Gitta de Ridder TO OUR CHILDREN

Gitta de Ridder
To Our Children
Little Memories Records

Songs That Remove the Line Which Separates Art and Artist.

With contributions from a Spanish guitarist, an English children’s choir, a string quartet from Italy, background vocals from Switzerland, horns recorded in Portugal, a smattering of Spanish goats, and Ms. de Ridder herself (from the Netherlands), this may be the most “European” album of music by a single artist that this reviewer has ever heard.
Gearing up for this foray, Gitta de Ridder traveled for most of a year throughout Europe, dressed in “traditional wear,” Dutch clothes—that is simple dresses and clogs, yes clogs.
You know: wooden shoes!
all while playing shows and festivals.
This is the artist “living the art” or perhaps even more precisely, a case of the artist removing the line which separates art and artist.
Not performance art exactly, but simply art and artist as one, breathing together. De Ridder gifts us with her strong, clear voice and a penchant for optimism severely lacking in many of today’s musicians.
Much like Jonathan Richman—a fearless, optimistic original if there ever was one— Ridder is a genre-fluid artist, capable of wearing many hats, jumping from one style of music to another without it sounding forced or weak.
“Capable,” “fearless,” and “optimistic” are words I would not hesitate to use in describing de Ridder’s art, along with multi-talented, and original.
The album starts out with the wistful “Like a Kite Released” featuring a wonderful Wurlitzer backdrop, fleshed out by de Ridder’s sanguine vocals. “To Wonder” has a more, shall we say, “Americana” feel, complete with pedal steel, while “Hypothetical You and I” reminds me of dark cabaret, and ‘The Clearing” starts with a flourish of Spanish guitar before moving on to darker, more frantic themes.
“Sing a Song Sing Along” is the perfect way to end this charming eight-song album with it’s hopeful melody and backing children’s chorus, but I would have to say that “Man of the Light” may be my favorite track here, especially with it’s “Hey! Ha!” background vocals and some superb trumpet playing that adds a fun bit of hopeful light to the track.
There’s a video for the song “Man of the Light” in which you can see de Ridder herself, cavorting around Europe in some of that “traditional wear” and obviously having a blast and making fans along the way.

Review courtesy Roy Peak
Released October 10th 2020

https://www.gittaderidder.com/

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Josie Bello HAVE PURPOSE LIVE LONG

Josie Bello
Have Purpose Live Long
Self-Release

Atmospheric Lo-Fi Americana Worthy of a David Lynch Country Movie.

I’d not heard of Josie Bello prior to receiving this album; and took for-granted she would be a ‘Folk Singer’ of some sort because of the Agent I received it via; so what a pleasant surprise it was to hear some modern Americana drenched Country making its way out of my headphones on the opening (and title track) Have Purpose Live Long.
There’s some charming lo-fi and almost hypnotic pedal-steel, accordion and guitar accompaniment to Josie’s laid back song, with her vocals sounding ethereal in the mix.
Next up is Magic Of The Music; which is very nearly an instrumental, not dissimilar in construction to Blue Velvet; way back when but with a Honky-Tonk melody.

Once I’d thought of that connection I still can’t get that ‘David Lynch connection’ out of my head.
It’s pretty obvious that Josie Bello is from a deep seated Country background; but her melodies and arrangements are as far removed from Hank and Reba as you can get; this is music from her heart and financial success at the top of the Hit Parade is not on the agenda at all.
Even the most ‘commercial’ songs here; I Bleed Human and Party With The Saints will still only appeal to the cognoscenti among us rather than someone idly scrolling through Spotify; but then again if 1 in 100 who do that stumble on these songs and stick with them …….. they will most likely become lifelong fans.
I not only have an open-mind but a broad one too when it comes to music so I’ve got a soft spot for the heart crushing simplicity of Hole In My Heart. The first time I heard it I was left wide-eyed and mouthing ‘phwoar’ to no one in particular.
This ‘heartbreaker’ is actually preceded by the tender love song Twenty Five Years; which may or may not be loosely based on Josie’s relationship with husband Frank Bello; or if not it should be.
For a Favourite Song I’ve been sorely tempted to select Not The America of My Dreams; another ‘almost instrumental’ with its church like choir; but I’ve decided to go for All It Takes Is Time; another in Josie’s ‘alt-commercial’ style; as it’s a song of the highest quality that deserves to be heard by as wide an audience as possible.
That last sentence sums up my feelings towards the whole album; Josie Bello’s music takes a little from a lot of genres to combine to become something quite unlike anyone else I can actually think of; which is a rarity around this office.

Released North America 1st August 2020
Released Europe October 20th 2020

https://josiebello.com/home
Bandcamp
https://josiebello1.bandcamp.com/







Andrew Cushin Where’s My Family Gone?

Andrew Cushin

Where’s My Family Gone?

As I’m away for a few days COVID-Busting, or something I can’t post this in the normal manner ….. but as Andrew is such a new and exciting talent I’m going to post his new single via my iPhone 🤞

Andrew Cushin is a talent that’s organically earning him a grassroots following: initially at home in Newcastle, where he sold-out The Cluny before officially releasing any music, and more recently with a huge socially distanced outdoor show as guest to Two Door Cinema Club. Andrew Cushin now adds to his rising profile by sharing his new single ‘Where’s My Family Gone’.

‘Where’s My Family Gone’ is the product of a mutual respect between Andrew Cushin and Noel Gallagher. The Oasis icon first discovered Andrew after he hearing an early demo of his single ‘Waiting For The Rain’, which prompted Noel to praise his “great natural voice.” Their friendship grew, which resulted in Noel offering to produce, play guitar and singing backing vocals on the new single.

“I wrote Where’s My Family Gone when I was in a dark place” explains Andrew. “I hadn’t been speaking to my family, or friends. I felt as though I had no outlet for the way I was feeling, and I wrote it in a little hotel room in Leeds before a gig. It started out as a darker track but the production that Noel has added to the song has pushed the track in a way that it’s now so much bigger and more uplifting. I can’t wait to play it live and see everyone’s faces when that colossal chorus hits”.

William Elliott Whitmore I’M WITH YOU

William Elliott Whitmore
I’m With You
Bloodshot.

An Exciting Voyage Of Country, Folk and Americana Discovery.

As regular readers know; much like my teenage years with Motown and Stax, then later with Stiff Records these days I’m always pre-disposed to anything released on the Bloodshot label.
Not everything always tickles my taste-buds; but 95% is a pretty good success rate; doncha think?
Before I received this a month or so ago I’d never actually heard of Mr Whitmore, although he has previously released 7 album (3 on Anti Records and one on *Bloodshot!) and even though his preferred instrument of choice is ……. the banjo I was still prepared to listen with an open mind (as always!).
Well, I’m glad I did; as this has been quite the voyage of discovery.
Although I shouldn’t have been; the ‘old timey’ feel of first track Put It To Use still took me by surprise. Banjo, fiddle and a grizzled vocal add together to give a Hill Country/Folk sound, which isn’t what I expect from Bloodshot ….. but why the Hell not; as it’s a bit of a dandy, now I’ve got my head around it.
Phew; William picks up his acoustic guitar on the next song, Solar Flare, and it’s nearly as clever as it’s melodious; and yes …… there is a melody and even a catchy chorus on what, to all intents and purposes is a Folk song.
For his eighth album; there’s something of a ‘sampler’ or ‘Best Of’ feel; as he never sits still, with no two songs sounding the same.
With that in mind; his distinctive worn and lived-in grizzly voice carries everything along like a wonderfully worn leather suitcase; ‘the tales it could tell’ ….. which is exactly what we get here.
I love the rambunctious Black Iowa Dirt and the toe-tapping Honky Tonk of My Mind Can Play Cruel Tricks On Me just as much as the passionate Alt. Country songs History and Save Ourselves; which is quite some feat when you take them out of context they sound as if they are by completely different acts.
Which is actually why I’ve become smitten with the whole damn album; every time I play it something new springs out to make me study his words as much as his cleverly constructed musical arrangements (even the solo acoustic songs are complicated).
This will most likely change tomorrow; and then again next week, but tonight I’m torn between two songs as my choice of Favourite.
I’m Here is the type of intricate Folk Ballad I normally associate with Rod Picott or Slaid Cleaves; and that’s high praise indeed.
The other; and I’m erring on the side of saying it is my actual Favourite Song here; is a brave choice for me as it’s played out on the banjo and a ‘talking Blues’ very much in the style of Tom Paxton; and yes MK Ultra Blues certainly is my Favourite, as it’s so very different from what I normally like …. and has really captured my imagination.
If I was to start re-discovering William Elliott Whitmore’s back catalogue, I could do worse than start with *KILONOVA (which it turns out I actually own!)
Whoops!
Bloodshot completists like myself are in for a nice surprise when they buy this; and I hope is existing fan base love it as much as I do; but if you are a Music Fan with a broad mind I urge you too to give this a try; I very much doubt you will be disappointed and pretty sure you’re going to find a few songs that will live in your sub-conscious for a long time to come.

Released 16th October 2020
https://www.williamelliottwhitmore.com/

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Juanita Stein SNAPSHOT

JUANITA STEIN
Snapshot
Nude Records

Intimate Songs of Sadness Delivered Beautifully and Intricately.

A couple of years ago one of my favourite ‘intimate’ gigs was when I saw a Juanita Stein gig at The Cluny in Newcastle; and even stranger was the fact that it was her record that was being played on local radio as I parked my car that night.
The 4 Howling Bells albums made with Juanita and her twin brothers, Ari and Joel were all excellent indie releases and they had built up a solid following after re-locating to Brighton from Sydney; when in 2012 she started work on her first solo album before the release of ‘America’ and ‘Until The Lights Fade’.
To further demonstrate her ability she assisted with vocals on The Sleepy Jackson album – another very good offering IMHO.
Her latest release is heavily tinged with sadness after the sudden death of her father with AML but that sad event is now a taper to light her way through an album that she describes as ‘littered with symbolism’ as the songs featured are dashed on instant reflections – a dream of a relative, a crow outside a hospital room, a toy snake etc – all minor but the birth of an idea leading to a song.
Her very soft and gentle voice glides through the opener ‘1,2,3,4,5,6’ about the ability to take risks after due consideration of the effects of the decision. She admits that writing the songs for ‘Snapshot’ came thick and fast, leaving her with a load of demos to turn into the finished article.
The opening notes of ‘L.O.T.F’ take the listener straight into a catchy number dealing with ‘being raised in the land of the free and needing to hear the blackbirds‘. A bluesy rocky number with a tremendous guitar backing.
The tempo is eased off with ‘Lucky’ as she questions if she is mentally tough enough to deal with the changes in her life – ‘that’s your life as darkness is followed by rage’.
A shout from the heart of the situation she suddenly found herself in.
You are a snapshot of my life – only a photograph remains
in the title track where the loss is most vocally well handled.
Out of sadness comes some light, as part of a snapshot of her mind. ‘Hey Mama’ does what it says in the track as she ponders her search for how her Mama feels but maybe they can sing the blues together.
If I am giving the impression this album is a very sad one, I have to stress that it is, the overall theme of the album is sadness; but the songs are delivered with a beautiful voice and even I hadn’t really appreciated that voice until I saw her sing .
If you sound better or as good live as on record a gig goer can’t ask for any more than that.
A favourite track?
That would probably be ‘Mavericks’, a song that benefits from her full range and the following track ‘The Reckoning’ takes her into the upper reaches to emphasise that the reckoning is inevitable, with the heavy guitar backing adding to the importance of meeting ‘The Reckoning.’
The final tracks ‘Take It Or Leave It’ dealing with the choices you have in her position leaving you ‘dancing with the unknown’ and ‘In The End’, an upbeat finale that regardless of what fate deals us we have to not ‘lose our heart as we all lose someone in the end
I have to admit I am a lover of female singers; and Juanita has produced a lovely little set despite the sad events that brought it all about.
Out of that darkness has come what I feel is her best album to date, by some way.
A fine tribute to her father.
Juanita is assisted here by her brother Joel on lead guitar, Jim Wheelwright on bass and Evan Jenkins on drums and it would be wrong of me not to recognise their importance in getting the listener to take notice of the loss and to make sure of a better future.
The album was recorded over an 8 month period at Agricultural Audio near Brighton, although her previous albums were from USA studios.
The change was worthwhile.
Again, let me stress that although the grain of an idea began with sadness this is not a sad downbeat album. The theme is sad but the delivery of the whole package is the complete opposite.
Get those live gigs at The Cluny and invite her along asap.

Review: Bill Redhead

Released October 23rd 2020
https://www.juanitastein.com/
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Robert Vincent (with Robbie Taylor), BIDDULPH, Staff’s

Robert Vincent (with Robbie Taylor), Supported by Emily Lockett
St Lawrence’s Church, Biddulph, Staffordshire.
‘Biddulph Up In Arms’
9th October 2020

Rob Vincent; “I can’t remember how many gigs I’ve done in my life, but this feels like I’ve never done it before.”

This gig – like many others – was supposed to happen back in March – and with a full band; but we all know what happened to things like that.
Credit to Biddulph Up In Arms promoter Craig Pickering for having the tenacity to find a way to make this gig happen.
The venue – a church with Saxon origins, burnt down by the Vikings and with mysterious Templar grave slabs outside, is a wonderful space, both visually and acoustically – keeping the flame of live music burning.
Normal capacity is around 180 but that was down to exactly 60, following a day spent arranging chairs with Tetris like precision to ensure sight lines and appropriate distancing, movement routes, bar location for table service, sourcing temperature checking equipment etc. etc.
The gig was declared sold out on its re-scheduling which meant that early ticket purchasers were going to be rewarded with some very rare and high quality live entertainment.

Local support act Emily Lockett has played a couple of support slots for Biddulph Up In Arms and her growth as a songwriter, musician and performer is clear – she’s only in her first year at university and has been playing live since her mid-teens.
Her guitar playing is confident and expressive – lyrically she’s in the Maisie Peters/Taylor Swift camp of angsty relationship experiences’ but she’s growing into her own style and voice too, with songs like “I Wanna Go Out” about the acknowledged teenage frustration of lockdown.
She’s recorded recently with tonight’s soundman, Matt Bishop (Of Honey Ryder) and has more music ‘nearly ready to release.’
While her main target audience might eventually be a teenage crowd, but tonight’s significantly older audience warmly received her self-effacing humour and strong performance.
One to watch.

Just before the gig,Robert Vincent had posted on social media that he’d forgotten that ‘pre-gig adrenaline rush’ – and that rush eventually flowed fully in a one and three quarter hour set of absolute delight.
Superbly aided and abetted by multi-instrumentalist Robbie Taylor the time just flew by.
Opener “So In Love” created a cathartic release for all present, so strong that the waves could probably felt back in Liverpool.
Newer songs that haven’t had the opportunity to be presented live like “In This Town You’re Owned” took on a new life – one of the advantages of the lockdown is the delayed gratification of being able to hear these songs played and sung live; after being familiar with the recorded versions for perhaps a while longer than normal.
Early in the set, “Burns (Like Cotton in the Fields)” set the emotional standard very high indeed; self-effacingly introduced as a “sad country song” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The quality and performance didn’t drop through songs like “Blue,” “Life in Easy Steps” and I’m Still Here,” before a powerfully understated and perfectly symbolic cover – in the light of the evening’s event – of “Come Together” for John Lennon’s 80th birthday.
A selection from the new album followed with “Conundrum” sounding spectacular – and in its duo delivery very much having the recognisable but ineffable qualities of classic music from Merseyside.
The Biddulph crowd is a discerning listening crowd and the millisecond of reverential awed silence that was being observed, leading in and out of each song spoke volumes about the genuine reverence that Rob’s performance created.
Before “The Bomb” Vincent stated that “I can’t remember how many gigs I’ve done in my life, but this feels like I’ve never done it before” – from my side of stage viewpoint, that was a mixture of the freshness of a return to playing, the communion with a crowd/people and the revelation of music that’s been hidden away behind a digital fourth wall.
“Demons” ended the set and there was time for an encore of “I’ll Make the Most of My Sins,” and by this stage, the sense of passionate warmth in the room was palpable.
In trying to make some overall critical sense of this, I found that I couldn’t separate the music from the event.
Tonight was exactly what live music is all about – a shared communal emotional interaction; needing all the ingredients being amplified in abundance by their unfortunate recent absence.
I’m not a religious man by any stretch, but Robert Vincent & Co ‘took us to Church’ in more ways than one tonight; long may that continue.

