The Delines JHC at Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle.

The Delines
Gosforth Civic Theatre
Newcastle
Monday 28th January 2019

In all of 2018 I only managed to get to six gigs; and this week I plan on going to three; of which seeing the Delines on the back of their second album THE IMPERIAL, was always going to be a highlight of not just January, but my year.
The night got off to a bad start when I arrived to find the venue’s car park decimated and only about 1/6 the size it was in November meaning I had a panicky 10 minutes finding a space in a side street; then desperately trying to memorise the route for later in the evening.
Then I found the lobby packed beyond belief making a much need trip to the toilet something of a battlefield experience, as them pensioners ain’t giving up their private space for nothing or nobody!
Enough of my entry………..
The support act was something of a surprise to me (and the promoter!); as Willy Vlautin had met an old friend, Scottish Folk singer Alisdair Roberts the previous night in Glasgow for the first time in ten years and said, “Hey! Do you know what would be cool? Join us on tour!”
Well; what was a great idea for Willy wasn’t so good for me. I’m sure what Alisdair does is truly excellent in Ye Olde Folk Worlde, but his dour and ‘worthy,’ ‘finger in the ear’ ministrations were anathema to my delicate ears, and after being shushed and tsked from some very reverential music lovers as I whispered to my mate John, I left him and them to go to the bar for a coffee and a bag of crisps.
It appears that there was only a tiny gap between acts; as I missed the Delines first song because I was waiting for a rush to the bar that never materialised!
When I did venture back into the main hall, Amy Boone was just about to go into I Won’t Slip Up; and within seconds I was mesmerised by her presence and majestic voice as she purred the words while she clenched her fists to suppress the dark emotions she was singing about.
My notes say they performed 15 songs in about 90 minutes; with a careful balance between both COLFAX and the latest release The Imperial; and ‘performance’ is the perfect way to describe how each individual song and story is delivered.
While the Cult of Vlautin devotees were salivating at seeing their leader in the flesh; Willy, like me; knows that The Delines is really Amy Boone’s band, which is why the be-suited genius prefers to remain hunched over his Gibson SG in the shadows allowing the singer to shine like a flawed diamond in the spotlight.
While there wasn’t a single thing wrong with the ‘older songs’ like Wichita Ain’t So Far Away or indeed the magical The Oil Rigs at Night, the newer songs seem more fully formed, designed and created specifically for Amy Boone to bring to life like Spring flowers.
Vlautin’s songwriting talent shines through in the imagery he creates in Eddie & Polly and the wonderfully melancholic song about ‘our times’ Holly The Hustle; and I can’t think of anyone this side of Tom Waits or Randy Newman who could take the subject matter of Cheer Up Charlie and turn it into such a darkly beautiful song, as he does and Amy Boone brings to life.
While the songs are often dark and seedy; there are still laughs a’plenty in the intros; with Amy saying they were considering making their first video for ‘Cheer Up Charlie’ but none of them wanted to appear on screen, which led to a chucklesome couple of minutes with Willy deciding Harry Dean Stanton would play him and drummer Sean bagged the Karate Kid!
I don’t remember who Amy wanted; but surely it would have to be Susan Sarandon? No?
Thankfully we have the generic terms ‘Roots and Americana’ because I’m damned if I can think of a category to easily put The Delines into. There’s definitely Country sensibilities of the Gothic persuasion to Don’t Mess Around With Me; but when Amy Boone crooned He Don’t Burn For Me she criss-crossed Jazz, Blues and Soul with effortless grace and when the evening ended with Colfax Avenue followed by the tenderness of Let’s Be Us Again this modern theatre was turned into a late night Gin Joint full of sad-eyed lovers and losers sitting amid over flowing ashtrays and empty glasses as Vlautin and Boone’s words stung their hearts and souls.
Phew!
What a night…….. try as I might I will never understand why bands this talented are playing venues (albeit Sold Out) that hold 4-500 people and patently less talent acts are filling Arenas and Festivals.
But, The Delines can be our special secret!

http://thedelines.com/
http://www.jumpinhot.com/





Hymn For Her POP-N-DOWNERS

h4h ax

Hymn For Her
POP-N-DOWNERS
Self-Release

Roots-Rock and Folky Americana At It’s Finest.

