Cheley Tackett BUCKEYE

Cheley Tackett
National Road Music

A Real-Deal Feisty and Passionate Country Singer-Songwriter

Lazy journalists often point to the disposable Spotify Generation who cherry pick songs for their playlists as ‘the main users of music today’; but in my humble opinion….that is complete and utter bollocks!
In the world I live in (and presumably you too) music is still a ‘considered purchase’ , and by using the internet wisely it is timeless.
Last week I saw two talented young men regaling us with Blues songs from pre WWI that they meticulously learnt from YouTube, which strangely brings me to this Cheley Tackett’s fourth album Buckeye, first released in the US in 2017 but getting a new lease of life two years later to coincide with a UK and European tour.
What little I knew of her background hardly prepared me for the opening song Bitter Girl; yet it’s the perfect way to introduce us to a very prodigious talent with a leathery, worn and very expressive voice and a special talent with words and storytelling. Plus any song with a Nah Nah Nah chorus is always going to find favour at RMHQ.
For the uninitiated like me, Cheley sits comfortably in the early Mary Chapin Carpenter and Lucinda Williams camp; mixing acoustic and electric guitars, catchy tunes, Country sentiments and more attitude than a cat on heat.
Paraphrasing the adage ‘Never choose a book by the cover’ certainly doesn’t apply here; as on the album cover Cheley looks in defiant mood and her eyes tell you not to mess with her; and that image inhabits her songs $2 Bill, Crucible Steel and on The Healer she will turn your head inside out.
Another thing here; is the all pervading darkness many of her characters live in, but Cheley shines a light on for us to examine lives that are oft ignored; in the Southern Gothic My Best Dress (a co-write with Ashley McBryde and Randall Clay) the character hurts, she hurts a lot in a timeless lament, and I can’t think of a song in this vein this good I’ve heard for over 20 years.
There’s a fascinating cover song here; CSN&Y’s Ohio which is sung straight from the heart and features some drum effects that mirror ‘boots on the ground.’ Who knew that this ‘protest song’ from 1971 would still resonate with a new generation in 2019?
As a Country Album at heart; there are copious tales of heartache and break throughout, with the haunting Used to Feel Good being about ‘how real life can take away the fun that a relationship was founded on’ and the poetic Heavy Heart will touch people who have lost loved ones both physically and emotionally.
Then, there is All She Knows is Rain, which starts
“Six years old watchin’ cartoons in a trailer reeks of cigarettes
Mama’s long gone and Daddy’s out cold on his cloud of barbiturates
And she’s right at home all alone
Ain’t no use to cry”

Can a song get any Countrier than that?
But there is also a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel too which is why Magic Still Happens is the RMHQ Favourite Track; but I won’t ‘spoil’ it for you……. check it out on the attached video (albeit a different version) and cry your heart out.
Although she’s been around the scene in the USA for nearly twenty years; Cheley Tackett is a new find for us here in the UK and while some of the venues on her UK Tour are in far flung corners; I think she’ll be back soon (Festival season?) and just like Mary, Lucinda and Nanci before her we will clutch her to our collective bosom and make Cheley Tackett one of our own.

Released USA 2017
Released UK March 1st 2019



Kalyn Fay
Good Company
Horton Records

The Sound of An Oklahoma Lonely Heart.

It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think; but this album arrived on the from not just it’s American publicist but the British one too on the same day last month; both of whom only work with ‘interesting and articulate’ artistes, so it had to be worth a listen.
Sadly, because of work commitments and an ever increasing backlog of other albums I’ve struggled to find the time to give GOOD COMPANY the time I felt it deserved, until much earlier this morning……. sitting eating breakfast in the conservatory as the sun rose in a beautiful clear Winter sky.
Timing is everything; and the title track, Good Company was the perfect accompaniment as Kalyn’s smoky world-weary voice telling a tale of someone at a crossroads in their life questioning what the future holds, was just what I needed to hear.
Now I’ve played the CD three times, and writing during the fourth it’s apparent that that song is the gateway to what follows; as Ms Fay dictates her thoughts on many things in a very intimate and personal manner, none more so than Come Around which might even conjure up memories of Roy Orbison’s darker masterworks.
By her standards Highway Driving is uptempo and very nearly a ‘rocker’; but the tale of the pleasure you get from driving late at night, interspersed with electric guitar solos that sound like a bullwhip Kalyn describes that fragile loneliness like nothing I’ve ever heard before; but can associate with perfectly.
In the Press Release Kalyn describes these songs as being ‘quintessentially Oklahoma’ and they probably must be, as a couple have a slight ‘Native America’ melody from her Cherokee heritage in them; but Long Time Coming, Faint Memory and of course Oklahoma Hills when you delve deep into their lyrics are as international as they come and will resonate with listeners all over the world; such is Kalyn Fay’s magical way with words and storytelling.
There is also a cover song here; and an old personal favourite…… although I didn’t actually recognise it. Well, you wouldn’t would you? Kalyn’s warm purr turns Malcolm Holcombe’s grizzled Dressed In White into something Gothic, but warm hearted too; which is quite an achievement.
You must get tired of me saying that ‘this is an album that needs to be heard in it’s fullness, rather than cherry picking songs on streaming sites’; but it’s true. This is a fully formed ‘grown up record’; Kalyn’s’s second and songs like Alright In The End, Wait For Me and Baby, Don’t You Worry are all wonderful little vignettes; but heard in context alongside or juxtaposing each other are heard in a completely different light.
That theory is the same with my Favourite Song here, Fool’s Heartbreak. It’s everything you would hope it would be with a title like that; and could easily be the type of 45 we would play on repeat for an hour on end as heartbroken teenagers; but here as it tail ends the disc and as it’s steel-guitar and Hammond B3 plus Kalyn’s honey covered voice bleed into Holcombe’s Dressed in White it will crush you, but also let you know that you’re not alone out there…… Kalyn is suffering with you.
In 2019 Kalyn Fay sits very comfortably in the section marked Americana; but there’s so much more here; in my younger years she would sit in the Singer-Songwriter section somewhere between Linda Ronstadt, Melanie and Emmylou Harris.

Released February 15th 2019


Ryan Bingham
American Love Song
Axster Bingham Records

Authentic, Heartfelt, Introspective and Gold Plated Country Rock.

With a four year gap between albums I’m not sure where Ryan Bingham fits into today’s Country Music pantheon…….. Country? Nu-Country? Ameripolitain? Country Rock? I sure don’t know, but he’s certainly still got everything there needs to be the Cover Star on all of the magazines and radio; but the industry sadly has a very short memory.
That said; his current European Acoustic tour appears to be in Sold Out Halls everywhere he appears.
So, on to his sixth album and only third we’ve reviewed (the others were Junky Star and Tomorrowland in my magazine days) and after two days I think it could be his *Spoiler Alert …… his best to date.
The quirky Honky-Tonky Jingle and Go opens the album and your feet will be tapping and shuffling from the get go, and by the third time you hear it you will be mouthing along with the chorus.
He’s back……. and on fine form!
You’ve hardly got time to catch you breath when Bingham cranks up the pace (and volume) for a spirited Country Rocker, of the Deluxe variety with Nothing Holds Me Down, which features some really dirty guitar playing too by the way!
To some degree, for me at least there are surprises around every corner…… there’s an authentic and what sounds like deeply personal Country Blues song that will send shivers down your spine; Got Damn Blues; and the album closes with another swig from the same Mason Jar, Blues Lady
(which may or may not be about Janis Joplin) and both hinting at Ryan immersing himself in The Stones Exile on Main St. album over the last few years.
The stripped back Wolves, which was a single last year is here again and finds Ryan looking back on a stormy childhood in a very poetic manner; and one a lot of other similar songwriters could learn from.
Maybe it’s the mood I’m in today; but the slow and brooding acoustic tales have really touched my soul, especially the brittle love songs Lover Girl Beautiful & Kind, which show a new found maturity in both Bingham’s writing but his delivery too.
At first it sounded in a similar vein, as it’s acoustic but when you listen intently to the final song America you hear a man who feels real pain for the state his country finds itself in; and the helplessness it leaves him and millions of others in.
I could be wrong, but it’s a song so powerful it will probably find its home in Europe as opposed to the heartlands of America itself. I hop I’m wrong.
Because the album is what it is, flitting back and forth between introspective acoustic songs and foot stompin’ Rockers, I’m going for one of each as my Favourite Songs here (but you could really stick a pin in and find a winner!)……. Pontiac is a full on Country Rocker that conjures up all of the magical and romantic images that I’ve grown up with from Bruce, Little Feet and The Burritos to name but three, and this gem sits up there with the very best.
The first time I heard Stones I took for granted that it was a Gram Parsons song; but nope this is Ryan Bingham at his most haunting and very, very best.
Since his last album Bingham has tragically lost both parents which has obviously taken it’s toll on him; but as a songwriter he get the opportunity to work out his demons in music and prose; sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively and very few have done that better than Ryan Bingham does with American Love Song from start to immaculate finish.

Released February 15th 2019

Hayes Carll WHAT IT IS

Hayes Carll
What It Is

Country Rocking That Won’t Ever Fade Away.

It’s always baffled me as to why some songwriters have the ability to make their songs sound as if you’ve known them all your life, although it was only 40 minutes ago you first placed the platter onto the turntable.
Such is the way with Hayes Carll’s sixth album What It Is.
I only discovered his talents two years ago via the Lovers & Leavers album; which made me buy a couple of his earlier albums as downloads.
If you’ve ever seen the film or read the book High Fidelity, you’ll know that one of the things the guys in the shop like doing is making lists, and a popular one is ‘Great Opening Tracks’ and I’m going to throw None’ya into that hat! On most other albums this terrific song about a crumbling relationship would easily be my Favourite Track; but it actually doesn’t even make the Top 3 on this disc!
I have to say I wasn’t quite prepared for the punchy Rock & Roll of the second song Times Like These! After three or four plays it hit me that it’s actually quite a political song; with a wild Jerry Lee Lewis vocal performance and a very danceable melody too.
Two songs in and you already have your head spun 360 degrees; as Hayes Carll shows his rare talent as both a solo performer and a bandleader too.
I guess it would be quite some late night argument as to whether Hayes Carll is first and foremost a singer or a songwriter. I think on this album it’s actually a score draw; as I can’t remember him singing any better than on the Honky Tonking Rocking & Rolling Beautiful Thing or the swinging Country-Folk of American Dream, which is also full of pithy observations of the country he now finds himself living in.
Then again his songwriting (or co-writing……. my Advance copy doesn’t say who wrote what; but Matraca Berg, Adam Landry and Allison Moorer are in the mix here somewhere too) is more mature and possibly more observational than I remember; with If I May Be So Bold and the gentle love song I Will Stay being prime examples of someone at the very top of their game.
If you want a Country song that will break your heart, look no further than Be There; it’s one of the very few I’ve heard in recent years that isn’t ‘paint by numbers’ and the way it builds and builds via a tight band and an orchestra, reminds me of Buddy Holly’s transition from straight forward Rock n Roller into Superstar territory, and speaking of Country songs……. Carll even makes me like the banjo again via the sparkling title track What It Is; although with a song this good he could bang a dustbin lid and I’d still like it.
Being the contrary so & so I am I can’t choose None’ya as my Favourite Song nor the immaculate Jesus & Elvis …. because everyone else will; as well as them being the songs you will hear on the wireless; no…… I’m going left of centre with Fragile Men, which somehow mixes all kinds of weird elements via a pedal-steel, a violin encased inside a big cinematic orchestral shroud; a’la Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits; and leaves you gasping for breath.
The song that immediatly follows, Wild Pointy Finger doesn’t have that orchestral backdrop; but just like Fragile Men takes us into unknown territory for an Americana songwriter; and one he appears to revel in!
On the one hand this is possibly Hayes Carll’s most commercial album to date; but when you peel away the veneer it’s very much a turning point and heralds a glorious future for this very accomplished young man.