Review by Nick Barber

Photos – https://flic.kr/s/aHsmRiJvrF

Anne Malin WAITING SONG

Anne Malin
Waiting Song
Self-Release

The cusp of Modern Folk, Lo-Fi and a few Avant Garde Poetic Flourishes.

Some albums really, really deserve your full attention when listening; and this latest offering from Nashville’s Anne Malin is one such.
Before I go any further I may have to reconsider telling you she is from Nashville, as that mat pre-empt what you feel you are going to hear; be that mainstream Country from Music Row or something dark, dangerous and broody from the Est end of town.
What Ms Malin does transcends either or both and has a more International ‘feel’ to it as it straddles the cusp of Modern Folk and what we used to know as Lo-Fi, with a few Avant Garde flourishes thrown in for extra flavour.
If you fall instantly in love with opening song Empty Is The Day; as I did, you are in for a veritable treat; but if like Mrs Magpie you sniff and look disdainfully at the hi fi, then the man who put the disc in the player, before leaving the room ……. you are missing a very special record indeed.
The quavering pity in Anne’s voice carries on throughout the whole album, and really brings out the pathos in her tragic tales; most especially the richly detailed What Brings My Eyes Open and Sleep.
I said earlier that there are ‘Avant Garde flourishes’ here; and that’s how I feel about the painful poetic delivery in Mountain Song and again the title track The Waiting Game which somehow sounds something like Anne is channeling both Edith Piaf and Norma Waterson via a lifetime of heartbreak.
While it’s often said that ‘there is nothing new in music’ THE WAITING SONG is as different an album as I’ve heard in ages; there’a Gothic sensitivity to many songs here; but in there lies a tragic beauty; none more so than the song I’m selecting as my Favourite; Pearly Sleigh, which finds Anne singing as she tinkles the piano; (or is it a harpsichord?) who knows or cares; it will never see the light of day on the wireless and I guess will scare the pants off the average Spotify listener; but to you and I it is a rare thing of poetic beauty.
Anne Malin alongside partner William Johnston, and their album THE WAITING SONG are either destined for greatness, Awards and becoming the darling of the broadsheet newspapers; or will become something of a cult performer with winsome and brokenhearted young ladies and gentle-men hanging on her every word and deed; I doubt there will be a middle ground with some minor commercial success ……. unless the likes of Tim Burton uses one or more of her songs on a film soundtrack; which would be the perfect combination for me.

Released 2nd October 2020
https://annemalinringwalt.com/music


Christopher Coll THE BLACK DOORWAY (E.P)

Christopher Coll
The Black Doorway (E.P)
Style Records

Lo-Fi Northern Irish Romantic Melancholia For Lovers Everywhere.

Yikes!
When Stevie Scullion aka Malojian first told me about this release on his Style Records label I presumed that it would be Christopher Coll’s debut ….. but on closer examination he’s recorded 30+ previous albums, is an illustrator, and video animator too.
I like to keep myself busy …. but really?
This quite remarkable EP of 7 self-penned songs is only going to be available as 100 copy Limited Edition vinyl and on Bandcamp too; which I totally support; as none of the International streaming platforms work in favour of the Independent Artiste. Harrumph!

