A round-up of recent EPs and singles

To Be FreeBefore taking off for Nashville to start work on her sophomore album, Glasgow Americana singer-songwriter MARTHA L HEALY has put together a four track EP, To Be Free (Frog Eye) comprising two originals and two covers. The latter are well trod ground, a version of ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ with banjo and double bass that has Healy in growly mode and Hank Williams chestnut ‘I Saw The Light’ given a gutsy riverside gospel twang and handclaps delivery. They’re good, but the original numbers are of more interest. ‘Too Much Time’, co-pennned with Paul Healy, is a mid-tempo banjo dappled ballad about having wasted time going nowhere trying to be a rebel instead of actually living life and following your heart that has her sounding not unlike Lorretta Lynn. However, featuring Rebecca Brown on fiddle, the best cut is the title track, a waltzing twangsome song that recalls classic Emmylou and Gram. If the next album is even a patch on this, it’ll be a stunner.

Winter Wheat‘Postdoc Blues’ is the first single from JOHN K SAMSON’s forthcoming album, Winter Wheat. John is from Winnepeg and the song has the sound of the wide Canadian range with neat guitar: twangy underneath and sweet little breaks on top. The lyrics are clever and modern but resonant: “I believe in you and your Powerpoint” is reminiscent of a song from 1968 by an emerging outfit called The Band. The rest of the album sounds pretty good, too.

Remembering AberfanFor those of us old enough to remember the Aberfan disaster it’s rather like a splinter or a broken fingernail. Every once in while something brings back the image of that heap of black slurry in grainy film on the news. ‘Remembering Aberfan’ is a charity release by AMY GODDARD to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the event. Amy grew up in the valley and understands its people. The story of the disaster is told from the point of view of a mother who wishes that she hadn’t sent her son to school on that last day of the half term and from that decision flows the rest of the story. The two versions are sung over acoustic guitars with a choral backing and solemn drums as the song draws to its close. Highly recommended, both musically and as a contribution to the Aberfan Memorial Charity.

Strangers Bring Me No Light for Singles Bar 10‘Woman’ is the single from the debut album Strangers Bring Me No Light by JINNWOO, an artist from Brighton with an indefinable style. He usually bases his music on acoustic guitar with lots of strange things going on in the background and ‘Woman’ starts out that way but is rather more poppy in its development. Jinnwoo’s voice sounds treated and in contrast he’s joined by the sweet tones of Georgia Ruth (maybe also playing harp) amongst the big backing sound. In the past he’s worked with Alasdair Roberts and expressed a fondness for Stick In The Wheel. Good enough for us.