Tony Baltimore LET’S ALL GO INSANE

Tony Baltimore
Let’s All Go Insane
Conch Town Records

Genre-Fluid Americana; From Folk to Country Via New Orleans on a Saturday Night

Growing up in Maryland to working class parents gave Tony Baltimore a strong work ethic, which served him well when he began playing up to eight shows a week in Key West.
Three albums later and Baltimore has his most accessible collection of songs yet, while doing a good job of checking off all of the requisite Americana check boxes: gospel-tinged backing vocals, funky backbeat drums, snappy Tele-style guitar, and plenty of Hammond B3, but that doesn’t mean he’s a one-trick pony. Co-produced by Ian Shaw, Let’s All Go Insane, is a mix of traditional New Orleans style, alt-country, indie rock, and good old Country-Folk music, making Baltimore a definite genre-fluid artist.
The kick off title song, along with “Seaside Blues,” are pure New Orleans flavored fun, along with “Loot the Joint” which amps up the exuberance considerably.
When Baltimore aims for a party atmosphere he definitely succeeds—and those punchy horns don’t hurt, either!
“Fly Alone” is not your typical love song, rather a one-sided love of patience, hope, and waiting, the violin throughout adding to the quiet desolation.
“Window Pane” gives off Gordon Lightfoot vibes, a story of time passing by, while “Postcard” is a 60’s pastiche of letting go no matter the consequences, making your own way with love at your side.
“Storm the Beach” is the closest Baltimore gets here to protest, yet it’s a doozy, taking both politicians and the media for sowing discord for their own gain.
“That Girl’s Got Eyes” is the album’s pop song and my personal pick for favorite on the album. Contemporary rock guitars and pounding drums, mixed with an extra-catchy chorus, and a vibrant and surprising violin solo.
“What Kind of World” ends the album on a hopeful note, full of triumph and the knowledge that one can always find a way to get by.
Recorded both before, during, and after the pandemic, Let’s All Go Insane is Baltimore’s paen to love and individuality.

Review courtesy the Legendary Roy Peak

Released 17th June 2022


RMHQ Radio Show SUNDAY 5th June

RMHQ Radio Show Ep:4
Sunday 5th June 2022
Nova Radio NE (Newcastle)

Well; we made it through another exciting episode without any ‘potty mouthed’ songs!
As expected it was another eclectic mix of Americana and Roots Music; albeit with the boundary being pushed here and there ….. but, what the Hell? Hopefully there’s something here you’ve either never heard before or at least not for a long time.

ZZ TOPCheap Sunglasses
Lindi OrtegaCigarettes and Truckstops
Little FeatWillin
Mary GauthierTruckers and Troubadours
Kevin CostnerTop Down
Robert Conolly FarrHey Mr Devil
Jimmy Duck HolmesLittle Red Rooster
My Girl the RiverSomething in The Water
Kelly Joe PhelpsPiece by Piece
Gem AndrewsCome a Long Way
Steve EarleMr Bojangles
Jerry Jeff WalkerViva Luchenback
VandoliersBefore The Fall
Sam BakerMigrants
Roy PeakThe Radioactive Kid
The PopravinasDo The Creep
Carter SampsonRattlesnake Kate
Dolan SpringsLittle Dreams
Hogtown AllstarsSubway Casanova
Toy HeartsTequila and High Heals
Wayne HancockLove You Always
Tom PettyAmerican Girl
Hollis BrownLady Jane
Sir Douglas QuintetShe’s About a Mover
Willie NileA Little Bit of Love

Sam Outlaw and Ruthie Collins at Jumpin’ Hot Club, Newcastle.

