Sunday, 25 November 2012

Bobby Wills - If It Was That Easy On Ramp Records

After spending a number of years in essence serving a country music apprenticeship, Canadian artist Bobby Wills finally believes he has a record that may permeate the mainstream market. However in realisation of how tough it can be to crack the corporate driven Nashville labels and their tight collaboration with country radio, Bobby and his team are prepared to widen their appeal and have included Europe as a target audience for future development.
IF IT WAS THAT EASY is in effect the second full length release for Bobby Wills but the team assembled during its production has ensured that the final finished package is a top notch effort with a quality sound that should be the signal to alert the big guns. The album is a straight down the middle good ole country record that has a sufficient modern touch to its creation to sit comfortably amongst the leading lights of the Music Row- centred country music community. At a compact ten tracks long and just shy of 40 minutes running time, Bobby has managed to cover most bases of country music content while managing to leave the listener longing for a little more. This is a great trait of any record.

Apart from the vocal and guitar-playing talents of Bobby, a major asset of this record is the production and writing skills of three stalwarts of the Nashville and Muscle Shoals scene who in the past have worked with such illustrious artists as Reba McEntire, George Strait and Faith Hill. This team headed by producer Michael Pyle and including both Walt Aldridge and Wade Kirby have worked as a unit with Bobby on all ten original tracks, sharing the writing credits between them.

Like so much of country music, the strength of many of these songs is the innate ability to take a real life emotion and weave it into a simple but effective tale. The opening track, ‘Show Some Respect’, which has also been subjected to initial promotion, is a neatly linked chain of personal observations all underpinned by the moral of the title. This style and topic has served Brad Paisley well in the past and Bobby’s attempt is equally laudable. Another impressive number on the album is the metaphorical ‘Ceilings and Floors’ with its theme of desiring a better life for your off-springs. The title track ‘If It Was That Easy’, that concludes the album, remarks on the struggles incurred when striving to fulfil your dreams which could almost be autobiographical for Bobby.
As you would expect from any country record, the ubiquitous cheating song is included and from a personal point of view, the cleverly titled ‘Did My Back Hurt Your Knife’ is the most enjoyable track of this collection. Combined with the smart lyrical input of Wills/Pyle, the song is held together by a sound that, while remaining fresh, harks back to a more traditional era. The second song earmarked for promotion off the record is ‘Somebody Will’, an uplifting track benefitting from increased guitar amplification and rousing backing harmonies. Despite committing a ‘grammar crime’ in its title, ‘Done Quittin’’ slows things down sufficiently to impress with echoes of a touch of Kenny Chesney influence.

Bobby Wills has definitely made a valiant attempt in creating a record that will fit perfectly in the mature sound often featured in elements of mainstream country music and its associated radio stations. The rest is down to the marketing men and probably a large element of good fortune. However regardless of the level of success attained on the way, this album will definitely swell the fan base of Bobby and help him in finding his own niche in country music. There is certainly a market in the UK waiting to appreciate his talents.
                                                      Show Some Respect

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Laurie Levine - Six Winters 2Feet Music

For a nation with a sizable portion of their population possessing northern European roots, there is surprisingly little known about the South African music scene that embraces a traditional sound emulating that from both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, this is about to change as Laurie Levine sets out on a journey to leave the warmth of a southern hemisphere summer and promote her brand of folk/roots to a new but surely appreciative audience about to descend into the long dark northern European winter. On the evidence of this recently released album (new to the UK although debuted in South Africa in 2011), aptly titled SIX WINTERS, the wait for spring may just feel a little shorter as connoisseurs of fine music have a highly accomplished new record to add to their listening collection.
While the record draws much of its influence from the American roots music of Appalachia, it would be inappropriate just to label it another Americana release especially for an artist who has moulded an original sound in her native South Africa. The distinct vocals of Laurie gracefully adorn each well constructed and intelligent track while the musical accompaniment comprises of a virtually complete set of sounds you would expect from a recording of country roots music. Pedal steel, banjo, mandolin, accordion et al are subtly integrated into each track to give the album a traditional feel that will inevitably draw comparisons with the rich heritage of Americana-influenced music.

