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Tuesday 15 March 2011

Aug 2010

First up this time around, let my introduced you to THE ROYS, a new brother/sister act taking Nashville by storm. Their new album, “Comin’ Back Around” (Pedestal Records) , their second release, comes out in September.
Born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts to French-Canadian parents, Elaine and Lee showed an early affinity for music, a natural pull that only intensified when the family moved to New Brunswick, Canada.
While Elaine took guitar lessons, Lee taught himself to play drums on barrels and buckets, eventually adding bass, guitar, mandolin and keys to his repertoire. Lee formed his first band, a bluegrass band, before the family moved back south of the border. But the music was in their blood, and Nashville was calling.
Their “Good Days” CD got great reviews, and their new 15 track offering will further enhance their careers.
They have superb harmony,as only siblings can offer, although they share the lead vocals. The music is modern, not too far removed from Sugarland, but with a much more pleasant vocal style. The album kicks off with their current American single, “Beautiful”, which has a real good radio friendly sound to it.
Elaine then carries on with the uptempo numbers in “Trailblazer”.
They reach out to the traditional fan, with a great song title dropping number in “They Shaped The Country”. I also liked “Right Back at You”, written and sung by Elaine. It probably ranks as my favourite track on the album. It features some nice steel guitar and fiddle, giving it a real traditional homespun sound.
They can do a mean ballad too, as demonstrated on “All That’s Been Done”, and “Those Were the Days”, both with Lee on lead vocals.
There’s also a tribute to the “American Farmer” which closes the collection.
They prove themselves, not only as performers, but also as good songwriters. All 15 tracks were written, either by both, or co-written by one of the family duo.
I really enjoyed this album. The Roys have a good modern sound, which retains a lot of Country influence. They are certainly a name to keep an eye and ear open for.

CHARLEE PORTER is from Sweden , where she runs a monthly “Country House” venue. She’s also a very capable singer songwriter on her own.
“Heartstrings” is her second album. I recall being impressed with her first collection, but this new album is just simply superb. She demonstrates a superb vocal style, with very interesting acoustic arrangements.
“Driven” , “Missing You” and “Country House”, especially, have some neat banjo arrangements. There’s also nice ballads, like “Broken”, which has quite a folksy feel to it.
I have to mention “Doggy”, a catchy song, about giving a name to the new puppy. Who would’ve thought that a song could be written about that, but it works really well.
“Drifter” which closes the album, was recorded in Charlee’s home, really shows off her vocal skills, with the absolute minimum of instrumentation.
I’m constantly amazed at the quality of original Country music coming out of Europe. Charlee Porter is no exception. She’s very highly recommended.

California born, Oklahoma raised KEVIN WELCH has charted five singles on the charts and released eight studio albums, and was one of the co founders of the Dead Reckoning Records label, but it’s probably as a writer that he has had most success. Singers like Ricky Skaggs, Waylon Jennings, Patty Loveless, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Don Williams have all used his material.
In Europe he is known mainly for his hit "Something About You" (contained in his 1981 album Western Beat) which was used as background music in Tuborg's commercials.
More recently , he was part of the Kane Welch Kaplin, touring trio with Lucas Kane and Fats Kaplin. He’ll be back in October for Glasgow’s Americana Festival, and his latest album, “A Patch Of Blue Sky” has just been released here on Music Road label.
All ten songs were written, or co-written by Welch, and were recorded in Texas. The songs all have a raw Texas feel to them. Eliza Gilkyson joins Kevin on “Andaman Sea”, which is one of the stand out tracks.
“Long Gone Dream” also quite appealled to me. Also worth a listen, is “Come A Rain”, inspired by a statement by Kevin’s son, Dustin, that “If Woody Guthrie were alive today, he would be a punk”. Find out what Kevin had to say about Hank Williams, Jesus, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, and more.

