Sunday, 24 July 2016

The first 6 months of the year - my favourites so far: part 3

Birds of Chicago - Real Midnight

I first discovered Alison Russell as part of the excellent roots band Po'Girl (Trish Klein and Awna Teixera) and J.T Nero through his superb albums with his band the Clouds. Birds of Chicago offers a fine combination of the talents of the two singer songwriters who also happen to be married. Add to this Joe Henry as producer and you have one mighty fine album. The record has been described as melancholy but never shoe-gazing. I've harvested tracks from this album for my playlists often. Standouts for me are Remember wild horses, Real midnight and Dim star of the palisades.

Susanna Rose - Snowbound 

Someone who describes themselves as writing poems and making them into songs has an appeal for me. Susanna Rose is one of those people. She started to learn guitar and write songs while residing in London in 2009. Back in Rochester, New York with some songs penned Susanna released her debut album. However it was 2016 that her music first appeared over my musical horizon. The album was recorded between 2014 and 2015 with the music coming together in her third floor apartment as the snow fell. Not a surprise perhaps that is acquired the title it did. 

Snowbound offers gorgeous acoustic music, maybe a bit of a Joni influence, but Susanna is very much her own person, a unique singer songwriter. I urge you to go and discover her music.

Winter Wilson - Ashes and Dust

Kip Winter and Dave Wilson's last album Cutting Free was amongst the ten best folk albums for summer 2014 in The Telegraph. This new record from the Lincolnshire-based duo, who went full-time as musicians in 2012, has garnered many deservedly glowing reviews. When I was sent a copy of their album I found myself very quickly hooked. I would suggest it's worth buying the album for the song Austerity alone. Doreen and Joe and To hell with Monday morning are yet further reasons why you need to add this album to your collection.

Kip and Dave are lovely people too. They played a live session on my show in June and were great company both on and off air. I'm hoping they'll be happy to revisit the Quiet Revolution studio before too long.

Carter Sampson - Wilder side

Carter Sampson is a new voice to me, one of my discoveries of 2016. Yet it's this Oklahoma singer songwriter's fourth full-length release. I admit I was sold early on after hearing the title song, after all anyone that references James Taylor has got to be good. From setting the bar high on the lead in track Carter holds the quality to the last note on the final song.  Heartbreak and the open road are clear influences on her songwriting through the album and she's assisted by another great country voice
John Moreland. Carter has earned comparisons to Emmylou Harris and Patsy Cline and while I can see those I'd also suggest that Nanci Griffith might be added to that list.  A pretty impressive list of classy country musicians to draw comparison with.

I like this album a lot and will be digging into it's riches further as the weeks and months progress.

Reg Meuross - December

Reg is a Somerset-based singer songwriter who was in the band The Panic Brothers and performed solo before releasing his first album in 1996. He's written many beautiful songs over that period of time. I was a massive fan of his England Green and England Grey album which came out in 2014.
His latest album December was recorded in London in a pretty short space of time, 2 days with Roy Dodds producing. His 1994 Martin guitar found in San Jose is key to this album. I won't go into the story here but have a look at Reg's website, the link for which is below.

I keep going back to December and always find another track I want to play. Current highlights for me? I'd go for When you needed me, The night, Man in a boat and I want you. Another day I could choose The day she never cried and The hands of a woman. Move to another day...well, you get the picture. It's an excellent album. Why not check it out and then start exploring Reg's back catalogue?

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The first 6 months of 2016 and my favourites so far - Part 2

Jones - Happy Blue 

Trevor Jones is one half of the excellent band Miracle Mile. Marcus Cliffe who is the other half of that fine combo is very much part of this record too as co-producer in addition to playing piano, upright bass and electric guitar on the album. Notable mention for BJ Cole and Melvin Duffy who add some glorious pedal steel. It's a gorgeous album with songs of loss and love. The photography is damn impressive too care of Di Holmes.

Happy Blue is one you really should have in your collection. Worth buying for Battersea Boy and the title track alone. And yes I did include the album in my best of 2015 round-up as I was fortunate enough to have got a copy at the end of that year, however the official release is 2016 so it can comfortably sit in this list too.

Paul McClure - Songs for Anyone

Paul McClure, the Rutland Troubadour, is a very good friend of the Quiet Revolution. He's played two superb live sessions on the show in the last couple of years and hopefully will be in the studio again before too long. I just loved his last album Smiling from the floor up and played numerous tracks from it on the show. I still go back to it.

The new album, Songs for Anyone is another release on the excellent Clubhouse Records. Joe Bennett of another brilliant band, The Dreaming Spires, is in the producer's seat for this one and as with Smiling it's great that Hannah Elton-Wall, of fellow Clubhouse signing (and very very good they are) The Redlands Palomino Company sings alongside Paul on some of the songs here. Masses to enjoy on this album, there's the title track, Everyday is mine to spend,  live favourites I could be a happy man, Yesterday's lie's and Unremarkable me. Going back to Paul's day's as part of the Hi-Lo there's a new version of  My little ray of sunshine too. Go on, check this album out for yourself, you'll find you play it lots.

Applewood Road - Applewood Road

Emily Barker has been collaborating with a whole range of different musicians since her band the Red Clay Halo were put on hold. The Australian singer songwriter based in Gloucestershire met with songwriters Amy Speace and Amber Rubarth in September of 2014. This was in a cafe in East Nashville. They recorded their first song called Applewood Road and released it as a digital download. Thankfully there was more to come and a full album emerged earlier this year.

The vocal harmonies are simply beautiful. It's an old-timey country-inflected album. Yet whilst having echoes of the past it's also very much of today, yes I know it sounds like a contradiction.
My advice is have a listen, I'm convinced you'll be hooked.

Gill Sandell - Songs of our years

Neatly following on from Applewood Road, Gill Sandell is a member of Emily Barker's band the Red Clay Halo. She also happens to be a solo artist with three albums to her name, released via her own Rowan Tree label. Gill has played on the show a couple of times, once in 2012 following on from her first album's release Tarry Awhile and in May of this year. Gill is also a great collaborator and released a lovely album of mainly covers in 2015 with Chris T-T called Walk Away, Walk Away. Please check out Chris's music too if you possibly can. But I digress slightly.

Songs of our years is a gorgeous record containing 12 original songs recorded at the Livingston Studios. In common with Jones Happy Blue, loss has inspired the songs on Gill's album. Talented fellow musicians appear alongside Gill including Red Clay Halo bandmates Jo Silverstone and Anna Jenkins, Ted Barnes, Kristin McClement and Samantha Whates - fine musicians all.  If you like compelling songs, beautiful soft vocals and strings and piano to accompany I'd encourage you to investigate Songs of our years further.

Kreg Viesselman - To the mountain

I discovered Norwegian singer songwriter Kreg Viesellman by way of a cover of his song Share Croppers (found on his album The Pull) played by Kirsty McGee and Mat Martin when they played at the Musician in Leicester some years back. I then investigated his music further. I liked what I heard. To the light was the follow up to the Pull and then earlier this year came To the mountain. All three albums have a great deal to offer, much to enjoy.

Producer Bjarne Stensli apparently advised Kreg on the recording of this album to"just sit down, open your notebook and start playing". Clearly this advice worked as within an hour of the first session four songs that were to form part of To the mountain were recorded. Highlights on the album for me are Crazy horse, David, The inefficiency waltz and the title track. Try something new, check out Kreg Viesselman's music.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The first 6 months of 2016 - my favourites so far Part 1

2016 is proving to be another great year for music.  There have been releases from long-standing favourite artists and lots of albums from new voices to me that I've been delighted to stumble upon thanks to kindly promoters or the artists themselves.

It's a long list, so here are some of them.

David Berkeley - Cardboard Boat

David is a singer songwriter based in Sante Fe and Carboard Boat is his sixth album release but the first to come onto my musical radar. It's a beautiful album which once you discover it I feel sure you'll really like.

Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles - Soon Enough

Erin grew up in Jackson, Tennessee and Soon Enough is her superb debut release accompanied by her band the Meanwhiles. Over here it is released on the ever excellent Clubhouse Records, another fine signing from Danny and Tristan Tipping who run the label. Erin is a new discovery for me, I'm so glad to have heard her music.

Monticello is difficult to resist from the album and the whole record is a joy from beginning to end.

Peter James Millson - The Red Cafe

Peter James Millson is a very talented photographer. He also just happens to be a fantastic singer songwriter who I first discovered when I was sent a copy of his debut album Sweet the love that meets return which is well worth adding to your collection if you haven't got a copy already.

Peter's prolific too, there's an album called True or False which will hopefully be out later in the year. In May he released The Red Cafe tracks from which have graced my Quiet Revolution playlist over recent months. It's a wonderful follow-up to Sweet the love from this Bridport-based singer songwriter and photographer. And in the spirit of full disclosure Peter has played on the show and has very kindly given me a dedication in the sleeve notes.

Show of Hands - The Long Way Home

A new release from my all-time favourite duo is something to look forward to and The Long Way Home doesn't disappoint. In some ways this album marks a move back to Steve Knightley and Phil Beer's earlier albums, their days as duo before they became a three-piece band with Miranda Sykes.
It took me a while to adjust back to the change but it didn't take long. Miranda plays on the album yet although Steve and Phil are very much to the fore. It works incredibly well.  Check it out for yourself.

Vanessa Peters - The burden of unshakeable proof

I confess I'm a big fan of Vanessa's music. I loved her 2015 album with the Sentimentals and the new one comes pretty hot on the heels of that. She's based in Dallas, Texas and the new album was recorded in a newly built professional grade recording studio with 27 songs being written and demo-ed before deciding on the ones that would find their way onto the album. The songs are as good as ever and the cover art for this record is pretty impressive too.

The Black Feathers - Soaked to the bone

Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler are Gloucestershire based, married in 2012 and released a fine EP before Soaked to the bone, their debut album came out in February 2016. They make a great sound with influences of folk, americana and alt-country. They're excellent live too so if you get the chance to see them play take it.

I've played quite a few tracks from the album on the show and it won't be too long before I'm digging into it again.

Aoife O'Donovan - In the magic hour

I remember seeing Aoife O'Donovan play once, at the Stamford Arts Centre, when she was part of the contemporary bluegrass outfit Crooked Still. In the set was a cover of Bob Dylan's Oxford Town which was just superb. On her second solo record, the follow up to the lovely Fossils, if you buy the deluxe version with an extra EP Aoife offers her excellent version of Joni Mitchell's You turn me on, I'm a radio. The rest of the album is self-written and mighty fine it is too. I encourage you to discover the music of this Brooklyn-based artist for yourself.

Yorkston, Thorne and Khan - Everything sacred

I've long enjoyed the music of James Yorkston and this trio record in which he is joined by Jon Thorne and Suhail Yusuf Khan is a very different. It's almost folk and world music combined. It works wonderfully well to these ears.  On their website the trio describe it as "Scottish-Irish-Indian-English music". There are some originals combined with a great cover of the much missed Ivor Cutler's Little Black Buzzer. Have a listen and keep an open mind (and open ears) and I think you will find a great deal to like in this record.