Monday, August 14, 2017

Thinking about festivals...

It is raining hard as I write this late Monday evening. In 72 hours time I shall be camping for the first of four nights and this time next week, all being well, I shall be back here at home in front of the computer writing about Green Man 2017.
It will be my fourth visit to Green Man in South Wales in successive years since 2014. All those so far have been accompanied by rain to a greater or lesser degree. This one looks like following the theme, yet it has not spoiled any of them thus far. I'm hoping that the same holds this time.
The thing is that, at least to some extent, I know what rain during Green Man involves when it comes because it did in both 2015 and 2016. Truck Festival 2017 was a surprise however, as I had never been to one (four actually) that were bothered by more than a few sharp showers. The deluge was survivable, I'm used to camping in less than ideal conditions, but I certainly don't wish to have to deal with mud like that twice in four weeks. 

I imagine that I would do so however.
There is a limit somewhere, cancellation of the festival being an obvious one, but I'm hoping not to discover it. The thing is, if one were to dwell on all this too much you'd never buy a ticket. These festivals are sold out, weeks if not months in advance, and there is a reason for that. 

So what am I looking forward to...

You might spot that I'm unlikely to be left short of choices. In fact the clashes are likely to many and various. I'll try and add some of my ideas over the next two evenings if only for the fact that it will help me decide some kind of priority. Any suggestions are of course most welcome and I know full well that, once I'm actually there, much of the planning will go out of the window because it always does!
What is not included here are artists appearing on the Green Man Rising stage; new artists that auditioned in a competition for a gig at Green Man, and if the previous years are anything to go by I shall be there on more than a few occasions.

Many are the artists that I have seen live before but would love to see again. There are plenty and then some that I have never seen live.
Several further options are available as there are a number of artists here that are also appearing at End Of The Road Festival 2017 a fortnight later. One of those, that I am absolutely determined to see (at least once), is Gaelynn Lea. She is without doubt one of the finest fiddle players of her generation, and there are plenty of challengers for that crown I'm happy to add.
The perfect description of what being at a festival is actually like was inadvertently provided by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

"There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know."

Post in progress - to be continued tomorrow.

OK. It is now the aforementioned tomorrow evening,  so what has changed?
I am cautiously optimistic concerning the developments in the meteorological prognostications, which is a pleasant change from the situation this time four weeks ago and a few days before Truck Festival.
Another consideration is what balance to strike between seeing acts that I have already seen live and enjoyed, those I am aware of but have never seen in a live setting and those that are essentially unknown. This is a re-working of Rumsfeld's Ruse in a festival setting. My response is, I suspect, much like his. I will spend much of the next two days thinking about all the options and how they might pan out.  Once I'm actually there and things are happening for real I suspect that will mostly go straight-outta-the-window; I'll do exactly what seems a good response to the circumstances of the moment. I'll come back to some specific acts of note shortly.
Last summer at End Of The Road I saw a number of acts that, had I not already been inside a tented stage when the rain came pouring down, I would never otherwise have done. I strongly suspect that several of them were actually rather more interesting than those that I sacrificed by staying put.

The other question, that of right now, is what to listen to at home in the two days before a festival? I should possibly do a little on-line homework regarding the unknown unknowns.  I will certainly not listen to anything by the artists that I know about whether or not I have seen them live before. I've tried that before and it is in my experience a complete waste of time; like revision just before an exam it sows confusion instead of clarity.
I will for the most part listen to things that are of no direct relevance to the forthcoming festival that are either entirely new to me (hello, Spotify!) or might possibly serve as a frame of reference during the weekend.
To finish this evening's thoughts (the lists are arranged alphabetically)...

Five artists to see live for the first time:
Aldous Harding

Cobalt Chapel
Michael Kiwanuka

PJ Harvey
Ryan Adams

Five artists to see live again:
Angel Olsen

Hurray For The Riff Raff
Sunflower Bean
This Is The Kit

Here is the latest (no Rising stage listing here, that's all secret).  That's it until tomorrow evening and I have changed my mind again.

Wednesday evening thoughts:
It's pouring with rain just now (9:25pm), which is actually a good thing because it suggests that the weather systems are currently running to the predicted timetable.
In music, it is very tempting to go and see St. Etienne again, not least as this will be featuring songs from the latest LP 'The Home Counties', which is of course just lovely.
Also lurking somewhere in the line-up is Frome's very own Stevie Parker, promoting her 2017 début album 'The Cure'. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 25 - Paul McClure and the Local Heroes EP

It is with much pleasure, having seen him play live at Truck Festival just three weeks ago, that I come to review the latest EP from the self-styled Rutland troubadour and that is named for both himself and the collection of artists with whom he tours this beautiful land of ours come rain or shine --- with an abundance of the former and a paucity of the latter at Truck 2017!
Following two great albums 'Smiling From The Floor Up' (2014) and 'Songs for Anyone' and vast amounts of playing live across the UK with myriad of local heroes often different ones in different places.
The idea here was to get a band of Local Heroes in a studio and record some songs, playing together as if it were live.  This EP is what resulted from that.

Paul McClure and the Local Heroes,, Clubhouse Records (2017).

Paul McClure and the Local Heroes EP

  • Million Dollar Smile
  • Baby That's You
  • The Good And The Bad Of It
  • Weight In Time
  • Troubadour's Lament
The Local Heroes on this recording are:
Rhiannon Payne - vocals
Mike Monaghan - drums/percussion
Neil Segrott - bass
Joel Payne - keyboards/vocals
Paul McClure - guitar/lead vocals

All of this body of work is worth your listening time. Three of the five tracks on the EP were on the playlist that afternoon (see below). Even more important, and this is actually how I first became aware of Paul McClure, is to see him play live. It matters not if he is solo or with any number of Local Heroes that can be mustered for the occasion. You will not be disappointed.
Paul McClure, Saloon Bar stage, Truck Festival, 22 July 2017.

A picture is no substitute for being there listening live.  This is the play list that you missed.

What is more Paul appeared time and again over the three days, both supporting other artists and as part of the collective performances that are a great feature of the late evenings on this stage.

New Music 2017 - Part 24 - Iona Lane - Pockets EP & Solace EP

One principal artist and two releases make up this little pot of gold. I should have mentioned the first months ago but I didn't, which is entirely my fault. With another now available to pre-order the time is right.

This is the forthcoming one (1 September 2017)...  you can order it here.
With Iona on acoustic guitar and vocals and Abi Plowman on violin and backing vocals this release consists of six tracks.

Iona Lane - Pockets EP:

  • Weighted Dice
  • The Loch Tay Boat Song
  • Living Life out of Pockets
  • Carved by Another
  • Northern Town
  • The Leaving Song
This is the first song to be released from it.

Back in February of this year she released the EP Solace. It was recorded with more of a full band sound.

Iona Lane - Solace EP:
  • Amsterdam
  • Sometimes
  • Fly or Fall
  • I'll Run Without You
Which of the four songs here is my favourite very much depends on my mood at the time. I'll go with opening song 'Amsterdam' that has an guitar intro that reminds me of many things and also nothing at the same time, which is very appropriate to the lyric.

The same is true of the seven songs on the 2015 'Dry Stone Walls EP'. 

Taken in total this amounts to a considerable body of original work and one that I enjoy listening to very much.
If you have none of the above you can get all 3 EPs (and a cover of Joni Mitchell's 'A Case Of Me') for £12.60 here. If I were you then I would.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Truck Festival - Part 3 - Solace in The Saloon - Don Gallardo & Friends

Another artist returning once again to The Saloon Bar was Don Gallardo. When in his native United States he performs with his band 'Way Out West'. In the UK it is 'Don Gallardo and Friends' and they are many.

Don Gallardo and Friends, Saloon Bar stage, 22 July 2017.

If you haven't heard him live, or failing that heard the live LP --- Don Gallardo & Way Out West - Nashville: Live Sunday Night at Third & Lindsley (2017) --- then you need to do that. Really.
The new studio LP, the successor to 'Hickory' (2015), should be out before the end of this year and we were treated to some songs from that. The set finished with a truly magnificent rendition of 'The North Dakota Blues', taken from the aforementioned studio album but that concludes the live one too.
In fact we got some of the live set pretty much as-it-was-in-Nashville but in a mucky little dive-bar in rural Oxfordshire: Life is art, but actually being there is simply like nothing else imaginable!

