Sunday, 30 June 2019

Weekly Blog Post 30th June 2019 - Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The weekend when Major League Baseball held its first regular season game in London racked the brains for songs about America's past time with at least some remnants of an Amercana twist. It was tough to look past the first one that came to mind, even when the world wide web was accessed with the necessary search credentials. So Chuck Prophet's 'Willie Mays is Up at Bat' got the nod as the baseball inspired song to share on this historic weekend, at least in the world of transatlantic sports exchange. One less familiar track that prompted some interest was 'Third Base Dodger Stadium' by Ry Cooder. The twist in the lyrics featured the experience of a Mexican native reminiscing about losing his home when a whole area in LA was bulldozed to make way for the new ballpark in the 50s. The irony of the song was its lack of bitterness.

To perfect a geographical segue, California the home of this week's standout album as Jade Jackson finally releases her follow up to the excellent 2017 effort GILDED. Buying into the style of infused indie-Americana created an anticipation for this record and from the first bars of WILDERNESS, disappointment was nowhere to be seen. The benefit of a substantive opening track has long sought merit and 'Bottle It Up' knocked it out of the park to borrow a cliche from the earlier theme. Countless spins of this album cemented its place among the year's favourites as we hit the halfway mark with all the goodwill of its predecessor intact and subsequently built upon. Pushing the opening track close in the standout race is the supremely cool 'Long Way Home', more temperate than the other, but still loaded with appeal. We just need more Jade Jackson UK dates than the scheduled solitary London one when she comes to Europe later in the year.



Runaway June and Jade Jackson may reside a fair distant apart on the ever widening spectrum of country, roots and Americana music, but both artists released an album on 28th June with endearing merit. Runaway June clearly fall into the country pop camp and provide proof that every now and then decent material can transpire the gloss. Their album BLUE ROSES immediately acted as a reach out record from first listen. Appealing content tipped the balance from that which drives me away from this style While similar leaning music frequently falls short on many grounds, it was refreshing to connect with one that had clear influence from artists who have provided the framework for much of my country music listening over the last decade and half. An album likely to hang around for a while yet.

Following the first festival of the summer reported on during last week's blog, the live fix for the last seven days was restricted to a solitary gig on familiar ground. Irish Mythen first crossed my path when playing a memorable set on the main stage at Cambridge Folk Festival last year. Almost twelve months later, it was another festival, this time Black Deer, which attracted the Canadian back to our shores and tagged on was a couple of lower key shows including an appearance at the Kitchen Garden in Birmingham. Many apt phrases describe Irish Mythen, from 'force of nature' to 'one with a full-on whole hearted on-stage presence'. A sample of what thrilled a Cambridge audience last year carried over to a well attended Kitchen show, a venue described by the artist as one with a 'big heart'. To say that Irish Mythen's brand of politically charged folk mixed with a healthy smattering of heartfelt sentiment leaves a massive impression on a gig is a profound understatement. There may have been more subtle and adaptive gigs at the Kitchen Garden; this was not one of them as nothing was left outside the door. Raw, powerful and damn right enthralling.

There were two other album releases in the directory for Friday 28th, with both artists likely to feature in festival coverage later in the summer. Thom Ashworth is an English folk singer scheduled to play the Sunday of Moseley Folk Festival at the start of September. His new album HEAD CANON leaves the listener in no uncertain terms where he stands in terms of style, content and impression. The Resonant Rogues have released an album titled AUTUMN OF THE WORLD This group from North Carolina described as a 'folk-Americana-Gypsy jazz quartet' are set to spend the month of July on British soil including a couple of sets at Maverick Festival next weekend. Both albums come across as decent efforts, but there's no substitute for checking them out yourself, along with Jade Jackson and Runaway June. Over to you.

The Resonant Rogues · July 2019 · UK Tour

Wed 3
Southport
The Atkinson - Studio
Thu 4
Sheffield
Cafe #9 
Fri 5
EastonSuffolk
Maverick Festival 2019
Sat 6
EastonSuffolk
Maverick Festival 2019
Sun 7 
EastonSuffolk
Maverick Festival 2019
Fri 12
Rudrynr. Caerphilly
Rudry Music Festival
Sat 13
London
Green Note
Sun 14
Maidenhead
Norden Farm Centre for the Arts
Mon 15
Bath
The Bell Inn
Thu 18
Winchester
The Hyde Tavern
Fri 19
Somerset
Fanny’s Meadow Festival
Fri 26
Worth Matraversnr. Swanage
The Square & Compass
Sat 27
Poole
Beer and Bluegrass Festival