Released February 15th 2019


Ward Thomas
Restless Minds
WTW Music/Sony

Super Slick Crossover Songs That Herald a Move Up Into The Big League.

Forgive me if this review seems a bit ‘rushed’ but the album was on the doorstep when I arrived home from work and I won’t have any time to write a review before the release date…… on FRIDAY!
Twin sisters Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas have been on our radar for quite a while now, first coming to our attention via a friend who is ‘in the know’ when they first played the SummerTyne Festival in 2015 and they stole the show on the Jumpin’ Hot Club stage in the sunshine. Such is their meteoric rise in the ranks of British Country Music they quickly bypassed the JHC and went straight to selling out Hall 2 at Sage Gateshead and last year leaving very few empty seats in the massive Hall 1!
Which brings me to their third album RESTLESS MINDS, hot on the heels (well, 2 years after) their #1 album Cartwheels.
So, shooting from the hip……. opening track No Filter is a brooding ballad, of the Soft Rock variety, with harmonies so luscious you could drown in them. The song itself is very cleverly written and delivered; but the Electro ‘tsh tsh’ drumming isn’t what I was expecting nor hoping for, and somewhat overshadows the girls voices.
Second track Lie Like Me follows in a similar vein; really really commercial but as far removed from their Country background as you can get, I’m afraid.
Mercifully the third song, a bonafide heartbreaker, One More Goodbye finds the girls singing from the pits of their souls as a piano and bass provide cardiac support on a song that’s every bit as good, if not better than anything on the two previous albums; plus it has a couple of great lines too………
“Kiss me like you’re trying to hold on
20 more minutes and I’m out the door
Gimmee one more……..Gimmee one more….
There’s no doubting that Catherine and Lizzy can write one helluva good song; One More Goodbye, Rather Be Breathing and Same Love are quite exceptional; but alongside the ‘big production’ herald a new direction for Ward Thomas.
Never Know is another great example; it has everything that it takes to be a hit with the Younger and Hipper generation than my own; somehow reminding me of Abba and Sharleen Spiteri’s Texas, rather than Ashley Monroe or the Dixie Chicks.
Aha! All is not lost though……. the delightful Changing does tick all of my boxes, harmonies – yep, guitars – yep, fiddle – yep, great story – yep; but it’s very much in the minority here.
If I listen to the charming No Fooling Me a few more times it will probably be a contender for Favourite Track status (and I guess it will be in Mrs. Magpie’s Top 3 too); another very articulate and moving ‘bittersweet love song’ that has all the hallmarks of being a radio hit; as will the tearjerker This Too Will Pass.
Choosing a Favourite Track this quickly is surely a mistake; as songs can effect me in different ways the more I hear them; but I’m going to take a deep breath and choose……….. the 90 mph I Believe In You with it’s rat-a-tat-tat drumming, sharp guitar licks and the Ward Thomas sisters at their very best up front and centre.
Maybe I don’t listen to enough of what’s coming out of Music Row in Nashville these days; but I’m not hearing very much here that could be called ‘Country’ but what I do hear is a very well collated Crossover album that will carry their existing fan base and bringing in a whole raft of Radio 2 listeners; like Mrs. Magpie who will love this when she hears it ………. and, more than likely………. a huge American audience beckons!
Please bare in mind I’ve only played this twice; but I’m 99.9% sure the next time I hear it will be in the car when my darling wife is in charge of the music programming.

Released February 8th 2019


Rebecca Loebe
Give Up Your Ghosts
Blue Corn Music

Not Just a Voice But a Great Songwriting Talent Too.

