DALE WATSON – Call Me Insane (Red House RHR287)

Call Me InsaneVintage Bakersfield country from his silver pompadour down to his rhinestones, you might think the deep-voiced Alabama-born Watson (who looks like he could be Billy Bob Thornton’s younger brother) was being ironic were it not for the fact he walks the walk as well as talks the talk. Which may be why his brand of what he terms Ameripolitan is embraced by alt-country fans as well as die-hard Texan honky-tonkers and truckers. This is his 26th studio album in 20 years (one of which was actually called Heeah!!), recorded with his regular touring band, The Lone Stars, and guest contributions from the legendary Lloyd Maines (who also produces) and brass trio The Honky Tonk Horns.

There’s less of the trucking this time round (four of his albums have the word Truckin’ in their title), but this is still a shoot from the hip bundle of classic Texas and Outlaw country in the grand tradition of Cash, Jennings and Jones. Indeed, driven by upright bass, twangy guitar and plinkety piano, ‘Jonesin’ For Jones’ is a tribute to George’s music while ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow Up To Be Babies’ is Tony Joe White’s lyrically playful riposte to the classic Waylon and Willie hit and album opener ‘A Day At A Time’ could easily have been lifted from the early JC albums.

As per the genre, there’s a good balance of honky-tonk ballads and uptempo romps, the latter well-represented by the Western Swing styled ‘Bug Ya For Love’, the mariachi flavours of ‘Tienes Cabeza de Palo’, the jaunty ‘Everybody’s Somebody In Luchenbach Texas’ and ‘Heaven’s Gonna Have A Honky Tonk’ which sounds like something Kristofferson might have written had Waylon been his dad. And you don’t need me to tell you that something called ‘Hot Dang’ is going to be a good time twangy country boogie.

If push comes to shove, however, I’d have to cast my vote for his slower numbers, most particularly the acoustic honky tonk waltzing weepie ‘Crocodile Tears’, complete with a classic tradition spoken passage, the moodily twangsome vocally soaring title track and ‘Forever Valentine’, something I could imagine Elvis having sung. However, the most powerful track has to be ‘Burden Of The Cross’, a musically brooding trucker’s lament about a hand-built cross on the highway that marks the site of a fatal accident, specifically that of his fiancée Terri Herbert in 2000. Having lost Johnny, Waylon and George, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, who’ve just collaborated on ‘Django and Jimmie’, are the last surviving legends of classic old school country music; it’s good to know that there are artists like Watson out there to keep the flame burning.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: http://www.dalewatson.com/

‘Jonesin’ For Jones’ live:

Jeremiah Brothers share official video

‘Because Of You’

The new single from their debut eponymous album

Kevin and Ciaran Jeremiah (of The Feeling) share the new video for their upcoming single taken from their debut album The Jeremiah Brothers which was released on June 8th. ‘Because Of You’ is about how, with the right person, it can be a genuine pleasure to compromise and put the other person first. Filmed in Epping Forest, the video features choreography from dancers Sarita P and Craig Ward.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: http://thejeremiahbrothers.com/

RICHARD THOMPSON – Still (Proper Records PRPCD131)

StillThe new album from Richard Thompson – Still – is scheduled to be released on June 29th 2015 although one can pre-order now and I suggest you do! It is a fabulous album that has wonderful new compositions from this renowned and gifted singer/songwriter and consummate guitarist. He has the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award and Mojo’s Les Paul Award and to top that – Richard was been awarded the OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours List. Recently the Americana Music Association honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting.

Still was recorded in just nine days in a Chicago studio, Richard Thompson had Wilko’s Jeff Tweedy at the helm producing the album and various musicians from both of their past endeavours to be involved on the album. No ideas were preconceived before they all met in the studio and the album recording evolved naturally.

Thompson’s distinctive vocals are evident from the opening track, with ballads, haunting melodies, Celtic drumming, and his own rock and roll. All there in true RT style.

My favourite tracks are ‘She Never Could Resist A Winding Road’, ‘Beatnik Walking’, ‘Long John Silver’ – a belting rocky audience participation song at a gig I reckon – Celtic drumming on ‘Pony In The Stable’ and ‘No Peace No End’. This album has a unique pedigree and every track is a winner, so make sure you add this stunning album to your collection.

The Richard Thompson Electric Trio are touring the UK in August and September 2015 to promote this album, and I can’t wait to see him do justice to this album and his amazing back catalogue, at a live gig!

Jean Camp

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: www.richardthompson-music.com

Label website: www.proper-records.co.uk

TRADarrr – Cautionary Tales (Hedge Of Sound HOS02)

CautionaryTalesI have to say this, just to get it out of the way – TRADarrr is not a great name. Particularly when it’s attached to a great band. There, I’ve done it – you may now heap opprobrium on my head.

TRADarrr are (or arre) Gregg Cave, Marion Fleetwood (of Jigantics and ColvinQuarmby) and Guy Fletcher, Mark Stevens, and PJ Wright (of just about anybody you can think of). The music isn’t all trad. arr. but it’s close enough for folk – when you can list Ralph Vaughan Williams, Oliver Goldsmith and Shirley Collins in your credits nobody is going to be picky.

The album starts with a brilliant idea: ‘English Folk Song Suite Pt 1’ (we can hope that part 2 will emerge later) – folk songs turned into an orchestral piece by RVW and then returned to folk or rather reworked as folk-rock.. Perhaps I should also have said that Cautionary Tales is folk-rock at its very best. Next up is ‘My Lagan Love’, which owes something to Fairport’s arrangement of ‘The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’ with Marion taking the lead vocal. Actually Tradarrr boast five vocalists although they also recruit Chris Leslie and Pete Scrowther to take some lead lines with Gregg handling the rest. Other guests include Jerry Donahue, Dave Pegg, Ric Sanders, Marcus Parkinson, Simon Care, Gareth Turner and Kristnaps Fisher with the melodeon trio featuring on ‘Princess Royal’ and ‘Upton Stick Dance’. I’m not sure that they need all these guests, except to have more fun in the studio, and I’m a bit iffy about importing lead vocalists.

The sound that gladdens my heart on this record is that of Mark Stevens’ cornet. It doesn’t have the power of Brass Monkey in their pomp but it brings a contrasting texture to what is essentially a string driven album – brass is such an evocative sound in folk music – and it’s the perfect finishing touch.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.tradarr.com

Tradarrr’s official promo video:

The Gorgeous Chans – single and video

Gorgeous Chans

Young Nottingham-based 6-piece The Gorgeous Chans started life in 2012 riffing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album, and using that as their starting point began making superb indie music with a tropical twist. Incorporating a horn section into an indie staple of guitars, bass, and drums, the band have organically built a loyal following for their summery danceable guitar-pop.

Debut single Marina & I’ is a song about youth, exuberance and summer love and takes its inspiration from the ‘Marina’ of children’s television show ‘Stingray’. It’s constructed around a stunning upbeat brass hook with crystal clear indie guitars in abundance and marks the difference these young lads have on “all the other indie bands out there”. A live version from the band’s set at Bestival in 2014 was featured on Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show.

B-Side ‘By The Highway’ showcases another side to the band, rising up from a lullaby with a sentimental feel of nostalgia surrounding gorgeous harmonies. The track has already received airplay from BBC 6 Music and sparked interest from several major labels. Both tracks were recorded by the band between free studio time at a local college and a ramshackle studio set up put together in Elliot’s back room, who is one of the two saxophone players in the group.

It’s time you met The Gorgeous Chans.

Artists’ website: www.facebook.com/thegorgeouschans

‘By The Highway’ – official video:

 

JAMES MCARTHUR AND THE HEAD GARDENERS – Strange Readings From The Weather Station (Moorland MLAND002)

SRFTWSIn an on-line thread that I followed a musician stated that he didn’t like critics who used the word “interesting” to describe music. I was as guilty as anybody – I used the word as a shorthand for “I like this record but I don’t fully understand it” – and resolved never to use it again. Despite that, Strange Readings From The Weather Station is really interesting.

The album, his second, follows James’ EP, Lawn Order, the title track of which is the second song here. The opener, ‘Maelstrom’, led me to expect a rather off-the-wall instrumental set but the vocal arrived and put paid to that theory. Later, it began to remind of Kenny Young’s magnum opus, Last Stage For Silverworld, for the way it layers orchestral arrangements over the basic musical vocabulary of rock and folk and the fact that the meaning of the songs isn’t always clear. ‘Leaf Shot’ and ‘Half Cut’ are still puzzling me.

My favourite track is James’ current single, ‘The Day It Rained Forever’, which completely reverses the imagery of Ray Bradbury’s short story. Then there is ‘Tread Lightly My Dear’ which embodies the Englishness of sixties singer-songwriters – James is Welsh so I apologise now for the slight. So, I do like this album and it remains interesting.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: http://jamesmcarthurmusic.co.uk/#landing-home

‘Lawn Order’ – the official video: