Not only is this a new CD, titled “A Taste Of Salt”, but also an audiobook called “The Coffee Grinder And The Green Ray”. The package also includes a printed booklet, if you want to read it for yourself, rather than listen to Shawn Hastings narration.
Musicians on the album include Eddie Brown, Cal McKinlay and Roy Fruede, with Siobhan Glendinning and Brett Hamlyn providing backing vocals.
The story centers around a Glasgow chap who catches his wife cheating, and reacts by heading to London, before landing on his feet in France.
The music, all of it original, fits into the storyline along the way.
The music, itself covers quite a variety. Much of it is Country rock.
It all kicks off with “A Taste Of Salt”, a catchy upbeat number, which set the toes tapping.
Some of the tracks are more pop, notably “Trait 2” and “My Own Terms”. Although quite rocky, I did enjoy “Pandora’s Pain”. It had a good catchy beat to it.
The tempo does slow down on tracks like “The Venom In Me”.
“Just A Smile” and “Flowers By The Roadside” are much more mellow numbers, as the story sees the main character settle into a new life. The main Country interest is with “The Old Cliché”, as he heads out to a Country Linedance festival. The line dance for this song, choreographed by Cathie McAllister, was featured in the last magazine. It’s a really catchy number, and stands out from the rest of the album.
The CD rounds off on quite a rocky beat, with “The Green Bay”.
It’s an interesting concept project, and covers such a variety of genres from Country & line dance to literature.
The endless stream of Irish artists continues with a new album by County Sligo’s PATRICK FEENEY, who was in Glasgow a few weeks back. I reckon that “I Believe” is his 9th album, and features a few recent singles which fans should recognise.
Patrick followed in his father’s footsteps into music, and formed his own band when just 19 years old. He is also one of “The Three Amigo’s”, with Robert Mizzell and Jimmy Buckley.
This album features a nice mix of upbeat dance numbers and slower concert numbers.
It all kicks off with the catchy “Cant Judge A Book” and “Place In The Choir”, before slowing it down with Guy Clark’s “Emigrant Eyes”.
His ballads do stand out. ”I Believe”, written by Statler Brother, Jimmy Fortune, was a recent single for Patrick, and he delivers a stunning version of the song. “Someone To Love Me”, is another lovely song, whilst “When We Were Young” suits his style.
“I’m Your Biggest Fan” is a tribute to the fans who support him. The song was originally sung by Neal McCoy for a “Patriotic Country” album in 2004. Neal’s version was aimed at the military, but Patrick really delivers it to the audience in front of him.
That said, his upbeat numbers are just as good. He covers “Catfish John”
“Red Haired Mary”, another of his recent singles, and the catchy “Streets Of Promise” has a good Irish feel to it.
A good album, which should appeal to both his concert and dance audiences.
Another new name coming out of Ireland is KATHY CRINION from Co. Meath. She had already made quite an impact before the release of her debut album, “Lovin’ What I Do” (ISG).
It includes her early single, “I’m Just Not That Lonely Anymore”, which had quite a nice Karen Carpenter sound. “Venus & Mars”, “We Need More Time”, and a few other songs also have quite a Carpenters feel to them.
But Kathy quickly proves that she’s much more.
“Rock’n’Roll Banjo”, is a good feeling uptempo number, which, yes it does feature banjo, but with quite a modern presentation. A really refreshing approach.
There’s also banjo featured on “Tennessee Rain”.
“Millie”, is another that will be familiar, as there is a video which has been screened on the various Keep It Country TV programmes. It kinda reminded me of Kathy Mattea’s “Eighteen Wheels”.
“Wasted” was quite a catchy number, which I really liked.
She does cover a couple of well known numbers, namely “Talking In Your Sleep” (Crystal Gayle) and “Queen Of Hearts” (Juice Newton). She also delivers an old Conway Twitty hit, “Everytime I Think It’s Over”. It’s a really nice version.
Kathy’s lovely vocals stand out on a very busy Irish Country music scene. She’s touring with Mary Duff & Jordan Mogey next month. She’ll be well worth catchy.
JOE BOYLE is a young man from Donegal who has a real traditional approach to his Country music. He is making his mark on Scottish audiences already, with appearances last month at both Spring Into Country and Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry.
His 7 track CD features a good selection of classic country numbers like “Mansion On The Hill”, “Crazy” and “Kiss An Angel Good Morning”, with more up to date numbers like “Knee Deep” and “Ol’Red”.
Joe has good Country voice. I’m sure he’s popularity will continue to rise, and I look forward to hearing more from him in future.
BILLY CRASH CRADDOCK is one of the latest to get the Hump Head label’s Definitive Collection treatment. Craddock, was a huge star in the 70’s Nashville scene, some years after he had become a star down under in Australia, touring there with The Everly’s. In his early days, he had a rockabilly sound, which led to him gaining the nickname of “Mr Country Rock”, which is the title of this new 2CD, 50 track compilation of his hits.
His form of Country rock predated what we later referred the likes of Poco, Joe Walsh and the Eagles as. Personally, I always considered him as a Nashville pop song singer, as his career was built on covers of cheesy pop songs like “Knock three Times”, “Dream Lover” and “Sea Cruise”.
Throughout his career, Craddock had 41 Country chart hits, nearly all covered here, including his 3 Number One’s, “Rub It In”, “Ruby Baby” and “Broken Down In Tiny Pieces”. In fact the CD running order mirrors his recording career quite closely. There are a few songs included here, which weren’t hits for him, including covers of Johnny Duncan’s “Come A Little Closer” and Tom Jones’ “Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow”.
Other songs featured include “I Cheated On a Good Woman’s Love”, which featured on the Convoy movie soundtrack, and the real Country sounding, “You Say You’re a Real Cowboy”.
As ever, with these Humphead collections, there’s a very informative booklet from Alan Cackett.
The other new HumpHead Definitive Collection Is “Truck Drivin’ Son Of a Gun”, from DAVE DUDLEY. Dudley was certainly King of the Road as far as Truck Drivin’ songs were concerned. The sub genre of Country music was especially popular in the 60’s & 70’s, when he notched up 41 Country hits, including “The Pool Shark”, his only No.1, which, of course, is featured here.
Not all of the 50 songs featured on this 2 CD set are Truck Driving songs, but most are. Exceptions include “I Keep Come Backing For More”, “Lonelyville”. “What We’re Fighting For”, “Where Did All The Cowboys Go” and “Sentimental Journey”.
There are a couple of duets, with Tom T Hall on “Day Drinkin’” and “We Know It’s Over”, with a Karen O’Donnal (why haven’t we heard of her before- or since!).
It’s an interesting and pleasant listen. I wasn’t overly familiar with a lot of the material.
Canada has produced some wonderful singer songwriters through the years. Gordon Lightfoot (who played in Glasgow last month), Ian Tyson, Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen and Stan Rogers are just a few that come to mind. Nova Scotia’s DAVE GUNNING is in the same category. Dave is billed as a folk singer, but I think this album will be of interest to Country fans, who enjoy well crafted songs, in the style of Ian Tyson or Gordon Lightfoot.
“Lift” (Wee House Of Music) is his 11th album, and features 13 diverse songs, all written, or co written by Gunning himself.
The album kicks off with “They Don’t Do That No More”, a song about changes in the way we live over the years. It’s a nice song that gets you interested in the rest of the album.
Many of the songs are based on bygone years, such as “A Tractor”, which tells of a tractor dealer who took horses as down payments. Dave’s delivery on this track is really effective.
“Breakers Yard” tells of a boy whose life long attachment to his boat, which is past it’s working life. Only writers from fishing communities could come up with a song like this.
“I Robbed The Company Store” is apparently a true story of Highland Scottish settlers who arrived in Dave’s hometown, Pictou County in 1773. They found that it wasn’t the life of land and honey, and this is a father’s story of doing whatever it took to feed his children.
“Sing It Louder”, is a tribute to Pete Seeger, and features some nice choir accompaniment.
The stand out track for me is “Alberta Gold”, an upbeat story of chasing the goldrush. It’s a real catchy number.
There are nice ballads in “Love Fell In”, “To Be With You” and “Pasadena”, co-written by Catherine McLelland (daughter of Gene, who wrote “Snowwbird”)
The album also features some neat banjo and fiddle by JP Cormier.
I really quite enjoyed this album. One that I think I’ll be playing a lot of.
Another Canadian singer songwriter that is already making his mark over here is Scott Cook. He has released five albums in the past eight years, whilst he travels the world playing festivals and touring everywhere from his native Canada to Europe, Asia & Australia.
This time his band get in on the credits, as they are billed as SCOTT COOK and the LONG WEEKENDS, with the new album, “Go Long” (Groove Revival). The band take their name from the endless festivals (at least 10 a year) that they play.
The atmosphere from such events shine through on this album. It’s a really refreshing set of upbeat songs that really give off some fun vibes, especially “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”, “The Day That You Were Born” and their own “Long Weekends Theme”.
“Live Down Here” is a fun song, with a bit of a reggae feel to it. The song brings up several situations of being down below some other happening, whether it be upstairs, North Dakota or Seagulls and Oysters. It’s a bit of a nonsense song, but really catchy.
“Sweet Maddie Spawton” is a rip roaring uptempo number about a real badass woman, Scott says.
“Talkin’ Anthropocalype Blues”, must be one of music’s strangest ever titles. It’s essentially a talky record, but delivered at such speed. It reminded me of Jerry Reed, but with a raw edge to it.
There’s a bit of politics on “Tax Free Money” and the slower “Drink Poverty History”, which namechecks Bob Geldoff, Bono and Russell Brand. “While The Party’s Still Going” is another slower number that rounds off the 13 track album.
The accompanied booklet is quite impressive. Running to 48 pages, it not only has the lyrics, but chords, stories about the songs, a game called Beersbie, and even an explanation to the Nashville Numbers System.
It’s a fun album, that no long weekend should be without !
Still with the Canadians, BEN KUNDER is a new name to me. He’s a part time carpenter, actor and aspiring songwriting. He’s lived on the west coast, the east coast, and is back in his hometown of Toronto. Seven years work has went into his debut album, “Golden”.
He wrote all nine tracks on the CD, and is supported by a stellar cast of musicians, including Anna Ruddick and Jasmine Bleile from Ladies Of The Canyon, and Cowboy Junkies’ Aaron Goldstien.
The title track is a listenable ballad, but I was more taken with the more uptempo “Half Moon”. “Travelling”, which opens the album, is a pleasant mid tempo number, whilst “Bags And Barrels”, “Against All Odds” and “Love And Motion” are slower, haunting ballads. “Don’t Dance” is another soft ballad, which probably just edged the others.
An interesting album which will appeal to those into singer songwriters.
Another alternative offering from Canada next. MURDER MURDER describe themselves as a “Bloodgrass” band, mixing bluegrass with Outlaw Country and murder ballads. They are a six piece outfit, featuring a full bluegrass string band. But they are much more than that.
Formed in 2013, “From The Stillhouse” is their second full CD release, which will be released here following a recent UK tour, which did include Glasgow & Edinburgh dates.
Their music is, in the main, fast paced driving bluegrass, most notable on tracks like “Evil Wind”, “Movin’ On” and “Alberta Oil” (which sounds very much like The Good Brothers’ “Alberta Bound”).
“When The Lord Calls Your Name” is an epic classic country story song running over 5 minutes in length. It’s a very different track to the rest of the album.
There’s also a cover of Guy Clark’s “The Last Gunfighter Ballad”.
This album was a complete blast. So much energy, so much originality, and just a great CD to listen to.
MEG BRAUN is a singer songwriter from Ohio, but it was whilst living in New York that she got the songwriting bug. She has just released her third album, “Restless Moon”, which features a really nice set of mainly original material.
There is a theme running through the album. She has written about seemingly ordinary women who have had to make extraordinary choices in their lives.
The album opens with the bluesy “Gypsy Moon”, a song about a woman who plots her way out of a loveless relationship. Then, “June 16th 1935” tells of a mother in her old age, wondering about the daughter she gave up for adoption. There’s the story of the woman promised in marriage to the wealthiest man in town against her will. That’s the old timey bluegrass song, ”Holland Town”, which is one of the stand out tracks on the album.
I also liked the simple down home feel of “The Leaving Kind”.
During the past few years, Meg has teamed up to write with fellow singer songwriter Diana Jones. Their work is represented in “Drunkard’s Daughter”, a bluegrass tinged song, featuring some lovely mandolin and dobro. It also lets Meg’s vocals come to the fore.
There is one cover on the album, a beautiful duet with Pat Victor (Brother Sun) on the old Carter Family number “The Storms are On The Ocean”.
Altogether, I found this to be a very pleasant listen. Lovely arrangements, and a really nice voice from Meg Braun.
THE DEEP HOLLOW are a trio from Illinois, consisting of Elizabeth Eckert, Dave Littrell and Micah Walk. From listening to their self titled debut album, I can certainly detect that their harmonies are their strong point. They claim that their influences range from Brandi Carlile, The Avett Brothers and Celtic Connections visitor Jason Isbel. That’s quite a variety!
