Alan Harrison's Blog (346)

Jessica Rae - Freedom Avenue (Album Review)

Darn pretty Country music from a darn pretty lady

Jessica Rae took me by surprise on this; her second album; judging by her portrait on the cover; I was anticipating something twee and antiseptic; but right from the start with Holes in Your Shoes; she couples the gritty edge of her home town Chicago with the classic Country licks of her adoptive home Nashville to…

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Added by Alan Harrison on April 16, 2014 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Bridie Jackson and the Arbour - New Skin (Album Review)

Who knew that Choral flavoured Folk music could be this cool?

When I first encountered Bridie Jackson and the Arbour three years ago they were like a breath of fresh air blowing across a very stale and dusty Folk music scene; and nothing has changed in the intervening years; apart from them getting better.

For once it is genuinely difficult to point you to individual tracks as this is; as we used to say, a conceptual piece that is best heard in its entirety so…

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Added by Alan Harrison on April 14, 2014 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Blair Dunlop - House of Jacks (Album Review)

Young folksinger finds a voice to match his impressive words

Even at the tender age of 22, Blair Dunlop already has all the hallmarks of a seasoned pro: fronting the reformed and regenerated Albion Band, touring solo virtually non-stop, winning plaudits and awards for his debut album in 2012; all of which all brings us to what they call ‘the difficult second album.’

So, can the young man meet the expectation of a doting public? It’s an emphatic yes, from me,…

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Added by Alan Harrison on April 14, 2014 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Eddi Reader - Vagabond (Album Review)

Folk meets Torch via a big dollop of the Blues     

When Eddi’s original band, Fairground Attraction stormed the parapets of the UK Pop Charts in 1988 with Perfect; their quirky Folk Music was like a breath of fresh air in a sterile industry. Subsequently her solo career had some commercial success in the early years; but the ever smiling singer has continued unabated; rarely treading very far from that Folk path in the intervening quarter century.

Her tenth…

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Added by Alan Harrison on April 10, 2014 at 10:00am — No Comments

Nick Dittmeier - Light of Day (Album Review)

If it sounds Country, it is Country and this sounds as Country as it comes  

A few years ago Nick Dittmeier was in a band called Slithering Beast and he contacted me to review their debut album. Being the nice guy I am I agreed; but advised him that I would be ‘honest’ in my appraisal.

That album was surprisingly good and not as ‘Rocky’ as the band name suggested. Sadly fame and fortune passed the band by and Dittmeier is now touring the Southern states under…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 30, 2014 at 8:30am — No Comments

Bobby Bare Jr. - Young Criminal’s Starvation League (Album Review)

Crash-Bang Alt. Country from way out in left field

I really didn’t know what to expect from this album as Bobby Bare Jr. Has hardly ever grazed my radar over the years; but after repeated listening; especially late at night in the car, I am now a convert.

Not only does Bare wear his heart on his sleeve in his lyrics but he puts his soul out there too in his brave choice of playing styles.

Billed as a ‘break-up’ album; Bare quickly lets us know what to…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 30, 2014 at 7:00am — No Comments

Red Pine Timber Company - Different Lonesome (Album Review)

Yeehaw! Americana and Celtic Folk-Rock have a baby in rural Scotland  

Sometimes reviewing albums can be a chore; but occasionally you crack open a scruffy oyster and discover a musical pearl which is what we have here.

Red Pine Timber Company are the brainchild of Gavin JD Munro one of the the band Southpaw; and are a loose collective of professional musicians, buskers and students who were drawn together because of their love of this type of…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 30, 2014 at 6:00am — 8 Comments

Ochre Room– Box, Bar & Diamond (Album Review)

Fulsome, countrified Americana for the discerning music fan    

Ochre Room’s debut album Evening Coming In took me by surprise with its simplistic production and intelligent songs, when I discovered it last year. So, receiving an early copy of their latest work left me feeling a little bit nervous when I unwrapped the disc.

The six-piece band from Finland have kept the same basic formula that impressed me; but, this time, each song appears more…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 30, 2014 at 5:00am — No Comments

Birds of Chicago - Live From Space

Glory Be! Roots music to gladden the soul, heart and mind.

I’ve been a fan of Jeremy Lindsay aka JT Nero’s quirky and intelligent music ever since I saw him in the 1pm slot at a festival several years ago. When he was joined by the delectable Allison Russell from Po’ Girl for a UK Tour in 2011 to promote his Mountains/Forests album that she had sung on, I was astounded by the sweet sound their voices made when singing together.

Their debut…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 26, 2014 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa - Live in Amsterdam DVD & CD

The Crown Prince of Blues guitar finds a voice that Rocks!    

Joe Bonamassa is undoubtedly one of the finest guitarists I’ve ever heard, but his choice of material and lengthy guitar solos had always left me cold until I heard the See Saw album he recorded with Beth Hart a year or so ago.

