Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles LOVE’S MIDDLE NAME

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Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles
Blue Corn Music

It’s Only Rock & Roll, But You’ll Love It!

The only time I’ve seen Sarah Borges play live I had to travel 250 miles for the privilege. Well; in those days my job took me around the country and I’d made appointments accordingly so I could stay over in Nottingham; but you get my point.
Constantly evolving and reinventing herself, I was excited but didn’t really know what to expect when I first played this album a few weeks ago; but subsequently it’s been my ‘go to’ album when I needed something loud and noisy in the car.
The venomous House On a Hill sets the scene perfectly for a musical ride that’s the perfect accompaniment for driving around town in an MG Midget with only four gears and a rag-roof on a sultry Autumn evening.
Sarah’s voice has aged nicely in the intervening years; and her songwriting and storytelling shows no sign of diminishing either; certainly if the Power Ballad Let Me Try It or the sizzling Girlie Book, which isn’t quite as risqué as I’d hoped, are anything to go by; and they aren’t alone.
With so many genres to pick from these days I’m stumped for where this fits in…… but think Lucinda fronting the Georgia Satellites as her voice lives and breathes every word she sings, and the band which revolves around the industrial powerhouse of Binky and Phil Cimino on bass and drums (although Ed Arnold also bashes out a neat beat on two tracks) prove a perfect foil for Ms Borges gritty and heartfelt vocals while Producer extraordinaire Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambler supplies some really astonishing guitar all the way through.
Ambler’s slick production allows the band to R.O.C.K but lets the listener actually hear and appreciate the lyrics; which is a joy to behold on Lucky Rocks and the Honky Tonkiest song this side of the Cumberland Gap; Get As Gone Can Get.
There’s also a couple of smashing ballads here too, first and foremost is the acoustic Oh Victoria which showcases Sarah’s mellower side; but the song itself is also quite spiky too, which is as good a word as any to describe Grow Wings too; which is a real pot-boiler and so atmospheric you can virtually smell the sweat in the studio.
Then of course I have to choose a Favourite Song for you; and for once it was quite an easy decision; even though plenty of others were contenders; but Are You Still Taking Them Pills is both a firecracker and a showstopper of a song. Wryly observational of the people that inhabit small towns not just in America but across the Western World, Sarah Borges turns the original Western Swing tune by Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay into a sleazy and tightly wrapped Rock n Roll tune of the finest magnitude!
There’s not a lot else to say; as the songs and Sarah Borges herself speak for themselves and all I can do now, is advise you buy it then another copy for someone you think deserves an album that just might change their lives for the better.

Released 12th October 2018



Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit LIVE at the RYMAN

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Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Southeastern Records

The Crown Prince of Alt. Country in All His Lucid Glory.

It’s kinda funny how Jason Isbell became an ‘Overnight Success’ after God knows how many years he has been hawking his act around the bars, clubs and concert halls around the world to ever increasing, but never huge crowds of appreciative Americana fans. But, to me and you he’s been a bonafide Star ever since his early Rock n Roll days in Drive By Truckers and even more so since he went solo and redefined what Alt. Country could actually be, but it took him winning TWO Grammy Awards earlier this year, and more recently getting one of his songs included in the A Star is Born movie; primarily to make Bradley Cooper appear ‘authentic enough’ for the rest of the world to catch on.
So with a whole new fan base to sate; Jason and those cool cats at Southeastern Records have culled 13 tracks from last year’s six Sold Out nights at the Ryman to showcase his talents where they shine brightest……in concert!
Although he has more ‘famous and popular songs’ I can’t think of a better song of his than Hope The High Road to open this album. It rocks like rowing boat in a storm, and Isbell’s way with words is as articulate as a Hemingway novel; and don’t get me started on those guitar solos!
This is followed by a spectacular version of 24 Frames and White Man’s World which was scarily prophetic when it first appeared on Nashville Sound but now; a year later it’s sadly even more pertinent; and Amanda’s fiddle playing often out rocks the guitars; and boy do they sizzle!
Although this isn’t a ‘live from the soundboard recording’ there’s certainly enough intensity and excitement in Last Of My Kind and Flagship to make new fans want…. No ‘need’ to check his website to find out when Jason & The 400 Unit are coming to town.
His songwriting has always been exemplary in my book; but when you hear the crystal clear production coupled to Isbell’s fierce approach on Super 8 and Cumberland Gap, you just know that those Two Grammys are only going to be the start of a big collection of shiny trophies.
Finding a Favourite Track here hasn’t been easy, as each and every song has its own merits especially the mesmerising Elephant, which is one of the most heart-breakingly clever and beautiful songs I’ve ever, ever heard and I’m going to go against the grain and pass over the Grammy Winning We Must Be Vampires; which is still every bit as brilliant as it was on the original album but instead I’m choosing the epic The Life You Choose, which I’ve grown to love over the last three years; and again Isbell somehow manages to wring even more passion and imagery out of it in this format than I could ever have dared hope.
If I have a complaint about LIVE AT THE RYMAN, it’s that some truly amazing songs from the first three albums are missing; presumably because of licensing issues, but they are missing none the less; but…. Hey ho…….. what is here more than makes up for that and showcases a truly amazing talent.

Released October 19th 2019


Elvis Costello & The Imposters LOOK NOW


Elvis Costello & The Imposters

His Aim Is Still True!

Elvis Costello is the only act I’ve ever queued TWICE for his albums on the day of release (This Year’s Model & King of America); and for a long time afterwards I bought each and every album he released; until The Delivery Man …..well, like the three that preceded it I don’t think I’ve listened to it a third time in 15 years.
So, while obviously flattered to be asked to review his latest, and 30th studio album, I was very nervous last Sunday playing it for the first time.
What if I really didn’t like it?
But, a combination of me not playing his albums for a decade and possibly now having more refined tastes……… there was no need to panic; the Kid is in fine fettle and right back in the game!
The first thing you hear Under Lime and it’s as sharp and melodic as anything Costello recorded in the 80’s (his peak period btw) yet while the arrangement sounds a bit jazzy and not unlike his songs with Burt Bacharach the lyrics are brand new, shiny and even attention grabbing.
Panic over.
Now I’m settled into it. LOOK NOW is real ‘Grown Up Music’; no, not AOR because very little here ‘rocks’ this is 100% quality singer-songwriter material aimed at Grown Ups, that takes chances unlike any of his peers would ever dare take…… try the magnificent Burnt Sugar is More Bitter (written with Carol King no less!) and Dishonour The Stars and then point me to someone other than EC who could write such a song and arrange it in this manner and yet it’s still ‘commercial’ and listenable over and over again.
There’s always been something of a Poet in the way Elvis chooses his words and constructs his songs making the listener know exactly what he means in Mr & Mrs Hush or the intense Stripping Paper even if they aren’t to be taken literally.
As is my won’t I’ve played this five times before reading the Press Release and only then did I realise that the two brooding ballads Don’t Look Now and Photographs Don’t Lie are both co-write with Burt Bacharach; whose (with hindsight) ghost is all over them.
To some greater or lesser degree he’s taken a big step backwards to jump forwards with the bittersweet Suspect My Tears and He’s Given Me Things, with both not sounding particularly like anything else he’s recorded but takes you back to a time when his song writing shone like a star in the sky.
While far from being my ‘Favourite Song’ here; I admire the way he casually drops in the left of centre arrangement of Why Won’t Heaven Help Me without a care in the world.
Finding my actual ‘Favourite Song’ was actually quite easy this time; as the I Let The Sun Go Down punched me straight in the heart the first time I heard it. String arrangements, luscious harmonies and Elvis Costello at his sharpest, cleverest and indeed witty even all rolled up in a quasi-political observation that will catch many a radio producer out!
If we forget his Angry Young Man phase in the late 70’s; Elvis Costello was a Master craftsman of his art between Trust and Spike; constantly reinventing himself yet always letting that one and only voice take us on musical journeys we’d never ever contemplated taking with anyone else; but ended up wondering why no one else had ever thought of that direction before.

Released 12th October 2018


John Hiatt – The Eclipse Sessions

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John Hiatt
The Eclipse Sessions
New West Records

A Masterclass in Americana and Roots Singing and Songwriting.

I will hold my hands up; my relationship with John Hiatt’s music is actually very limited, as even though I knew ‘of him’ and presumed I’d like his music I didn’t own any of his music until his single Cry To Me arrived back in August; so, it really was with baited breath that I pressed ‘play’ on the office stereo that morning…….phew……ooh…..WOW! Where the first words that sprung to mind as I stopped what I was doing and stared open mouthed at the CD player as the very embodiment of Americana music filled the room for four exquisite minutes; and now nearly two months later I still felt the same excitement as it opened this, John Hiatt’s 23rd (?) studio album in 44 years.
Listening again tonight, second track All The Way to The River still makes me smile; because a month ago I played the album to Big Brother #2 who screwed his nose up when this came on, then looked quizzically at me before muttering….. “This isn’t Randy Newman, is it?” Oh how I laughed; but Hiatt’s grizzled voice and diamond edged lyrics could easily be mistaken for mid-period Newman; more so later on the pithy Poor Imitation of God and Over The Hill; which was an early contender for ‘Favourite Track’ status; but that has lost out to something a lot more personal.
As I don’t know his early work; I’m just loving this album for what it is with the songwriter’s razor sharp observations and red hot melodies on the sadly beautiful and worldly wise Hide Your Tears, Aces Up The Sleeve, Nothing In My Heart and especially the Country-Blues of I Like The Odds of Loving You which features some amazing bottle-neck guitar that made me feel a little feint at one stage.
Any of those songs would have been my ‘Favourite’ on anyone else’s album; as could the velvet edged Robbers Highway which closes the album; such is the gloriously high standard set here; but on an album that is more or less based around Hiatt’s distinctive voice and a laid back acoustic based band; I’m going left of centre for One Stiff Breeze which really rocks the joint and keeps taking me by surprise; as the 66 year old throws down the gauntlet to the scores of pretenders to his lofty throne…….. John Hiatt has still got IT!
While not really a ‘discovery’ for me; but still the first time I’ve heard a complete album by John Hiatt and there’s enough here to make me already buy a ‘Best Of’ to discover what I’ve been missing all these years.

Released October 12th 2018



Annie Dressner

The Most Emotional Break-Up and Make-Up Album You Will Ever Hear.

It must have been 2011 or 12 when I first encountered Annie Dressner as a support act at the Jumpin’ Hot Club, sitting there mesmerised for the full 35 minutes or so of her set, and it’s stayed in my memory bank ever since.
Then we have to leap forward to a couple of weeks ago when she got in touch after a friend recommended RMHQ as a possible place to send her latest (and only second!) album BROKEN INTO PIECES.
It’s still not clear why the long wait; but when you hear opening track Fades Away and what follows, you will come to the conclusion that this is a nearly perfect album of love songs that describes the roller coaster of emotions we all feel from the powerful beginning to the (eventual) Break-Up album. Fades Away is a soft, gentle and heartbreakingly beautiful love song about the time it takes to get over a break-up that she didn’t see coming, and will leave you occasionally forgetting to breathe; as it did me as she purrs out the story.
What a stunning way to start an album.
Although the musical mood picks up in the melody on the next song couple of songs, starting with Don’t Go (25th July) the sentiment in the story is as dark and brooding as I’ve heard in years and sounds just perfect for radio as does Heartbreaker which has the killer line “There’s the smell of cigarettes seeping through the curtain door/as your mother made us dinner/made my favourite thing of all/but I won’t be back again.”
Dressner’s observations of the minutiae in a once passionate relationship are staggering at times; but as the adage goes….. ‘be very careful when you break up with a songwriter; they get to write songs about you that will last forever!’
It obviously wasn’t just Annie’s songs that captured my heart that night in Newcastle but her wonderfully expressive voice that has the warmth of Nanci Griffith coupled to the softer edges of Tift Merritt; and her songs follow a similar if even more intimate path than either at times.
While all of the songs here are pleasingly feminine in origin; of course they would be – she’s a woman! But the depth involved in songs like Over and Over, the winsome Paper Moon and Numbers will resonate with many men who have gone through the same type of complicated relationship; such is the way Annie’s genuine sensitivity keeps shining through.
Me? I’m in a very strong and stable relationship (41 years and counting) but I knew heartbreak as a young man and have seen friends and family crumble as complicated relationships go wrong; not everything is black and white. So we can appreciate and sympathise with where Ms Dressner is coming from on the tearjerkers Morning and more pertinently Falter which sort of sent a shiver down my spine.
The first time I played Kentucky I had to stop it half way through and go back to the start, just to confirm what my ears had heard. I’m not going to spoil the surprise or indeed twist in the tale; but tucking this song away in the middle is a very clever trick indeed.
Then, there is a song so clever and personal that it will get standing ovations whenever it is played in concert; which is why Bruise Beneath My Bones is my Favourite Track here. It, like many others isn’t actually an ‘easy listen’ and nor is it intended to be; but boy has it got a sting in the tale ….several in fact, as Annie goes into full on Tarantula mode to let him know how she really, really feels!
For an album that is probably on the Folkie end of the Americana spectrum BROKEN INTO PIECES has more S.O.U.L than anything you are going to hear from just about anyone else this year or many more to come.