It might be a bit of an exaggeration to say that regular visitors to the area, Hymn For Her were the the Stars of the Jumpin’ Hot Club stage at SummerTyne Festival 2018, as their raw Rootsy Rocking n Rolling Folky Americana isn’t always ‘commercial’ nor ‘easy on the ear’; but they certainly won hundreds of new admirers, and when I passed the Merch stand Lucy and Wayne were always very busy autographing numerous CDs for a long line of music fans.
After seeing Hymn For Her four times now and owning their last release DRIVE TIL U DIE, I never know what to expect as this wonderful duo constantly reinvent themselves after immersing themselves in some new rich and exotic culture; which is sort of theme, if there is one here.
For only two people with an array of banjos, cigar box guitars, kazoos, fiddle and a mini drum kit they sure do make a big sound here; none more so than the sub-psychedelic Blue Balloons which opens the record with a lush arrangement and honeyed harmonies that you could almost bathe in.
While at home on a Festival stage, what can sometimes be lost in those performances is the subtly of their stories and the intricacy of their playing as they battle the elements.
Here Scoop becomes a delicious slice of Americana Pie, with Lucy hardly ever sounding finer and later on Shallow Graves you find yourself puzzled at first, then as the dark tale unravels you end up listening open mouthed. Powerful stuff indeed.
The couple’s charming daughter Diver makes a couple appearances here, adding some spacious and sorrowful violin to the sadder than sad Yard Sale on which Wayne seamlessly goes into Ryan Adams mode.
AHA! There it is……First Clown On The Moon; a rip roaring, raucous and fanciful ‘love song’ originally inspired by Diver’s dream of growing up to be the ‘first ballerina on the moon’; and a song that had them dancing in the aisles as the sun shone over the river at SummerTyne; and if one song actually defined Hymn For Her I guess it would be this one.
Or, it could also be the feisty and frantic Human Condition which comes straight out punching well above it’s weight and leaving the listener on the ropes as Wayne regales us with “You’re born crying/you live complaining/you die disappointed!” as we are beaten into submission.
Ain’t that the truth brothers and sisters?
On another day that would and should have been my Favourite Track; but I’m going to be contrary by selecting the Spanish flavoured Rose for no other reason than it’s simply delightful and a little bit epic.
There’s a little bit of everything here and it all gels magnificently; and that’s the beauty of Hymn For Her.

Released October 5th 2018
https://hymnforher.com/band/

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/hymnforher6

 

Mean Mary Blazing (Hell is Naked – soundtrack)

mean mary 1a

Mean Mary
Blazing (Hell is Naked – soundtrack)
Woodrock Records

A Charmingly Tough Soundtrack

“Mean” Mary James is one tough cookie. When she very young, Mary’s parents lived frontier style, building their own log cabin in the Minnesota woods, where Mary’s mother was forced to shoot a seven-foot tall black bear that attacked their camp. Mary wrote her first song at the age of six (“Mean Mary from Alabam,” which gave her the nickname,) played banjo and sang on a television show until she was nine years old, and later survived a car accident which nearly destroyed her vocal cords. After overcoming that, she began touring and playing music full time, both in the states and overseas, and has now won enough awards to easily overfill a mantlepiece. But Mary James is not even close to slowing down.

Blazing, her latest album, is a “soundtrack” of sorts to Hell is Naked, a mystery novel co-written by Mary and her mother, Jean. Now, I have yet to read the novel, but can attest most assuredly to some fine music on this album. Mary’s voice is in fine form on these songs, and she picks a mean banjo and plays some wonderful gypsy fiddle on several tracks. The instrumentals are some of my favorite tracks on this album. From the gypsy-like “Lights, Gun, Action,” the charming “Rainy,” and the foot-stomping downhill race of “Blazing,” itself, Mary knows how to create a mood with sparse instrumentation. The stirring take of the classic folk song “Rock of Ages” gives Mary a choice to showcase her emotive voice as well as more exemplary banjo playing. Mary covers quite a range of styles on this album, ending it with the song “I Face Somewhere,” where Mary plays heavily reverbed electric guitar and gets a little bit of help from her band, the Contrarys.

Hearing these songs, and the varied emotions and situations they deal with, definitely makes me want to read the book. Looking forward to it. Oh, and if you ever get the chance to see Mean Mary live, please do so, she puts on a solid rockin’ show.

Review courtesy Roy Peak

Released July 6th 2018

http://www.meanmary.com

 

John Hiatt CRY TO ME (Single)

 

john hiatt 01

John Hiatt
CRY TO ME (Single)

WAHAY! I’ve come home from a few days in the North Yorkshire hills with no internet access and just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I found a new single from the legendary John Hiatt waiting for me……and I can’t wait to share it with you guys (and gals).

“John Hiatt is set to return with ‘The Eclipse Sessions’ on 12th October 2018 via New West Records. The 11-track set is the Grammy nominated legend’s first new album in four years. It was produced by Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton) and features Hiatt’s longtime drummer Kenneth Blevins and bassist Patrick O’Hearn, as well as Yates McKendree (Kevin’s 17-year old wunderkind son, who also engineered).”
“Hiatt places ‘The Eclipse Sessions’ in a lineage alongside two of his greatest works — 1987’s mainstream breakthrough ‘Bring the Family’, which sprung from an impulsive four-day session with an all-star combo led by Ry Cooder, and 2000’s ‘Crossing Muddy Waters’, an unplanned and largely unplugged effort that garnered a Grammy Award nomination and also set Hiatt on the rootsier path he’s still pursuing today. “The three albums are very connected in my mind,” Hiatt says. “They all have a vibe to them that was unexpected. I didn’t know where I was going when I started out on any of them. And each one wound up being a pleasant surprise.”
There’s a grit to these songs — a craggy, perfectly-imperfect quality that colors every aspect of the performances, right down to Hiatt’s vocals, which are quite possibly his most raw and expressive to date.

The Eclipse Sessions will be available across digital platforms, compact disc, vinyl, as well as a limited split metallic & white vinyl edition available at Independent Retailers. John Hiatt’s The Eclipse Sessions is available for pre-order now via NEW WEST RECORDS http://geni.us/jhtes?track=pr

John Hiatt’s songs have been recorded by Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Iggy Pop, Rosanne Cash, Eric Clapton & B.B. King, and countless others. He has received his own star on Nashville’s Walk of Fame, the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, and has been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.”

John Hiatt The Eclipse Sessions Track Listing:

1. Cry To Me
2. All The Way To The River
3. Aces Up Your Sleeve
4. Poor Imitation Of God
5. Nothing In My Heart
6. Over The Hill
7. Outrunning My Soul
8. Hide Your Tears
9. The Odds Of Loving You
10. One Stiff Breeze
11. Robber’s Highway

http://www.johnhiatt.com

Sons of Bill OH GOD! MA’AM.

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Sons of Bill
OH GOD! MA’AM.
Loose Records

A Cerebral Musical Journey From Virginia to Seattle Via The West Coast.

This is another band who seem to have passed me by; even though I have three disparate tracks in my collection which I must have downloaded for my old radio show.
So it was with a completely open mind that I pressed ‘play’ two weeks ago.
Phew.

Opening song Sweeter, Sadder Farther Away wasn’t what I was expecting at all, as it’s something of a sensory overload… with an ethereal piano at it’s heart and a melancholic voice re-telling something of a modern Gothic love story.
Firebird ’85 which follows is nearer what I was expecting from Sons of Bill; with it’s harmonies and Lo-Fi sensibilities filling a claustrophobic Alt. Country love song.
It’s difficult, but fun trying to describe the Sons of Bill ‘sound’ as it flits around like a sparrow; one minute it’s the jangly guitars of Where We Stand; then it’s almost psychedelic Pop with Before We Fall; which is immediately followed by the transcendental Alt. Country of Green to Blue; which begets Old and Gray which could be the Jayhawks or Wilco at their finest.
Although none of the brothers sound in the slightest like Michael Stipe; it’s been REM that has sprung to mind when I found myself becoming ensconced with Easier and the album closer Signal Fade, alongside several others too; but in their defence Sons Of Bill appear to have taken a lot of musical influences and distilled them through their Virginia moonshine still and come out the other end with their very own and distinctive style of intricate Alt. Country.
It’s difficult to pin-point what I like most about the Wilson Brothers aka Sons of Bill; is it the magnificent guitar playing? The harmonies that only siblings can truly produce? Or is it the deeply thoughtful songs that they write and sing so beautifully? Or is it a combination of all three? Probably the latter as the RMHQ ‘Favourite Song’ proves with Believer_Pretender. Played LOUD in the car it almost shook the wing mirrors off; yet it also proved the perfect soundtrack when oozing out of the speakers in the garden on a hot and sunny afternoon.
Oh God Ma’am is a harshly beautiful album that slip slides seamlessly from track to track, taking the listener on a cerebral journey unlike anything else I’ve heard this year.

Released June 29th 2018
https://www.sonsofbill.com/

Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore DOWNEY TO LUBBOCK

dave and jimmie

Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
DOWNEY TO LUBBOCK
Yep Roc Records.

A Gripping and Loving Look at Americana Music’s Roots and Beyond.

Oh Lordie LORD! How excited was I when this dropped through the RMHQ letter box two weeks ago?
(V.E.R.Y is the correct answer.)
Although best friends for well over thirty years their various touring and recording schedules have meant that they have never actually got to record together; until now. But my friends the long wait is well worth it.
One of only two new songs here, the title track Downey to Lubbock opens the record in a way Americana lovers have only dared dream about as the duo trade verses on an autobiographical tale of their long-standing friendship. If this had been the only song they ever recorded together, they could still be very proud men.
But no……more, and dare I say it; better is yet to come.
As you’d expect knowing both men’s history the mood seamlessly glides between the Country Rock of the opener to the more laid back Folkier end of the spectrum on Silverlake which follows with Gilmore purring the delicious lyrics.
Dave and Jimmie both have their own sparkling back catalogues to choose from for an album like this; but they have decided to delve into the last 100 years of Roots Music for this fascinating and often sensational collection of songs; with many being brand new to me, with KC Moon and Get Together managing to sound like they were written yesterday not decades ago.
I’m a big fan of Dave Alvin so the songs he takes lead vocals on stood out on the first few listens; with the jaunty take on July, You’re a Woman and the Tex-Mex waltz of The Gardens tugging at the old heart strings like he did on those early albums that I still cherish.
But the biggest pleasure I’ve had listening to Downey to Lubbock has been the rediscovery of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, especially on the rip-roaring Blues stomper Buddy Brown’s Blues and his dark re-imagining of Woody Guthrie’s Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) that have now stolen my heart and sent me back to his records after too many years at the back of the cupboard.
But it’s when the two come together that these songs really, really become memorable with Walk On Walk On becoming a real foot-stomping Honky-Tonker and who’d ever have thought a hoary Folk song like the Memphis Jug Band’s Stealin’ Stealin would get me tapping my toes and nonchalantly singing along to the chorus; but Dave and Jimmie’s marvelous duet managed to do that with ease and was an early contender for ‘Favourite Song’ status; as was the red hot re-invention of Lawdy Miss Clawdy; but that accolade goes to the second of their new songs; Billy The Kid and Geronimo. WOW! I guess Alvin had a big hand in the writing of this epic Cowboy tale; and the world is always a better place with new Dave Alvin songs in it; but as each singer takes the roles of Billy and Geronimo you just end up sitting back and wallowing in one of the finest Americana/Country/Roots/Folk songs you will ever hear……honestly, if you even vaguely like this genre listen to this song and tell me I’m wrong.
I dare you!
You really know how clever these two are when they can turn the Youngbloods Pop Classic Get Together into a sad Country sing-along which is just perfect for the crazy world we live in today; and that’s exactly what they do.
The Press Release describes this indomitable duo as ‘Seasoned Veterans’ and I guess I can’t think of anything better as both Dave and Jimmie have been on the Americana/Roots scene since before it even had a name; but what it doesn’t say is that they sound as good; if not better than ever in 2018 and their choice of songs here is absolutely sublime, with not a single one sounding out of place regardless of the decade that it was originally penned and recorded in.