On that album, Bonamassa relegates himself to the shadows. On this live recording at Amsterdam’s Koninklijk Theatre, Ms Hart revels in her femme fatale role in the…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 25, 2014 at 1:30am — 7 Comments

Robert Cray Band - In My Soul (Album Review)

Blues with a heart full of Soul     

A friend; who obviously knows nothing about music once criticised a Robert Cray album I’d loaned him by saying ‘it was all the same formula;’ well, if this is a ‘formula’ let’s bottle it and make a fortune!

More recently Robert Cray has apparently locked himself away with only his huge collection of classic 45’s for company and come back out into the daylight rejuvenated and made an album that is influenced by the great…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 25, 2014 at 1:00am — 5 Comments

Billy Bragg - Live at the Union Chapel, London

A Greatest Hits package with much for Billy to brag about   

The track listing for both the DVD and CD that are included in this package is the same but sadly the CD fades out the applause in between songs and totally misses Billy’s introductions and chatter; which is actually the highlight of any Billy Bragg concert.

As a ‘for instance’ All You Fascists are Bound to Lose is a fine song and evoked happy memories of my younger more radical days when I…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 19, 2014 at 4:30pm — 3 Comments

Matt Andersen - Weightless (Album Review)

Bluesman discovers his Soulful side  

If I’d not heard of Matt Andersen before, this would have been a very easy album to review. But, as I’m a fan, it’s been difficult to find a balance in describing my enjoyment. This album is very, very enjoyable indeed, but nowhere near what I was expecting.

Andersen’s fans know him as predominantly a solo blues guitarist who sings in an extraordinary and gruff way; but on Weightless, he appears to have a band…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 14, 2014 at 10:30am — 1 Comment

Simone Felice - Strangers (Album Review)

Dark, melancholic pop music   

Despite glimmers of hope on Simone Felice’s eponymous debut it was still a wonderfully dark affair; and some ghosts must have been exorcised, because the follow up ‘Strangers’ is a much more optimistic record.

On opening track Molly-O   not only will his hardcore fans take delight, but the sound is so delicious  it will appeal to a brand new younger audience too.

If You Go To LA is a lot more conservative…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 12, 2014 at 5:00am — No Comments

John Murry plus support Trev Gibb – Cluny 2 (Newcastle, UK – Feb. 24, 2014)

The last time John Murry came to Newcastle he and his band had were all laid low with the flu, a fact that Murry reminded us of at the start of his solo appearance tonight. Nevertheless the band soldiered on to deliver an understated but heartfelt performance; that belied their dilapidated states and possibly even added poignancy to the songs about addiction, loss and betrayal. Tonight Murry had come alone; simply a songwriter and his guitar for an ‘intimate’ evening among…

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Added by Alan Harrison on March 2, 2014 at 10:00am — No Comments

Sandi Thom - The Covers Collection

Classic Rock songs get an unplugged and feisty makeover     

For whatever reason 2014 appears to be the year of the ‘covers album’ with the great and the good releasing their own versions of other people’s songs. Some I’ve heard have obviously been contract fillers but a couple have merited more than two listens; and in the case of The Covers Collection by Sandi Thom; it just might be the album that changes her career for the better.

‘Covers albums’ are…

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Added by Alan Harrison on February 22, 2014 at 8:00am — No Comments

Robby Hecht by Robby Hecht (Album Review)

Lyrically astute singer-songwriter serves notice on his Peers  

This is Robby Hecht’s third album and just goes to show what can be achieved by serving an apprenticeship and learning your craft; as every one of the 12 songs here tells its own story and when combined create an album that will end the year on many critic’s Best Of lists.

Opening with the upbeat but maudlin (if such a thing exists) I Don’t Believe It Hecht narrates a harsh break-up in a…

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Added by Alan Harrison on February 15, 2014 at 2:30pm — 1 Comment

Carrie Tree - Home to the Invisible (Album Review)

Subtle, Nu-Folk that owes a debt to the bedsit writers of the 70’s  

Folk Music; and in particular English Folk Music, generally leaves me unmoved and a bit bored; so it takes something special to hold my attention, and Carrie Tree has managed that with ease.

The press release that accompanied the CD lists the usual suspects that Carrie was ‘influenced’ by but, if my memory serves me correctly she owes a lot more to Judee Sill and Sandy Denny than Ray…

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Added by Alan Harrison on February 15, 2014 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Katie Cole - Lay it All Down (Album Review)

Grown up Country music      

I first received this album over a year ago and loved it instantly; but due to record company hassles it never actually got released. Katie has now taken the Mastertapes and shined some rough spots and roughed up shiny bits and is now releasing the album herself in the format she originally wanted it to sound.

All of the songs on the album were written by Katie in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia or latterly in her new home in…

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Added by Alan Harrison on February 3, 2014 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Hard Working Americans – Hard Working Americans (Album Review)

 Alt-Country just got itself a Classic album.  

Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way; the album cover looks like it could have been a Leon Russell Bootleg designed by a stoned hippie and the band’s name; Hard Working Americans is at best in poor taste and at worst patronising.

Now the good stuff; the band was formed and is led by Todd Snider who corralled a bunch of friends to create an album of songs by some of his other friends; that (in his opinion)…

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Added by Alan Harrison on February 3, 2014 at 1:00pm — 3 Comments

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.