The week in summary:

Album Releases Friday 28th June:

Jade Jackson - Wilderness
Thom Ashworth - Head Canon
The Resonant Rogues  Autumn of the World
Runaway June - Blue Roses

Gigs Sunday 23rd June to Saturday 29th June
Irish Mythen - Kitchen Garden Tuesday 25th June

Albums on the way:
Oh Susanna - Johnstown (20th Anniversary Edition) due out on 30th August
Session Americana - North East due out on 13th September
Annie Keating - Can't Stand Still due out on 30th August
I See Hawks in LA & The Good Intentions - Hawks with Good Intentions due out on 6th September
Angela Perley - 4:30 due out on 30th August

Finally, Chuck with a baseball homage to San Francisco Giants centre fielder Willie Mays to commemorate a weekend where the game's oldest rivalry - Boston Red-New York Yankees set up camp in East London.



Couldn't go without a bit of Ry Cooder.


More in seven days.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Weekly Blog Post 23rd June 2019: Summer Begins?

Yes it did, well maybe temporarily, but the Saturday of Beardy Folk Festival saw the beautiful setting of a lavish sloping walled garden bathed in gorgeous sunshine. This South Shropshire event effectively kicked off the 2019 outdoor season and it was a delight to make a second consecutive Saturday visit to a festival building considerably on its 2018 debut. There was an abundance of exceptional UK folk acts on the bill, including personal favourites, those on the periphery of my horizon and the brand new. The most pleasing aspect was witnessing an impressive attendance spike on the Saturday, thus repaying the energy the organising team had put into promoting the event. As per last year, only the Saturday of this three day festival was attended, but I'm pretty sure those present for the duration will concur to this positive sentiment. Look out for more festival coverage over the summer, which may or may not feature Maverick, SummerTyne, Over the Hill, Moseley Folk and the Long Road. Stay tuned but for more from Beardy Folk check out the Saturday review. 

The other gig attended this week was also a cracking affair. Ryan Bingham has been a firm favourite here for over a decade, but that has only transpired into seeing him live twice. Both have been out of town gigs and without hesitation this latest trek down to Oxford was a massive upgrade on seeing him in Manchester back in 2015. For the hour and three quarters the band was on stage, the music bristled with Americana excellence as they sailed through a storming set of rock 'n' roll, folk, blues and country, all tinged with that unmistakeable Ryan Bingham Texas style. Admittedly his new album AMERICAN LOVE SONG had taken a while to bed in while accessing it on the streaming sites. Now having heard many of the songs live and the shiny physical CD in hand, it is growing into one of the best records out this year and re-affirming my faith in Ryan Bingham to make great music. Some artists require a studio to nail the western Americana sound, this guy just taps into his heart, soul and soil from his native Texas/New Mexico.

Just perusing the album album release directory for Friday 21st June revealed two entries. RED BANDANA by Aaron Watson was a relatively late submission, and weighing in at over an hour, some serious listening space will need creating to fully grasp its worth. The first couple of spins of this hefty twenty-track album throws up some interesting songs and undeniable evidence that he has chucked everything at this record. Like all albums mentioned here, check it out for yourself. Tracks like 'Ghost of Guy Clark', 'Legends', 'Am I Amarillo' and 'You on My Hands' are likely to raise an opinion. Aaron Watson will always be an intriguing act and one ripe for comment, but his relevance will never waiver. A lot of factors will render where you place him. The one thing about RED BANDANA is that he doesn't hide or shirk away.

The other album release to surface this week is TRAITORS TABLE an exciting record from US based-exiled Argentinian Fernando Viciconte. Definitely an album for those tuned into a particular sound. Make your mind up by spinning a couple of tracks on the artist's Bandcamp site. They won't mind if you try before you buy. It's 2019 and a very crowded music market.



A quick final video share of the new Martha L. Healy single 'Keep the Flame Alight'.



June 21 Album Releases:
Aaron Watson - Red Bandana
Fernando Viciconte - Traitors Table

Gigs Sun 16 June - Sat 22 June:
Ryan Bingham - The Bullingdon, Oxford Thurs 20th June
Beardy Folk Festival - Shropshire Sat 22nd June

New albums on the way:
Rod Picott - Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil due to be released in the UK on September 6th.
Rachel Harrington - Hush the Wild Horses due to be released in the UK on September 6th
Chip Taylor - Whiskey Salesman out on July 5th
Runaway June - Blue Roses out on June 28th

More gigs and album stuff in seven days.