Sam Outlaw and Ruthie Collins
Jumpin’ Hot Club,
Gosforth Civic

A recent change in my work circumstances means that I can get to a lot more gigs than at any time in the last 6 years … and I can’t think of a better way to start than the double header of Sam Outlaw and Ruthie Collins.
Perhaps it’s because of the lack of gigs I’ve been to recently, I totally messed up my time of arrival at the venue; thinking ‘8pm start’ meant the doors open then ….. when it actually meant that the first act; Cheyenne Meadows was actually on stage as we signed in!
Thankfully there were two spare seats near the middle of the hall.
It turned out the raspy voiced singer was actually the producer of Outlaw’s recent album Popular Mechanics and was only meant to be part of the star’s backing band/duo but Sam had insisted he play a few of his own songs too …. which was very magnanimous and meant I/we got to hear Ice Cream Mountain about his ‘fantasy’ of owning his own theme park and Rose Length; a rather lovely love song about ‘keeping someone at arm’s length …. plus a rose.’
His turn was over very quickly and before we knew it Sam Outlaw was introducing Ruthie Collins; whose recent album COLD COMFORT was a favourite of ours last year; and a big part of the reason that I rushed home to get changed and drive across Newcastle.
Her first song, Cheater; about “the worst first date ever” actually received a longer intro than the song itself; as did the second too ….. although both were every bit as good as I’d hoped; her preambles didn’t bode well for a support slot.
Thankfully the self-depreciating singer knew her weakness; and somehow managed to keep the rest of the intros to a bare minimum; which gave us time to hear the rather gorgeous; Gram Parsons influenced new song Old Keys and the heartbreaker Hypocrite in all their glory.
With an album to promote and new songs waiting to be recorded; it was a surprise and a rather excellent one at that; when Ruthie dropped in Dolly’s Jolene halfway through her set; and hearing stripped right back to the marrow really brought out the pathos in a song that’s probably taken for granted by millions of people across the world.
When the lights came up it was good to see some ‘old faces’ from the pre-covid days; and pleasantries were suitably exchanged.
But …… earlier I wasn’t sure what I was seeing in the shadows was right; but yes ….. there were two fellas dressed like Cowboys coming into Tucson after weeks on the trail. Yep ….. Stetsons, boleros etc and the obligatory boots no doubt in downtown Nashville …. what’s that about?
Hey ho ….
We were suitably watered and refreshed when Sam Outlaw, Ruthie Collins and Cheyenne Medders made their way onto stage baring cups of tea; and not just any old tea but lemon and ginger tea!
How Rock and Roll is that?
With only two other acoustic playing musicians alongside him; I was fascinated to hear how he would fare with songs his recent Country Rock inspired album; but more of that later.
He started his set with one of our favourites; Keep It Interesting, from Angeleno and judging by the response at the end was a favourite of a lot of people.
Over the next few songs it was easy to see and hear why Sam had selected these two musicians to support him on stage; Medders guitar playing was exemplary throughout and Ruthie was the perfect foil be that in the stories behind the songs and/or her voice matched perfectly in her harmonies and the occasional duet.
So many I think; Won’t Be Lonely Anymore featured a super cool duet between Sam and Ruthie; Language of Love, from the new album …. to me was much more preferable as it was raw and intimate; whereas on Popular Mechanics it sounds like a good ole Country Pop song and perfect for FM radio.
Tonight; Mrs Magpie’s favourite Sam Outlaw; again was stripped back to the marrow and the judicious use of Medders’ intricate guitar playing made it even better than the LP version she told me afterwards; and who am I to disagree?
This was followed by another two RM Favourites; Bougainvillea, I Think; about a woman who used to live next door was spellbinding and the title track from the album it came from, Tenderfoot was as good as I’ve heard him sing it ….. again having Collins and Medders alongside him did the song no harm at all.
On the original album Sam duetted with Sarah Darling on Forever and Always; making it a very special song from his back catalogue; but tonight Ruthie Collins really earned her corn by taking this song onto a whole new level; and had us eagerly discussing its merits in the cart on the journey home.
Being the magnanimous Cowboy he is; Outlaw allowed (?) Ruthie a song of her own in the middle of his set; and she really set the hair on the back of my neck on end with her rendition of It Must Have Been Love.
When the trio finally left the stage I checked my watch and couldn’t believe the time ….. they’d played for over 90 minutes and it had gone be in the blink of an eye …. and there were encores to come.
As usual at a Sam Outlaw gig; the encores are done ‘off mic’ and in and among the audience.
The first was Country Love Song; which was absolutely wonderful and right in front of us!
Then; as promised twice by an over excited Ruthie; the trio launched into a ragged and fun Return of The Grievous Angel which was the perfect end to a fabulous gig….. now I’m planning another venture out of the house next week ….. watch this space.

