AMY GODDARD – Always A Dreamer (own label AGAAD2019)

Always A DreamerAlways A Dreamer is something of a departure for Amy Goddard being a tribute to her favourite songwriter, John Stewart, who she has name-checked more than once in the past. Sadly, she hasn’t included my favourite Stewart song, ‘Armstrong’, but as she has squeezed seventeen gems onto the album I won’t hold it against her. If I may digress for a moment, Stewart was a singer and songwriter who was a member of The Kingston Trio before he went solo. In a long career he recorded around fifty albums but he was never as big in Britain as he should have been. If you’re not a Stewart fan the only song you’ll recognise is ‘Daydream Believe’ but you’ll also notice that Amy has restored the original lyrics.

The album is topped and tailed by Amy’s ‘Tribute Song’ – just a short excerpt at the beginning leading into ‘Some Lonesome Picker’, the song that gave Stewart his nickname. Amy needed a country-ish band to support her nicely jangling guitar and she found it in Jon Lewis on electric guitar and bass, Todd Kuzma on drums and Brian Kutscher on bass and backing vocals alongside former Stewart sidesman Chuck McDermott. They hit exactly the right vibe without making Amy sound too American so she can sing a line like “she could have gone to Colorado” with guitar and Leo MacKenzie’s cello – not country at all. Really.

There’s a warmth to the performances which suggests that everybody really enjoyed making Always A Dreamer. Amy even hands over the lead vocal on ‘Dreamers On The Rise’ to her father, Alan Whitby, simply because it’s his favourite Stewart song. She also shares the role with him on ‘Hung On The Heart’ and ‘Sing My Heart Away’. There are two more songs I must single out for special mention. ‘If You Don’t Look Around’ was written for The Kingston Trio and two later members of the group, George Grove and Rick Dougherty join Amy on the track. The long centrepiece of the record is ‘Botswana’, an unusually political song from Stewart’s repertoire and still relevant more than thirty years on. Like ‘Armstrong’ it contrasts American affluence with third world poverty.

Always A Dreamer is Amy’s third full-length album – not forgetting her wonderful EP, Down In The Mine – and she has set the bar very high for whatever she may do in the future. Whether you want to curl up by a winter fire or drive the highway with the top down this is the only soundtrack you really need.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘The Last Hurrah’ – official video:

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Folk Awards 2013 (Proper Music Properfolk14)

Folk Awards 2013Glorious…there’s no other word to describe it. Opening with every folk fans favourite band of ragamuffins Bellowhead and “Roll The Woodpile Down” this 3 CD compilation of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards positively blasts forth heralding the achievements of all concerned. We in the folk world have a lot to be grateful for and the inclusion of (amongst others) Hannah James & Sam Sweeney, Gilmore & Roberts and Kathryn Tickell show how they can ‘acoustically’ kick butt along with ‘rock’ music’s finest. It brings a beaming smile to my face to feel privileged as I do that my enjoyment of this much maligned genre really can give every other form of music a run for its money and that recording’s like this will hopefully inspire the next generation to pick up the baton and run with it. Mind you…before I sign off (heartily recommending that you purchase a copy of the album) I’d like to credit Smooth Operations Jon Lewis on whose shoulders rest the unenviable task of selecting this compilation as it must have been an agonising decision choosing only one track from each of the featured artists plus the bonus ten track CD of the Young Folk Award contenders. Finally, Proper Music and the production team led by the legendary Brian Ledgard have to be congratulated for their support each year in allowing ‘our’ music such a fantastic shop window (and not a hint of Mary Portas in sight) in which to showcase such astonishing talent.