The full five-piece (and the sound guy too, far right). There really was an audience but it is just not in-shot.

That is not to say that these were the only artists to appear on stage during the gig; far from it.
This was a duet with Hannah Rose Platt.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Truck Festival - Part 2 - The Saloon Bar Beckons

It is with sadness that I must mention that Truck Festival's bigger companion, Y Not Festival, was terminated this weekend not long after it had started due to both the mud and, perhaps more importantly, the dangerous electrical problems that the rain caused on the various stages. I'll say something that is actually very important. The festival support staff at Truck Festival last weekend went beyond what might reasonably have been expected in order to mitigate the problems and so did so many others on the campsite. Awesome is not an inappropriate word in the circumstances and yet I suspect that they didn't really get the credit that was due to them.
We must regard ourselves fortunate for what we were able to see and hear last weekend.

Here then is some stuff from that most important of stages. Of course it is almost all about the music but without the audience festivals would be nothing. The vitality of this interaction is so very important; a challenge to all. Keeping an exact count of the artists that played supporting roles throughout the whole weekend certainly got the better of me. You'll probably start to see familiar faces however.

There is no better place to start than with a stalwart of The Saloon Bar stage in recent years; Paul McClure promoting his latest EP 'Paul McClure and The Local Heroes'.

The Saloon Bar stage, Saturday afternoon, 22 July 2017.

Included in this photo, along with Paul, is another of the many heroes of this stage last weekend - Tom Collison on keyboards.
No better way to continue with, all the way from St. Antonio, Texas and a second year on this stage, Rachel Laven.

Saloon Bar stage, Saturday 22 July, with Simon Kelly and Rebecca Rosewell.

Also returning to this stage, and I have to say that I much admire this sense of continuity, was Hannah Rose Platt with new songs.

Lunchtime, Saturday 22 July 2017.

There is of course an element of competition in all of this and I suspect that I'm mostly on the losing side, but the challenge is good.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Truck Festival 2017 - Part 1 - An Introduction

It is no secret that I go to Truck Festival in large part simply for The Saloon Bar stage. There will be much about that in due course. Every year is different and this year one striking feature was the all encompassing mud. I mention this because there was no getting away from it and therefore it impacts on most of the pictures in one way or another.

Did it spoil the weekend? Not in itself. On the other hand those whose tents did not withstand the torrential rain and thus suffered from the 
surprising chill of Friday night had a thoroughly demoralising weekend and, despite everyone's best efforts, some of them understandably decided to quit. Nobody wants to see a festival affected like that but the weather is what it is. It has to be said that thereafter a certain spirit was in evidence that involved carrying on as if nothing  had happened even though it clearly had...  Last year I included pictures of folks relaxing on the grass, taken from the porch of the Saloon Bar stage; this one, in contrast, is taken the other way around.

In the fleeting sunshine of Sunday afternoon. 23 July 2017.

As you can see I did occasionally venture out of The Saloon Bar, and not only for sustenance and the call of nature. I did however succeed in something that I had intended, but failed, to do at both Truck Festival 2015 and Truck Festival 2016.  On Saturday I was there for all of every set played on The Saloon Bar stage.

A short paddle across the bayou led to either the Nest stage or the Veterans and Virgins stage. This all-female three-piece opened the former stage on Sunday morning with a set that included much of their debut EP 'Are You Sure?' (Alcopop Records, 2017)

Peaness, The Nest stage, Sunday 23 July.

This next was something of a glorious cock-up. On Saturday, and between Saloon Bar stage sets, I had intended to go and see Goat Girl playing on the Market stage. Quite unintentionally, but very fortunately, I went to The Nest stage by mistake and saw a band that in all probability I would never have seen otherwise...
Vukovi - The Nest stage, Truck Festival, 21 July 2017.