Released October 26th 2018 (pre-order NOW and get three free songs immediately)

# Annie Dressner is such a good and imaginative songwriter; she is actually happily married to Paul Goodwin who appears here on keyboards!

Bert Jansch `Just A Simple Soul (Best of Collection)

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Bert Jansch
`Just A Simple Soul’ (Best of Collection)
BMG (Double CD & 2 LP Vinyl )

The Flame Burns as Bright As Ever For One of British Folk Music’s True Legends. 

Many years ago while I was a student I whiled away my spare time at Durham Folk Club listening to The Spinners and The Seekers while The Rocking Magpie was in a Youth Club surrounded by teenage girls, dancing to Ska and Motown …he always was the cool one!
Which is why, nearly 50 years later he has asked me to listen to and pen some thoughtful words on this latest offering from one of Britain’s finest ever Folk Musicians ….Mr Bert Jansch.
There was a time in the 1960’s, before “Clapton Is God” was scrawled in four feet high letters on a wall, that there were other “gods” in the music world. A time before “Rock” music was even a ‘thing’ and The Beatles and Stones were still Pop Groups and before a young whippersnapper in a funny hat called Bobby Dylan was starting to make a noise in America.

For a  period in those early sixties there were 100’s of Folk Clubs  scattered all over the UK in little rooms above pubs..or in pubs, above cafes or in cafes playing a heady mix of traditional songs, American blues, work songs, miners songs and everything else in between to groups of young people with long hair and invariably wearing duffle coats and smoking cigarettes while listening intently and reverentially to whoever was on stage.

As the 1960’s progressed word started coming out of these London folk clubs about a variety of homegrown singer-songwriters and Folk groups that were writing their own songs…and they were good; very, very good!

One of these was a handsome young Scotsman called Bert Jansch who moved South in 1963 to ply his trade as another  hungry folk singer in London.

Jansch soon recorded his first album and sold the tapes for £100 to Transatlantic records who released it in 1965. The Self-Titled Bert Jansch contained several songs that are still classics today in 2018, including “Needle Of Death” about the loss of a close friend and the more traditional “Blackwaterside” (which a certain Jimmy Page re-worked for the first Zeppelin album 3 years later!). But it was an instrumental “Angie” written by Davy Graham ( a brilliant instrumentalist and songwriter in his own right) that showed off Jansch’s prowess with an acoustic guitar.
Through the late 60’s and early 70’s Bert Jansch was the ‘go to’ name in British Folk Music, releasing a number of sought after albums including the excellent Jack Orion and the iconic LA Turnaround.  Over his career Jansch released over 20 albums, plus a myriad of live releases and compilations of varying ‘legitimacy’. Unfortunately Bert’s legacy is scattered over many record labels many of which are no longer around.
Which is where this magnificent collection stands out. Just A Simple Soul pulls everything into one place; not only his classic early songs, wonderfully re-mastered, but also includes ‘Reynardine’ from his time with Pentangle ( Oh yes – he also played in one of the most loved Folk Groups of the 70’s that at regularly competed with Fairport Convention for many a best Folk award) but that’s a book in itself!  This collection also realises that Bert continued to perform and record until 2006, with his later albums well represented, especially worth listening to are‘Crimson Moon’ from 2000 and ‘On The Edge Of A Dream’from the 2002 album of the same name, as well as the poignant “High Days” from his last album Black Swan.