The wistful opening song, A Vision errs on the Lo-Fi end of Folk, with the engineering picking out some lovely guitar picking and lap-steel (from Graham Bingham); helping make Coll’s soft, yet still expressive voice sound like a warm autumnal breeze, to these ears.
To all intents and purposes these songs were all recorded as ‘live’ in one take at Malojianland Studios; and that exciting frisson certainly comes across when you hear the title track The Black Doorway, where Coll, occasionally accompanied by Laura McFadden on cello, drops his voice a couple of octaves to tell a gloriously doom laden tale; and on the finale An Apology too, where I hear elements of both John Prine and Kurt Cobain (Unplugged) in both delivery and the way the stories both unfold.
Although always ‘gentle’ in that Lo-Fi manner; Coll still manages to shift the mood at will; especially noticeable on the dark and melancholic Into The Ocean; with its haunting harmonica interlude makes it sound almost Gothic in words and deeds.
With only 7 songs here; and none longer than 5 minutes long the EP is over in the blink of an eye; but even the first time I played it I realised that Christopher Coll was a rare talent indeed; which brings me to the two songs I’m torn between as a Favourite.
For Avery really does hark back to the singer-songwriters that I listened to after sneaking into my elder brother’s bedrooms in the mid 1970’s and ‘borrowing’ for my own enlightenment. It’s as timeless as can be and stands shoulder to shoulder with anything Malojian or his other Northern Irish peers have released in recent years.
But; and I can’t even describe why, but I’m selecting the heartbreaking Her & I; which I’m sure can be interpreted in many ways by every person who hears it. It’s miserable and gloomy; but therein lies it’s tragic beauty.
Best played late at night when you’re scraping around for that bottle of brandy that your Mam brought back from Greece three years ago ……. sometimes misery is your only friend.

Released October 9th 2020 (Bandcamp)
https://christophercoll.bandcamp.com/

I don’t even have to say it this time; but BUY DON’T SPOTIFY


Roy Peak A WOLF AT THE DOOR

Roy Peak
A Wolf At The Door
Self-Release

The Acoustic Equivalent of Driving a Mini Cooper Around a Beautiful Hairpin Bend.

#DISCLAIMER
Singer-Songwriter, bass player extraordinaire, producer/engineer, poet, ace record reviewer and all around nice guy, The Legendary Roy Peak is a friend of mine and regular corespondent for these pages …… so I may be a tad over enthusiastic about this; his latest release ….. but hey; it’s my site so I can do what I want!!

In my defence I am a genuine fan of his and most especially his world weary and tattered singing style; and add to that some haunting pedal-steel from Brian Homan and you will immediatly know why I let out a huge sigh via an enigmatic smile the first few times I’ve heard opening track Walk With Me (There’s a Wolf on The Prowl); which just might be Roy’s finest song to date.
The mood takes a massive left turn on Far From Nowhere; with Roy sounding angry and angsty in a Folk-Rock troubadour stylee that I normally expect from the likes of RMHQ Favourites Malcolm Holcombe and/or Ray Wylie Hubbard …… which isn’t a bad thing at all.
At only 7 songs long; this is a short journey the singer takes us on; but that still includes some scary musical hairpin bends.
Even as a fan and a friend, Evel Knievel was and no doubt will remain to be a huge surprise every time I hear it.
An acoustic guitar instrumental that somehow still manages to rekindle imagery of the mad motorcyclist of my youth.
This is immediatly followed by the much gentler love song, Your Heart which steps gently into Guy Clark territory but via a very pained voice poring his broken heart out.
When you listen to as much and as varied a collection of music as what I do, it’s easy to become a bit jaded; but every now and again albums and more usually individual songs can restore my faith in the power of music.
Here; and still using my ‘hairpin bend’ metaphor’ Roy does that not just once; but twice.
And a Wolf Will Devour The Sun AND Queen of the Knock-out Rose are both the acoustic music equivalent of driving around the Lake District in a 1970’s Mini Cooper with suspect breaks but a superb stereo system!
The first; And a Wolf Will Devour The Sun is obviously not a song to be taken literally; poetry set to music, I guess but nonetheless something I advise you to listen to when you need something of a gee-up.
Queen of the Knock-out Rose on the other hand is a sad and thorny Country Love Song that could be from Hank or John Foggerty’s lost back catalogue.
Which all leaves us with only more song; Daughter of the Sun.
Phew.
Gentle? Deep? Heart shredding? All three actually; and add in Byrdsian harmonies behind Peak’s voice which simply aches with longing; and you will know why it’s quite simply my Favourite Song here; and in a week when I’ve been listening to some very important albums; my Song of the Week too.
Because Roy is a friend I’ve walked away from this review twice; just in case I’ve gone overboard with my words; and …. do you know what?
I don’t think I have.
I can think of 5 or 6 ‘famous’ singer-songwriters in this genre who sound a bit like this; and if this was released under their names the likes of No Depression, Americana UK and Brooklyn Virgin would be collectively wetting their knickers with excitement ……. but as this is Roy Peak, there’s probably only a handful of website will get to hear it …… and then shout its glory from the rooftops.
Trust me here ……. squander the kids College fund on a Bandcamp download then thank me later.

Released October 2nd 2020
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https://roypeak.bandcamp.com/album/a-wolf-at-the-door

https://www.roypeak.com/


Bonnie Whitmore LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.

Bonnie Whitmore
Last Will and Testament
Aviatrix Records

A Rewarding and Accomplished Journey Across the Heart and Soul of American Roots.

I first came across Bonnie Whitmore on her prior *release “Fuck With Sad Girls” which signalled a confident world and musical view, born out of getting out there, playing and doing.
That confidence is clear from the start with the opening title track “Last Will and Testament” which could easily fit on Richard Hawley’s “Further” album; being a Glam Rock classic stomper but embellished with luscious strings.
Then, the beautiful and charismatic “None of My Business” which follows, taking a sideways swerve into classic anthemic Soul.
“Right/Wrong” takes on one of the many ‘big issues’ tackled by the album, the state of America today and it does so with classic American Petty and Spectoresque forms – the focus shifts on “Fine” to the cyclical nature of personal relationships, where Bonnie even manages to out-Springsteen’s Springsteen!
Things are kept uptempo and angry on “Asked For It” which tackles systemic attitudes towards rape culture and fittingly resolves itself with “she didn’t ask for it!”
The tempo is slightly eased in mid album where “Time to Shoot” is underscored with a ticking metronomic clock and builds up into a crescendo of swirling strings and asks “is it worth it?” – a recurring feature of the lyricism is the use of direct address wrapped in a pop sensibility that can’t help but put the listener on the spot, emotionally and philosophically. “Love Worth Remembering” moves back into more personal territory, with its confessional feelgood organ accompanied deep Soul.
There’s even more variety on “Imaginary” which has echoes of a European folk ballad stretched over Tom Waits carney-style percussion and accordion keys.
Despite the lyrical themes of uncertain inspiration and fulfilment, it’s a song rich in imagination.
“Flashes and Cables” uses a retro-processed vocal as an intro before exploding into the request and hope that
won’t someone please save us
because
nobody told us that the bastards were here
– a cry against the all-pervading technology that observes and infiltrates our lives these days.
To end the album, “George’s Lullaby” unsurprisingly takes things down a notch or two, with tinkling piano, brushed drums and chamber strings to frame a reassuring tale of love found.
It’s a good sign that after these ten tracks, the listener is left wanting more – this being a rewarding, varied album which covers a range of musical and lyrical bases, but which is united by Bonnie Whitmore’s distinctive vocal and lyrical presence across all tracks.
There’s cross-over appeal, passionate feeling and creative edge – all at the same time – and you can’t ask for much more than that; can you?

Review by Nick Barber
Released October 2nd 2020

https://bonniewhitmore.com/
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https://bonniewhitmore.bandcamp.com/album/last-will-testament

*RMHQ seems to have missed the middle two albums in Ms Whitmore’s catalogue … but we were there in 2013 with THERE I GO AGAIN.