Justin Wells: The United States

The title is a pun: it’s about life in the USA in these divided times but it’s also about the fact that we have more in common than differences, particularly the fact that we’re all born, live and die. “This record starts in the womb, and it ends after death,” Wells says of the album. […]

Jeffrey Foucault: Blood Brothers

When we started this reviewing lark we’d sometimes have a record of the week, although we usually forgot: this week it would be this. Foucault’s from Wisconsin so this is Americana with some of the twang of country. He has an evocative voice and the songs are all good. We’ve not felt this much settled […]

Sam Lewis: Solo

Lewis is a grizzled looking American dude and sings the songs you might expect; modern life and its many facets, just him and guitar. He’s good because he has a soft voice, lyrics that can be thoughtful, amusing or silly, and makes honest, simple music. This is just him and an audience in what sounds […]

Gill Landry: Skeleton at the Banquet

Landry — formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show — wrote these songs while spending the summer in small-town Western France. He doesn’t say, but we bet 80s-vintage Leonard Cohen was being played as he wrote; Cohen of that era will spring to mind when you play it. Musically, its dominated by Landry’s soft baritone; the […]

West My Friend: In Constellation

Canadian folk trio West My Friend have roped in a symphony orchestra and choir to go with their regular guitar, mandolin and accordion for this new album. If your record collection is stuffed with 50s style crooners and big bands accompanied by an accordion, this is for you. For the rest of us, it’s an […]

Silverlake 66: Ragged Heart

(Band photo: Jason Quigley). Once you know Silverlake 66 (Maria Francis and Jeff Overbo) are from the US and play country / folk / Americana as it should be played, you can guess the sound. They’re breaking no new ground but they do it well, simple music, plain beats and straightforward lyrics that’s in no […]

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 […]