Released June 1st 2018
http://www.davealvin.net/
https://www.jimmiegilmore.com/

THE LONG ROAD Country, Americana & Roots Festival……Sept 7th – 9th

long road Fest

A major new greenfield music and lifestyle camping festival is set to bring the world-famous, inimitable sights and sounds of the country music scene to the UK in 2018. Taking place within the grounds of Stanford Hall in Leicestershire from September 7th – 9th 2018, The Long Road will present one of the UK’s largest, most authentic celebrations of country, Americana and roots music featuring five stages of live performances, bespoke food events and a wide range of themed outdoor activities.

Curated by Tennessee-born country music specialist and radio presenter Baylen Leonard, The Long Road will present a broad array of artists, from iconic US stars to up-and-coming home-grown talent, and the first wave of acts to be announced for the inaugural event includes US country star Lee Ann Womack, acclaimed singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter Angaleena Presley, British country duo The Shires, popstar turned country music singer Una Healy and Texan singer and winner of The Voice USA Danielle Bradbery. Reflecting the extraordinary surge in popularity that country music has enjoyed in the UK in recent years, The Long Road will also feature a strong contingent of rising star UK acts across the weekend including hotly-tipped London-based duo Ferris & Sylvester and country-soul singer songwriter Yola Carter.

Much more than just a music festival, The Long Road will embrace all aspects of the country and Americana scene and, alongside its live music offerings, will incorporate an array of themed activities including Moonshine and bourbon tasting, instrument and songwriting workshops, wild swimming, a Southern-inspired food & shopping village and much more, providing festival goers with a unique, authentic country music lifestyle experience.

Marking the first time the platform has teamed with a country music event, BBC Music Introducing will host their own stage at the festival, which will be fronted by presenter of BBC Radio 2’s weekly country show Bob Harris and will showcase some of the UK’s best unsigned talent. The festival has also partnered with a carefully selected pool of specialist country and Americana organisations including The Birthplace of Country Music, which showcases the role that Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia played in the birth and development of country music, The Bluegrass Situation (BGS), an online music magazine and curator promoting the continued growth of bluegrass, roots, progressive folk rock, Americana music and culture, The Americana Music Association UK, and independent UK label Loose Records, who celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2018. These organisations will all be involved in bringing artists to the festival to showcase a broad array of talent from across the spectrum of country, Americana and roots music.

 

The Long Road’s Creative Director Baylen Leonard:

“Being from Tennessee and having lived in the UK for close to 20years, I’m thrilled to bring the music and culture of both together in one festival. The dedication and passion of the UK country community is so amazing, we wanted to put together a festival that celebrated the music and lifestyle they love as a thank you to the fans for supporting country music. Whether you’re a country fan, an Americana fan, or a fan of great music in general, we wanted a welcoming place where everyone could come together to celebrate. This is a festival for the fans and we’re excited to share it with you.”

The full line-up to date is as follows:

Angaleena Presley
The Shires
Billy Bragg
Striking Matches
Danielle Bradbery
Una Healy
Ashley Campbell
Brent Cobb
Aaron Watson
Lee Ann Womack
Danny and The Champions of the World
Catherine McGrath
The Wandering Hearts
The Wood Brothers
Megan O’Neill
Two Ways Home
Holloway Road
Kevin McGuire
Twinnie
Laura Oakes
Ruby Boots
Jess and The Bandits
Gary Quinn
Parker Millsap
Yola Carter
Treetop Flyers
William The Conqueror
The Arlenes
Joanna Serrat
Ferris & Sylvester
Kasheena Sampson
Danni Nicholls
Midnight Skyracer
Worry Dolls
The Lone Bellow
Frontier Ruckus
Folk Soul Revival
Amythyst Kiah
Andrew Alli

The Long Road will take place at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire from September 7th – 9th 2018. Day tickets start at £40*, Weekend No Camping tickets at £85* and Weekend Camping tickets start at £99* (*plus booking fees).