Beau Jennings and The Tigers HEAVY LIGHT

Beau Jennings and The Tigers
Heavy Light
Black Mesa Records

21st Century Country Rock and The Only Thing Missing Is a 1,2, 3 Count In!

I’d played this album three or four times and really liked it each time; before the penny dropped who Beau Jennings reminded me of ….. but more of that later.
Straight from the get go; Beau Jennings and The Tigers owe more to Country Rock than the modern idioms Alt. Country and Americana; although the album wouldn’t be totally out of place in either category in a Record Shop; that’s for sure.
That opening track, the alternative love song; Sunflower is both intense and free flowing. In his bio Jennings tells us he only sings and plays acoustic guitar; and it’s the rest of the band (seasoned players to a man) who make the songs what they are; and I can’t argue as every note and the power of too, is exemploray and carries on through to the album closer May This Song Be In Your Heart.
In fact there’s so much power and/or intensity in songs like I’m Reaching Lord, Bring a Little Light and the title track Heavy Light itself, the only thing missing is a 1,2, 3 count in …. as they sound like one takes or even live recordings.
When you really delve into the songs you’ll find that Jennings is a really thoughtful and observational songwriter; which makes me wonder why after a career that’s nearly 30 years young has eluded me; especially when you hear the gorgeous Juniper and the delicate touches and flourishes of Bring a Little Light which is the song where the penny dropped that Jennings sings more than a little bit like Tom Petty but without the need for Epic gestures; and when you know that the whole musical jigsaw finally comes together.
Don’t get me wrong; he’s certainly no tribute act or copyist; it’s just his natural singing style and boy oh boy ….. what a singing style he has.
Many of my favourite American singers/songwriters/bands come from the Southern States of America and I know that they are troubled by some and many things they leave behind; but the Oklahoma resident Jennings really captures the juxtaposition many left/liberal artists feel on the dark and haunting I Know These Guys
For my Favourite Song we have to leap back to Track #2 The Comeback; which punches well beyond its weight, as Jennings sings about his childhood; and is the song that captivated me the first day I heard it especially the chorus …
I always kept my feeling hid”
…… while driving to work on the first sunny day of Spring and all you need to know is my hand automatically went to the volume control without any conscious thought behind it ….. as it’s one of those ‘perfect driving songs’ that comes along once in a generation.
Please don’t get hung up on my Tom Petty comparison; it’s there, but I’m sure other listeners won’t necessarily hear it ….. but the quality of Jennings’ songs and production is just as undeniable, that’s for sure.

Released March 25th 2022



The HawtThorns
Tarot Cards & Shooting Stars
Mule Kick Records

Enough Twangtastic Country Rock To Make a Grey February Day Feel Like a Sunny Day in July or August.