TONYA KENNEDY is a proud Newfoundland Gal ~ living in Barrie, Ontario. Over the past couple of years Tonya has quietly been establishing her place in the Canadian Country Music scene by charting with 3 singles released to radio & also being the opening act for many established Canadian stars
Tonya began her pursuit of music in 1999 where as a Pop Rock singer soon realised that her passion was in the world of Country music. In 2005 Tonya was crowned the KX96 Super Star Search winner. Her grand prize was an opportunity to record and release a country song to Canadian Radio. Today Tonya is a dedicated & driven country music singer songwriter. She offers a unique sound that some say might remind you of a young Tanya Tucker or Carlene Carter.
All but two of the tracks on her “Lucky I Lost You” album were self written. The opening track is one of the exceptions. It’s the old Bryan Adams/Suzy Quarto hit, “ When You’re Gone”, where Tonya has teamed up with Colin Amey, already an established Canadian recording artist.
It’s a really catchy song. It always was, but this version has a really neat backing to it. Also worth a mention is “If You’re Phone Doesn’t Ring”, an pacey radio friendly song about a rocky relationship. Most of the songs are uptempo, but she does a good job on “Anything For You”, which proves she can write and perform a good ballad too.
Tonya’s sound is very modern Country pop. It’s ideal for radio play in North America. The production is superb.
Well worth checking out at

Another Canadian act worth listening out for is The C-DENNY BAND.
They are a family band from Rutherglen, Ontario, whose music has been described as “turbo-grass, outlaw-folk and progressive Country”. Essentially they are a bluegrass band, who have much more to offer. They have twice showcased at the IBMA in Nashville, and were nominated as Gospel Group at Canada’s Bluegrass Awards.
“Takin’ Flight” is their second album. It features quite a variety, from the rockin’ “Jacked In, Cranked Up, Turned On”,to the gospel flavoured “Poor Man’s Blues”, and the sad “Goodnight Daddy”.
Their main man is Denis Chadburn, who had a hand in writing all 11 songs on the album. The group also features daughters Emily-Ann and Juleann, who both play fiddle, and stepdance.
The album is quite a pleasent listen. For a bluegrass band, there’s not a strong bluegrass influence, but quite listenable, all the same.

JENI & BILLY have an unique old timey quaintness to their music that I just found quite irresistable.
“Longing For Heaven” , a feast of Appalachian folk & fidle music, was released to coincide with their recent visit to England. Sadly they didn’t come north this time around.
They met in 2005 when Jeni was recording at Billy’s studio in Maryland. Within months they had started writing & performing together. Recorded in a small intimate cabin in North Carolina, there is an special intimacy coming across on the 10 track collection.They certainly have a magical blend, if this album is anything to go by.
The couple wrote 6 of the songs, with their arrangements of 4 other traditional and old time tunes making up the album . The music is simply guitars, banjo, harmonica, mandolin and bass, with added fiddle on one track. They really recreate the era of The Carter Family and Dr Ralph Stanley.
This is real old fashioned, round the fire, communal singing type of album. It was a delight to listen to. I couldn’t fairly pick a favourite, but “If I Ever Get Ten Dollars”, which closes the album , just edges above the others. Some of the gospel inspired songs, like “Father Will You Meet Me In Heaven” , also made an impression on me.
There’s also three video’s on the disc, including onewith a Scottish connection. “Henry Lee” is a traditional song about a “Scotland Man”. This song isn’t on the Audio CD, just on the video, alongside the song lyrics.
Check out Jeni Hankins & Billy Kemp at

THE RUNNING KIND are described as Alt-Country Rockers who took their name from the Merle Haggard song. Their second release , “ The Girl For All The World”, is a strong mix of Bakersfield Country & Americana, with lots of superb steel guitar.
The group are a six piece outfit, which can trace its roots back to Massachusetts. That’s where the group’s nucleaus of Leslie Ann and Matt Bosson went to school together. But these days they certainly have a west coast Californian Country sound.
Most obvious, they do a superb version of Gram Parson’s “Return Of The Grevious Angel”, but they also cover Neil Young’s “Dont Cry No Tears”, and George Jone’s “Life To Go”. The latter, probably the most challenging, but it really works. Doing a female vocal cover of a Jones classic could’ve been risky, but it works really well. Leslie leads the vocals on all but three of the ten tracks. They guys take over on “Seemed Like A Good Idea”, a real party style honky tonk song.
I was pleasantly suprised at this album from a group I had never heard of before. I hope to hear a lot more.
Check them out at