SIX WINTERS is the third full length album from Laurie and is available in both a standard 12-track format as well as a deluxe edition containing three extra songs including a couple from an earlier release and an acoustic number called ‘Dear Johnny’. All but two of the tracks are solely credited to Laurie with the exception being ‘Heaven’s Door’, co-written with fellow band contributor Lize Wild, and the solitary cover ‘Ring of Fire’. While the inclusion of the latter is usually somewhat clichéd, it is to the credit of Laurie that her radically slowed down version adds value to the original.
It is almost rude to mention a cover first when a talented singer-songwriter has packed their album with so many delightful original compositions so let’s quickly move onto the highlights of the record. Several repeated listens have probably earmarked the title track as the album’s defining moment. ‘Six Winters’ has a fantastic chorus structure that implants the song firmly in your mind with a little elegant violin to ease it to its conclusion. The banjo introduction to ‘Where Have You Gone’ sets the scene for another fine track that peaks with a memorable chorus. The rhythmic and haunting ‘Oh Brother’ opens the album with a subtle backbeat and effective backing harmonies supporting the listeners introduction to Laurie’s enchanting vocal style. There is a timeless feel to the closing song of the standard album; the very appropriately named ‘So Long Farewell’ a simple but extremely effective sing along number accompanied by lightly flavoured banjo picking. The bookending of the track with a gramophone style crackle adds to the traditional atmosphere that the song is evoking.

The lyrical content of most of the tracks implies an enormous depth to Laurie’s song writing and they certainly invoke the flipside to highly explicit story telling. They are best explored on a personal basis and in sync with the melodies that Laurie and her musical collaborators have created to support them. The strength of this album is the amalgam of the sophisticated song writing and simple arrangements, all held together by the striking vocal style of Laurie.
So welcome to the UK, Laurie Levine, with the live performance of this album being eagerly anticipated. It may also signal an influx of artists from the perhaps soon-to be discovered rich seam of South African talent showcasing their interpretation of Americana–style, folk and roots music.

                                                               Oh Brother

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bob Cheevers - Smoke & Mirrors Back 9 Records

For an artist who has written over 3000 songs and is perennially on the road, you get the distinct impression that Bob Cheevers doesn’t do things in small measures. Therefore it is of little surprise that his latest release sees the veteran performer deciding not to go down the route of recording a straightforward album, instead taking the double option and including 23 tracks split over 2 discs. As expected, SMOKE & MIRRORS is a twin record full of self-penned songs that reflect the observations, wanderings and thoughts of this well-travelled singer-songwriter.

For those unaware of the work of Bob Cheevers, take the vocal sound of Willie Nelson and the imagery of Tom Russell and you start to get to the crux of what this troubadour is all about. Raised in Memphis on a diet of Presley and Cash, graced the mainstream of 60’s LA, lulled into the industry mechanics of Nashville before finally settling in the creative hotpot of Austin, Texas, Cheevers has well and truly lived the American music dream. The close proximity of his roots to the Mississippi has infiltrated the delta sound into his bloodstream and this core influence is a constant theme to his music.
Although you can conjure up the image of Cheevers and his guitar meandering from town to town, when in the studio he does not refrain from experimenting with a plethora of instruments that you would expect from an archetypical American roots recording. However despite the input of piano, accordion, pedal steel, mandolin etc, the dominant feature of the majority of tracks is the forceful vocals, part sung/part spoken but always ensuring you actively listen to each word attentively.

In sync with a subject dear to the heart of fellow Texan resident Tom Russell, the West and all its imagery and harshness  is covered in the tracks ‘Days In Death Valley’ and ‘Is It Ever Gonna Rain’. Similarities to Russell’s work also appear in one of the album’s best tracks, ‘Vaya Con Dios’ as Chevers skirts the Tex-Mex border with a sound vastly enhanced by some soothing accordion playing. The song ‘Texas Women and Their Diamonds’ enables Cheevers to comment on his adopted state while his blues roots really come to the fore on ‘North of Baton Rouge’.
This is an album that you will probably never tire of exploring and each listen will certainly throw up something different to consider. From disc 1, given the title ‘Smoke’ early listens will draw you to an amusing tale about the joys of taking a more than passing interest in the ‘Girl On The Evening News’ and how she illuminates a mundane day. On disc 2, unsurprisingly titled ‘Mirrors’, the track ‘Father McKenzie and Eleanor Rigby’ sees Cheevers re-write their tale from a different perspective while sampling some of the sounds from the Lennon and McCartney masterpiece.