Husband and wife duo KP & Johnny Hawthorn both had reasonably succesful solo careers before teaming up for their debut album under the joint name The HawtThorns in 2019 MORNING SUN, of which we said “The Perfect Soundtrack For a Charming Country Saturday Night” and three years and a pandemic later; the same could be said of this album.
Unlike most everyone else in the Alt. Country scene, KP & Johnny certainly aren’t afraid of a hook and a melody to accompany their sharply observed songs; starting with opener All The Right Reasons; which while having elements of 70’s and 80’s Country Rock in it – The HawtThorns actually have their own distinctive style and sound; unlike anyone else I can actually think of.
This is one of those rare albums that has songs like Lotta Love, This One is Ours and the Twangtastic On The Way; which features the name of the album in the very catchy chorus; that can actually make a grey February day feel like a sunny Sunday in July or August.
While I was super impressed with their debut; even having it in the car last Summer when we were allowed a little bit of freedom; after a week of fairly intense listening this album the songs seem to have a more mature ‘feel’ to them; which is fair enough as a lot has happened in the interim years and the HawtThorns plus assorted collaborators have had a lot of time on their hands to make songs like Let’s Get Together, Baby It’s a Gift and the introspective One Human At a Time mature, evolve and end up being fully rounded and very easy on the ear, even if the message is a tad on the dark side.
Harking back to their imaginative use of hooks and melodies; The HawtThorns really do sound as if they want every single song to be the type of thing you’d turn the dial up a couple of notches if they came on the car radio ….. which is exactly what I did last week when the punchy Keep It Alive came on one night on the way home from work.
Which neatly brings me to my Favourite Track, which was going to be the album finale When Georgia Cries, as it’s a stunningly beautiful Country song worthy of a cover by Linda Ronstadt or Emmylou Harris; but until that happens I’m more than happy to hear KP Hawthorn’s delightful voice whenever possible. But; one that nearly got away, the delightful and breathy duet The One That Got Away caught me off guard last night as I was feeling very sorry for myself with a dastardly mix of a Cold and Covid. Obviously as a duet I could lazily compare it to Gram and Emmylou, and that wouldn’t be a million miles away; but KP and Johnny’s voices which should be polar opposites combine here like a Prairie Wind on a suitably charming tale of lost love, which will melt the hardest of hearts.
In some ways this is ‘more of the same’ from their 2019 debut; but on repeated plays, I promise you that this album will reveal hidden treasures on every single play.

Released February 25th 2022



Massy Ferguson
Joe’s Meat and Grocery
North & Left Records

Stacking The Shelves With a Huge Pile of Irresistibly Catchy Alt. Country Rock and Indie Anthems.

I’m hitchin’ a late ride with this rockin’ twangin’ Seattle band of four, as it’s their 6th album release to date.
Grabbing my attention even before I press play is the striking cover depicting guitarist Adam Monde’s Grandpa at his store in small town Wenatchee, WA circa 1900.
I’m always sold on any band who puts their heritage on the front row and it’s an easy stroll right into their world.

These dozen songs delightfully bounce around a multitude of punchy, punky, roots and grungy Americana rock with their Country Folk influences always at the core.
What binds them all is the quite infectious, chart worthy melodies and real life downright honest storytelling.

The dynamically upbeat anthem opener Miles Away launches us down the Rock n Roll highway at full speed as the drum beat kicks in. Maturely crafted Alt. Country, Ethan Anderson’s powerful vocal rings out with cautious optimism for change:

we were broke before this sickness and I don’t think that will change, but there’s a fire in the thicket and the kettles burning hot.”

The album draws us in deeper with recurring themes of journeying, both in the physical and emotional sense, hitting home hard for many at this point in time.
Saved What Couldn’t Be Saved is a woeful tale of a man’s personal journey heading for self- destruction yet musically the playful guitar riff dances around the melody balancing out the lyrics with a hint of optimism implying that all is not lost.
Roll A Hard Six is an energetic bluesy rock number building up to an intensely fast plateau of flute, Fred Slater’s keys and Dave Goedde’s tribalesque drumming, lyrically spelling out a path with tough choices ahead and no easy short cuts.
In complete contrast Off To See Rose, inspired by the birth of Adam’s niece, opens in that acoustic gentle picking Alabama sweet spot and the heartfelt harmonious vocals transport us to a beautiful world catching the sun rise, the new dawn being that special person who is gonna save us:

Watching crowds of people as they pass, sitting here barefoot in the grass, so I go off to see Rose, I don’t know who decides these things cos I’ve been running half my life, can she find a cure for that”

Musically there are many surprises along the highway, Leave If You Want To and I Don’t Know Why are delightfully bathed in the Indie New Wave early Cure/ Echo and the Bunnymen beach tide.
Backspin shows a hauntingly darker side, ‘90’s guitar grunge with yet another impactful vocal delivery, verging on demonic harmonica playing and transcending into a near psychedelic frenzy.
Powerful through and through and that’s in addition to referencing The Rocking Magpie’s home spot Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Sister Roll Up carries on this vibe superbly, the wolf-like howling harmonica getting the goosebumps going. The drums arrive late for maximum effect and I can almost hear a trace of The Smiths in the undergrowth.

A tall order to pick my favourite cut on this exceptional release but the Folk Country gem Fire of Life narrowly wins for its infectiously pleasing melody, the concentrated manic bursts of fiddle teamed with the immediate shift change straight down to first gear, a delicious slow pace.
I could happily imagine myself getting confused on the dancefloor to this at their first ever gig, a local farmers market where they received a fruit basket as payment.
It is inevitable that I’ll want to stock up on their back catalogue now that I am a converted loyal customer at Grandpa Joe’s pit stop.
One not to drive past without calling in.

Review courtesy our latest Rocking Magpie; Anita Joyce
Released 25th February 2022



Hollis Brown
In The Aftermath
Cool Green Recordings

British Blues Album From ’66 Re-Imagined as Alt.Americana for 2022.

Hollis Brown is a Queens, New York Alt./Americana band who have been around for a quite a while now, and once released a tribute album to the Velvet Underground’s 1970 album Loaded.
Keeping with that theme, the band decided to this time tackle the Rolling Stones and their first album of all-original songs, Aftermath, from 1966.
I have yet to hear their variant of Loaded, but do plan to real soon.
The Hollis Brown version of the Stones isn’t perfect, but definitely surpasses most bar-band rave-up versions with their clarity and punch.
Recorded in one single 24-hour session, live in the studio, singer-guitarist Mike Montali, lead guitarist Jonathan Bonilla, bassist Chris Urriola, and drummer Andrew Zehnal stayed focused enough to finish up and get out before they screwed anything up with a too-long and unneeded overdub session.
The mix is part 90’s big drum sound, part 21st Century clarity; making it very smooth with just enough angularness to keep it real.
Foregoing the obligatory sitar on Paint it Black, (One of the Stones’ darker songs —How the hell was this ever a hit in the bright and sunny mid-sixties? But it was!) they make do with heavily chorused guitar and a heavier beat which tells the listener right away that this album is going to rock no matter what.
Stupid Girl keeps it simple, while Under My Thumb takes a few chances that work, mostly through Zehnal’s rolling tom fills and consistent snare and Bonilla’s bent-note solo.
Lady Jane didn’t wow me at first, but on second and third listens I discerned some careful phrasing in Montali’s vocal and nice guitar work by Bonilla.
The band does a great job with the bluesier numbers like Doncha Bother Me and High and Dry, without copying the Stones too much.
They make up for lack of a Keef and a Mick by playing to their bar band roots. I Am Waiting finds the band turning the song on its head with some guitar reminiscent of the Allman Brothers.
The pastiche-sixties numbers like Think and Flight 505 are more routine, but It’s Not Easy sounds like it could have been written and recorded by any Americana band worth their weight in cheap booze; and was my choice for best song here until I heard the closer, Goin’ Home.
This one opens up with a softly strummed tremolo guitar before a Lazy Sunday morning beat transports us to a place where only harmonica fills and rollicking pianos and loose tambourines and overdriven geetars can save your soul.
Seven minutes of this could get tiresome from most bands out there (Including several from 1966, when this album was originally recorded.) but Hollis Brown don’t hold back.
This is the one song here where the band shines outstandingly as though they’ve finally realized that, even in the confines of a studio, they can still find a way to take flight and soar.
You know—turn up the amps, wail … and scream a bit!

Review by the legendary Roy Peak
Release date: February 4 2022



Julie Christensen
11 From Kevin (Songs of Kevin Gordon)
Wirebird Records

A Great Singer and a Fine Songwriter Come Together to Create Americana At Its Finest

While this is Julie Christen’s 5th solo outing and she leads and has led a couple of bands; sadly I’d not heard of her previously; but the accompanying bio certainly piqued my interest, not least because she was a backing singer for Leonard Cohen for 7 years and; more importantly to me her band, Stone Cupid includes the legendary Sergio Webb and Chris Tench on geetars!
Then; of course her choice of songwriter to pay homage to; Kevin Gordon made the album a bit of a ‘must listen’ too.
Opener, Find My Way proves that my Spidey-Senses are still in working order, as Julie has an intriguingly distinctive voice; sitting somewhere between Lucinda and a rocking Tift Merritt; which is a mighty good thing here at RMHQ. The song is as tightly wrapped as a box of fireworks; constantly threatening to break out and spoil the show; but always letting the singer steal the show.
The lights drop down for the second song, Crowville a slow haunting song which unravels a touch every time you play it.
The choice of Kevin Gordon’s songs to cover is a fascinating one; as he’s not as famous as he should be; but a cursory look at your record collection will find his name attached to several of your favourite songs; some of which appear here.
It’s always difficult, if not impossible to describe Americana Music to friends and family; but in future I may just direct them to this album; as the way Julie welds Folk and Country together on Fire at The End of the World, the epic Gatling Gun and especially the delightful Rest Your Head is truly outstanding.
The way Julie interprets Gordon’s words, and makes them sound so personal to her on Following a Sign and Hearts Not In It/Down to the Well making them sound that they surely must have been written by the woman pouring her heart out; but hey ….. she didn’t and he did …. but it’s a musical marriage made in Heaven.
As is the case with 99.9% of Americana/Roots albums, there aren’t any obvious singles here ….. but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any stand out songs ….. far, far from it!
The mean and moody Joey and Clara is a prime example as if you did hear it in the radio you would be straight onto the interweb to buy it as soon as you had wiped the final tear from your eyes.
This is immediately followed by the intense and immense Gloryland, which owes more to Prairie Wind era Neil than it does to Bruce’s song of the same name; although I can imagine him joining her on stage one night to accompany her on backing vocals ….. and the double guitars will send a shiver down your back.
Then for my actual Favourite Track, Julie drops a Blues chord or two into the Americana mix on the utterly moving and melancholy Jimmy Reed is The King of Rock & Roll, which had me holding my breath the first time I played it ….. and that’s not a good thing when you’re driving a car!
I feel a bit guilty saying that Julie Christensen has been a ‘discovery’ to me …. and hopefully you too; as she’s been in and around the scene for ‘many moons’ … but she has been a discovery and a great one too; plus listening to Kevin Gordon’s fine songs in this format has been an absolute blast – congratulations to everyone concerned.