FESTIVAL REVIEW: Beardy Folk Festival, Shropshire. Saturday 22nd June 2019

First point to make is that Beardy Folk is a three day event, starting just after lunch on the Friday and ending late into Sunday evening. For the second consecutive year, only the Saturday was attended, but if that day set the precedence then those enjoying the full experience had a wonderful time. No doubt full reviews will appear in the aftermath, although for a brief taster it is a honour to share some positive thoughts as a day visitor.

Beardy Folk (maybe reclaiming the stereotype with a large dose of irony) debuted as an early summer festival in 2018. It is set in the little village of Hopton Wafers, situated on the South Shropshire-North Worcestershire border, approximately twenty miles from the edge of the West Midlands conurbation. The ethos of the festival is to major on the UK folk scene and provide eleven hours of continuous music across two stages, with no overlaps to please the stamina-led junkies. The setting is a luscious walled garden, sloping quite prominently from the covered tent at the top of the hill (housing the bar and acoustic stage) to the suspended main stage at the foot. For the second successive year, the Saturday was blessed with fine weather; a key ingredient to a successful festival day.

Skerryvore
Twelve acts were booked to play the Saturday with last year's headliners Skerryvore invited back to close the evening with their vibrant brand of Scottish folk pop rock. One improvement from last year was the avoidance of late night stage delays as Skerryvore got underway just on the schedule time and were able to extend their headline set to over the hour mark. There is a good time feel when this eight-piece band bound onto stage to bring an event to a crescendo. Energising a crowd is their forte and how successful they are at that, with great interaction and a sound promoting unison when in full flow.

If last summer was dominated by Skerryvore's EVO album release, twelve months on was another reminder of why 'Live Forever', 'At the End of the Line', 'Take My Hand', 'Waiting on the Sun' and 'Hold On' are ultimately great pop songs wrapped in that Scottish folk rock sheen. In line with an overall perception of a significant upsurge in attendance from last year, the front of the stage was packed for the headline performance, all animated in clapping, dancing and singing mode. Stirring stuff to close a memorable day.

Kirsty Merryn
Rewind almost twelve hours from Skerryvore's crowning moment and the Saturday got underway in more serene circumstances with Gilmore & Roberts up first on the main stage at midday. Exactly the same time as the barrels of Hobson's beer were untapped for the day.  The acoustic stage had its bow an hour later with Bristol based band Road Not Taken commencing proceedings. This stage went on to host a further five artists, each awarded a healthy forty-five minute slot. Unashamedly, two of the artists scheduled this year are favourites of mine and settling down to enjoy their sets was always going to be one of the day's highlights.

The music of Katie Spencer and Kirsty Merryn came to me from opposing sides of the submission spectrum (Katie direct from artist: Kirsty via PR), but both met with full approval. After giving the albums' positive reviews, they were then ironically booked to play a joint bill at the Big Comfy Bookshop in Coventry in late 2017. Since then, Katie was seen playing a short but impressive set at Cambridge Folk Festival and Kirsty made her debut in Birmingham at the Kitchen Garden. On the surface, both artists draw on differing skill sets, which meet at the satisfying alliance of marrying all qualities into fine music that resonates strongly. Their pair of sets at Beardy Folk may be have been scheduled five hours apart, but the results were hugely similar and re-enforced deserved acclaim which continues to  accrue from multiple sources.

Katie Spencer
Elsewhere on the acoustic stage, Ben Robertson impressed with guitar playing skills, while satisfying folk festival attendees who wanted a small fix of 'Beeswing', 'Fotheringay' and 'Don't Think Twice'. Calum Jones travelled down from Scotland and played an exciting confident closing acoustic set that effectively acted as a warm up for Skerryvore to follow on the main stage. This last move was one of a series of minor adjustments the festival made to enhance the audience experience.

The focal point of any festival is the main stage and prior to Skerryvore closing matters late in the evening, a further six acts graced the lead performing space. Duos tended to be the order of the day with the aforementioned Gilmore & Roberts on first, before suitably followed by O'Hooley & Tidow and Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar. All these are established acts on the UK folk circuit and set about imposing their individual styles. Katriona Gilmore frequently showed why she is a sought after fiddle player, while Belinda and Heidi proudly entertained in their own appealing forthright way buoyed by their hopefully 'more than fifteen minutes of fame' via the national focus on 'Gentleman Jack'. Greg and Ciaran are an acclaimed duo who I have never seen live before. This wrong was duly corrected and they were the artist leaping up the most on the appreciation scale.

Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar
The remaining three main stage acts diversified the line up in terms of format. The Trails of Cato are a Welsh-English trio, who conjure up a very rootsy sound in their three-piece set up. They were also the only act to play two sets as they returned to fill in a slot on the acoustic stage later in the day. Chris Helme was the solitary solo performer on the main stage as this singer-songwriter, who saw fame in the 90s as frontman for the band Seahorses, played the penultimate outdoor set just as the sun began to fade on what had been a perfect festival day weather-wise. This set was a little low key as it followed one of the days more popular presentations when Gary Stewart and a full band set up delivered a comprehensive tribute to Paul Simon's classic GRACELAND. The front of the stage was flooded at this point with many folks reminiscing like it was 1984 via dancing and singing songs word perfect. Where you reside regarding tribute acts at festivals could be put to one side for an hour as this timely reminder to what a special album GRACELAND is graced the rural surroundings of Beardy Folk.

Strong evidence rang around the site at Hopton Wafers that Beardy Folk is on a upward trajectory to becoming an established festival on the circuit. The more populous feel in 2019 still left plenty of relaxed breathing space. Hopefully the all important numbers are in the right column for the organisers. They have certainly got the scheduling and organisation right. Here's to 2020 and maybe the Saturday extended to the whole weekend in these quarters.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Weekly Blog Post 16th June 2019: The Old and the New

The four artists dominating this week's round up certainly fall into the 'old and new category' to differing extents. Jill Jackson and Old Man Luedecke have featured before, while Greg Felden and Lucy Isabel had that stamp of brand newness when copies of their latest releases reached me a short while ago. Choosing which of the four to lead off with is an option of fine margins, but a late submission of one of Canada's finest folk 'n' roots operators is a worthy starting point.

A couple of album reviews, a brace of festival appearances and a gig in Leicester brought the music of Old Man Luedecke to my attention between 2012 and 2105, although contact has been a little scarce since. This is likely due to focus elsewhere rather than artist inactivity; a situation now rectified with the release of EASY MONEY. To ease the concern that something has been missed this is actually the studio follow up to 2015's DOMESTIC ECCENTRIC, and the good news is that it barely took a single listen to get back into a musician steeped in the sounds and culture of their native Nova Scotia.

The power of a stellar opening track should never be underestimated and the title track does this in epic proportions for Old Man Luedecke. If 'Easy Money' doesn't get you singing from play #1 nothing will. 'Sardine Song' is another track that will bring a smile to your face and help bond with the record. Let's hope Chris 'Old Man' Luedecke resumes the extensive touring in the UK that he used to do and brings these songs to the live table.

A quick switch of music medium and a brief word on this week's sole gig. Jill Jackson brightened up a wild, wet, damp and miserable Midlands evening with another engaging show at the Kitchen Garden in Birmingham. An impending motherhood announcement had dominated the artist's social media in recent days and with only two gigs in the book before the short enforced break, a successful sign-off ensued.

The phrase 'an evening with' didn't prelude this gig, but its ethos dictated how the evening unravelled. No support and a single span set exceeding an hour and half provided the framework for a gentle informal exchange of personal anecdotes, many which have evolved into songs. This personable approach met with the approvable of an audience dominated by Jill Jackson devotees. They were treated to an artist opening up on many fronts and one whose songwriting future is still likely to be family focussed, but from a different perspective. A third consecutive June return to the Kitchen was promised for 2020, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds, musically and lyrically.

The importance of the lead off track has already been raised earlier in this piece and proved a sound blueprint that American artist Greg Felden followed on his new album MADE OF STRINGS. To state that 'Every Time' towers above its peers on this album is maybe a touch disingenuous to the other songs, but this track is one hell of a belter. (Check out the quirky video accompaniment below). The rest of the record is pretty good too.

Lucy Isabel is the second newcomer to introduce this week and anybody taking a punt on her new album RAMBLING STRANGER is following the tracks of a winner. The twelve songs heralding this record draw influence from the folk and rock world, which these days seeks solace in the welcoming arms of Americana. The songs excel on numerous fronts, first and foremost to catch the ear in a crowded room.



On more familiar territory, good news for fans of Don Gallardo with a decent selection of tour dates announced. Having supported his music for a few years now, catching one of these shows is highly recommended.