These are just a few personal observations from this extensive selection of Bob Cheevers compositions. The recommendation is to seek the album out yourself and it is guaranteed you will discover a different interesting perspective each listen. Better still check out one his live shows when he frequently tours the UK. He regularly plays small unsuspecting venues, so you never know; he may turn up down your local, a definite upgrade from the ubiquitous Karaoke wannabe.

                                Is It Ever Gonna Rain

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tift Merritt - Traveling Alone Yep Roc Records

Throughout her career, Tift Merritt has always come across as an artist with an independent streak. Not one to be tied down, the North Carolina born singer-songwriter has numbered France and New York City amongst her places of residence and frequently has not been in a position to be dictated to by major labels. This hasn’t prevented her from recording four previously acclaimed albums that have all possessed the promise of her ultimately becoming one of the most influential exponents of female singer-songwriter Americana music. With this background, the title and themes to the newly released 5th studio album TRAVELING ALONE are subtly appropriate especially as the project was initiated without any label in place. This has been corrected by hooking up with Yep Roc Records and together they have a fabulous set of songs for Tift to continue her progression to esteemed levels.
While the experiences of the songs reflect her inner thoughts, it has been far from a lonely adventure and Tift has assembled some fine musicians to assist her, all under the stewardship of producer Tucker Martine, who has previously worked with The Decemberists. Amongst these is Eric Heywood and his extensive Pedal Steel input is far more prevalent than what has been featured on Tift’s previous recordings and thus a drift away from the metropolitan sound towards that more aligned with her southern rural roots. It is only towards the latter stages of the album when the more extensive overtures of electric guitar take hold in tracks such as ‘Spring’ and ‘To Myself’. However the soul of the record is very much in the opening songs which have the potential to become stalwarts of her set list in years to come.

The title track ‘Traveling Alone’ is set to become the record’s flagship song and central to its promotion. The beautiful vocals of Tift accompanied by a light acoustic guitar sound are the prominent features of this song which reflects her emotional state at the outset of making this record. The second track ‘Sweet Spot’, especially in the opening bars, resembles her classic composition ‘Broken’ from the ANOTHER COUNTRY album and sees the introduction of the steel sound which creates a sweet and tuneful relaxing ambience. ‘Drifted Apart’ continues to contribute to this atmosphere which peaks in the mid album number ‘Too Soon To Go’ with its splendid chorus hook leading you to regularly hit the repeat button. TRAVELING ALONE is an album that doesn’t create an aura of loneliness and this is exemplified by the steel-laden song ‘Feeling of Beauty’ with its repeated line “if it’s alright by you, I’ll stay on another couple of days” and the theme of the previously mentioned standout track ‘Too Soon To Go’, suggesting a reluctance to move on.
Like so many eminent Americana artists, the independent non-conformist spirit of Tift Merritt will always place her on the peripheral of the mainstream. However her ability to make music that blends the traditional and the new with exquisite vocals and appealing songs will continue to ensure plenty of industry praise is lavished. TRAVELING ALONE is further evidence that Tift Merritt is continuing to make progress on the ultimate career journey towards influential status.

                                         Tift Merritt - Traveling Alone

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Polly and the Billets Doux - Kitchen Garden Cafe Kings Heath Birmingham Tuesday 13 November 2012

The band in full flow at the quaint Kitchen Garden Cafe
While Polly and the Billets Doux are a band that doesn’t court any specific genre loyalty, having witnessed one of their live shows they are definitely an act to look out for if your interest lies within roots music with an Americana tinge. Armed with a couple of EPs and a debut album, the band has steadily been making inroads into the industry with their own brand of stripped down melodic music. Led by the enchanting vocals of Polly Perry, the band successfully manages to dovetail the rhythmic tones of light percussion and double bass with an interchange of acoustic and electric guitar. This blend of string-based sounds perfectly supplements their collection of strongly constructed songs that are equally enjoyable either on record or in a live setting.

Having been initiated in the delights of their recordings, there was little doubt that they would be effortlessly transported and embraced by the brickwork acoustics of the Kitchen Garden Café in the eclectic Birmingham suburb of Kings Heath. So this proved to be the case, as Polly and the Billets Doux joined the growing list of highly respected roots artists to grace the Café’s intimate surroundings. This was accomplished by drawing on a collection of tunes from their previous releases and previewing a very impressive blues-influenced number titled ‘Money Tree’, which left a tantalising thought to what may appear on their next album.

