Chris & Adam Carroll Good Farmer Gypsy Shuffler
This is the debut album from a folk husband and wife duo. Adan Carroll has several solo albums to his credit, including the recent I Walked In Them Shoes. They have been playing live shows together for the six years or so since marrying in 2013. Carroll is a noted and highly respected songwriter in the classic folk tradition. Here he contributes some songs written solo or with other partners, with the remaining six songs written by the duo. They both share lead and harmony vocals and Chris’s vocal makes a fine counterpoint to Adams more fundamental vocal delivery which is more often delivered in a semi-spoken style. Chris also plays guitar and mandolin while Adam adds his guitar and harmonica skills. On occasion there is also some fiddle played by Dennis Ludiker.
The album was produced by Lloyd Maines (who also worked on Carroll’s solo albums) and he also brings his multi-instrumental talents to bear on the songs when required, although many are recorded live as if in a live setting. The album opens with Hi-Fi Love written by Adam and Scott Nolan which sounds like one of the recent John Prine duets. There is a deft touch to this album and enough variety in the instrumentation throughout to hold attention in a home-based, rather than live setting. Adam Carroll has been praised by such artists as Hayes Carll, Slaid Cleeves and Jon Dee Graham (who also provided the sleeve painting). And listening here you can see why his (and Chris’s songs) are worthy of such praise. They introduce characters with enough background detail to bring them to life. Ocean Of Peace, which is sung solely by Adam, is about a solider being shown some solace in a post-war world. Angel In God’s Country is likewise sung by Chris alone and offers that “you can’t judge a book by a cover, or a child by a mother” to make a case for a person being what they in their own right and not judged by association. It is likely that they each take the lead vocal in the songs that they composed, but either way their voices complement and add chemistry.
A good introduction to the two individual talents or perhaps a souvenir of their live show. In the end though Good Farmer offers a fruitful crop of well nurtured songs.
Review by Stephen Rapid
The Quebe Sisters Self-Titled Self Release
‘’ It’s an honour to live on the same planet as the Quebe Sisters. They represent everything that I love about pure American music and I’m probably their biggest fan.’’ So says Marty Stuart, articulating his admiration for The Quebe Sisters, a five-piece Western Swing band from Texas comprising of three fiddling playing sisters Grace, Sophia and Hulda Quebe, joined by Simon Stripp on guitars and Daniel on bass.
The self-titled album is their fifth release over a career that has spanned 15 years to date. Recorded at Texas Treefort Studio and self-produced by the band, it comprises three original songs and seven covers. Standards such as Willie Nelson’s Summer Of Roses and Gene Austin’s Lonesome Road are given make overs, as is the opening track Always Seem To Get Things Wrong, penned by Jesse Harris.
Review by Declan Culliton
Sess Grandeza Boiled
Well, the Lonesome Highway banner does include a reference to Roots Music. So, when a record arrives that contains a lyric sheet entirely in Portuguese, it does set a certain challenge! Sessa is a Brazilian artist who hails from Sao Paolo and this album is about the natural gesture of love and the softness of the human body. It’s also about his love for Brazilian music and its many shapes and colours.
The beats and melodies are right out of what one would expect South American native music to be; plenty of salsa grooves expressing joy and lightness along with very danceable rhythm. There are jazzy elements scattered across the eleven tracks (especially Sangue Bom and Tanto), but a bilingual lyric sheet would have been a help in deciphering what is being sung about. The backing voices are all female and blend well into the overall groove with a simple production and light percussion augmenting the acoustic guitar and upright bass work. There is a hypnotic quality to the listening experience and definitely one for a hammock on a bright sunny morning.
Review by Paul McGee
Doug Kinch Songs From Last Year Shandon
This 4-track EP was given to me recently and the title is very apt as the songs date back to 2018 and the Folk tinged sound is very gentle and pleasant. The production by Josh Johnston and Doug Kinch is very clean and the instruments are given plenty of space to fill the arrangements with a ‘less is more’ approach.
With Carol Keogh providing vocals on all tracks and Josh Johnston providing piano, electric piano and Hammond organ, the duo is joined by Patrick Groenland on electric and acoustic guitars and Cian Murphy on double bass. Kinch wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music with Johnston and it turns out to be a very successful collaboration. Johnston is an experienced musician, producer and composer in his own right with a number of previous releases and he brings a guiding hand with a light touch to proceedings.
Hannah Jordan is an angry song that builds over the arrangement, speaking of lies and disillusioned trust. There is a wistful quality to September Day and the title track while the closing song, Sketching For Lydia, is focused on the process of painting and creating an image with colour. Good to see quality Irish musicians making a statement with their talents and hints at better things to come.
Review by Paul McGee
Ray Cerbone (Americana & More) How Much Time Self Release
This is Folk music and story songs that have been crafted over many years. The twelve tracks are self produced and apart from three covers, Cerbone wrote all the songs, in addition to playing acoustic guitar and providing vocals. The project has been a labour of love and the assembled musicians serve the songs very well with understated playing.
Roy Schneider, who wrote Carriage, one of the songs included, plays an array of instruments from dobro and bongos, to melodica and mandolin. Gil Jusino provides a very mellow and rich upright bass throughout with both Kat Eppie (flute) and J Robert Houghtaling (fiddle) appearing on single tracks. Backing vocals are handled by Maria Valsi on six songs, with both Kim Mayfield and Christine Scholtus singing on one track each.