I don’t know if this collection covering Bert’s 5 Decades of music, lovingly compiled by Bernard Butler in conjunction with the Bert Jansch Estate, will attract many new fans – because it should as it’s an actual Masterclass in songwriting and stunningly brilliant fret work all allied to Bert’s fragile and gentle vocals.  But for those already “in the know” this collection cleverly pulls together some of his greatest songs alongside many rarer but still important parts of the legacy into one place.
The sound quality of my digital download used for this review appears excellent especially on the early songs, and the Vinyl release will be an opportunity for those in love with that particular format to finally renew some of those pretty worn out original LP’s

Highly Recommended.
Released October 26th 2016

Review – John Jobling aka

Shipcote & Friends I’M QUITE HAPPY WITH THAT.

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Shipcote & Friends
Low Fella Records

Laid Back Americana Full of Warmth Via NE England.

The once thriving Shipcote area of Gateshead in Tyne and Wear has all but gone now; but the name lives on as the alter-ego of one half of the Jumpin’ Hot Club and full time musical troubadour Mr Graham Anderson; of which this is his latest disc.
If you already know him and his music you will buy this CD regardless of what I have to say; as ‘once a fan, always a fan’ in my experience; but to the uninitiated he writes very clever and intricate songs about the immediate world around him and the people who inhabit it; performing them in a warm, charming and laid-back Western-Swing meets American Folk via a traditional singer-songwriter hybrid that doesn’t particularly sound like anyone else I can think of. Confused? You won’t be!
I had to take a deep breath the first time I heard opening track Mystery Waltz as it begins with Cath and her accordion nodding towards something akin to the Captain Pugwash tune; but mercifully Shipcote and the other Friends seamlessly slide in with the first of a series of magical love songs sung to a hypnotic melody that will make you sway along as you aimlessly mouth the words, while thinking that you know who the song is really about.
The jaunty Photograph follows; and yet again a simple thing like ‘looking at a photograph of his wedding day’ ends up taking us all down ‘memory lane’ thinking exactly the same thoughts about our own past; such is the power of clever songwriting.
Although a man of a ‘certain age’ Shipcote isn’t as cynical as the majority of people I know; generally seeing the best in life; as the punchy Sanctuary Street and the delightfully romantic Country Swing of Lucky Me prove; but he can also let his imagination go wild with the insightful and sensitive I’m Coming To Get You, which will also turn a few eyes misty as time goes by.
The whimsical I Get Around and title track, I’m Quite Happy With That are both autobiographical ditties that had me smiling from start to finish as our man describes his day to day  life; with the latter being a description of his office including the posters on the wall , the swivel chair and his name sat next to a paperweight on his desk; and is all only an 8 minute ride away each day. I doubt Robbie Williams will ever cover this song; but I love it to bits!
Picking a Favourite Track on a Shipcote album is never easy, as each song always has its merits; and this one is no different with the slightly brittle and dark break up Hope It Stays That Way is unlike anything I’ve heard from him before and would be a contender for that reason alone; but the addition of luscious harmonies and a heartbreaking cello take it onto a whole other level.
Then there are two songs that are very close to my own heart, the first is a tongue in cheek tilt towards the myriad of Award Ceremonies every year, covering just about every (and some made up) categories in our own little musical world; leaving them with very little, if any meaning save for the Press Releases that litter my desk.
The other; and it’s the one I’m actually giving the prize to is What Can a City Do? Specifically about Newcastle which is on the verge of having more student accommodation than it has for actual rate payers and (more importantly) Social Housing; Shippy lists all of the new businesses that now litter the High Streets of our once Green and Pleasant land. And, in Shipcote & Friends style it’s all sung over a charming and lazy Countryfied melody.
Okay, I’m a friend first, a fan second and only thirdly an impartial reviewer; but if ever a song title summed up the contents of the music within the cover it’s, I’m Quite Happy With That and that’s is exactly what you will feel as the final song runs out into the groove.

Released Sunday 07 October 2018

Ken Pomeroy Hallways

Ken Pomeroy a Hallways

Ken Pomeroy
Horton Records

Heartfelt Songs From Oklahoma Teenager 

With delicately picked guitar, and the kind of voice in which plate reverbs were built for, Oklahoman Ken Pomeroy writes songs from the singer-songwriter side of modern folk that are reminiscent of both Nanci Griffith and Patty Griffin.

That’s the short version. Here’s a longer one.

Ken Pomeroy is a singer-songwriter from Oklahoma who started singing and playing music at a very young age and released her first EP, Minutes to Hours, in 2017. At the tender age of fifteen she has already won several songwriting awards including the Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest with her entry “The Sidewalk Song,” and has opened up for rockabilly giant Wanda Jackson, as well as playing some of her original songs on the Oklahoma Rodeo Opry stage. Pomeroy has played music festivals near her home on the windy plains of Oklahoma and as far away as sunny Key West and several in between. With her second release, Hallways, Pomeroy has crafted seven heartfelt songs which do an admirable job of showcasing her voice as well as her guitar playing.
Now young girls playing guitar and writing their own songs have decidedly taken an upswing in these post-Taylor Swift Wannabe years, but I feel that we are finally nearing the end of this arc, leaving only the truly talented and dedicated to continue on. Thankfully, Ken Pomeroy is as gifted as she is dedicated. One doesn’t write a song such as “Hallways” with lines like “A different direction I turn my head, trying to look away from the demons I’ve fed,” and then sing it with understated grace without first working hard at your craft, listening to other songwriters, singing a song over and over until you know how best to convey its darknesses and contradictions. These are heady songs, not fluff in the least, presented simply, letting the guitar frame Pomeroy’s voice perfectly. I hear many influences in Pomeroy’s music, but the afore mentioned Nanci Griffith and Patty Griffin stand out to me, especially on repeated listens. Not in the delivery, but certain turns of phrase, the smart, poetic lyrics that are so concise and well thought out throughout.
“The Sidewalk Song” is the centrepiece of this collection, but it’s the title song, “Hallways,” which won me over with its ambient backing track and plaintive vocal delivery. Pomeroy has some good songs and I like the terse production on this collection, but it would be nice to hear her stretch her wings next time with something with a bit more thump to it, or a quicker pace, as most of these songs clock in with a similar meter.

Keep on writing and singing, Miss Pomeroy, I’ll be listening.

Review by The Legendary Roy Peak esq.

Released November 2nd 2018

My Years with Townes Van Zandt. ‘Music, Genius and Rage.’ by Harold F Eggers Jr & LE McCullough

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My Years with Townes Van Zandt.
‘Music, Genius and Rage.’
Harold F Eggers Jr & LE McCullough

