John McCusker – new album

John McCusker

In celebration of his 25th Anniversary as a professional musician, John McCusker will release Hello, Goodbye on April 29th 2016 and tour the UK in April and May. A wonderfully evocative set of compositions, Hello, Goodbye is John’s first solo album in thirteen years, the first on his new record label Under One Sky Records and the first recorded in his state of the art studio, built over the last 2 years in a bothy dating from 1779, which neighbours his Scottish Borders home. Designed by legendary record producer and studio designer Calum Malcolm, the new studio is a winning combination of the traditional and the new, much like John’s music itself!

Hello, Goodbye was composed while John was on a world tour with Mark Knopfler. The core musical group for the album is an all-star cast of handpicked musicians with whom John has been fortunate to work over the past 25 years: James Mackintosh, Drums/Percussion (Shooglenifty, The Blue Nile, James); Ewen Vernal, Bass (Deacon Blue, Capercaille); Ian Carr, Guitar (Eddi Reader, Julie Fowlis, Swap); Michael McGoldrick, Whistle (Mark Knopfler, Capercaille, Sharon Shannon); Andy Cutting, Melodeon  (The Who, June Tabor); Tim O’Brien (Grammy Award Winning US bluegrass star); Phil Cunningham MBE, Accordion (Bonnie Raitt, Nicola Benedetti) and acclaimed Irish singer Heidi Talbot. Continue reading John McCusker – new album

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Singer Songwriters From Home (Hemifrån MFH 1501)

Singer Songwriters From HomeHere’s a Swedish label celebrating the art of the singer-songwriter with the music of four US exponents: Greg Copeland, Keith Miles, Barry Ollman and Bob Cheevers – all experienced but not well-known outside their home country, hence the tag “Hidden Treasures”.

The compilers and artists have worked hard to avoid the clichés of the genre but even so a good many of the songs fall into the gentle and thoughtful category. The first selection: Copeland’s ‘Wait for Me’, Miles’ ‘Playing Your Guitar’, Cheevers’ ‘These Are My Words’ and Ollman’s ‘Longtime Friend’ fall more or less into this grouping and Cheever’s strays dangerously close to the “you’re my woman etc etc” category. I’ll forgive him that for coming up with the first track that really sets the album alight – ‘The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’, a rousing re-telling of Washington Irving’s story. It’s preceded by ‘Roughhouse Boys’, Copeland’s reflective Civil War song, and followed by Miles’ country-rocker, ‘Homeland’, recorded fifteen years ago by Kenny Rogers.

Ollman’s ‘Murmuration’ takes a new look at something we’ve all seen at one time or another. It features Tim O’Brien’s mandolin and other guests sprinkled throughout the record include Patrick Sky, Spooner Oldham, Larry Knechtel, Jackson Browne, David Lindley and Garry W Tallent. Of the four, Ollman is the only performer I’m certain that I’ve heard before and while the album is enjoyable enough it lacks the bite I want from a singer-songwriter. A little early Phil Ochs or even Tom Paxton in protest mode wouldn’t go amiss.

Dai Jeffries

Label website: www.hemifran.com

CAHALEN MORRISON & ELI WEST the musician’s musicians…

C&E header 2014(1)It means something that the word about Americana roots duo Cahalen Morrison & Eli West spread first among musicians. Their debut album was passed around the ranks of some of the best American roots bands and seen as a model to strive for in songwriting and musicianship. In this way, you could think of Cahalen & Eli as musician’s musicians. This is because their music seems effortlessly simple, but is complex enough to engage us far beyond the usual way we listen to roots music.

Cahalen Morrison’s songwriting is as much informed by the dark lyricism of Cormac McCarthy as it is by Appalachian stringband songs, and Eli West’s angular, racing arrangements owe as much to the speed and aggression of early jazz as they do to bluegrass greats like Bill Monroe. Continue reading CAHALEN MORRISON & ELI WEST the musician’s musicians…

Irish Songstress Heidi Talbot Announces Angels Without Wings

Heidi Talbot Angels Without WingsIrish Songstress Heidi Talbot Announces Angels Without Wings

Former Cherish The Ladies Vocalist’s New Release Features Collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien and More

Acclaimed Irish songstress Heidi Talbot presents Angels Without Wings, a new collection of stunning original compositions, many co-written with  long time collaborator with Boo Hewerdine, featuring some of the most notable players and singers from the worlds of folk, pop, rock and bluegrass.  The new album will be released by the Compass Records Group on January 29th. Continue reading Irish Songstress Heidi Talbot Announces Angels Without Wings