I’m told Rebecca Loebe first came to the public’s ‘notice’ on the American version of The Voice, but when not ‘winning’ went out on the road anyway, honing her talent and serving a rock solid apprenticeship…….. which I don’t think as many as you’d hope actually do in ‘these days of instant success.’
On the way to GIVE UP YOUR GHOSTS she has played 100’s of dates (some very large venues; most not so big) and self-released 4 albums, which is where I first encountered her.
As per usual I take the opening track as a guide to whether I will like an album, and Growing Up hit me smack between the eyes! This clever song evokes memories of the first time I heard Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy (who I always preferred btw!).
While not as ‘Rootsy’ as I’d first expected, the backing can be a bit ‘music by numbers’ at times; it takes nothing away from Rebecca’s distinctively smooth voice and intelligent way with telling her delicate stories through the medium of music.
For a young songwriter her subject matter can be quite deep and dark at times, with Lake Louise and Ghosts evoking vague memories of listening to Joni Mitchell in my teenage bedroom, and trying to feel ‘all grown up’.
One other thing in her writing that links Rebecca to Joni, Amy and Adele for me is her ‘inner toughness’ in High School Movie and Popular which will both have young women clenching their fists in solidarity as they listen intently in either their living rooms or concert halls.
Both are as sharp as a tack and are perfect for the current state of the world in 2019.
While there’s no rampant ‘anti-men feminism’ here; I doubt I am the intended demographic; with Rebecca generally choosing subjects that are about the things women; especially young women face on a day to day basis but delivering them in a non-preachy manner, and making Everything Changes and Got Away accessible to all and sundry; which is a very clever talent indeed.
Selecting a Favourite Song wasn’t easy; as there aren’t any particularly Radio Friendly songs here; as this is a collection of fully formed Grown Up songs in the vein of the Bed-sit variety that my generation grew up listening to; but I have selected the richly beautiful Tattoo; as it represents everything that is wonderful about this album; and signals a woman on the brink of stardom.

Released February 8th 2019


Bob Livingston
Up The Flatland Stairs
Howlin Dog Records

West of Bakersfield and East of Nashville.

With so much music floating around the ether I can’t possibly know everyone’s back catalogue when I receive a new album, and in the case of living in NE England this is especially so when it’s Country Music in most of its guises.
Yet I can still feel disappointed at not knowing singer-songwriters like Texan Bob Livingston. His CV includes stints in the Lost Gonzo Band, touring the Middle East (and beyond) and being friends and writing buddies with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jerry Jeff Walker and a host of other Austin and Nashville names from my record collection.
Hey ho; enough about me.
A mournful harmonica opens Bob’s sorrowful rendition of Jerry Jeff Walker’s Shell Game on the first track here and my heart immediatly began to melt, as the singer delves deep into our souls.
That’s only one of three songs by someone else amid the 17 that make up Up The Flatland Stairs and alongside the dirty Twang of David Halley’s A Month of Somedays and the late Walter Hyatt’s gorgeously laid-back The Early Days show’s what immaculate and diverse taste Livingston has; but that’s not what got him inducted into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame!
That would be the way he can spin from the Western Swing of Public Domain through the Honky Tonkin’ on the tongue in cheek break-up song You Got My Goat and round it all off with some good old fashioned West Coast Country Rock with Caution to the Wind and That’s The Way Things Go (featuring Eliza Gilkyson no less) and make them all go together like peaches and cream.
There really is a little bit of everything ‘Country’ here, with Livingston’s warm and friendly voice being the golden thread that pulls everything together.
While I hear a bit of the Bakersfield Sound in The Early Days and Cowgirl’s Lullaby I sense Bob Livingston’s Soul lives on the West Coast; as most of the songs here are designed to make you want to kick back and wallow in the emotions that are stirred up with a beer in one hand and your first love’s hand in the other.
With so much to pick from selecting my Favourite Song wasn’t ever going to be easy; but the touchingly Guy Clark Influenced It Just Might Be Your Loving caught my ears last week; and it’s only got better and more intimate over the last few days.
Bob Livingston is a brand new discovery to me and as such; is the driving force behind the website……. bringing the best from the shadows into the daylight.
You’re welcome.

Released USA January 8th 2018
Released Europe February 8th 2019


Gurf Morlix
Impossible Blue
Rootball Records

An Americana Album of Classic Proportions.