The spoken vocal style is very effective and adds authenticity to the laid- back acoustic arrangements. There are songs that deal with old memories (Next To You and Let The Bad Times Be), affectionate nods at old guitars bought (Steel On Wood), tributes to Guy Clark (Fondest Memory Of All and My Favourite Song) and Richard Shindell contributes Next Best Western, a song for the weary, but unbowed. The honky tonk swing of Cowgirl With The Long Red Hair is an up-tempo slice of fun while closing song, How Much Time, asks the eternal question about enduring love.
The whole project is a very enjoyable listening experience and this artist should not wait as long before focusing on his follow-up release. This has some depth and some very engaging playing and writing.
Review by Paul McGee
Various Artists The Time For Peace Is Now Luaka Bop
Luaka Bop is a record label that was founded by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. It has a very eclectic mix of artists and this release is the second volume in their World Spirituality Classics series. Unearthed from obscure 45s found in attics, sheds and crates across the American south, the collection presents a sound that is built on gospel and soul leanings. Compiled by soul DJ, Greg Belson, with special essays from New York Times Best-selling author Jonathan Lethem, gospel expert Robert F. Darden and Pastor Keith L. Whitney of Sanctuary Fellowship Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan.
There are fourteen tracks and the various artists are mainly unknown names in the wider media. However, the press release states that a number thrived on the gospel live circuit and some are still performing to this day.
The messages are secular and based around trying to live for one another and striving to get along with our fellow man. In the post Martin Luther King USA, it was a heart-felt attempt to unite people into a loving awareness message. The songs were released on small labels and artists like The Little Shadows, The Religious Souls, The Soul Stirrers and The Floyd Family Singers, among others, give fine testament to the movement and sentiment of the time.
Clocking in at over 45 minutes, it is a very enjoyable listen, even if the Gospel/Soul passions are some way apart from what Lonesome Highway usually concentrates on. The final song, Don’t Give Up, by the Williams Singers really sums up the central theme of believing in yourself and looking for the good in others.
Review by Paul McGee
Mrs. Henry The Last Waltz Blind Owl
Since 2012, Mrs. Henry has comprised of original band members; Dan Cervantes - guitar and vocals, Jody Bagley - keyboards and vocals, Blake Dean - bass and vocals and Chad Lee – drums. They hail from San Diego, California and their first two E.P. releases were followed by a couple of full-length albums, the latter split between a Vol. 1 with 6 tracks and Vol. 2. With a further 6 tracks…
These guys know a thing or two about exciting an audience with their loose boogie sound and they are perfectly suited to the project at hand; a tribute to the legendary Band concert, The Last Waltz. In November 2017, at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, San Diego, Mrs. Henry played their own gig to celebrate the original; a huge undertaking with the band members being joined by a total of 30 additional musicians and singers during its performance. Not all the original concert songs are included, which is understandable, but the entertainment across the 31 tracks that are performed, is superb and runs to over 2.5 hours of music on this double CD…
The playing, overall groove and vibe on the evening is terrific and mostly all the great Band songs are there; Up On Cripple Creek, The Shape I’m In, The Weight, Evangeline, Arcadian Driftwood, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and the cathartic, I Shall Be Released. For some reason Ophelia (a personal favourite) has been omitted but this is a small observation on a special occasion where everyone came together in order to recreate the original spirit of the 1970’s. Unfortunately, my review copy arrived with little information and a trawl of the web tells me that there were guest performances from many of San Diego’s most respected musicians, including Pat Beers of The Schizophonics, Brenden Dellar of Sacri Monti, Jesse Lee of The Paragraphs, Clinton Davis, Noah C. Lekas, Robby Gira, Brian Karscig, Roger Molina, Anna Zinova, Stephen El Rey, Nena Anderson and many, many more…
Although it has been praised as the greatest documentary concert film ever made, The Last Waltz was subsequently criticized for the disproportionate focus on Robbie Robertson and Band drummer, Levon Helm, stated that it was "the biggest f***in' rip-off that ever happened to the Band"; complaining they never received any money for the various home videos, DVDs and soundtracks released by Warner Bros. after the project.
Hats off to the Mrs. Henry band who carry off the mammoth task with great aplomb. Quite why they felt the urge to take this on in the first place is quite anyone’s guess – perhaps because it was just waiting there to be tackled? If you love the original Band sound then you will not be disappointed with the results.
Review by Paul McGee
Lisa Redford Edge Of Love Self Release
This 5 track EP arrived from a singer-songwriter who fits seamlessly into a contemporary Americana/Folk sound that is commercial & radio friendly. Lisa also extends her talents to music tutor, vocal coach, DJ and music columnist; an impressive CV that also includes four previous full-length albums, including a Live recording, an Acoustic Sessions release, two prior E.P.’S – together with a few singles thrown into the pot for good measure!
Active since 2005, her output has been consistently praised for its quality and depth. The five tracks included here are beautifully arranged and played by an ensemble of studio players that include the multi-instrumental talents of José McGill, who not only produced, engineered and mixed, but also performed on an array of instruments (10 in total) and provided some backing vocals too!
Lisa plays acoustic guitars and sings in a voice that has great resonance and timbre. The songs are all written by Lisa and revolve around matters of the heart; whether the difficulty in living together through the doubts (Anything But Easy), to the sense of jumping into something new and unknown (The Edge Of Love); the memory of new love, now lost (I Just Can’t Forget), to the disappointment of being let down by another (Let Go) – or the realisation that ultimately we are on our own (Alone Tonight).
No questioning the talent of this artist and with plenty of industry experience, the time for Lisa Redford to reach a wider audience is well-nigh… Do check out this excellent music.
Review by Paul McGee