background music in the car, a soundtrack to a cool BBQ or better still on headphones when no one else is around.

Released July 6th 2018

Grey Goon ft. Lauren Ruth Ward – I Don’t Believe In The Sun.

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Grey Goon ft. Lauren Ruth Ward
I Don’t Believe In The Sun.

We listen to a lot of music here at RMHQ, mostly good and some bad; but we like to retain an open mind.
This delightful song arrived last night; and we couldn’t wait to share it with you.
Featuring our friend Lauren Ruth Ward on vocals it’s actually by a Pop single by LA Producer/Engineer/Man Bout Town Doug Walters aka Grey Goon and is destined for the Pop Charts and National radio….which may be a first for us!
Anyway, turn on, tune in…..enjoy!

Kinky Friedman CIRCUS OF LIFE

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Kinky Friedman
Echo Hill Records

12 Dark American Folk Songs That Will Break Your Heart and Engage Your Brain.

Kinky Friedman is one of those acts who has been around for ever but never crossing my path until 2015 with the release of The Loneliest Man I Ever Met and a UK Tour to promote it. For a variety of health reasons that year the album became a late night/early morning Godsend; with numerous songs touching my heart in ways very few others could at that delicate time.
But; seeing him live baffled me as I found it difficult to separate the sensitive wordsmith on record with the larger than life showman who held a packed room in the palm of his hand with humorous stories and anecdotes; letting the music only play second fiddle.
Hey ho; that’s all in the past and this brand new record is on my player for the umpteenth time in four weeks and at last…..I get it!
Opening track A Dog Named Freedom could only be written by someone who has lived through a myriad of American administrations since the 1960’s and finally the balance has tipped; with Kinky now comparing the USA’s beloved Freedom to a three legged dog in a song that 50% of the population will love and 50% hate should they ever hear; which is what a good protest song should be surely?
Some songs here are quite simple; Copper Love and Zoey spring to mind, but I’m convinced they have hidden meanings that I haven’t deciphered yet; or perhaps they are just plain and simple love songs……I do hope so.
Others are wonderfully perceptive and when you first hear them will catch you unawares; as Spitfire and Song About You did; both leaving me quite breathless; especially the delightful Spitfire which turns out to be an ode to a WWII pilot sung from the point of view of his lover staring forlornly at the sky from her window.
You didn’t expect that; did you?
Jesus In Pyjamas is as sad a song as you’ll hear this decade, with the Governor of the Heart of Texas revealing a delicate tale of homelessness and mental health problems with incredible sensitivity, while holding your attention with every word and note.
A lot of the press surrounding this album focusses on one particular song; Autographs In The Rain (Song for Willie); a rather jaunty anecdote about The Kinkster’s life long relationship with Willie Nelson. It is a very good song, and certainly sung from the heart; but it’s far from the best song here.
That title could go to any one of three; which are all songs any of the great American Folk Singers (inc. His Bobness) would have been proud to have written; first choice could be Back To Grace; sung in a Leonard Cohen style murmur; with a feint harmonica in the background to add even extra pathos on a stunning love story that will bring tears to a glass eye.
Another choice could be the title track Circus of Life; another very dark love song that shows what a Master Storyteller and songwriter Friedman is when he sets his mind to it. Softly sung and including a harmonica, accordion and mandolin as well as some neatly strummed guitar from Joe Cirotti, this is the type of song that wins Awards.
Just to be contrary I’m choosing Me & My Guitar as the RMHQ Favourite Song; it’s another comparatively simple Folk Song; but deceptively so as it takes a rare talent to make something this beautiful and profound sound so simple; and Kinky Friedman does it with such ease.
First and foremost Kinky Friedman is a Folk Singer in the long tradition of Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs and mostly Tom Paxton; dissecting life around him with a scalpel and reassembling it all to create a bunch of very insightful and eloquent songs that will pull and squeeze your heartstrings while also stimulating your brain.
When I first played The Loneliest Man I Ever Met in 2015 it felt like a mighty punch to the jaw; making me see stars and my knees wobble until I fell to the canvass, out for the count in Round #1. This album hasn’t been quite so immediate; but Kinky’s had me on the ropes for twelve long rounds now, with hits to the head, the heart and the gut leaving me exhausted but elated knowing that the Texas Champion still has what it takes to be a Champion in a world full of young pretenders.

Released June 6th 2018

Creedence Clearwater Revival FORTUNATE SON (video)

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Creedence Clearwater Revival
Craft Recordings

If ever a song was an unofficial anthem for the current state of the United States it would be FORTUNATE SON by Rock legends and Forefathers of Country Rock which in turn begat the whole Americana movement Creedence Clearwater Revival; and today we received this fantastic video for said song…….and a cryptic message foretelling a ‘Special Release’ in the Autumn to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their self-titled debut album in 1968.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1968 self-titled debut album introduced the world to guitar-playing brothers John and Tom Fogerty, drummer Doug Clifford, and bassist Stu Cook, four young men out of El Cerrito in the San Francisco Bay Area. Though they emerged in a place and time where trippy psychedelic visions were the order of the day, CCR bucked the trends and instead tapped into a rich, traditional seam of American music that connected to blues, country, rockabilly, gospel, folk and R&B.

While their contemporaries were unfurling mind-bending musical excursions with elaborate productions, Creedence crashed into the upper rungs of the album and singles charts with songs that wasted nary a note or word, overflowing with raw soul and unbridled energy. Although the band members were only together for four years under the Creedence Clearwater Revival appellation, they managed to accomplish more than many artists do in their entire career – they released 14 Top 10 hits, six Platinum albums, and one Gold in just four intensely prolific years, all powered by John Fogerty’s gut-level growl, with Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford providing just the right kind of gritty, in-the-pocket punch to propel CCR’s vision.

The band’s West Coast origins notwithstanding, Fogerty’s voice contained echoes of everything from the Chicago blues bite of Howlin’ Wolf to the Alabama twang of Hank Williams and the Memphis swagger of Elvis Presley, creating an archetypal example of Americana decades before anybody ever thought of using that term to define a musical genre.

For all the indelible guitar hooks and commanding vocals the CCR catalogue contains, their songs are more than catchy tunes. CCR was a people’s band in more ways than one; hand in hand with the accessibility that made their music relatable to just about everybody, there was a strong sense of identification with America’s common folks, the ones whose stories were told in the songs.

On tunes like “Born on the Bayou” and “Green River,” Creedence harnessed the sonic hoodoo of almost dangerously deep, “swamp rock” grooves to propel vivid New Orleans imagery. “Long As I Can See the Light” floats luminously with the kind of sanctified soul feel that we’ve come to expect only from the South. And the spry country two-step of “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” finds its feet in Nashville, at least in a spiritual sense. While CCR’s signature song, “Proud Mary,” is a Southern-soaked riverboat travelogue, with stops in Memphis and the Crescent City.

Even some of the covers of Creedence’s tunes have become part of history—Ike & Tina Turner’s sped-up, R&B-slathered 1971 recording of “Proud Mary” almost rivaled the original in popularity. And an astonishing array of artists, from Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to R.E.M. and the Ramones, have recorded “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” to home in on the reach of just one of their profusely covered songs.

The group also performed a historic headlining set at Woodstock, and toured the world before disbanding in 1972. CCR’s music endures today – still in popular rotation on the radio, and heard regularly in films and TV shows. Having sold over 30 million albums in the U.S. alone, Creedence received a rare Diamond certification from the RIAA in 2016, marking 10 million units in sales for their 1976 compilation album, Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits.

The appeal of Creedence Clearwater Revival isn’t tied to any one era or milieu; whether it’s 50 years ago or 100 years from now, all you need is a pair of ears to pick up on their sound. As John Fogerty once sang on a certain 1969 hit single, “Over on the corner there’s a happy noise/People come from all around to watch the magic boys.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!


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Wily Bo Walker
Mescal Canyon Records

British Blues Just Got It’s Swagger Back.

A couple of months a go I tried to explain to a work colleague who Wily Bo Walker was and why I love his music; “He’s a bit like Joe Cocker……can you remember Alex Harvey? Oh…..you like Dr. John don’t you?” There was still a quizzical look on his face so I just shrugged my shoulders and mumbled, “forget it……you wouldn’t understand.”
Such is the enigma this Glaswegian Blues singer creates; he’s a bit like all of the above but not…..he’s his very own one man band; re-inventing himself at leisure; or at least every time an electric bill arrives; and the world is a much better place for having him in it!
Here we have yet another collection of Walkers works; culled from a back catalogue that should be the envy of any or all of the Blues Grammy winners across the last decade; starting with the big boss New Orleans sound of Chattahoochee Coochee Man; a swinging big band Blues stomper that made my car shake when I cranked the stereo up to 11 last weekend.
It’s clear that this doesn’t start the album by accident; this is Wily Bo throwing down a marker…….’enter here at your own peril!’
Things immediately slow down and get very, very soulful on track #2 Loan Me a Dime; one of the three collaborations with long time friend ED Bradshaw all three of which are completely different and borderline brilliant; especially track #3 I Want To Know which is the type of song you want to hear on the FM Radio while watching the sun set on the horizon at the end of a hot and sultry Sunday.
Jump forward a couple of tracks and you will hear The Wily Bo Walker Band rock your world like few other can on Fool For You; an intense love ballad full to the gunnel’s with searing guitar and an industrial strength rhythm section.
Interestingly this is followed by the low down and dirty Chicagoan Blues, Walking With the Devil; where Wily makes Howlin’ Wolf sound like a pre-pubescent teenager!
Even though I’ve been a late comer to the party I still recognised quite a few songs; with the Film Noir title track from one of my favourite recent albums Moon Over Indigo sounding as amazing as when I first heard it a year or so ago, and a new slightly extended version of the collaboration with Karena K, Light At The End of the Tunnel which closes the record in a beautifully dark and somewhat ill-bred manner.
I could stick a pin into the track listing to find a Favourite Track; such is the quality on offer here; but I’m going left of centre (which is a brave thing when you know how left of centre Wily Bo Walker is!) and go for the lonely tale of an itinerant musician, Motel Blues. A simple song with a complex Country Blues arrangement and some delicious lyrics about the wacky world of a Rock and Roll Star.
There’s something really gripping in the way Walker’s droll voice tells the sad tale of a seedy seduction in a club after a show; “Chronologically I know you are young/because when you kissed me in the club you bit my tongue/I’ll write a song for you and put it on my next LP/Come up to my Motel room and save my life.”
Although a US Blues Hall of Famer, Wily Bo Walker is still under the radar and that is a huge shame as this Glaswegian Blues Belter has a talent way beyond anyone else I’ve heard from the UK in the last twenty years or more……..oh for the halcyon days of John Peel, Emperor Rosko, Stuart Henry and even DLT on the national radio airwaves playing music this good and interesting.

Released 29th June 2018


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Leslie Tom

Classic Country For Today, Tomorrow; But Certainly Not Yesterday.

Strangely enough two of my favourite albums are both collections of Hank Williams song (Bap Kennedy’s HILLBILLY SHAKESPEARE and HANKY PANKY by Matt Johnson’s The The) so it was with more than a tingle of excitement I agreed to listen to this album by Denver based Miss Leslie Tom.
With only four of the ten songs here written by the great man; this is more of a love letter from the heart, to Hank than anything else.
Very much in the style of Williams, Leslie’s very own Born Too Late opens proceedings and your toes will tap from the get go, as Leslie pines the fact that she was “born too late and he was born too soon” for the pair to have ever met; but if they had “she could see us in a great big Cadillac/Ridin’ high through life/never looking back”. In the nicest possible way it’s a cute song; yet like a few others here quite edgy in it’s own special way, with some very eloquent and clever lyrics.
This is followed by Leslie rockin’ the heck outta Hey Good Lookin’; not a song that will trouble the Grammy committee but one that made me smile like a nanny goat; and boy can Mr Lloyd Green pick that pedal-steel!
In fairness that’s the beauty of this album; every song is sung with love and joy and are the type of songs that pay homage in the very best way; regardless of commercial success.
If you like quality Country AND Western music you will just love Honky Tonkin’ and the delightful duet with Dean Miller, Are You Ready For Some Hanky Panky, both of which must be highlights of any live shows.
Then of course there is one of my favourite songs of all time I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, a tearjerker of the highest order and a dangerous song to cover as there are some stinkers out there; but Leslie captures the same essence that Hank had when he wrote it; and coupled to some shimmering guitar and pedal-steel this version will send shivers down your spine.
Choosing a favourite song certainly hasn’t been easy; with the brittle Audrey’s Song (Still Love You) being an early contender and Leslie breaths fresh breath into Angel of Death (sounding uncannily like Nanci Griffith btw) but I’m going for the Leslie Tom Composition Mr. Williams, which if taken out of context here is a stunning song on its own merits; but becomes the cornerstone for an album that could easily be the soundtrack to a Stage Show (now there’s an idea!) and will give pleasure to absolutely everyone who hears it.
After a couple of beers my favourite argument with friends whose musical tastes are deeply embedded in the past; is that they should ‘move with the times’ and listen to modern music too. AIN’T IT SOMETHING, HANK WILLIAMS has a foot in both camps; as Leslie Tom certainly loves the ‘old music’ of Hank Williams and sings her odes to him in the Classic style; but this is very much an album for today…….and tomorrow; and certainly not yesterday.

