Sunday, 29 December 2019

The Yearlings - Sweet Runaway


Rating: 5/5

Review:
A very good album

I think Sweet Runaway is a very good album indeed. I took a punt on it having heard a few samples and a couple of tracks and I’m very glad I did; The Yearlings write good songs and perform them very well.

The tone is generally pretty sad and yearning and often rather beautiful. Production is excellent – not too heavy, well balanced and thoughtful – and brings out both the quality of the songs and of the singing and guitar work. The overall effect is haunting and rather lovely. I’d recommend listening to some samples and if you like what you hear, don’t hesitate. This is a classy piece of work which I can warmly recommend.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Chris Stapelton - Traveller


Rating: 5/5

Review:
An outstanding album

Just to add my voice to the thousands who have already praised Traveller: this is an excellent album. Chris Stapleton writes exceptionally good songs with a good variety of themes and feel from tender ballads to driving country rock, and he sings quite wonderfully. He has a superb voice which he uses with real skill and emotion to bring out the quality in the material. The band and production are excellent and it’s a first-rate album all round.

This is an outstanding album and very warmly recommended.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Kate Rusby - Holly Head


Rating: 5/5

Review:
More class from Kate Rusby

Christmas albums are almost invariably dreadful, but among the exceptions are Kate Rusby’s wonderful seasonal offerings, of which this is the fifth. Holly Head is as good as its predecessors, which is possibly all that need be said.

Just to elaborate slightly, there is Rusby’s usual mixture of Yorkshire variants of Christmas carols and songs with a scattering of her original compositions. It’s beautifully done, as always; thoughtful production which is atmospheric without straying into sloppy sentimentality, excellent musicianship and Rusby’s lovely, distinctive voice. Personally, I love Lu Lay, a variant of The Coventry Carol, bit it’s all excellent stuff and there isn’t a weak track anywhere.

Kate Rusby is among the best we have. She’s been making quietly classy albums consistently for many years now and this is no exception. Very warmly recommended.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Come On Up To The House - Women Sing Waits


Rating: 5/5

Review:
Outstandingly good

I think this is an outstandingly good album. I know this is sacrilege to many people, but I struggle with Tom Waits; he’s a fantastic songwriter but that I’m-about-to-throw-up-and-then-I’ll-probably-kill-you delivery gets a bit much for me. Here we have some of the finest female Americana/country singers really giving his songs meaning and pathos.

A couple of favourites are Rosanne Cash’s performance of Time, which is quite magical and Ruby’s Arms by the great Patty Griffin, which is spellbinding and heartbreaking. I don’t think there’s a weak track on the album; everything is superbly performed and excellently, sensitively produced. My advice is to listen to a few samples and then snap it up. It’s an album of great songs, performed wonderfully – what more could you want?

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Helene Cronin - Old Ghosts and Lost Causes


Rating: 5/5

Review:
A very good album

Old Ghosts and Lost Causes is a very good album. We are exceptionally blessed with some excellent singer-songwriters at the moment and Helene Cronin has produced an album which stands up very well among them.

Cronin’s songs are often very personal and revelatory, but never become self-indulgent. Her lyrics are thoughtful and intelligent, and I often find them rather touching; in God Doesn’t, for example, even though I don’t have a belief I found myself moved by the words. There is a good variety of style from quiet heartbreak in Riding The Grey Line to punchy anger in Mean Bone and Cronin sings them all very well. She has a good voice which she uses very well, and the band and production are excellent.

This is, in short, a classy album. I’m extremely glad I tried it and I’ll be looking out for more of Helene Cronin’s work.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Molly Tuttle - When You're Ready


Rating: 4/5

Review:
A good album from a stunning guitarist

Molly Tuttle is an amazing guitarist; this is a good album but I’m not sure it really shows off her extraordinary talent to the full.

When You’re Ready is a good album of well crafted, nicely varied songs. Molly sings them very well and the band and production are also good. The thing is, I saw her live with Transatlantic Sessions and then again at Bush Hall very recently and she is just phenomenal. Great stage presence, terrific vocal delivery and some guitar work which is just breathtaking. She was the first woman to win Bluegrass Guitarist Of The Year and it was a very well deserved award; some of her playing would have done Doc Watson proud and I that’s about the highest praise I can give. Look on YouTube for her playing White Freightliner Blues and you’ll see what I mean.

So, this is a good album which is well worth hearing and which I listen to with pleasure, but if you get the chance to see her live, grab it with both hands. Molly Tuttle is something really special.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Pine Hill Project - Tomorrow You're Going


Rating: 4/5

Review:
Good, not great

This is an album of covers by two very fine but underrated artists. Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell are excellent musicians and they create a lovely sound together, well balance between the two of them and with some fabulous harmonies and the instrumental excellence you would expect from both. The band are very good, too, as is the production and there are some fine tracks – notably for me, Making Plans. Overall, though, this is a good album rather than a great one. I’m not sure why – possibly it’s the choice of material, but whatever the reason, this doesn’t quite stand out as albums like Careless or Over The Hills do. It’s still well worth getting, but I don’t think it’s among the best work of either Lucy or Richard.