Tickets go on sale at 9am on Thursday April 12th and are available from http://www.thelongroadfestival.com.

John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness

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John Prine
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records

Prime Prine….. Funny, Relevant, Smart and always Engaging.

When you start listening to a new album and can’t take it off repeat even though you have a dozen other albums you’re supposed to be listening to instead. That’s me listening to the new John Prine album, The Forgiveness Tree, his first batch of new songs since 2005’s Fair & Square.
This is prime Prine. Funny, relevant, smart, engaging.
Yes, Prine is a legend known for writing concise, witty songs about the foibles of being human, and yes, he has a sense of humor like no other songwriter on the planet except for perhaps Randy Newman. (Who wants to hear a Prine/Newman album of songs, Newman’s piano backing up Prine’s finger-picked guitar and the two of them croaking along gracefully and artfully? Newman plays Prine! Prine plays Newman! My hand and hopes are raised high.)
On several of these tunes he’s wistfully thinking about the past but he’s not obsessed with it either, rather using the past as a starting point for a verse, looking back with the wisdom of experience and a warm acceptance.
You can always count on Prine to make you smile and even laugh out loud which he does here on several of these tracks. One could make an entire film out of the events and characters in “Egg and Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone)” and his ruminations on “The Lonesome Friends of Science” are as heartfelt as they are poignant and funny. Then Prine takes us all for a ride through a dark and demented carnival in “Caravan of Fools” which could be about the current political situation world-wide but, like many of Prine’s tunes, it’s about the human condition and SO much more. Yes, lucky for us, Prine can get serious and thoughtful, which he does in “I Have Met My Love Today,” “No Ordinary Blue,” and “God Only Knows,” and then there’s “Summers End,” the warmest song on the album—hell one of the most honestly.
warm songs I’ve ever heard. No schmaltz, no innuendo, just a song about true caring and love worth waiting for. In “Boundless Love” Prine seems to address his long bewildering career, and legion of fans with lines like:

“Sometimes my old heart
Is like a washing machine
It bounces around ’til
My soul comes clean
And when I’m clean
And hung out to dry
I’m gonna make you laugh
Until you cry”

The last song on the album starts out with a harp run straight out of Old Hollywood dreamtime that leads us into a half-sung/half-spoken word rave-up about death, Heaven, family, and having fun, with rollicking old-time piano, laughing babies, a kazoo, and one of the funniest sing-a-long choruses you’ll ever hear.
With Prine, each song just gets better and better. How does he do it? No fancy chord changes, no riffs, verse and chorus often using the same melody and usually with no bridge in sight for miles and miles. In a lesser mortal’s hands these songs would come off as unfinished, crudely written, or amateur, yet Prine ably crafts them into sharp focus, adding little touches here and there, verses as fine as Hemingway, choruses that thump you in the chest, and then delivers them all with a heartfelt seriousness that’ll make a fan out of anyone. John Prine. Still in his prime.

Guest Review by The Legendary Roy Peak (http://www.roypeak.com/ )

Released 13th April 2018
https://www.johnprine.com/new-album

I’m With Her – SEE YOU AROUND

im with her

I’m With Her
SEE YOU AROUND
Rounder Records

The Perfect Soundtrack to the Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer.

