CHRIS FOX – From The Shadows (own label)

From The ShadowsChris Fox sent me a link for the lead single from From The Shadows and I thought it was little gem of songwriting. ‘I’m In Love With You’ doesn’t have the typical backstory of an artist with a leaning towards Americana – very few have to start shopping in Morrison’s in order to avoid meeting someone in Tesco. If that story appeals to you then Chris is your man. Principal support comes from multi-instrumentalist producer Dan Wilde with Jamie Welsted on drums, John Parker on double bass and Zoe Wren on backing vocals and it’s all delightfully restrained – mostly.

Chris doesn’t restrict himself to just one style. He describes ‘Little Brown Sparrow’ as a minimal blues in which the bird is a metaphor for the broken and homeless. I’d love to think that it will emerge as a major song of social conscience when From The Shadows hits the streets. In contrast, ‘The Motivator Blues’ is foot-stomping electric rocker with just a hint of T.Rex about the pain of pub gigs – “I don’t need nobody to tell me I’m wrong” he sings. But plenty of people will. There’s a good deal of loneliness and loss in these songs: ‘You Helped Me Through’, ‘Anabelle’ and ‘Castaway’ all have their share of misery.

It’s not all grim. ‘Who Really Loves You’ is about home and family; the people who offer you support when you need it but even that is hedged around with questions and regrets. The album really is full of shadows.

Before all that we have the splendid ‘Tinseltown’, a murder ballad with a Tex-mex shuffle inspired by Brad Pitt (that’s another story) and, indeed, it does have the feeling of being a pitch for a TV series along the lines of The Fugitive. It would need some work, of course, because the man on the run is actually guilty – or would even that run in Trump’s America?

From The Shadows is Chris’ third album and, such is the music business, this is the first I’ve heard of him. I sincerely hope it won’t be the last.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Bird Of Paradise’ – live:

ANNIE DRESSNER – Broken Into Pieces

Like Kurt Russell in ‘Escape from New York‘, Annie Dressner has legged it as well and made it over here to fair Albion even without the aid of an eye patch! Dressner been busy in Blighty, clocking up airplay on both BBC Radio Two and Six and earning herself festival appearances at Green Man and Cambridge to name just a few. Its no surprise then, that she now has a brand new spanking album, ‘Broken Into Pieces’ in the can and a huge heart and desire to share it with everyone.

Mates abound, with contributions from Polly Palusama and Che Bereford from Capercaille. Dressner’s husband Paul Goodwin also chips in on BV’s along with Dan Wilde and Jade Rhiannon Ward from the Willows. Matthew Caws from Nada Surf is also part of the project together with ‘Broken Into Pieces’ album producer Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore, Fairport Convention, Martha Wainwright, Waterboys and Abbie Ozard).

The album looks at the little fragile fragments of everyday life and its relationships. The melodies are folk/pop tinged, complemented by vocals pitched in a tone, slightly higher in a golden, “crisp Manhattan morning air”. It starts with ‘Fades Away’, which gently pulls the listener out of its opening hypnotic circular guitar and soft lullaby chrysalis, into a relationship butterfly of tinkering piano and meandering cello. ‘Don’t Go’, folk-pop-rocks it along with its little cheery whistling intro as it steams off into ‘sticky plaster’ patching up relationship territory, with one foot out the door whilst the head is jerked back around as its being persuaded to stay. ‘Heartbreaker’ has a great swinging pop-country homespun roll to it and looks back to what could have been. ‘This was how it was to be my love when you were my love‘, maybe all those gold flakes in the vodka bankrupted the poor fella!

‘Kentucky’, which you can watch in video below was the first track that jumped out and grabbed me. There is something very fragile about it, you feel like you are holding the heart of it and if you don’t hold on to it carefully enough, you may drop and smash it.

The more and more I listen to ‘Broken Into Pieces’, the more I find something new in it. Its a beautiful thing and its definitely a keeper.

Darren Beech

Artist’s website:

‘Kentucky’ – official video:

The album is available to order/download from the Bandcamp link below. ‘Fades Away’, ‘Kentucky’ and ‘Get Out’ are there to stream as well.

Annie Dressner announces second album

Annie Dressner

Annie Dressner was born and raised in New York City where she cut her teeth on the busy acoustic music scene, appearing regularly at such iconic venues as The Bitter End and Rockwood Music Hall. Since relocating to the UK seven years ago she has received airplay on BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music and has appeared at Green Man and Cambridge Folk Festival.

Her second album, Broken Into Pieces is due for late October release and features eleven all new Dressner originals.

It is produced by Nigel Stonier whose many collaborations include Thea Gilmore, Fairport Convention, Martha Wainwright, The Waterboys and current BBC6 Music breakthrough artist Abbie Ozard.

Contributing musicians include fellow New Yorker Matthew Caws of Nada Surf on electric guitars, alongside UK musicians including Stonier himself, drummer Che Beresford (Capercaille, Black Grape) and Dressner’s husband Paul Goodwin – himself a respected songwriter – on keyboards. Backing vocal duties are handled by singer/songwriters Polly Palusama and Dan Wilde along with Jade Rhiannon Ward of The Willows

Annie’s lyrics throughout are shot through with honesty and a rare candour… they hone in on the everyday minutiae of relationships and life, catching the moments where hearts and worlds turn on their respective axes.

These are set to direct, memorable folk/pop melodies and delivered almost conversationally in Annie’s affecting, clear toned Manhattan alto.

From the stark intimacy of ‘Bruise Beneath My Bones’ to the light East Coast rock of ‘Get Out’ via the almost campfire folk groove of ‘Heartbreaker’, Dressner draws on a wide musical palette. And from the heartbreak of ‘Kentucky’ to the understated euphoria of ‘Morning’ the album runs the full emotional gamut.

Broken Into Pieces is released October 26 and is surely destined to break new ground for Annie Dressner in her new, adopted homeland.

Artist’s website:

‘Kentucky’ – live: