RJ Cowdery What If This Is All There Is? Goose Pie Music
Robustly Delicate Songs From the Country/Folk Axis.
It appears RJ Cowdery from Columbus, Ohio is one of those ‘wandering troubadour’ musicians who has a list of Festival Appearances, Songwriting Competitions, support slots and house concerts as long as your arm; and then some; yet is still flying under the musical radar; which greatly saddens me. She is far from alone in that regard; but when I see and hear some of the ‘over night’ wonders in our little world, I truly despair at the state of the music industry. But; and this may be naive on my behalf; but I firmly believe talent will always win through …… just sometimes you have to wait a bit longer than you deserve. Why do I feel this way? Listen to the first song here; Somewhere A Place and you will hear a woman who can weave golden textures through a sad old love song; and sing it with a voice that is both ‘world weary’ and hopeful at the same time. RJ treads the path that is part Americana, part Roots, Part Folk and a whole lotta Country with ease on her insightful and perceptive songs, taking us on some kind of personal journey that will capture both your heart and imagination when she powers through Broken Wheel then drags things down to raw basics with Is There Time and Secrets of My Dreams. We’ve all seen a lot of singer-songwriters like RJ Cowdrey in our time; but very few have a canon of songs this sharply observed and coupled to imaginative melodies that will make you feel like you’ve known them all of your life. RJ Cowdrey has this quality in Shotgun Rider and the heartfelt title track What If This Is All There Is? I’ve racked my brains, as I was sure I’d heard both songs before ….. but no sirree, these and everything else here are brand new and shiny just for this album. Then, there are two very, very special songs here that definitely deserve a worldwide audience; her interpretation of Josh Ritter’s Girl in the War is absolutely heartbreaking, and I hope Josh finds it half as beautiful as I have done. The other is Lost & Found, and finds itself the RMHQ Favourite Song here, with the opening verse sending a shiver down my spine; “Here we are, falling stars looking for a place to land Not really knowing where we’re going holding on best that we can Like two old birds, mincing words scratching round’ the back yard Talking life and sacrifice we’re only as strong as our parts Oh what a journey such a hurry Let’s slow this whole thing down Take a back road you and me we’re on our own.” It’s been difficult to try and pin down where RJ Cowdrey fits in; as she writes a song that could easily be found on a Joan Baez or even Emmylou Harris album; as she can conjure up images in the mould of Lucinda or perhaps even Ashley McBryde but also Amy Speace too, who coincidentally (?) produced the record ; but I also imagine she has spent a lot of time listening to Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Willie Nelson too…… ultimately dissecting each until she has found her very own style; and one she should be rightly proud of.
Spirit Family Reunion One Way Ticket (Single/Video)
I’ve got two very disparate friends in America who have both raved Spirit Family Reunion for many years now; even going back to my days writing for a very prestigious ‘on-line’ magazine/website, when, sadly; I was never on their mailing list…… until now! But now, with this punchy Southern Revival flavoured slice of Hill Country single which serves as the announcement for their new album ‘Ride Free,’ the first in four years; I can really see why Bob and Jason have been mythering me to get on the bandwagon. (A quick listen to the album over breakfast only cements that view btw). This is a really special band, one that uplifts with every show. They’ve done a Tiny Desk Concert, played Newport Folk Fest three times as well as Austin City Limits, toured with Levon Helm and Hurray for the Riff Riff, earned well over two million Spotify plays, and are now celebrating their 10th anniversary as a band.
One Way Ticket released Friday 17th 2019 ‘Ride Free’ comes out August 9th 2019.
Joy Williams Front Porch Sensibility/Thirty Tigers
A Modern Day Classic That Weaves a Colourful Tapestry of Emotions.
When I received this CD last week the name Joy Williams was familiar; but I couldn’t quite place a face to the name, so it’s sat in the pile on the desk waiting for an opportunity to go into the office CD player. Time has been of the essence, so it wasn’t until today when I was heading for the hills to clear my head, that it went into the car alongside two others I felt could be worth a listen. Suffice to say the other two are still unheard and I’ve rushed home to write about Joy Williams’ second solo release ………. since leaving the Civil Wars. DOH! Of course that’s where I knew her name from and it only took thirty seconds of opening track Canary for the penny to drop. What a way to start a new record; haunting, ethereal and crystal clear production all combine with some really imaginative lyrics to not just pull at your heartstrings but stir your Soul too. In theory this type of music shouldn’t be the perfect accompaniment for a car journey; but songs like When Does a Heart Move On and Hotel St. Cecelia felt like old friends giving me a hug; although they were actually strangers meeting me for the first time. For an acoustic album that errs on the side of American Folk with an acoustic Country edge there’s not just a lot going on the words of each song; but the emotions that they create defy the simplicity of Kenneth Patengale’s production. Several songs here are quite stunning; and even breathtaking the first time that you hear them (occasionally the second and third time too) with The Trouble With Wanting and When Creation Was Young both sounding like I will need to sit with my headphones on to get the very best out of them, as they are sure to unravel even more as time dictates. First and foremost you will be swept away by Joy William’s pearlescent voice, which when she reaches for the high notes doesn’t as much ‘hit them’ as catch them and caress them into submission …… which I’ve only ever heard opera singers do before. Being as contrary as I am, I try to avoid title tracks or singles as my Favourite Song; but here you can’t get past Front Porch as the one and only Favourite as it will just sweep you away as it has me (I repeated it 7 times at one stage; like a lovesick teenager!). It’s one of those songs that will mean something different to everyone who hears it; and they won’t all be wrong; just not necessarily correct with their personal interpretation ….. that’s how great a song it is. The album is neatly tied up with the short and sweet closing song Look How Far We’ve Come; which is the nearest to a Country song that’s here and even then it has a gorgeous Gospel edge to it if you listen carefully. I’m a ‘man of a certain age’ and I ‘get it’, in the exact same way that I ‘got’ Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ and Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ nearly half a century ago; and it’s no stretch of the imagination to compare this album to those two Classics in my opinion; but what I fear is that there could/will be a lot of pretentious twaddle in reviews by the hard-line Feminist Movement when they hear Front Porch. Yep; there is a definite femininity to each song here and pulled together they create an album that women of all ages will love and cherish and try to decipher; but trust me…….. music loving men will cherish these songs just as much.
Very Articulate and Contemporary Americana With It’s Roots in Scotia.
As regular readers know I like to do things backwards; listening to the music before reading the Press Release, so I don’t have any preconceptions; and in this case it worked a treat as Ms. Reid has a famous father and an even more famous mentor who guests on a song here; (*whom I will name at the end) and may have ‘turned my head’ had I known this in advance. Opening track Amy, was apparantly written several years ago and in a simpler form won the prestigious Nashville based ‘International Song Contest; and it’s easy to see why it’s been selected to open this rather wonderful album; but why such worthy judges would pick it out of 160, 000 others! There’s a hint or two of other more established Americana songwriters in it’s construction and the way Roseanne breathlessly sings her narrative; but this is a top notch Americana song in it’s very own rite. Thankfully the quality doesn’t stop there; Roseanne covers an array of modern topics in her writing; but there’s a definite romantic thread running through most of the more memorable ones. Now, songs like the bouncy Me Oh My and Take It From Me aren’t ‘all lovey-dovey’ but only a confirmed romantic at heart could write these two songs, in my opinion. Songs about missing a loved one while on tour or working abroad are commonplace in not just Americana Music but are one of the cornerstones of Country and in Miles Away the warble in Roseanne’s cracked voice captures the very essence of how you feel in these circumstances; and in it’s own way heralds a new talent that is headed for great things. As is another won’t of mine, I listen to a lot of new music in my car; and when the 9th track Out in Space came on I found myself frowning and staring at the CD Player …….. Roseanne Reid is Scottish! Who knew? Prior to that she had sung in a non-denominational voice that simply had to come from Northern America surely, possibly even Canada …… but no, she actually comes from Dundee via Edinburgh and originally the Kingdom of Fife! While everything else errs on the Folkier side of Country and Americana; this beauteous couple of minutes shows Roseanne’s true Roots, and they are firmly embedded in the soil of Scotia. The following song turned my head 359 degrees in the other direction as I immediatly recognised the grizzled male voice duetting on the majestic Sweet Annie. Yep; that is/was Steve Earle! Even without him; it would be a stunning song; but now it has added gravitas that will surely get it airplay across the airwaves and interweb. For a debut album there are some very classy and it has to be said, mature songs here, with a couple really capturing my attention from day one. Take It From Me is a gorgeously swinging Country toe-tapper with a bit of New Orleans ‘swing’ in the background; making it come from the mould of someone like Laura Cantrell; as to some greater or lesser degree is Heading North; which certainly belies Ms Reid’s tender age. I very nearly went for Levi as my Favourite Song here, as it sounds a bit like it could have been a lost Band track; it isn’t…… but it’s certainly good enough. But no; with Mrs Magpie just having a ‘big birthday’ and our wedding anniversary just around the corner; I’m riding shotgun to Roseanne as she croons I Love Her So to her own life partner; and sitting here now wallowing in the emotion drenched 3 minutes I’m not sure if it’s Reid’s heartfelt words and vocals or Teddy Thompson’s exquisite and sensitive production that I like best; but put all three together and I now have a swelling in the heart region o my chest. In many ways this is a very understated album; and deliberately so as it leaves the listener to just wallow in the beauty of not just Roseanne Reid’s golden voice, but her rather wonderful songwriting too.
*Roseanne’s father is none other than Craig Reid of the Proclaimers and her mentor is Steve Earle whom she met at his songwriting workshops).
RONNIE LANE JUST FOR A MOMENT (1973-1997) Universal Music
Ronnie Lane, Bass Player for the Small Faces and the Faces – Songwriter behind iconic songs such as Ooh La La, Itchycoo Park, The Poacher, Annie and Debris… In many ways Ronnie Lane remains an enigma in the story of rock ‘n’ roll. An artist who was determined to chart his own destiny and break free from the demands of the music “business”. His sense of disillusion with the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle led him to leave his hugely successful band for a ramshackle country farm (Fishpool) and a life on the road (of sorts…) He assembled a new band – Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance – and would create The Passing Show – a now legendary circus tent tour of the country with assorted clowns, acrobats and comedians… To further his ambition to do as he pleased musically, he built his own recording studio – The Lane Mobile Studio – itself an icon in the history of rock recordings.
Ronnie created a sound that was unique in British music – a style that leaned heavily on an array of influences particularly folk, country music and later r’n’b with welcome contributions from the band of musicians he surrounded himself with. Ronnie was not alone in his rural idyll – many friends would join him in his new artistic endeavours – Gallagher and Lyle, Kevin Westlake, Billy Livesey as well as Ronnie Wood, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton (the latter wrote Wonderful Tonight round the fire at Ronnie’s Fishpool Farm). Eventually the symptoms of MS would surface and in the 80s Ronnie would move to Austin, Texas where he still wrote and performed up until his death in 1997.
Ronnie Lane is one of the finest songwriters the UK has produced. This is the first time that a fully comprehensive look at Ronnie’s post Faces career has been undertaken. Just For A Moment 1973-1997 collates the solo and collaborative work of this prodigious and much missed wordsmith. As Pete Townshend surmises, “Here, in these songs, collected with such love and care, he is found again. Probably at the height of his rebellious and chaotic powers, where music had to be immediate and uplifting, or else heart-breaking – but always real.”
BOX HIGHLIGHTS It includes Ronnie’s 4 solo albums – Anymore For Anymore (+ singles), Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance, One For The Road and the cruelly underrated See Me. In addition, it features tracks from Ronnie’s Mahoney’s Last Stand soundtrack album with Ron Wood and Rough Mix with Pete Townshend. The final disc of the set focuses on Ronnie’s time in the US with live highlights and studio tracks never previously released. The set also featured lots of rare and unreleased material – be prepared to hear fantastic cover versions of The Wanderer, Rocket’ 69 and The Joint Is Jumpin’ – as well as unheard Ronnie compositions plus live recordings, tracks for the BBC and highlights from a legendary Rockpalast concert. The set is curated by long time musical associate of Ronnie’s, Slim Chancer musician Charlie Hart. Comprehensive sleeve-notes focus on Ronnie the musician, the songwriter, the collaborator and split the post ’73 period into three distinct parts. Writers are Paolo Hewitt, Kris Needs and Kent Benjamin covering Ronnie’s Austin years, whilst The Who’s Pete Townshend contributes a foreword on his former best friend and collaborator
Packaging – 6 discs housed in a hard-back book with outer slipcase. The package also includesa book of Ronnie’s lyrics and an A2 fold out poster.
Quintessential British Country-Folk For and About Grown Ups.
Q. What do you get when you cross an Essex Folk Singer with a big North Easterner bloke who loves Americana music? A. Black*Scarr which is basically Emma Scarr, Folk Singer from the East London/Essex borderland and Johnny Black a bonafide Geordie Bloke (like me!) but has lived and plied his trade in the South for a long, long time; plus their mates who sometimes turn out as The Per$ecuted, whose album we reviewed many moons ago. Here on their second album the duo (band?) squash all of their record collections into a blender and come out with a glorious hybrid of Americana, Country and Folk songs about being Middle Aged in 21st Century England. I may have to come back to opening track Drunken Generation later; because it’s a song that I’ve found myself mumbling snippets of at work; and the first time I played it punched the air and growled “At last!” With a waltz like Country melody Emma sings about how embarrassed she is at being part of a generation that basically is afraid to grow up; still drinking to excess at home and in the pub, regardless of the consequences and what our/their children think about them. Thankfully I grew out of this social whirl over twenty years ago; but I still see friends and family who are old enough to know better drinking, smoking and tattooing themselves into an early grave. Sadly; very much a song for our times. On a similar theme Emma writes from the heart on One Day at a Time, with the opening line ” Six months on the wagon It’s going very well I’m sleeping much better And I’ve lost that boozy smell.” Can a song about alcoholism be sad, funny and beautiful? It appears so; and couple Ms. Scarr’s heartfelt lyrics to a jaunty Honky Tonk beat; this would be a Hit if the couple lived in East Nashville methinks. “Write about what you know” is the advice most young writers receive and that’s what Emma Scarr does better than most of her peers; Pull Out The Plug is a rye look at our dependency on gadgets and the effect it’s having on relationships; sung by Johnny and Emma in the manner of an ultra-modern George and Tammy. What’s not to like? Thank God For The NHS may not mean much to our friends in the Colonies; but if ever our beloved need an anthem, here’s a ready made one…… and you can dance to it as well. Johnny Black’s love for Classic Country makes a couple of very welcome appearances with I Grieve For My Madness being a real toe tapper that will catch listeners by surprise when the band play this dark tale live, and on Roses are Red, that gorgeous Country Waltz melody returns on a cute song with a hilarious chorus. I’ve said before how we over romanticise American cities and towns in song; but Black*Scarr try to do that same thing with their current abode, Springtime in Leytonstone; a charming fishing village on the River Thames….. or perhaps not; as Emma’s pithy words clearly spell out. There are 14 songs here, which is quite a lot by modern standards, but I can’t think of any that deserve to be left out; and as I’ve pointed out some are very special indeed; with another couple that stand out like poppies in a cornfield. Because of the title and the very personal subject matter Middle Aged Love, with a mandolin, accordion and jaunty guitar which actually reminds me of Victoria Wood in the way Emma and the lads play out the story with her tongue in her cheek was a very close contender for Favourite Track status; but no; I’m going left of centre with The Change, which is a song about a taboo subject and I can’t think of anyone this side of Loretta Lynn brave enough to write and sing about this subject; and do it with charm, finesse and a powerful punch to the ribs. There’s a million reasons why Black*Scarr will never be famous and top the bill at Glastonbury; but they have talent in every pore and deserve a listen; especially if you are ‘of a certain age’ too.
Jarrod Dickenson Under a Texas Sky Continental Records
Raising the Flag High For Texas’ Favorite Songwriters.
A couple of years ago young Jarrod Dickenson looked like he was on the cusp of stardom, releasing his last album to a great fanfare on a ‘Major Label’; but sadly the musical fates that tend to come with such a delight only ever coughed and spluttered; leaving it to Jarrod himself getting the album to the likes of RMHQ ETC. and he hasn’t let that get him down, as is still making exquisite music and releasing it on the super-cool Dutch label Continental Services With a UK Tour to promote earlier in 2019; he chose to record 5 fabulous songs by fellow Texan songwriters and put his own inimitable stamp on them and sell them to his ‘beloved’ fan base and now send it out fully formed into the wild. I like to think of myself as a Roy Orbison fan; but I haven’t heard Jarrod’s opening track Uptown, before. This may be a good thing, because this is the type of lusciously arranged song I’ve been waiting years to hear from the be-whiskered singer and I think I know what he was listening to growing up; if this delight is anything to go by. Now, I have heard Esther Phillip’s Try Me but not like this. Mr Dickenson takes her soulful heartbreaker and adds even more pathos to the chorus and turns it into a minor Soap Opera of tragic proportions; and in doing so conjures up some amazing images in my head which will make a wonderful video (just saying!). While Doug Sahm’s heyday was long before I got into this kind of music; I now own 5 albums including 2 different Greatest Hits; so again, I already knew I’m Glad For Your Sake; but I’ve instantly fallen in love with this version which owes a debt to the lovely crooning of Jim Reeves than Sir Douglas, and that’s a good thing at RMHQ. The EP closes all too soon with a song I never get tired of hearing, Guy Clark’s Dublin Blues; which arguably is one of the benchmark songs for what we know as Alt. Country; and I’m pleased to say Jarrod Dickenson’s version not just pays homage to the Master; but his rich voice brings something new to it too. I have to say at this stage that my choice of Favourite Song of these Five has surprised even me! I’ve never been a big fan of Willie Nelson, but this particular song Seven Spanish Angels is stunning beyond belief; and the way Dickenson inhabits the soul of the narrator is quite mind blowing; or at least it has been for me. I’ve been a fan and supporter of Jarrod Dickenson for nigh on ten years now; and love this new direction especially as it shows what great taste he has and how good he is at interpreting another’s words and turning them into something extra special indeed.
These Telecasters Tell a Classy Country Music Story .
Where to start? Arlen Roth is described as both ‘legendary’ and ‘acclaimed’ in the accompanying Press Release and looking at the long list of guest contributors to his latest (and 16th album!) yet I’ve never heard of him. A brief look at his Wikipedia page show us that while he’s not too shy in the limelight; he’s best known for his work behind the scenes be it onstage, on record, on film or via his prestigious ‘How To’ books and video or even his time as a columnist in Guitar Player magazine! Here, Roth demonstrates and showcases the versatility of the Fender Company’s Telecaster guitar on a number of well known songs and tunes from across the decades and playing alongside some of the biggest names in the Music Industry. The Twangtastic Remington Ride starts the party with a joyous ramble alongside Steve Wariner; and the way the notes fly out of the speakers you can easily imagine both players alongside Cindy Cashdollar on lap-steel were all grinning like ninnies during the recording. For the pedants out there, there’s nothing really new or innovative here, so if that’s what you’re looking for STOP READING now; as this is an album dedicated to an industry’s love affair with a guitar….. no more and no less; and the result is beautiful beyond words. Jack Pearson’s vocals on Key To The Highway take this rendition into Eric Clapton territory via JJ Cale on decaf coffee, it’s that laid back; but the guitar work is still mind boggling. There are classic tunes associated with Fender’s finest here left, right and centre with Will Ray making Rumble even sleazier than I remember and Joe Bonamassa making his guitar strings sound like they are made from pure silk on Joe’s Blues; and the Titan of the Telecaster, William Kirchen esq. does what he does better than anyone else on this instrument on the magnificent Tuff Tele; while a song I would normally associate with a Gibson SG (I too can be pedantic!) Chuck Berry’s Promised Land gets added Country Twang via Jerry Donahue, and Sweet Mikey C’s smooth vocals are a credit to behold. But, it’s the surprises that are totally unexpected are what make this album extra special. Mrs. Robinson a guitar song? Here it is, but anything featuring Albert Lee is going to be classy, isn’t it? Funky Mama (a tribute to Danny Gatton) which not for the first time sees Arlen Roth himself take lead is truly splendorous, as he is on the beautiful Tennessee Waltz too, when daughter Lexie Roth provides some delicious smoky vocals making me want a whole album of this two singing The Classics in this manner. Choosing a Favourite Track has been fun; as several certainly have their merits but I will choose two, the instrumental Bunky which sounds like Roth and Brad Paisley are trying to melt their strings! The other is a case of Arlen ‘keeping the best ’til last’ with a guest appearance from another undervalued ‘Legend’ Redd Volkaert on A Minor Thing, and the two sound like they are just sitting back in the studio at the end of the session as the youngsters are packing their gear away thinking,”I showed those old guys” only to receive a 6 minute effortless Masterclass in guitar playing and indeed picking from two Guitar toting Granddaddy’s with more talent in their little fingers than most hipsters will accrue in a lifetime. While pretty much each track is significantly different from what goes before it or follows, there is a definitive Classical Country thread linking everything together here, but neither a Nashville one or Bakersfield either….. this is just pure damn Country Gold….. or should that be platinum?
Mandolin Orange Tides of a Teardrop Yep Roc Records
Intimate and Lucid Lo-Fi Meets Bluegrass in a Country Juke Joint.
