At the time of writing the top slot on the UK Country chart is held by Ward Thomas. The interesting, and surprising, thing about this is Ward Thomas is Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas, 20 year old sisters from Hampshire. With the renewed interest in the genre due to the hit TV show ‘Nashville’ and with the Country2Country festival bringing top USA acts to the UK it would seem to be an opportune time for UK acts to make a dash for the spotlight. Hopefully Ward Thomas will be one of many acts to strike whilst the iron is hot.
The duo have recently released their first album, recorded in Nashville with top session players including Chris Rodriguez (Keith Urban, Faith Hill), Dan Dugmore (Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor etc.) and Bobby Blazier. The cool thing is you might take the girls to Nashville but the end result still has a hometown feel. The closing foot tapper ‘Town Called Ugley’ is a great example as the girls reference ‘Cotton Pickin’ and ‘the Old Kings Head’ in the same song. The twelve songs here are all, obviously, well played and produced with a nice range of styles from the bouncy opener ‘Push For The Stride’ to the ballad ‘From Where I Stand’ which features some really nice guitar work as does ‘Take That Train’ which reminds me of The Allman Brothers ‘Jessica’. At the end of the day the whole album is held together by the lovely harmonies of the two girls as their voices effortlessly merge and complement each other.
To sum up if you’re on the lookout for a traditional Country album with a nice pop edge that you can relate to while stuck in traffic on the M25, as opposed to cruising down the USA highway, then this is a good place to go.
The duo have just completed a UK tour but are out again later this year with follow Brit act The Shires.
Back in October, I was lucky enough to be invited along to the first night of Country Music Week at Bush Hall in London. The act who had the unenviable task of opening proceedings, in the wake of the Las Vegas atrocity the previous day, were Nashville based duo Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire collectively known as Walker McGuire. The pair got the evening off to a superb start with a bunch of cool harmony-driven songs laced with charm and humour, while still respecting the fallen. A few months on and the boys are about to release their first EP and the results are impressive.
Toronto native Josh Taerk (pronounced Turk) is a new name to me but, with heavy-hitting support on his bio from E-Street Band drummer Max Weinberg and John Oates of Hall & Oates fame, my guess was his new ‘Stages’ EP would be well worth checking out. I’m pleased to report this assumption would prove to be correct as ‘Stages’ is a little gem.
The covers album is a tricky old beast and one that few acts manage to fully tame. It’s an endeavour that can easily expose a lack of direction, an absence of fresh ideas or worse still, an ill-judged excursion into self-indulgence. It’s no small miracle, then, that female-vocal-bluegrass darlings The Wailin’ Jennys have made such a coherent success of Fifteen, their first album since 2011’s highly acclaimed Bright Morning Stars.
I have recently taken up photography as a hobby, not digital, but on film. I am shunning “Auto” and taking time to compose each shot, being choosy about what I take, as the roll is not infinite. As such, each shot becomes treasured, even if it does not come out as expected. Bob Bradshaw’s new album, ‘American Echoes’, has the feeling of a treasured photo album crammed with fond memories and experiences. Indeed, Bradshaw started his journey in America, which has led to the content of ‘American Echoes’, way back in 1989. It is a product of the people, places and venues he has visited and the experiences he has had in his adopted homeland. It draws on classic American genres ranging from country and folk to bluegrass and the blues. The album is a celebration and a document of the dreamers, poets and sinners that he has met on his journey across the nation’s landscape.
Recently the subject of the state of the music business has been the source of much debate in the RGM office...not that we have an actual office, more like a desk really but... The inspiration for much of this chat was a documentary film by Rain Perry ‘The Shopkeeper' reviewed here which explains just how difficult aspects of the business are in 2017. For another side of the modern music business let's take a look at Ron Pope on a one-man mission to demonstrate how to do things in 2017 while remaining fiercely independent.
If ever an album lived up to its title it must be ‘Transatlanticana’ which finds the “Titan of the Telecaster” Bill Kirchen recording an album with the “Godfather of Pub Rock” Austin De Lone. Needless to say the results are pretty amazing and the UK release via The Last Music Company / Proper Records features two bonus tracks.
Jim Lauderdale is one of the most respected artists working in the country / Americana field today. As a songwriter Lauderdale’s credits include some of the greats of the country genre and beyond (Blake Shelton, Lee Ann Womack, George Strait, Vince Gill, The Dixie Chicks and Elvis Costello) in a career that dates back to the 80’s. His latest solo release is a silky smooth slice of soulful country music that finds Lauderdale working in the UK with Nick Lowe’s band and a host of great players.
Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough’s first collaborations began some 6 years ago (first on DeMeyer’s 2011 release, Rose of Jericho and Savannah Road in 2014), while continuing to forge successful solo careers themselves. Brigitte DeMeyer’s work has received very favourable reviews comparing her blues-folk-rock to early Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow with the gutsiness of Little Feat’s initial outings. She has opened for Bob Dylan and toured with John Mayall. Similarly, Will Kimbrough’s solo and band work has been championed by critics both sides of the Atlantic with vocal, lyrical and style comparisons to John Lennon, Billy Joel, George Harrison and Neil Flynn to mention just a few. He has toured and collaborated with the likes of Todd Snider and Emmylou Harris. DeMeyer and Kimbrough’s career path together has seen them hone their song-crafting skills, showcasing their talents across North America and Europe. Based in Nashville, this is their first album as an official duo and brings their love of, and influences from blues, gospel, early jazz and country music together; “the good stuff” as Kimbrough calls it. DeMeyer characterises their seamless blend as acoustic soul.
The latest release from Whitney Rose finds the Canadian native embracing all things Texas with a lovingly compiled short-but-sweet set of songs that beautifully capture the sound, feel and traditions of the Lone Star state.
With the holiday season fast approaching the Red Guitar Music team thought it might be time to take a look at some of the seasonal music released this year. Now I will admit, grudgingly, to having a reputation for being a little bah humbug with regard to all things tinsel and fairy lights. Rumours that I make Ebenezer Scrooge look like Father Christmas are really only rumours (honest) so without further ado here is the Red Guitar Music Xmas round-up.