From their 2010 debut album FICTION, HALF TRUTHS AND DOWNRIGHT LIES the South west based quartet opened with ‘I Would Ask’  and the audience didn’t have to wait long before the soulful ‘Follow My Feet’, probably the band’s finest song to date, had them tapping their feet. ‘Back to Earth’ and ‘To Be a Fighter’ were also featured from this record while the classy country-waltz number ‘Lead Me On’ was a perfect choice to close the show.

Of the other songs selected for the set, the band opted for the catchy ‘Hold Fast’ and ‘Hymn Song’ from their current EP released earlier this year. Also chosen was their 2011 single ‘Cry Cry’ with the song that supported it on the digital release ‘Sycamore Ships’ along with ‘Head of Steam’ from their debut EP of the same name. All these songs are well worth adding to your music collection, although genre classifying them may prove a touch difficult.
The vocal talents of Polly Perry have already been mentioned but another impressive feature of their show is the harmonies provided by double bassist Dan Everett and the source of the effective lead guitar input, Andrew ‘Steeny’ Steen. Quietly behind the scenes keeping the whole sound on track is Neil Perry on drums and percussion. Together they have formed themselves into an impressive four-piece band that have created favourable impressions in influential places and hopefully will continue to make music in the future that continues to stretch boundaries while being true to a traditional sound.

                                                          Hold Fast

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Matraca Berg - The Assembly, Leamington Spa Sunday 11 November 2012

Photo not taken at gig
The fact that Matraca Berg has fully rehabilitated her creative talents and is writing exceptionally well crafted country songs again is welcome news to lovers of this music right across the globe. Those in the UK have the added benefit of Matraca now actively promoting her material over here with a long awaited headline solo tour to build on the success of her valuable contribution to the Wine, Women and Song project. Although there was a decade- long wait for an album of newly recorded material after 1999’s LYING TO THE MOON AND OTHER STORIES, the brace of recent releases has presented Matraca with the perfect set of songs to raise her UK profile as a performer in her own right and not just a Hall of Fame songwriter who the cream of 90’s Nashville regularly turned to for material.
This short eight-date tour saw Matraca return to some of the venues she has shared with Gretchen Peters and Suzy Bogguss on her previous trips, but the turnout on this Sunday evening at the elegant Assembly in Leamington Spa suggested she still has a little way to go to match the popularity of these regular UK visitors. Matraca herself commented that they may have overdone the size of the venue. However on the evidence of the high quality performance put on by Matraca and her musical partners, David Henry and Jason Goforth, it shouldn’t take too many more visits to attract the numbers her talent warrants.

It was of no surprise that the show was almost entirely devoted to the material from 2011’s THE DREAMING FIELDS and the recently released LOVE’S TRUCK STOP. The title track from the latter launched the set and this was immediately followed by ‘Her Name Is Mary’, ‘I Buried Your Love Alive’ and ‘Waiting on a Slow Train’. As is usual from a well renowned singer-songwriter, most songs are accompanied by stories surrounding their origin and on this evening we delved into the world of prostitution with ‘Magdalene’ and the Gulf oil disaster with ‘Black Ribbons’. All these are outstanding tracks from the latest album.
Having listened extensively to both albums recently, the live performances of four tracks from THE DREAMING FIELDS slightly tips the favour towards this release. The memorable melody of ‘You and Tequila’ demonstrated why mainstream Nashville still has one eye on Matraca’s output, with it being a massive hit for Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter a couple of years ago. ‘Oh Cumberland’ has always been a personal favourite and its appearance on the set list was one of the show’s highlights. The story accompanying the song was the homesickness, Nashville born and bred Matraca felt when being exiled to LA during the years when she was under the wing of the big labels. The informative evening also saw her explain how uncomfortable she felt being moulded into a country star and, when eventually dropped, how she sought solace in the alt-country Americana movement that embraced her in the late 90’s. Another live highlight from this album was the touching personal account of the effect of war on those left behind which heralded her performance of ‘South of Heaven’ on which she opened up her emotions for a short moment.

