Catherine McGrath: Talk Of This Town

We’ve got nothing bad to say about this but we feel we should make some effort to be critical: “Catherine McGrath pulls the wings off flies” or “Catherine McGrath would eat your last Rolo” perhaps. McGrath is from Northern Ireland, learned guitar from her grannie and performing from watching her parents play on stage. She’ll […]

Caiti Baker: Zinc

The PR for Australian singer Caiti Baker claims it’s a “really cool and classy mix of pop, hip-hop, blues, 90s R&B and neo soul”. It’s true that it’s classy, and it’s mostly cool, too, but the mix of genres is a weakness to our ears. You might disagree and singers such as Caro Emerald do […]

Dan + Shay: Dan + Shay

This album sees US country duo Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney take a laid-back, pop approach to country that in places is almost boyband/commercial RnB in sound. It’s enjoyable and playable. They sing about everyday things that every one can relate to: opener Alone Together is about two lonely souls in a bar: “I couldn’t […]

Courtney Marie Andrews: May Your Kindness Remain

Her previous albums have been noteworthy simply because she has a nice voice, and sometimes that’s all you need. This new one is deeper and slower, and while it takes more time to get used to — it’s not pop — it’s ultimately better. In a coincidental echo of the Basil Athanasiadis album (see this […]

The Handsome Family: Through The Trees

This re-issue — it’s 20 years since The Handsome Family first released it — is bloody marvellous. Its basic sound could be 100 years old, a couple of (rather sinister) folks with beards and overalls making country music on a porch, but it’s got a modern feel and the lyrics are heartfelt; in fact, that’s […]

Molly Tuttle: Rise

First the predictable joke: the opener is Good Enough but this mini-album is more than good enough. It’s marvellous. Though she plays bluegrass it doesn’t, on the surface, sound it. Bluegrass, the genre of American roots music that emerged from Appalachia but is shaped by Irish, Scottish and English traditional music, is often typified by […]

Blitzen Trapper: Wild and Reckless

A friend in the States introduced us to Blitzen Trapper’s debut album. We gave him Mumford and Sons’ debut in return and for some years we’ve thought he got the better end of the deal. Blitzen Trapper were worthy if not dull, and their second album did little to change our mind. But this is […]

Laura Oakes: Nashville Stole Your Girl (Acoustic EP)

The title says it all: Nashville, acoustic. It’s acoustic country pop that sounds like it’ll get played on Nashville easy-listenin’ day-time radio, except that Laura is from Liverpool. If you like pop country, you might have heard of her: this charted at No.2 in the iTunes album country chart on release day. It features four […]

Gill Landry: Love Rides A Dark Horse

This smacks of quality before you even press play. Love Rides A Dark Horse is a great title, and Landry was formerly in country/roots band Old Crow Medicine Show so he’s got the experience behind him, making this a confident collection. It’s nothing new but the music is well paced, and he has a deep […]

The Eagles: Hotel California

This is going to make some people feel old: it is 40 years since this album came out, celebrated with this two-CD package (the bonus CD is a live album). It’s clearly a classic, particularly for the title track, but it’s not quite as close to perfection as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, which is well-nigh flawless. […]