Harp and a Monkey: The Victorians

This is a joy of an album, something a little different and with plenty of interest for the listener. The title seems to be from the fact that they’re from Manchester and sing of tales from the city’s industrial history; they’re a band that tells stories set to music. The cover sleeve is a peppered […]

Matt Patershuk: If Wishes Were Horses

This is a warm and likable album that combines the blues, country and rock. Patershuk says of the album: “It’s a mixed bag, which is how I like my bags. You’ll hear country and western, folk, rock ‘n’ roll, singer songwriter and blues songs.” And you do. Opener The Blues Don’t Bother Me is a […]

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 […]

Jason Aldean: 9

The name sums it up: this is Aldean’s ninth album so he’s called it 9. This lack of subtlety sums up the enterprise. Not that it’s bad: it’s what a certain style of country should sound like, that style being the music to accompany drivers along the endless roads of rural states, or to play […]

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 […]

Bob Bradshaw: Queen Of The West

The music is warm and rich but we find Bradshaw’s vocals a little dry (which we would also find fault with Bread over), but there’s a lot going on. He has lots of ideas and the band is good, his voice just fails to excite us. That aside, it’s a meaty album with a lot […]

King Calaway: Rivers

Manufactured bands are nothing new, but this is the first country band we’ve seen. It’s probably giving websites whose names include “rebel” and “outlaw” collective heart attacks. King Calaway are your stereotypical boyband, five singers who don’t write any of the tunes. They seem to have had money thrown at them and have — it […]

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 […]