Released June June 16th 2018.


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Cowboy Junkies
Proper Records/Latent Recordings

Canadiacana Revisited (Songs for the heart and brain)

Is it really 30 years since I first heard Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis) on the radio? Apparently so; as the album it came from, the imperial Trinity Sessions is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary later this year.
It’s fair to say that album was not just a ‘Gateway’ to my listening pleasures, but also a pivotal album in my collection as it tipped all my previous thoughts on music into a muddy ditch and helped move me into a far more grown up world of music appreciation.
So; it was with a slight tightening in the chest and butterflies in my stomach that I first played this, their 13th (?) full length album.
Oh dear; I didn’t ‘get it’. Just like all those albums that followed PALE SUN, CRESCANT MOON, it was obviously the Cowboy Junkies with Margot’s exquisite vocals and Michael quietly dictating the sounds, but no…..I didn’t ‘get it’.
Then two weeks later I thought I’d give it another go on a flight to New York, so with eye mask on and headphones pressed tightly against my ears I thought ‘here goes’.
This proved to be the perfect setting; not a sunny back garden as I’d tried previously.
Even from the opening track All That Reckoning Pt1, you are faced with a sensory overload, and not just from Margot Timmins’ unmistakeable voice and the Cowboy Junkies trademarked Lo-Fi bass and guitar combo; but the stark lyrics come at you like the suns rays through a Summer fog;
“I took my heart and laid it on the floor/you took my heart and softly asked for more.”
Not just on this song, but on several others Michael Timmins employs what sounds like an Alt. Chamber Orchestra to compliment their normal ‘Rock’ instrumentation; which on The Things That We Do To Each Other and Wooden Stairs takes us into the ‘darkest of hearts territory’ normally associated with Leonard Cohen; and just like him leaves you smiling through pursed lips; such is the intensity and beauty that this band can create.
Speaking of intensity on Sing Me a Song, the band throw down the challenge flag to Alt. Rockers like Muse and even U2 with some searing guitar and a rhythm section steeped in the oil from a Corvettes sump, to create a song that will send a shiver down your spine.
The Cowboy Junkies can create a poetically atmospheric song like no other, in my humble opinion and with Nose Before Ear and Mountain Streams they challenge the listeners perceptions of what is and isn’t Rock music; and come out proving that they were and are correct and this listener came out educated and enthused by both; and just about everything else too.
Where to go for a Favourite Song’? Obviously there’s no Blue Moon Revisited or Cheap Is How I Feel here; why would there be? Those days are long gone; this is a hardback book not just an essay; these songs need to be listened to in isolation (as I did on that flight for 5 hours) but I will point you to The Possessed which closes the record; for it’s unclouded simplicity and Missing Children as examples of a band who stand on the Rock precipice writing and performing songs, so beautiful they will not just take your breath away but wonder where the concept came from; but I’m actually selecting Shining Teeth as my favourite; for all of those reasons and everything that went before; but the judicial use of an organ takes the song through a fairground and comes out at a funeral.
Perhaps their last half dozen albums passed me by because I wasn’t ready for them; as the Cowboy Junkies have always and still do tread their very own artistic path, with Michael Timmins not caring a jot for commercial success; but absolutely craving artistic success like an addict and he achieves those wild ambitions with every song on this wonderful creation.

Released July 13th 2018