Maren Morris: Girl

Morris plays country pop and it’s hard to criticise this album as, within its genre, it’s flawless. As carefully aimed at various demographics as Ed Sheeran, mind. Morris made her name three years ago with her major-label debut, Hero, which sold by the Ford F-150 load. She comes from Texas but has moved to Nashville, […]

Molly Tuttle: When You’re Ready

This is Tuttle’s debut, as long as you don’t count an earlier EP, and if you want slick, commercial rock/country, it’s pretty well perfect. Tuttle is a guitar virtuoso — lots of people can say that, but she was crowned instrumentalist of the year at the 2018 Americana Music Awards, and was not only the […]

Carson McHone: Carousel

Forget all those bands with a new slant on country: McHone is from Austin, Texas, and she’s playing country as it should be played. You get fiddle, steel guitar and lyrics about broken hearts (hers) and no-good men (also hers, sadly). With Maybe They’re Just Really Good Friends you get the picture from the title, […]

The Vegabonds: V

The Vegabonds are from Alabama and play likable southern rock meets country. It’s music to play in bars and tap your toes too, reflecting on that gal you lost, but enjoying happy memories rather than bitterness. It’s not music for crying in your beer. Opener Partyin’ With Strangers is in many ways a work of […]

Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr: Relaxin’in Ireland

The emphasis here is on the relaxin’ not the Ireland, so expect no fiddles or jigs. It’s the Irish attitude that inspires the Wasserfuhr, and it’s a nice album for those who like chilled jazz. We often complain about ill-judged covers of popular songs but the Wasserfuhrs manage cool covers of songs that shouldn’t work […]

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 […]