This experimental rock four-piece is from Scotland and in Janine Shilstone it has one of the most astonishing vocal performers of the moment. I have now listened to début LP 'Vukovi' (Lab Records, 2017). Great though it is, I can only say that I was mighty fortunate to see Vukovi live. I don't think that, if truth be told, I actually saw anything more impressive all weekend. It was however run close on several occasions I am happy to report.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Short lines - a journey with UK folk and Americana

It is fairly easy to follow the big picture but even easier to fail to recognise, let alone even hear or see live, quite what is happening at home. This is a journey through some of that territory because the UK is taking it aboard with relish, sometimes abandon.
This first is the oldest of the three releases that I am planning to mention here. It was released last year.

Angelina - Vagabond Saint (Wonderful Sound, 2 December 2016).

Angelina the artist is named for a Dylan song and this is an album of dust-bowl country blues with a voice to match.  There are tales of high plains and endless trains...  that is all the more remarkable for the fact that she has lived her life and the album was recorded on The Isle Of Wight. It is yet another astonishing omission from my list of 'albums of 2016'. It's tough but this might just be one of my favourite songs, at least today.

Jump forward to 2017 and here are two other acts that have come to my attention. In both cases they take a distinct tack through what should really be regarded as well-charted waters.
This duo had been plying their own solo careers around the smaller live stages in London until their paths crossed and they decided to become writing, recording and performing entity Ferris & Sylvester, comprising Issy Ferris and Archie Sylvester. There is a lot of 60s and 70s influence on show here 
but never to the point of pastiche; they claim that songwriting must be truthful and honest, even if that is hard to do. It's quite possible to believe that they really mean what they say.

Ferris and Sylvester - The Yellow Line (self-released, 22 June 2017).

I shall end this short tour with another EP, this one from London artist Jade Bird. She does nothing whatsoever to hide her love for Americana folk. The five tracks here run to only just fifteen minutes but it's a determined pitch.

Jade Bird - Something American (Glassnote, 6 July 2017).

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New Music 2017- Part 23 - LosFeliz - Ancestry

I have had a break from writing, but not from listening and now I'm back after a case of writer's block.
I am planning a number of posts, including another imaginary journey, but just now this has taken precedence over that more complicated project. Released only last week it is wonderful music for the late evening when the heat of the day its making way for late evening darkness.

LosFeliz - Ancestry (Union Music Store, 16 June).

Ancestry is one of those début records that seems to have arrived fully-realised from another universe. LosFeliz is essentially the solo work of Brighton-based artist Lucy Powell and it was recorded in a church in her native Wales. It is spiritual and fluid, humanist rather than religious and lies somewhere on a meandering loop-line that has folk and dream pop as its termini. It includes some non-acoustic effects and also found sounds and it is astonishingly devoid of self-consciousness, never mind pretension.
Another thing that it certainly does not have is any sense of hurry, the journey itself is all that matters here and time is not a consideration at all.
  • Jupiter
  • Daymares
  • Dove
  • Foreign Lands
  • Madonna, Pts. 1 & 2
  • Orion
  • Bloodline
  • Temple
  • Moreso Today
Its nine tracks span 41 minutes and soon after you start listening all sense of time becomes an illusion. It should be, and I'm told that this is true, absolutely unmissable live. This could well turn out to be one of the great new albums and artists of 2017.

Monday, May 29, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 22 - Offa Rex - The Queen Of Hearts

One of the things about doing this [writing a blog] is that it pretty much forces me to listen, read and then actually think about music. I can't really assimilate so-called background music anymore. If it's there than that is how it is, but I'll be either paying proper attention or simply not consciously noticing it at all. Sub-conscious listening is however very much a real 'thing'. I was doing chores at home this morning whilst I had the latest Spotify 'Discover Weekly' playlist playing from the stereo but until this came on I couldn't, had it been a crime scene, have given you a single useful piece of evidence to show that I had paying any attention to what was going on.
Had my head been inside a scanner that measures synapse connections I suspect that the images would have been quite interesting. It was, as subsequent investigations have shown, a song I have never heard before but the apparent jumble of concepts that my mind spewed out in response, much like the coins from a change machine, was surprisingly accurate.

What triggered all that, and it is also the title of the forthcoming LP, is this song:

Offa Rex is a project that sees UK singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney transported to the Pacific Northwest to weave tradition from British and Celtic folk into a psych-folk influenced tapestry. The rest of Offa Rex will be familiar to many as the Decemberists. The album was recorded and produced by Tucker Martine at his studio in Portland, OR. The majority of the eleven tracks were arranged by Olivia Chaney

Offa Rex - The Queen of Hearts, (Nonesuch Records, 14 July 2017).

Offa Rex - The Queen of Hearts:
  • The Queen of Hearts
  • Blackleg Miner
  • The Gardener
  • The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
  • Flash Company
  • The Old Churchyard
  • Constant Billy (Oddington) / I'll Go Enlist (Sherborne)
  • Willie o' Winsbury
  • Bonny May
  • Sheepcrook and Black Dog
  • To Make You Stay
To hear this in its entirety is something I am looking forward to very much indeed.  It is another journey in the story of how, for centuries, songs have travelled back and forth across the Atlantic to be reappraised and then returned.
A fine example is Willie o' Winsbury that is from Scottish tradition and probably of late 17th century origin. It is also Child #100 and has been back and forth a few times since. A version also appears on the LP Child Ballads - Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer (2013).

Saturday, May 27, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 21 - Paradisia - Sound of Freedom

I often go on about how important I believe it is to see support bands at gigs, and at festivals as many as possible of the bands on small stages and in opening slots on larger ones. As the festival season is now tangibly close and the list of new releases grows ever longer, here as an excellent example of how this pans out.

Last August I was at Green Man festival in mid-Wales. The smallest of the dedicated music stages is the 'Rising stage' and it hosts new acts. These are for the most part chosen from the entries in a competition over the previous months, the winner of which gets to open the 'Mountain stage', the main one, on Saturday. Several acts there caught my attention and London-based three-piece Paradisia was one of them. Its core is the trio of Kristy Buglass (vocals, keyboard), Sophie-Rose Harper (vocals) and Anna Pesquidous (harp).

Paradisia, Rising stage, Green Man Festival. 21 August 2016.

This was the very first time that I was even aware that the band existed. First impressions matter and what I remember thinking was just how good their own songs were, even against the fact that they also covered Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark', unlikely although that might seem given their palette of instruments, impressively. That inevitably brings us to this; my next thought at the time.
"What would this sound like on record?" Yesterday I got to find out.

Paradisia - Sound of Freedom (self-released, 26 May 2017 LP, CD, digital)

It was clear from listening to the short live set that they had listened to a great deal of 1970's music and been honing the influences appropriate to what they wished to achieve. This album is just wonderful.  If I had to shorten it by one song then the one to go would be 'Dancing In The Dark'. I have listened start-to-finish several times now and current highlights, although I am really rather reluctant to pick any, are 'Warpaint' and 'Silent Lover'. The title of the LP comes from a lyric in the latter song.
I'm as certain as it is possible to be that is an album that I shall be coming back to time and time again and experience suggests that this isn't something that happens all that often.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 20 - This Is The Kit - Moonshine Freeze

As much as I love discovering music that is new to me, particularly so live, there is after ten years of festivals the opportunity to see progression. I could cite examples over a longer timescale than this but I am excited about a band that I first saw live playing the Walled Garden stage, at Green Man Festival 2015.  At that point they were touring the LP 'Bashed Out'.  This Is The Kit is appearing at Green Man Festival 2017 and the band will have a new LP from which to perform songs.

This Is The Kit - Moonshine Freeze (Rough Trade Records, 7 July 2017).

Here is This Is The Kit at that Green Man Festival gig back in 2015. The sun came out for the first time that day.

Walled Garden stage, Green Man Festival, 22 August 2015.

To categorise the music of 'This Is The Kit' is almost impossible and I like that: folky, bluesy, roots, and always just inventive, slightly off-kilter and gloriously, but tastefully, unpredictable. You can see why they are back at Green Man; also why Rough Trade and the band have signed some paperwork. It says a great deal about the ethos of all parties concerned.
One of the standout performances of Green Man 2016 was another Rough Trade artist and it wasn't even the first time that I had seen them live either; that was Warpaint.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Another musical journey.

I said that I would do this over the Easter break but I didn't. I'm now thinking that I need at least six weeks between such projects and it's not about finding the music. I love doing that - I wouldn't be writing at all if that were not the case. It's more the richness and variety that is on offer; I could write twice as many posts if I only listened to a quarter of the new (at least to me) music that I do. Posts like this are the ones I like doing the most. They are the most rewarding but they take the longest time to figure out. That's the excuses done.
If it raises awareness and sells a few of the artists' works then that is good enough for me.
Let's go!

The last post of this kind Imaginary Appalachia started in Canada. This one starts in Michigan and I'm not sure that we will get any further south this time, although the music might at times suggest that we have.

Red Tail Ring - Fall Away Blues (CD Baby, 2 September 2016).

This is the most recent release from the Kalamazoo, Michigan based duo that comprises Laurel Primo and Michael Beauchamp. Entirely acoustic, it contrasts new takes on traditional songs and tunes with new ones that tackle themes such as gun crime (something in traditional music that is as old as guns), immigration and environmentalism (both of which are barely less so). It is their fourth album release.

Now this.
It is, as the artist says, "more southern and more country influenced" than her first release 'Sad-eyed Lomesome Lady' and I will return to that in another post. Raised in East Vancouver, BC and now based in Saskatoon, SK (and also in Toronto)  this is all about... quite simply  the things that she wanted to write about and it is not going to get a party started.

Steph Cameron - Daybreak Over Jackson Street (Pheromone Recordings, 21 April 2017).

I only happened across this artist by a rare strike of fortune. Yesterday. It got me thinking and now writing again. It is as sparse and beautiful in its production as it is disenchanted, yet hopeful, in its content. The most important thing is that it is always questioning but never preachy.

This journey is not really about new music. I discovered the next record after it occurred to me that I couldn't recall having heard anything new from Canadian fiddle player and singer-songwriter Kendel Carson in a couple of years.  I found this... and if you like female vocal harmonies and multiple fiddle players this could be just the thing for you too.

Belle Starr - belle starr (Roaring Girl Records, 2 April 2013).

The two other artists are Stephanie Cadman and Miranda Mulholland. The trio had previously released an EP 'The Burning of Atlanta' in April 2012 but that is harder to find. In both cases there are quite a few covers.  I think that, to be found on the above-mentioned LP, the cover of Bruce Springsteen's 'Tougher Than The Rest' is particularly effective.

Not all the content relies on lyric and the fiddle tune 'Charity Kiss' is top-notch. It reminds me just how much I like this sort of music and, therefore, of Orcadian fiddle group Fara.
The penultimate track 'Art O'Leary' is an English translation of an Irish poem, 
Art Ó Laoghaire, set to music.  He fought for the Catholic cause with the Hungarian Hussars, in the army of Maria Theresa in the mid-late 18th century and survived that only to be murdered on his return to his family in Ireland.

This journey will end with a Canadian duo - Kacy & Clayton -  that has covered another poem set to music. This one is often regarded as trad. and anon. but in fact it is nothing of the kind. That song is not, however, on this that is their second LP.

Kacy & Clayton - Strange Country (New West Records, 6 May 2016).

For me the classic cover on this album is their take on 'Over The River Charlie' that is an American song of long standing.  It is not the song I was alluding to above, however.

That is 'The Dalesman's Litany' and it appears on the 2013 album 'The Day Is Past and Gone'. It is in fact a 20th century song in the sense it is now known.
The words, originally a poem in Yorkshire dialect, were written and/or collected by Frederic William Moorman (1872 - 1918), the first Professor of English Language at the University of Leeds (1912 - 1918). The setting of it to a tune, by Dave Keddie of Bradford, Yorkshire, came decades later.
The first commercially released recording of this song that I am aware of is that by Tim Hart and Maddy Prior on their first record as a duo, 'Folk Songs of Old England Volume 1' (1968). On this the lyrics have been "translated" into more prosaic English. The duo later became the core of electric folk band Steeleye Span and the song became a classic of the British folk revival.
The thing about the version by Kacy & Clayton is its beautiful naïvety; i
t is all the better for the fact that a few of the many Yorkshire locations mentioned in it are mispronounced but, like so many before it, the song has crossed the ocean.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 19 - Wrangled - Angaleena Presley

When 'The Pistol Annies' hit the world with a delightfully sardonic take on country, back in 2011, it would be fair to say that Angaleena Presley was the least well-known of the three and, perhaps actually rather importantly, the oldest. Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe were already better known.
She was also the last of the three to release a solo LP and that when it came was the brilliant, off-kilter 'American Middle Class' in 2014. It immediately caught my attention, in the time before Margo Price was known-about, for it's uncompromising take on the grubby underside 
of the American Dream.
The two have rather different takes on what at the end of the day is discrimination, inequality and sheer frustration. The thread is that they are both brilliant about putting them to words and then weaving those words into songs. Songs that people far away can still relate to. 

I'm not afraid to write this and not least because Britain has plenty of the same problems and I'm not one to try and deny that. It is a big issue and also a massively divisive one: Poverty be that of food or culture, history suggests, does not tend to bring people together.

What I will say is that, of the most recent solo albums from each of the Annies, this is (and the others both guest on it, so its very clear they are still in touch) the the point when 'Holler Annie' finally becomes Angaleena the outlaw Annie.

Angaleena Presley - Wrangled (Mining Light Music/Thirty Tigers, 21 April 2017).

Pretty much nothing that she turns her lyric to, and therefore her voice also, comes out smelling of roses. That is telling it nicely; she often doesn't.
I don't even need to include the track-list because, in true old-school fashion, it is on the cover of the record. This release has multiple issues and one of them is that it may turn out to be amongst the best albums of 2017.
Yes, of course I would like to see Angaleena play live again.
 Not least because I know that she is astonishing. She is far better than my photography.

Stage 1, Cambridge Folk Festival, 31 July 2015.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 18 - Turn Your Face To The Sun - I Draw Slow

This is just so welcome news.
From Dublin, but also Americana and roots inspired, please embrace the return of 'I Draw Slow'. Centered around siblings Dave and Louise Holden the band is so much more than that.

I Draw Slow, Turn Your Face To The Sun (Compass Records, 21 April 2017).

I Draw Slow - Turn Your Face To The Sun:
  • Maria
  • My Portion
  • Same Old Dress Will Do
  • Garage Flowers
  • Apocalypso
  • Don't Wake The Children
  • Alveregna
  • Tell The Girls
  • Carolina
  • Twin Sisters
  • Crooked Life
This is Don't Wake The Children, taken from the new album...

You might find that a little searching of the bands's earlier recordings is rewarding too. Just one example, and another video, is this.

  'Goldmine', taken from the 2011 LP Redhills .

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 17 - The Vintage TV Recordings - Danni Nicholls

Three months into 2017 and the days are longer. I have some 2017 festival tickets booked but the summer still feels a way off. Over the Easter weekend I intend to embark on another virtual road trip through music whilst also considering the fact that logic dictates at least some of the defining LPs of 2017 must have now been released, the consequent problem there being that I may not actually know about them yet.
Before that I'm going to indulge in my liking for live recordings; to wit that which is the title of this post. I finally saw Danni Nicholls live at Truck Festival last July after a couple of false starts due to venue issues resulting in shows cancelled to the detriment of all concerned.

This comprises tracks from both LPs and 
I have mentioned them before in posts. They are 'A Little Redemption' (2013) and 'Mockingbird Lane' (2015).  The play list here is as follows:
  • Long Road Home
  • Leaving Tennessee
  • Beautiful Game
  • Hey There, Sunshine
  • Beautifully Broken
  • Between Forever and Goodbye
  • Where The Blue Train Goes
  • Let Somebody Love You
  • A Little Redemption
If you like this you will like both the studio LPs too.  I believe that her third LP is in the works. Be that as it may I strongly recommend that you also need to catch the artist live-for-real because even the best, most sensitively produced, live recording doesn't hold a candle to being there in person.

Danni Nicholls, Saloon Bar stage, Truck Festival, 16 July 2016.