This UK visit has seen Matraca briefly team up with husband and member of the highly acclaimed Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jeff Hanna but on this evening her musical collaborators were just David Henry on various guitars and Jason Goforth on Lap Steel as well as some other mysterious  instruments, one resembling a telephone. They together supported Matraca’s highly capable vocal skills and acoustic playing, all being effectively supported by the venue’s outstanding sound system.
The evening ended with a short reminder that Matraca is much more than her two latest albums. This included her version of the song that paid the bills in its day - 1997 CMA Song of the Year ‘Strawberry Wine’, the requested ‘Lying to the Moon’ and a little self-indulgent tribute to Neil Young with a cover of his ‘Old Man’. This left those present perfectly satisfied with the evening’s entertainment, which included an opening set from local singer-songwriter James Foley. Also it created an air of optimism that the numbers can be swelled the next time she visits by spreading the word that Matraca Berg is an artist definitely worth catching live.
                                                  Live version of Oh Cumberland

Friday, 9 November 2012

Sandi Thom - Robin 2 Bilston Wednesday 7 November 2012

Photo not taken at gig
The evolution of the second phase of Sandi Thom’s professional recording career is taking good shape on the evidence of this blistering show at the Robin 2 club in Bilston. Having witnessed her six years before opening for the Dixie Chicks on their last visit to these shores, she was then riding very much on the phenomena of being the face of the Internet music revolution and all the trappings that accompanied those indulgent days. However just over half a decade later and the pop/folk sound has been shelved, being replaced by the influences of blues/rock, with guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa becoming a central figure, both career wise and on a personal basis.
Having been on the positive side to the reaction of Sandi’s chart topping hit ‘I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker…’, it has to be confessed that her career slipped off the radar in the intervening years. However the re-surfacing of her presence via the Americana music media brought Sandi back into the spotlight of an audience that was ready to embrace her new sound. This culminated in an impressive current release, FLESH AND BLOOD, which is fast becoming a personal 2012 favourite by blending a raw blues edge with a more rounded guitar-led Americana sound to a selection of high quality songs.

This new album is the title of the tour currently bringing Sandi back to the UK from her now Californian base and despite recently upgrading her US nationality status; she seems destined to keep Britain, and especially her native Scotland as an important market for her new brand of music. With a more acquired sound than her pop/folk origins, the venues selected on this tour, such as the Robin 2, will be realistic options for her to reach her audience. The reasonable sized gathering for a Wednesday night seized the chance to listen to a live airing of the new record and accompanied by her impressive band, Sandi thoroughly entertained those present in her 90 minute set.
A couple of tracks from the new album kicked off the set with ‘Help Me’ and ‘I Owe You Zero’ and ‘Stormy Weather’ also appeared midway through the slot. However the two stand-out songs from FLESH AND BLOOD, featured on the set list were performed towards the end of the evening. The title track, currently being subjected to extra promotional release, closed the main slot with the highly emotional Buffy Saint-Marie song ‘Big Ones Get Away’ providing the perfect antidote to the majority of rock- infused fast paced blues inspired numbers.

Sandi does not hesitate to dip into her past and now plays a revamped ‘I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker…’ complete with sax and enhanced guitar. She also makes reference to her time spent in Tooting by dedicating the track ‘The Human Jukebox’,from her debut album, to a wonderful character in a pub who managed to combine excessive alcohol with immense vocal talent. The album which heralded Sandi’s change of direction MERCHANTS AND THIEVES was also represented by a couple of numbers including ‘Heart of Stone’ and the barnstorming ‘Runaway Train’, that ensured the evening ended on a musical high.
For this tour, Sandi has assembled a talented band headed by excellent session guitarist Steve Down, who definitely wears his guitar heart on his sleeve. Bassist John Bird and percussionist Craig Connet provide the essential rhythm section while the versatile Mike Flame effortlessly switches between keyboard and sax. Lindsey Cleary supports Sandi with backing vocals while the main lady herself contributes acoustic guitar, harmonica and a voice finding its true home in singing the blues.

Blues guitarist and vocalist Lisa Mills, of Deep South origin and residence but with strong West Midlands links, was afforded a lengthy opening slot with the highly experienced and acclaimed Ian Jennings supporting her on double bass. They were fully appreciated by the knowledgeable crowd and were an ideal warm up before the rejuvenated Sandi Thom showed the Midlands concert goers that her musical evolution is progressing very nicely indeed.
                                          Sandi Thom - Flesh and Blood

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Police Dog Hogan - From the Land of Miracles Major Tom Records

Although the Maverick Festival has been regularly attended over the years, it has to be confessed that a Police Dog Hogan set has not been witnessed despite this seven-piece UK band being frequent visitors since their inception in 2009. However this situation will definitely be rectified after taking time out to give their new release a worthy and rewarding lengthy listen. Obviously this is down to the band being invited back but there is so much synergy between their sound and the vibes of this festival, that surely a return visit is inevitable.
FROM THE LAND OF MIRACLES is the second full length album release from Police Dog Hogan who have a great knack of fusing a lot of Americana sounds without coming across as pseudo Americans. In fact they can join a growing batch of UK bands who are putting a very British stamp on the Americana genre, if that doesn’t sound too contradictory. Over the course of the eleven recorded tracks, they expertly manage to combine excellent musical arrangements with insightful lyrics as well as covering a diverse number of styles to unveil their versatility.