I first came across Townes Van Zandt courtesy of The Cowboy Junkies’ love song ‘Townes Blues’ and their cover of ‘To Live is To Fly’ on the BLACK EYED MAN album way back in 1992. A little bit of research brought me to a 23 track ‘Best Of’ which I purchased for £3.99 (it still has a sticker on it!) from Goldrush Records in Perth, Scotland; but, I really struggled with it; primarily because of Townes’ voice; which was and still is ‘something only a Mother could love’.
Thankfully in the intervening years my tastes have changed and Mr Van Zandt is now a cornerstone of my collection; and quite often the benchmark I now use for intelligent and heartfelt Americana; of which he was one of the finest singer-songwriters ever in that very competitive market place. #Fact
So; when this book was offered for review I couldn’t say “Yes please!” fast enough.
First of all this isn’t your normal biography; although bits and pieces of Townes early life is included but only as background, with tales of his Great Grandfather venturing into Indian territory with the family fortune and coming back with a mixed-race child and who knew he was enrolled in a Military Academy after being deemed unruly at school; then being given electric shock therapy to ‘cure his behaviour’ aged 19? Knowing what we know now about such things and with the benefit of hindsight he must have suffered from Bi-Polar Disorder; but for all of his 52 years he was just ‘troubled’.
The book is told from the point of view of Harold F Eggers who himself had ‘problems’ after serving in Vietnam and going on to become the songwriter’s Tour Manager, best friend, confidante, business partner and occasional getaway driver for over twenty years; while also building a successful career himself in the Music Industry.
Impressively Eggers never comes across as judgemental, intrusive or even sensationalist when recounting stories that will make your hair stand on end; but never actually surprising you.
As TVZ insisted many times in conversations with H, he tells the stories ‘honestly, warts and all’ and boy are there ‘warts’ here!
There are many individual concerts included from across the years, leaving me incredibly jealous at not discovering him until it was too late for me to see him play, as a couple of friends have on his infrequent visits to Europe and the UK where he found an adoring fan base which gave him a new lease of life late on in his career.
I won’t spoil it for you as there are surprises around every corner as our favourite Texas Troubadour’s charm shines through every chapter, even when you would cheerfully hold him down as Eggers strangles him after yet another successful attempt to grasp failure from the jaws of success, in a 20 year roller coaster ride of a tale that will break your heart and make you smile like all the best blockbusters do; and that’s how this story feels…’s a Blockbuster (and a ballbuster too).
I’ve seen Heartworn Highways several times so knew of his relationship with Guy, Rodney and the young Steve Earle, but who knew Dylan was a fan and an album by both men was planned but never materialised because our hero, who had cheated life so many, many times finally succumbed to the Ghosts that had haunted him all of his life on January 1st 1997.
Although I knew how the story ended and everything builds towards Van Zandt’s death; the last two chapters were still really hard for me to read; and when Eggers leaves a visibly ill Townes on New Years Eve and flies home to celebrate the holiday with his family; he writes……
“I fell asleep and was drowsing on the living room sofa, when our black lab, Jezebel began barking furiously, scampering around the house as if chasing an unseen visitor.
I woke with a start and watched the lights flicker, then dim for several seconds before coming back up. I tried to quiet her as two more light dimming cycles occurred; then the lights stabilized and the dog hushed.”
Half an hour later the phone rang and Townes wife Jeanene whispered, “Townes has gone.”
By this stage tears were streaming down my cheeks.
The congregation at the service after TVZ’s cremation is a veritable who’s who of the nascent Roots/Americana scene with Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle among many others sang his songs and told beautiful stories about a very troubled man who history now knows was a true Genius.

Published (Hardback) October 16th 2018


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Linda Em
Talking Elephant Records

A Short Showcase For a Huge Talent.

Yet again I appear to be ‘late to the party’ with the music of Ms Linda Em; as the quotes on her Press Release appear to show she is; and has been a shining star on the London ‘scene’ for quite a while now.
Although born in Waterford and then moving to a quaint fishing village on the River Thames in London Town’s East End as a child; neither fact really plays a significant part in any of the truly International and pretty epic songs featured on this EP.
The single Wild Fire opens with the striking of a match; which is incredibly apt as this dark duet with producer Gavin Glass simply smoulders with unrequited passion in a way I’ve not heard since Nick Cave and Kylie recorded When The Wild Roses Grow; and similarly reduced me to a quivering mess the first twice I played it.
Then, Linda throws a twisting curve ball with Two Hands which incredibly takes us into the dark world of Edith Piaf…..seriously; her voice wavers and swoops as a piano tinkles out the tune before an operatic choir join the chorus on a song full of Parisian Gothic qualities.
Whoosh! We then get a full on Alt. Country belter with Little Lightmaker; with a pounding drum and sizzling guitar back up to Linda’s Nashville-Celtic warble and pleading; which works fabulously well.
Then the short set closes with White Horse which still errs on the sharp edge of Alt. Country but with a big Technicolour feel to it too; and with only four amazing and very different songs to choose from; I think I’m going to select this as my Favourite Track, for no particular reason other than I like it best.
Listening to these four songs in one sitting won’t always be easy as they are all so very different from each other; but placed together they showcase a singer; and indeed songwriter who isn’t following a straight and narrow path; but one who has a voice and a way with words that she trusts and believes in; as will you when you buy this EP.
Only time will tell which route Linda Em goes off in; but in this crazy world I can’t think why someone with talent in such abundance can’t record an album that stretches these threads in even more directions and still be successful.

Released September 21st 2018