Mandolin Orange aka Andrew Marlin & Emily Frantz have been around for ten years now and have previously released 5 albums, with each gaining praise, sales and momentum which have launched the couple/duo into the lower echelons of the Big League, yet I don’t believe I’ve heard a single note, let alone a song prior to receiving this album a month ago. How odd is that? Or is it? Perhaps it was because they hail from the Folksier end of the spectrum, which I normally don’t go out of my way to find music…… but the fault it appears was solely mine……. I’ve now fully fallen in love with this album and two of their previous releases too. With their small, but perfectly formed touring band in tow, the couple holed up in the studio for a lot longer than on previous records; which has allowed Marlin’s intimate and darkly winsome songs to evolve and grow into something very special indeed. The wordplay and story-line in opening track Golden Embers is both understated and spectacular in equal measures; and when you add Emily’s breathtaking violin playing to Andrew’s softly expressive vocals; you can’t do anything other than sit back and let it all waft over you like a Summer breeze. Not that it’s blatantly obvious; as each individual song stands alone and is here on its own merits; but after reading the Press Release and then playing the album there is a silvery theme linking each track; as Marlin delves into his past writes about the years following his Mother’s death at an early age. This knowledge helps explain the unsettling, yet beautiful melancholia that fills Mother Deer and the George and Tammy influenced duet Lonely All The Time. As I said earlier, each song has its own merits and showcases Marlin’s clever and very mature writing skills; with Suspended in Heaven and the heartbreaker When She’s Feeling Blue, somehow bridging the gap between Bluegrass and Lo-Fi with sumptuous ease. Perhaps because the songs are so personal to him, Andrew Marlin takes the lead on most songs; but when Emily steps forward on Into The Sun and Like You Used To she sent a tingle down my spine in a way that reminded me of the first time I heard Nanci Griffith. I’ve picked my Favourite Song here partly because it is a wonderful song and tune; but because the title made my smile when I first saw it on the CD Sleeve. My British friends will know immediatly why it would catch my attention; but the ‘joke’ may pass by the people in North America; as The Wolves is the nickname of a famous football (Soccer?) team in the UK! Mercifully this tightly wrapped and intense song of despair and fear is a million miles away from anything so frivolous. I will tell you how good it is…….. prior to writing this review, I turned the lights off and pressed play on the Hi-Fi just so I could get into the right frame of mind to hear it in all its primal glory. I’d barely heard of Mandolin Orange a month ago…… but after immersing myself in TIDES OF A TEARDROP I’m an unadulterated fan now.
A Golden Voiceand a Red Hot Way With Words on hisBlue Collar Stories
Well; my dears, what better and more fascinating way to start a New Year than discovering a singer-songwriter getting a second wind that leaves him with the world at his feet? In this fractured world we now inhabit Murphy opens his latest album with a semi-political song of ‘hope’ in When People Come Together, a song that invokes memories of the counter culture in the late 60’s but couldn’t be more relevant today if it was wearing a a pair of skinny jeans that are torn at the knees. Plus; it’s all the better for Murphy’s powerful, yet world weary vocal performance and a whole lot more here. While he will probably crop up in the Country section of record shops and/or collections; but Kaz Murphy is the latest in a long list of story telling troubadours that straddle the Country/Folk divide with ease, and in the case of Thunderhead, Somebody Could Be Me and Forget About The World Tonight; he shows good grace and eloquence too. For a relatively ‘simple sounding’ album, there’s a whole lot going on here and a whole lot to like with not just the subjects Murphy sings about; but the passionate way he delivers his words in the gorgeous Blue Devil Sky, Stella Rae and especially the claustrophobic song for the downtrodden; All I Wanna Do Is Work. I love the ‘echo’ on Where You Come From, a song that is very close to my own heart although Murphy’s smart words are for and about someone very different from me; but as with the hero of this song, I left my home village 40 years ago, but as Murphy sings: “Your spirit never really leaves, where you come from.” Which is why I still tell people that, “I live in Washington, but come from Craghead in Co. Durham.” It wasn’t a real surprise to find that Slaid Cleaves’ friend Scrappy Jud Newcomb produced this collection of ‘Blue Collar’ tales; which brings me to the two songs tangling for the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song; A Sunny Day and Rise Me Up. A Sunny Day is a bit of a misnomer for a timeless tale that tips a wink to Johnny Cash in words and delivery, and would have fit perfectly well into Cash’s American Series, where he still alive today. The other, Rise Me Up features some spectacular mandolin playing (an expression I never thought I would type!) and is a more upbeat, almost Gospel song that closes the disc and just makes my heart pound with life, love and hope, which is why it just about squeezes past the post to be my Favourite Track here. He’s been around a long time; but Kaz Murphy is a new and exciting find for me and I just hope he visits the UK some time soon, because he will find a warm welcome for his songs in the Americana Clubs that litter our little country, like diamonds in the road.