Within a couple of bars of the opening track, the foot stomping ‘Better Go Now’, you can detect the influence of Americana legend Steve Earle and, low and behold, his name is mentioned a couple of songs later in ‘The More Things Change’. This song is probably the stand out track on the album and Earle is referred to along with his New Traditionalist compatriots Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakham. This pointed to a moment in country music history where change occurred without anything really changing. This track also contains a brief sampling Earle’s classic ‘Guitar Town’.
Two other quality tracks on the record highlight the band’s diversity. ‘Fraserburgh Train’, selected as the album’s first single, is a wonderful account of a war participant’s mind wandering towards the journey home via the subject of the title. This has all the credentials of fine folk song, delivered in a waltz-like sea shanty style with a sing along chorus. By contrast ‘Devil Jim’ has an all together different sound with its rock n’ roll influences, while the harmonies of the band are best represented in the less frantic number ‘Matilda’. The album comes to a poignant ending with a split 4:37 segment commencing with a short a cappella piece called ‘The Banks’ before the bonus track, the delightful ’14 Roses’ slides effortlessly in to bring the record to a close.

As you would expect from a band setting their stall out to give an interpretation of roots music, the sounds of mandolin, fiddle, banjo and dobra are interwoven with the usual guitar,and percussion input from drums and bass. The album has benefitted from the guidance of experienced producer Eliot James and the finished product is an accomplished record that the band can proudly take forward and promote around the country. Hopefully this will include a busy 2013 festival season and, perhaps, a return visit to Maverick where their set will be eagerly awaited this time.
                                                                           Fraserburgh Train

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Vera Van Heeringen - Standing Tall Root Beat Records

Any album that has a personal endorsement printed on the sleeve from bluegrass maestro, Tim O’Brien will alert the attention of fans who like their acoustic roots music with a mountain twist. The gist of the endorsement is that Vera Van Heeringen has spent far too long away from the spotlight and this is the release to raise her profile. It doesn’t take many listens to get into the groove of this record with its simplistic sincerity leaving a trail of a bygone age where music was generally free from the complicated distractions of evolution.
STANDING TALL is the debut album from Vera Van Heeringen whose travels from her Dutch homeland have taken her across the ocean to further her musical education before finally settling in the hills of, not quite North Carolina, but equally as beautiful, North Wales. Her acclaimed acoustic guitar skills have graced a number of acts, both straight and comic, over the last decade in Europe and the UK but the time has arrived to break out and showcase her talents to the fore.

With the guiding hand of producer Andy Bell (held with great esteem across the acoustic spectrum) and several other guest contributors, including a very brief appearance from Tim O’Brien himself, the result from this vintage recording session is an outstanding twelve-track collection of music free from adverse impurity. Eleven of the tracks selected are original compositions including four instrumentals that are strategically spaced out to enhance the listening experience. These include ‘Back to Baak/Glebe Reel’ with its, as suggested, Celtic feel to it and ‘The Lorax’ where Vera takes sole credit for its arrangement.
Of the tracks adorned by Vera’s soulful vocals, the solitary cover is a respectful re-working of the Carter Family’s ‘Lulu Walls’ that pays tribute to those pioneers of country music who are as relevant for many today as they were nearly eighty years ago. The two most striking songs from the creative pen of Vera are the opening number ‘Old Man’ and the slightly up tempo country-flavoured tune ‘Pass Me the Whiskey’. Both have lyrics and melodies that leave a positive lasting impression.

The usual array of traditional instruments are utilised throughout the record including banjo, fiddle, mandolin and double bass, although there’s a little deviation to a modern sound with electric guitar subtlely featuring. However this does not dilute the overall aura of the record paying homage to a traditional way of performing music and Vera Van Heeringen succeeds in joining an increasingly lengthy list of talented exponents keeping the flame well and truly alive.

                                                   A live version of 'Lulu Walls'