Mike Aiken 'Captains & Cowboys' Northwind

This is a fulsome roots album that rocks and with Dan Baird on board as co-producer and guitarist that should't be much of a surprise. Most of the songs are by Aiken,  either solo or co-writes with sundry others. Coal Train deplores the fact that coal from the Appalachians is being shipped to China. Your Memory Wins is a bar-room ballad of regret - "when the whiskey wears off you’re still gone" and is embellished by Dan Dugmore's pedal steel. While from the other end of the glass comes Bring out The Bourbon, a bar-room buddies song with a solid beat behind the bleary eyes of beer and bourbonites solving the world's problems.

 Get Down Rive, r written by The Bottle Rockets Brian Henneman, has a nice loose feel with accordion playing a part in getting the right mood for the song. That theme is continued in Put a Sail On It, a gentle metaphor for moving on. As is Save The Whale, s which considers how things were and where they are now in the process of whaling. Tammy Rogers add some zest with her fiddle playing and the chorus includes a traditional "hooray up she rises, early in the morning". Take the Boy Fishin' has us back down beside the water but this time a tale of a young man's fancy for the captain's daughter.

Throughout, Aiken has a voice that is adaptable enough to taken control of the gentler songs as well as the more uptempo numbers. He is joined on background vocals by Amy Aiken and the balance works well between the two. Night Rider's Lament, written by Michael Burton is a tale of those who spend their time looking after cattle but living their life in the way they wish to. It is a more acoustic songs with again fiddle and Mike Webb's accordion giving the song its texture. The title songs closes the album in tribute to two sets of people that Aiken attributes a lifestyle to that he admires and is truthful to their individual needs, something he holds dear and something he espouses throughout the album.

Mike Aiken has made a solid and satisfying album that is diverse enough to please a wide range of roots-orientated listeners looking for something to tasty to savour.

Stephen Rapid