Released 21st January 2022

Kevin Gordon



Ian M Bailey
Songs to Dream Along To
Kool Kat Musik

A Delightful Byrds Inspired Album of Cohesive Songs that Never Repeat Themselves

We’ve become huge fans of Ian M Bailey and his(former?) band The Lost Doves in recent years; and to some extent possibly pen pals too; judging by the e-mail correspondence we’ve had!
That; in no way hopefully mars my judgement of his latest album; a writing collaboration with Daniel Wylie (formerly of Cosmic Rough Riders; whose Glasgow gig was the first ever review I had published #Fact) …… if you believe that; you’ll believe anything!
That said; I still approached this with some caution; not that I expected it; but there’s always the danger that an act can fall into the trap of re-hashing their previous outings; and that ain’t what RMHQ is about …. is it?
While still treading a similar path to the duo’s EP SHOTS OF SUN; opening track This is Not a Feeling has a transcendental Byrds ‘feel’ to it; but latter day; circa Notorious Byrd Brothers; with Bailey and Wylie’s voices harmonising like siblings; and the almost psychedelic organ/Rickenbacker combo taking the listener on a magic carpet ride that he wasn’t quite expecting.
Carefully avoiding any Hippy-Trippy nonsense; Bailey takes the late 60’s vibe and polishes and even expands it with 21st Century now-how; to create a bitter-sweet soundtrack to 2021 that will thrill and amaze the under 40’s in equal quantities.
I half expected to review SONGS TO DREAM ALONG TO after only one listen; but that proved futile; as a) it’s far to lovely for that and b) several songs have taken days to unravel; and even today I’m still not convinced I’ve got the best out of Everything Will Be Alright, Slow Down River or What’s Happening Now which simply aches with longing.
Americana music comes in a million different flavours; but what I like most about Bailey (and The Lost Doves) is his unbridled love of a melody and a catchy tune ……. even at my advanced age I still don’t mind tapping my toes and smiling while listening to music; and you can too with just about everything here; but I’d point you to the jangly A Place to Live and the dreamy The Best of Me as prime examples.
Don’t be lulled into thinking that this is pure Pop Music; while that is the golden thread that weaves these songs together; there is plenty of shade, especially in the lyrics of The Sound of Her Voice and Just Like a Child (Dreamcatcher) to make you draw favourable comparisons to previous exponents of Jangly Pop Music like Teenage Fanclub, REM and; dare I say it …White Album Beatles!
Speaking of which in my humble opinion; the Far Eastern instrumental Midday at Hope Lodge; is more than a cautious nod in the direction of G Harrison esq …… tell me I’m wrong.
Sigh …… to some degree any or every song here has been a possible Favourite Track; but for these purposes I’ve whittled it down to two; A Place to Live and I’m Not The Enemy; with the former being another gorgeously deep love song that is slowly unravelling, and revealing hidden depths to both writer’s skills with the pen and the guitar.
The latter; I’m Not The Enemy is perhaps the most leftfield song here; the guitars are a tad grungier than anywhere else (hints of Cosmic Rough Riders?) and the slow burning tale constantly threatens to get out of hand …… but never actually does; which highlights Bailey’s skills in the control tower.
While not quite a roller coaster ride of emotions; Bailey and Wylie have created a delightful album of cohesive songs that never repeat themselves; always moving along like gentle horseback ride on a sunny afternoon that drifts into a glorious sunset.

Released October 15th 2021



Mike Younger
Burning the Big Top Down
Self Release

Criss Crossing the Boundaries of Swampy Funk, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, and Country – Soul.

Originally recorded in 2001, this would have been Mike Younger’s second album if it had ever been previously released. With an ace studio band comprised of musical heavyweights Levon Helm, Jim Dickinson, and Spooner Oldham —seriously, who could ask for a better combo?—it was a shame when Younger’s current record company shut down the sessions right after they finished; cutting the backing tracks.
After two decades of sitting on a shelf, the tapes finally get to see the light of day and we’re all the better for it. Finishing the songs with new lyrics on a few of the songs and adding a kick-ass horn section too; and you have one of 2021’s better efforts.
This collection of nine songs kicks off with a decidedly New Orleans flavor right out of the gate with “Together” which has some deliciously funky horns, before sliding into “Soul Searching” which is exactly about what it says.
“Laying Low” starts off with piano and Younger’s voice wrapped in reverb, a song about the problems of today and a plea for someone else to take up the torch of hope and effect a change for the better before it’s too late. Younger then shifts gears into a more intimate feel with “Ragtime Angel,” a love song about leaving Winter behind and heading into Spring, searching for a newer, warmer loving embrace.
(Contrast that song with “Devil’s On the Rise” which is a semi-bawdy rant on loose New Orleans women. Younger likes to keep you guessing and knows full well the original meaning of the term…… “Rock ‘n’ Roll!!”)
The final cut, “Desdemona,” is another fine song about escape. Escaping an unsatisfactory present into a more loving time, a plea for togetherness and comfort.
Younger, through two decades of turmoil and fast-changing times in the intervening years has crafted—with some help of some very talented friends, some of who died along the way—a fine, exciting album that crosses the boundaries of Swampy Funk, tight Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, and Country, while soulfully singing about themes that matter more and more to our present day world.
No small feat.
This one will definitely stay in the closest stack of albums to my stereo, to listen to on a regular basis.

Released August 20th 2021

Review by the Legendary Roy Peak.