All three were previously involved in the music scene, but it wasn’t until they started writing together, that they all found the missing links they had each been looking for. On the way to recording this album, they won American Songwriter magazine’s 30th Anniversary songwriting competition for “Devil”, just one of the 12 songs featured on this CD. That song is a strong vocal harmony folk rock number.
I would say that many of the tracks lean more to a folk sound, but there are a few tracks that appeal to Country listeners.
“Beginning And The End” has a simple acoustic bluegrass feel to it, whilst “They All Say” has a morning after honky tonk feel to it.
“Clipped Wings” is a gentle, melodic number which closed the album.
But the track to listen out for is “The Chance Worth Taking”. It starts off quite folky, but develops into a good acoustic Country number. Elizabeth’s vocals, when breaking out of the harmonies, add quite a Nashville sound to the song.
A pleasant listen, though not all Country by any means.
REBECCA PRONSKY is a Brooklyn, New York, born singer songwriter, who has just released her sixth album, “Known Objects” (ACME Hall Studios). She is no stranger to Scottish audiences, having toured here several times in the past few years.
I have to be honest that her previous material didn’t leave an impression on me, but this new collection certainly does.
She kicks off with “Bag Of Bones”, a catchy opener that really got me interested.
“Nothing Yet” has a bit of a rocky intro, but settles down to quite a catchy number that I really liked.
“Did You Know” is a slower paced number, starting off with simple piano. It really let her vocals come to the fore. As the song developed into a catchy Carpenters styled song that you just felt you had heard before. “Blue Skies” is another ballad. I have to say that, on these ballads, her vocals are more akin to bluesy jazz style. There are other ballads, like “No Matter”, which her vocals are more natural and appealing.
Rebecca is one of these singer songwriters you cannot categorise.
She’s a singer- songwriter. She writes and sounds good. Check her out.
Continuing with the singer songwriters and to BEN BEDFORD, a chap from Springfield, Illinois. “The Pilot And The Flying Machine” (Waterbug Records) is his fourth album. Interestingly, Ben decided to move out of the studio setting, and recorded this collection of songs at Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church in his hometown in early January. Ben and his guitar, were joined by Diederik van Wassenaer on Violin & Viola, and Ethan Jodziewicz on double bass, and his wife Kari on harmonies. Despite the small ensemble, they produced a full sound.
All the songs were written by Ben.
He captures a number of journeys through the songs here, whether it be following in Mark Twain’s footsteps across Nebraska & Iowa on “Letters From The Earth”, or “Prairy Erth”, a bird’s eye flight across Chase County, Kansas. There’s even a song about a 3D model of the solar system covered in “Orrery”.
“The Voyage Of John and Emma” had quite an interesting sound. It’s a tale of transatlantic voyage from Northern England to New Orleans, and up the Mississippi to Illinois. Capturing the British end, it does have quite a folksy feel to it.
It’s quite a pleasant listen. Another that will appeal to fans of acoustic singer songwriters.
WILD PONIES are a duo Telisha & Doug Williams, who release their second album, “Radiant”(No Evil Records) this month to tie in with a tour down south.
All 11 tracks were written by the pair, with Telisha taking the main vocal role on most of the tracks. I have to honest and say that the two tracks that stood out for me were the two that Doug vocals are featured on.
“Mom & Pop” is the most Country track, dealing with growing up in a different way to that of our parents.
“Love Is Not A Sin” features both vocalists harmonising together. This song was adopted by the LGBT Equality groups. It is a nice song, and possibly the stand out track.
The other tracks tend to be just too rocky, or just didn’t catch my imagination.
And finally…another mini-album comes from Southern Louisiana’s ROD MELANCON. His 5 track CD “LA14” (Blue Elan Records) shows several very different sides to him.
The opening track, “Perry” is quite rocky, and “Lights Of Carencro” even heavier.
But then on “Dwayne & Me”, and “A Man Like Me Shouldn’t Own a Gun”, he sounds so Country. The former is a bit of a heavy storytelling ballad, whilst the second title is a quick paced fun number. Very contrasting styles.
Then, “By Her Side”, which closes the CD, is much more of a ballad, laced with some nice steel.
Quite an interesting offering. I’m not sure what direction Rid is going. Hopefully, he’ll take one of his Country roads.