I’m not sure what constitutes a ‘Supergroup’ these days especially in the Roots world; but a combination of Sara Watkins, Aiofe O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz must surely deserve such a title, shouldn’t it?
The short history is that these three musicians got together for an impromptu show in 2014 which was such a success (surprise, surprise) that the trio have played together as often as schedules have allowed in the intervening years, receiving incredulous reviews and eventually the recording of this album in London with Ethan Jones at the controls.
It’s easy to see from the opening song See You Around what all of the fuss is about. At face value it’s a simple Country-Folk song; but when you actually ‘listen to it’ the intricate harmonies should normally only come from siblings; but the three disparate voices don’t just compliment each other but sound like a Summer breeze blowing through a field of wild flowers; and the ladies’ musicianship is nothing short of exemplary too.
You could easily play this one song over and over again and still be happy; but no there is more and…..even better to come.
As you would expect the lead vocals and songwriting are shared around fairly equally; and it would be a little unfair to single out any single singer for high praise; as it’s the ‘overall sound’ that this album is all about; playfully moving seamlessly from the more traditional Folk songs like Pangaea and Ryland (Under The Apple Tree) through to a more contemporary Country Folk ‘feel’ on Game To Lose, Crescent City and I-89 without you ever seeing the joins.
Personally I’ve appreciated but never really got into the solo work by these three ladies over the years; but together they have certainly won my heart here; with two songs in particular making my heart beat faster than it is meant to.
Close It Down is a very clever song when you pick apart the lyrics; but that doesn’t come until you have had your senses left tingling by the way the three voices swoop and soar like butterflies in the Garden of Eden; and that’s not even my favourite song here!
Regular readers and my friends will tell you that I’m no lover of Folk Music; but if it all sounded like Ain’t That Fine I would grow a beard and start wearing badly fitting jeans in an instant! That said, a lot of this record actually reminds me a bit of the early Dixie Chicks….so is it Country? Country-Folk? Who the Hell cares what pigeon-hole it might fit in; because it doesn’t…….it’s ROOTS MUSIC at it’s best.
I’m writing this review on a bitterly cold February afternoon with heavy snow forecast for the next few days and SEE YOU AROUND is the perfect soundtrack to a day just sitting in the living room just as much as it will be in Spring and more importantly those hazy, lazy days of Summer.

Released 23rd February 2018
https://www.imwithherband.com/

 

Nowhere Brothers – DOWN LIFE BOULEVARD

nowhere brothers

Nowhere Brothers
DOWN LIFE BOULEVARD
Self-Release

Stripped Back, Sparse and Simply Beautiful Americana From an Italian Duo.

Just like last year RMHQ is currently inundated with new albums to review, with quite a few even being from household names (at least in our household) so actually choosing something to review can sometimes be difficult; then along comes something like DOWN LIFE BOULEVARD to blow us away.
The Nowhere Brothers are Nick Ventolini and Roberto Fiorelli, both originally from Italy and meeting in the city of Trieste before moving on and around the world with one now based in the rainy Latin Quarter of Leeds, Yorkshire and the other in the US of A; which is a chemistry that  somehow conjure up images and music of the dusty back roads of the American Southern states that will make Ry Cooder and John Hiatt look over their shoulder.
The quaintly monikered song Nowhere Brothers opens the record with some intricately strummed acoustic guitar and a whispery harmonica before a road worn and leathery voice slides in and out on a song so atmospheric I found myself rubbing imaginary Arizona dust from eyes as the last verse filtered across the airwaves.
That laid back and often sparse mood pervades throughout with Peace and especially Soul Mirror conjuring up memories of Bruce’s Nebraska/Tom Joad albums with their stark and poetic lyrics, stinging harmonica and duelling acoustic guitars.
I’ve said it many times before that the ‘romance’ we feel towards Americana from across the Atlantic possibly makes for more authentic Roots music than what is actually coming out of Nashville and Austin these days; and The Nowhere Brothers prove my point exactly with Used Boots which nods towards early Tom Russell; but with some liquid electric guitar behind an imaginative story; and it’s a similar feeling that the quasi-political Dust Walker brings to proceedings…….”Fool Man/You’ll never stop alignin’/Flags and pledges have no meanin’/Pure Brainwashin’/But it’s too late/No matter where your Soul is. And the slide guitar therein ain’t too shabby either!
On an album that I expected very little from when it arrived, there are beautiful surprises around every corner with one song in particular taking my breath away each time I’ve played it, Montenegro Diaries is the type of deep and meaningful acoustic song that gives Americana a good name and defies the thousands of miles between where it was based and where it was actually written.
From the excellent artwork and accompanying booklet through to the actual songs themselves The Nowhere Brothers have delivered a musical time bomb that deserves to blast them to the top of the burgeoning Americana and Alt. Country movement that is currently sweeping across Europe.

Released December 4th 2017
https://nowherebrothers.bandcamp.com/album/down-life-boulevard