DON GALLARDO 2019 SUMMER TOUR DATES

Friday 5th / Saturday 6th July  – Maverick Festival, Suffolk
Sunday 7th July – Dog & Partridge, Marchington
Monday 8th July – The Flowerpot, Derby
Tuesday 9th July – Compton Parish Room, Chichester
Wednesday 10th July – St Pancras Old Church, London
Thursday 11th July – Little Country Smokehouse, Kettering
Tuesday 16th July  – B Bar Barbican Theatre, Plymouth
Wednesday 17th  July – The Kingsdown Vaults, Bristol 
Thursday 18th July  – Kitchen Garden CafĂ©, Birmingham
Saturday 20th July – Tingestock Festival – Tingewick Village Hall

More on Don will follow later, but in the meantime check his new single with Lilly Winwood



Just before we finish, a quick mention for another album getting its UK release this week. GOLDEN DAYS by Canadian outfit Union Duke, with the genre tag 'Bluegrass/Canadiana' accompanying the download copy, has been available for quite a while in other lands, but a reboot for a new market is no harm. A classic case of the tag proving accurate and merit is derived from digging into these sounds.

New albums on the way:

Aaron Watson - Red Bandana Release date 21st June
Beth Bombara - Evergreen  Release date 9th August
Annie Bacon & her OSHEN - Nothing Stays The Same Release Date 19th July
The HawtThorns - Morning Sun Release Date 9th August
Sam Baker - Horses and Stars Release date 23rd August

More next week including the first festival action of the summer. Fingers crossed for the weather to take a turn for the better. 

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Weekly Blog Post 9th June 2016: From the Black Country to the Big Country

One gig and two album releases dominated the proceedings this week as music was digested from across a vast divide. The west coast of America had a stellar representation in Seattle based rockers Massy Ferguson and LA luminary Sam Morrow, while closer to home local musician Sunjay hit the recording tracks once again with the release of his brand new album. What better way to start the weekly round up than to stoke the local fire a little and introduce a talented musician branching out to all parts of the UK from his Black Country base.

DEVIL CAME CALLING is the title of Sunjay's latest album. This eleven track effort highlights what a versatile interpreter of music he is as the fingers wrap around a series of songs skirting around the deep rooted genre blur of folk 'n' blues. Those who have seen one of his live shows will probably be familiar with the track 'Faith Healer', which acts as co-stand out alongside opening number 'Ghost Train'. Sunjay has revisited his liaison with Stourbridge-based music activist Eddy Morton on production, and when perusing the names of guest players, two jumped out as familiar in banjo player Dan Walsh and Katriona Gilmore on fiddle. Whether covering some obscure blues tunes to hone in on his finger picking skills or choosing a more populist route to make ends meet, Sunjay attracts new fans, while handing out timely reminders to those he has impressed before. The album is available from all your usual points including this link www.sunjay.tv/shop

Massy Ferguson are set for a busy summer over here in the UK. Not only have the band just released their brand new album GREAT DIVIDES, there is also a decent bunch of dates to see them play including appearances at both Maverick and SummerTyne festivals. The record doesn't re-invent the Massy Ferguson wheel, just compounding the triumphant sound cultivated across their previous releases. More details on live dates.

Flying the flag on the gig front this week was another show at St.George's Hall in Bewdley with this month's Severn Sessions event hosting Sam Morrow all the way from Houston Texas via Los Angeles California. This out and out country rocker caught the ear last year with the release of the album CONCRETE AND MUD. The importance of following up an international release with dates cannot be under estimated and this year Sam has been fortunate to pack a decent schedule around a couple of prestigious festival slots in the UK. Bewdley is a hospitable place for touring musicians and the Friday night staging of the monthly Americana shows has led to many great evenings. Not one to miss an opportunity to build on early praise, the Sam Morrow Band (three Americans and the honorary borrowed Brit) rallied around a blistering guitar sound to blast an hour and half set of country rock style anthems laced with an increasing dose of rhythmic southern funk.

Nestled among a rack of original songs (many forming the impressive body of the latest record) a couple of covers were tossed in with 'Lonesome On'ry and Mean' shading 'Sharp Dressed Man' in the appreciation stakes. Both go a long way to pinpointing the musical influences of Sam Morrow. Momentum was a key component to the show's success with the band building to a fitting finale almost lifting the roof off St. George's Hall. Sam Morrow steers clear of music's complexities, but absolutely nails a sound he drives to emulate.

New albums on the way:
Old Man Luedecke - Easy Money UK release date June 14th
Thom Ashworth - Head Canon UK release date June 28th
Alice Howe - Visions UK release date July 15
Carly Dow - Comet  UK release date July 15

Whether listening preferences orginate from your backyard or thousands of miles away, good music knows no borders.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Weekly Blog Post 2nd June 2019: Americana v Ameripolitan

Americana v Ameripolitan; of course there is no contest, but two gigs attended this week showcased contrasting artists at the core of the genre/organisation set up to at least form some framework for like minded music. 2019 is seeing Yola make the great strides predicted of her when embarking on a solo journey to cash in on her undoubted talent. That long awaited debut album has more than justified the belief thrust upon her to the extent of not just rising to eminence in her own UK but to garner two nominations in Nashville for September's Americana Music Association awards. The one for WALK THROUGH FIRE is thoroughly deserved, while the AMA have previous for nominating artists in the Emerging category with more than a few miles on the clock. To continue the promotion of the album on home soil, Yola (surname Carter ceremoniously ditched in true showbiz style) has been on tour and it was a privilege for the Hare and Hounds in Birmingham play host.

For me, it was critical that Yola had that full debut solo album release under her belt. There was also an opinion that early material didn't really lend an ear to do justice to her voice. All doubts were cast aside as the new songs had a beautiful live execution to reinforce the seamless journey from studio to stage.The backing band, turned into a five piece outfit with the joint addition of Manchester duo Mark Lewis (bass) and CJ Hillman (pedal steel), gave an exemplary performance alongside Yola's pitch and tone perfect extraordinary vocals.

Opening for Yola on her tour is Bristol-based artist Lady Nade, a colleague, friend and integral part of the touring troupe. She is currently in the midst of promoting her own solo album with SAFE PLACE getting its premiere a couple of weeks ago. In contrast to the polished state of the studio record, this support slot saw Lady Nade armed with only an acoustic guitar and occasional switch to electric. The stripped back format shed a new light on the songs, perhaps to the extent of winning over more fans with a greater heartfelt delivery. This segue into Yola's fuller format provided the structure to make this a highly successful and enjoyable evening.



The week's second gig saw a trip down to Oxford to take in a show from Ameripoltan founder Dale Watson. To some, this genre structure created deep in the heart of Texas represents the true home of country music alongside its brethren honky tonk, rockabilly and roots rock 'n' roll. Dale Watson had played an amazing gig at The Bullingdon in the city of the dreaming spires back in 2013 that lasted long in the memory. This return in tandem with a new album (hailed as release #32) rolled back the years and showed why Dale Watson is a standard bearer for a movement rooted in absolute integrity. Backed by a sensational three-piece band pushing the boundaries of what pedal steel, upright bass and drums can do, this gig shot straight to pinnacle of the year's listings to date. One that would subsequently require a managed come down in its aftermath.

Leading the total sum of two May 31st releases from the Directory is a superb album from Americana artist Doug Seegers. He came very much to the fore here in 2015 when going down a storm at that year's Southern Fried Festival in Perth. His latest release titled A STORY I GOT TO TELL is an extremely strong effort building on the impact this seasoned musician made and proving that great music is made away from usual highways of country music.

The other new album out on Friday from the pile is TO LOVE TO LEAVE TO LIVE by Her Crooked Heart, a band fronted by previously solo singer songwriter Rachel Reis. Maybe an album possessing one or two demands to unlocking its riches, but one with the potential to reward a degree of patience.

On the submission front, it was a case of the familiar and the new with the latter standing out most in the guise of LA act Lasers Lasers Birmingham. The merit of having such an intriguing name will long be debated but it only took one listen to WARNING to realise a record right up my street had arrived. In a similar vein, Karen Jonas (a previous recipient of a blog review) makes music that resonates and it will be interesting to assess how she has re-interpreted some of earlier material on a new record due out in July.

The final act of the week was to attend a concert by Californian Rick Shea at Thimblemill Library in Smethwick on Saturday evening. Following incredible gigs by Yola and Dale Watson was a tough task in my book, but this experienced operator shrugged off such a hypothetical scenario to turn in a fine performance of observational singer-songwriter staple. Rich in storytelling and subtly crafted in delivery, you don't travel several thousand miles without pedigree and plenty of that was on display to round off another rewarding week on the gig circuit.

Americana (more country soul in this instance) v Ameripolitan (definitely country music in this instance). I'll call it a diplomatic draw.

More in seven days...