Here’s a name y’all know……. Mr. Gurf Morlix, Record Producer Extraordinaire, but he’s also a famed songwriter and judging by this, his TENTH solo album…… a mighty fine singer too (and that’s all before I tell you he plays every bloody instrument here barring drums and the Hammond B3!).
Normally I would hate someone so talented; but with Gurf Morlix…… I just can’t get past the fact that I love him and his warm growl of a voice.
Opening song, the swirling and rocking Turpentine very nearly stopped my heart and it really did stop me breathing for 30 seconds while I was gripped listening to Morlix’s words on a very twisted love song.
Here’s the chorus……”Your kisses taste like turpentine!” Twisted love song? Hell yeah!
After all these years listening to music I still remain totally baffled as to why an album by a singer (in this case Gurf Morlix) can hit me so instantaneously, as if I’ve known the songs all my life, yet other albums which sound very similar either take time to capture my attention or pass me by altogether.
What is this witchcraft?
Like many of the people he works with, Morlix really is a Master-craftsman when it comes to creating a song, making really intelligent and thought provoking prose like Sliver of Light or Spinnin’ Planet Blues sound quite simple and even ‘easy on the ear,’ until you find yourself going “Oh!” and then taking the track back to the beginning and listening so intently you’d think you were discovering the meaning of life.
For a solo album Morlix can still Rock & Roll like a band; his self-depreciating tale of surviving a heart attack; My Heart Keeps Poundin’ will surely find its way onto forthcoming albums by some of our more feted Alt. Country bands who will see it as a single layered Love Song; when there is so much more hiding in the shadows of each groove.
Much like the other three Gurf Morlix albums I own, IMPOSSIBLE BLUE will come out occasionally but regularly over the years to come when the likes of I Saw You, with it’s spine of torrid jealousy spring to mind and only Gurf’s wise words will satisfy my cravings.
But then he also writes and delivers songs of the Alt. Noir variety that very few others can come close to; I’m a Ghost is a complete blockbuster wrapped up in 6 glorious minutes; and if I still had my radio show I would link it directly to Bottom of the Musquash River for the best/worst 11 minutes of radio you will ever hear in this lifetime.
I’ve only played this album three times before sitting here on a cold wintry Sunday morning and ‘I got it’ from the get go; but nothing prepared me for the final song here Backbeat of the Dispossessed. A very personal song to Gurf, as it’s for and about a close friend Michael Bannister who died recently; but such is the writer’s way with words this extraordinary song will mean something very personal to many people who will think of their own loved ones when they hear it.
And none of them are even close to being my Favourite Song!
That award goes to the sublime and intense 2 Hearts Beating In Time; a love song of a variety that has been written many times before but Morlix captures the unspoken words many of us feel; but can’t either let go or actually enunciate; but Gurf speaks for all of us.
It is still only February 3rd and this album is already a contender for the Year End Top 20 and should; but won’t be in the runners and riders for all of the Awards Ceremonies …… sad but true; but you and me will know how brilliant this man and his 10th Album actually is.

