The new debut album from Dan Raza

Dan has already established a considerable reputation on the UK singer songwriter and folk roots scene. His distinctive approach has won him many fans and led to his supporting Joan Armatrading on a recent European tour, as well as opening for artists such as Mary Gauthier, Badly Drawn Boy, Cara Dillon, Chris Farlowe and Slaid Cleaves at concerts throughout the UK and USA. He also had a song, Every Little Dog endorsed by Neil Young when Shakey chose it for his ‘Living with War’ website.

His live performances are noted for their strong emotional impact and his songs are informed by literary influences such as Ben Okri and also the influence of painters like Marc Chagall. Indeed, Dan’s songs receive colourful treatment on this his first album. From the enigmatic longing of 40 Miles to the vibrant energy of Cool Dark Night and No-One Shed A Tear, the intense originality of his writing is balanced by strong and varied musical texture.

Dan is of mixed Indian and British origin. Many of his songs draw on images from his turbulent childhood and reflect on a search for belonging that remains elusive. There is a wistfulness and yearning at the heart of his writing which reveals itself strongly in songs like Home, Again. The lyrics of this track look back on his journey since moving away from his native Bedfordshire as a teenager and see him trying to make peace with his roots. In a similar vein is Rivertown which follows one man’s restless spirit as he travels through the rubble of the past trying to make sense of where he’s been so he can see where he’s going. The song has an almost supernatural quality and lyrics that fuse otherworldly images with an undertone of loss: ‘help me sweep the ashes from the floor/help me see the way I did before.’ The record concludes with the beautiful closing track, Can’t Go Back, which features the West African Griot musician, Mosi Conde, on kora. Written in Texas while on tour, it was inspired by the themes of displacement he heard in so many country songs while there and the personal experience of leaving behind all he knew, to follow someone, only to see it come apart.

A chance meeting at a gig in South London led Dan to record his debut album with Charlie Hart, who has worked previously with Ronnie Lane, Ian Dury, Eric Clapton and Mose Allison. It features a stellar array of guest appearances from Geraint Watkins (Van Morrison, Paul McCartney), BJ Cole (Dolly Parton, Martin Simpson) Steve Simpson (Eric Bibb, Ronnie Lane), Frank Mead (Albert King, Eric Clapton) and Mosi Conde (Mory Kante, Salif Keita).

Dan Raza has waited a long time to make his first full album after earning plaudits from some of the most notable songwriters on both sides of the Atlantic. There is no doubt he has a lot of promise. This is the first clue to what he might do with it.

 “One of the best support acts I’ve seen in two or three years…an artist that makes you take note and listen to the songs.” Slaid Cleaves

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Artist Web link: www.danraza.com

Des Horsfall’s Kuschty Rye – THE GOOD GENTLEMAN’S TONIC

Honouring the legend of the late great Ronnie Lane, in the only way he knew how, roots-rocker Des Horsfall and his band Kuschty Rye embarked on a journey. It was a journey which resulted in the superbly packaged album you have in your hands today, entitled THE GOOD GENTLEMAN’S TONIC.

Recorded at Valve Studios with producer Andy Bell at the helm, the release takes in folk, country, blues, rock and pop influences, reminiscent of Ronnie Lane’s own post Faces work with the legendary Slim Chance. To create a truly fitting tribute to the legend, Des enlisted the help of many of Ronnie’s contemporaries to fully evoke the feel of the Travelling Show that Slim Chance was famously known for. The album has a laid back 1970s feel to it, evident in Lane’s output from his Slim Chance period and the release is given a seal of authenticity by including guest appearances from original Slim Chance members Benny Gallagher, Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson.

This forward looking, though at times nostalgic record is further enhanced by contributions from Spiral Earth Awards nominee Katriona Gilmore, renowned folk accordionist Hannah James and noted pedal steel player PJ Wright.

As a nod to the material on the debut Slim Chance record ANYMORE FOR ANYMORE, Des has covered and kept faithful to Ronnie’s version of Careless Love while totally reworking hit single The Poacher to poignantly end the record. Of the songs penned by Des, prime cuts include the Cajun swing of Nothing New, the anthemic Little Girl and live favourite Long Long Time, a track that cries out to be a hit single.

A very special feature of the release is the ‘Unwinese Mix,’ the story of the album’s inception narrated by John Unwin, son of the late great Professor Stanley Unwin who invented the Unwinese language used to great effect in the Small Faces recording OGDENS NUT GONE FLAKE album. The ‘Unwinese Mix’ tells the story of how Des was inspired by Ronnie Lane and, as if by magic, hit up on the idea to create his own travelling show. I can well remember during the 1970s when Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance toured all over the UK travelling in a convoy of circus vehicles setting up their big top and performing shows in parks and on public land when the authorities would allow, indeed the famed Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band acted as ringmaster on several of the shows. THE GOOD GENTLEMAN’S TONIC is the first in a trilogy of Kuschty Rye albums mirroring Ronnie Lane’s three Slim Chance releases.

A contribution of £1 from the sale of each album sold at live shows will be donated to The Multiple Sclerosis Trust in memory of Ronnie Lane.

For more information and the latest tour news, please visit www.kuschtyrye.net

“First pass through ‘The Good Gentleman’s Tonic’ made me grin like a fool, put a tear in my eye and even made the hair stand up on my arms. Nothing has touched my heart like this album. What was needed wasn’t someone who did a good imitation of Ronnie Lane, or was handy with a resonator- it’s the soul, the vibe, the spirit of the little bugger… and Des Horsfall has nailed it completely in this bunch of songs”. Brian Robbins (Relix Magazine USA).

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