Jess Klein: Back To My Green

Klein is more country than Americana, though there’s also something of the Laurel Canyon about her, thanks to her voice (mezzosoprano say the sleeve notes). Somewhere between county and lively Carole King. With a touch of Motown thrown in. The album — her 11th — is a mixture of styles, which may or may not […]

Craig Finn: I Need A New War

The song title is not a proclamation of bellicose intent but a lyric from a track about a man who is lost and simply needs a reason for getting his life back on track. That twist is typical of the songs and the approach of this album, which is both muscular and tender. We listen […]

Grateful Dead: Aoxomoxoa

The Grateful Dead inspire absolute devotion among their aging fans. We’re too young to be fans, but even so we trekked to the Dead’s house in San Francisco (we were in the city, it wasn’t a special journey). This album is a 50th anniversary reissue and it is reportedly their most experimental. While we’re still […]

Ben Bedford: The Hermit’s Spyglass

This album tells a day in the life of Ben and Darwin the Cat in a farmhouse (“The Hermitage”), a proper little house on the prairie (Illinois). Some of the tracks are short — opener Morning Rise is only 1:20), and he gulps Morning Coffee in the same time. Some are instrumental, such as The […]

Danny Schmidt: Standard Deviation

We thought Standard Deviation was a song about two girls falling in love over a shared fondness for physics but the release notes say it is a “romance set in the multi-dimensional realm of theoretical physics”. Schmidt goes on to say that it “touches on the pushback” that smart women face in traditionally male-dominated arenas, […]

Still Corners: Slow Air

This new album marks a change in direction for Still Corners. The last album of theirs we had was rooted in England in the 80s, mixing the gloomy beats of Bronski Beat with the more commercial sound of Bananarama (in places anyway). It was too slow to be dance or have you spinning right round […]

Willard Grant Conspiracy: Untethered

We first came across Willard Grant Conspiracy on a compilation, a song called Soft Hand, a great downbeat blues/Americana tune with hypnotic vocals and addictive inputs from strings and guitar; it’s about lying in bed. We’ve bought albums since and the quality is always good, if you like gloomy Americana. Their songs always have atmosphere […]

Trapper Schoepp: Primetime Illusion

Schoepp is one of those artistes who sound like they’re going to be big, just because they’re so good. We thought it was a band but Trapper Schoepp is a real name of just one person, and Primetime Illusion is his third album. He writes songs about life, but in the same way as Squeeze […]

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band: Poor Until Payday

  The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band do one thing and do it well, playing their old-fashioned country blues at 250 gigs a year from bars to festivals. The Rev plays authentic guitars, too: a 1930 steel-bodied National, a 1934 wood-bodied National Trojan Resonator and a 1994 reproduction of a 1929 Gibson acoustic, while drummer […]