ROY SCHNEIDER is an up-and-coming Florida based singer/songwriter whose songs are creating a buzz in the world of Americana and contemporary Folk music. Ending a nationally syndicated comic strip in 2008 to focus on his lifelong musical goals, he has already shared stages with such respected artists as Sam Bush, The Indigo Girls, The Steeldrivers and Rodney Crowell. He has just released his 3rd studio album , 'Erleichda' (Shiny Gnu Records) which includes 'Angels Along the Road,' the song that took him to the prestigious Grassy Hill New Folk competition at the 2009 Kerrville Folk Festival.
After a decade honing his performance skills in local haunts and the occasional competition, Roy played his first ten-state tour in the summer of 2009 with a concentration in the southeastern United States. Inspired by the southern experience,Roy is bringing his music to the UK in September.
All but one of the 13 tracks on the album is self written by Roy. The exception is “Brokedown Palace” which closes the album. A slow ballad written by Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter.
They are all well crafted stories, with a running theme of rural roads. With titles like “South In The Summertime”, “Angels Along The Road”, “Carraige”, and “Life Keeps Moving”, you kinda get the feel of the album. There’s also an instrumental with the unlikely title of “Dancing With a Horse”, which is quite pleasant.
It’s not a rocky album, but does have quite a Mellencamp sound to it. My favourites would be “Living The Dream” and “No Rest For The Nature Boy”, although the uptempo “So Crazy” is also quite catchy.

I first saw THE QUEBE SISTERS on Rural TV’s Marty Stuart Show, and what a breath of fresh air they are. They specialize in Western Swing and old Cowboy songs. On their album “Timeless”, which has been released here to tie in with a short tour down south ,you’ll find classics like “ Georgia On My Mind”, “Along The Navajo Trail” , “Tumbling Tumbleweeds”, “Roly Poly” and “Across The Alley From The Alamo”, all done in the unique Quebe Sisters style.
They say nobody harmonies like family, and Grace, Sophia & Hulda certainly harmonise beautifully, not only vocally, but also on triple fiddle. The band is made up by two guys, Joey McKenzie on rythym guitar and Drew Phillips on upright bass.
Although recorded in Tennessee, these are Texas gals, with an authentic Texan sound.
It’s real Country & Western music. Well worth checking out at

LARKIN POE are two young sisters, Rebecca & Megan Lovell, aged 19 & 20, who hail from Georgia, in America’s Deep south. Despite their youth, they have years of experience, having appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, and at Bonaroo, Merlefest and Telluride Festivals. They were previously two third’s of The Larkin sisters, with big sister Jessica. Rebecca plays guitar and mandolin, whilst Megan picks dobro, lapsteel and ukelele, and are supported by four guys on their new CD. They changed their name to recognise their great-great-great grandfather, who obviously was a historic source of stories.
And stories are big on these girls list. They bill themselves as sisters, musiclovers and storytellers. They were renowned for hounding family,and later bookshelves for stories.
They have just released a 9 track EP (more than some full albums) called “Spring”. Their sound is very acoustic , and all songs, or should that be stories, are written by either one, or both of the sisters. They harmonise beautifully.
The album kicks off with bright & breezy “Long Hard Fall”, which is the only uptempo track on the collection. But their stories are well worth a listen.

Finally, LOUISE MORRISSEY is one of Ireland’s longest established country girl singer’s, and a new album is always welcome from her.
Her latest collection is a 13 track collection on CMR Records titled “You Raise Me Up”. We probably dont need another version of that song, but Louise does an exceptionally good version of the song. She also takes on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, aiming at mainstream audiences.
She features a couple of duets. Along with John McNichol, she does a great version of The Louvin’s “How’s The World Treating You”, and is joined by Isla Grant on Gail Davies’ “Someone Is Looking For Someone Like You”. This was originally featured on Isla’s duets album.
In fact Isla does quite well on this album. In addition to the duet, Louise has recorded no less than four of Isla’s songs.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a little Irish on “My Connermara Marble Ring”, and a bit of Judds nostalgia on “Young Love”. But for me the stand out track is the traditional “My Fathers Love”. It’s a very traditional sounding song, but extremely well delivered.

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