Released February 8th 2019

Eric Brace, Peter Cooper & Thomm Jutz RIVERLAND

Eric Brace, Peter Cooper & Thomm Jutz
Red Beet Records

A Homage, a Concept and Plenty of Love For the Mississippi Delta

I don’t know if it’s as romantic living along the River Mississippi as it seems to those of us who live hundreds or thousands of miles away; but apart from Nashville City, if there’s one thing that evokes the flavour of Americana Music it surely must be this beautiful and deeply troubled area.
Which all brings us to the latest offering from Eric Brace, Peter Cooper & Thom Jutz; songwriters deluxe and who have pieced together this rather charming Concept Album (eek!) about the river and its history plus the people who live and work along and around it.
The Charming River City; full of warm harmonies and intricate fretwork opens the story; and while it is specifically about someone arriving Natchez the sentiment and characters could easily be about any lonely person getting off a bus or train to start a new and scary life somewhere new and alone.
For a ‘concept album’ each individual song really does stand on its own merits; and transcend the original narrative.
There are sad tales galore; Old Tom T and Brother Will; which could easily be something from one of the first two Band albums; and most noticeably Uneasy Does It too.
When you sit back and wallow in these wonderful stories you will find there’s a lot to learn as the clever stories unfold. the jaunty Southern Mule takes on a glorious meander, and Drowned and Washed Away tells the harrowing story of a flood in 1927 but who knew about General Ulysses S. Grant’s plan to change the world by taking Vicksburg which are re-told in a most effective manner in Down Along the River?
I guess each of the three songwriters have their very own style; but it’s not easy to tell who wrote what just be listening to the songs; which is something I especially admire on a recording like this.
Obviously this is a work that needs and deserves to be heard in solitude so you can pick up on the glorious detail and nuances in songs like It Might Be Hollywood and the charming King of the Keelboat Men; about a man called Mike Fink.
But where to go for a Favourite Song? The stark and thoughtful In the Presence of the River is definitely a cornerstone that the concept is built around, as I guess is Mississippi Magic which starts as wonderfully heartfelt story told over a gently strummed guitar; then leads into a fresh take on a story by ‘Bootleg Preacher’ Will D Campbell about the interracial problems this region had had for hundreds of years and still, sadly lives and breathes in 2019. I’m selecting the third in what I feel is this trilogy, Mississippi, Rest My Soul which closes the story in the finest of manners.
There’s not a lot else to say; this is a fascinating concept about something I think of, The Mississippi in all its glory as the Central pillar of Americana.

Released February 1st 2019


Serious Sam Barrett
Where The White Roses Grow
Ya Dig? Records

Americana Influenced Folk Music; Made In Yorkshire.

In theory I’m averse to this type of Traditional English, or in this particular case ‘Yorkshire’ Folk Music. (Did Sam mention he was from Yorkshire? He hardly ever mentions it.)
But, Sam has been a regular visitor to the Jumpin’ Hot Club in Newcastle over the years and has somehow won me over to his distinctive and, it’s fair to say, evocative singing style.
Sam’s first actual Solo album in three years opens with some sparkling banjo playing on the Americana flavoured title track Where The White Roses Grow, which owes more to the Hills of Kentucky than it does his normal hills and Dales of Yorkshire, which are the setting for many of his songs.
Funnily enough that Americana flavour runs through Sam’s tale of the legendary Robin Hood in the Last of The Yorkshire Outlaws, and Sam’s lightning fast guitar picking really comes to the fore on this track too. The man most normally associated with Nottingham, makes another appearance; as does Barrett’s distinctive guitar picking style on the traditional Folk Song, Robin Hood & The 15 Foresters, which is sung with great passion and zeal too.
Our Man from Addingham treads the a’cappella tightrope for the first time on record with the rather beautiful Holmfirth Anthem, which he learnt note for note from a Watersons LP many years ago and then closing the record with the plaintiff Darling Where You Are too .
He picks up his guitar again for a song I myself learnt at Junior School half a century ago; and apart from a version by local legend George Welch I can’t think of anyone who has made Waters of The Tyne sound so evocative as when Sam Barrett sings in such a mournful manner.
I suppose there are surprises around every corner here; especially the Bonaparte’s Love Song and Tennessee Line which both show how gifted Barrett is on a variety of acoustic instruments, and how his many visits to the US of A are now influencing his songwriting.
A big part of me wanted to choose that local Folk Song as my favourite here, but in all honesty the powerful story of the Bramhope Tunnel Monument, is not just an absorbing history lesson but the type of crossover Folk song that leaves you quite speechless. Plus, Bramhope is an area I’ve visited many times and vaguely knew of this harrowing tale of how men’s lives where held in such little regard in the middle 19th Century.
Possibly because of the Rootsy Americana edge to many of the intrinsically English Folk songs here, Where The White Roses Grow has meant I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this album and now I’m excited about seeing him on his tour to support this special release.

Released February 1st 2019