LISA BASTONI – How We Want To Live (own label)

How We Want to LiveHow We Want To Live, the Massachusetts singer-songwriter’s fifth album is a collection of songs informed by an absent father and her recent divorce The former, who she’s not seen for eight years, is the subject of ‘Never Gone To You’ a simple organ backed, pulsing drumbeat number on which she’s joined on vocals by Rose Cousins where, contemplating their fractured relationship, she sings “there’s a time to let it go, he’s just a man with problems and it’s not your job to solve them”. But such is the natural bond that, reflecting that whoever’s fault the distance between them is, she concedes “maybe he’s gone but he’s never gone to you”.

The idea of making something positive out of something sad applies to the breakdown of her marriage too. Here are no bitter recriminations or accusations, rather a sense of needing to put the past aside, accept and move on with your life. As such, ‘Silver Line’ is about the need to end a relationship that isn’t working no matter how much you want to hold on while the slow-paced title track reflects her dawning realisation that, arguably as a child from a broken home, her dreams and her relationship couldn’t co-exist (“you said you needed to feel love, I said I needed to feel free”).

Bastoni says that the discovery of a book of guitar notes by her late grandmother in which she realised that even her marriage wasn’t always perfect helped in the understanding that others go through the same things, a line in the book inspiring the first song she wrote for the album, the closing contentment-themed track ‘Pocketful Of Sighs’ on which she and her guitar are accompanied by just Sean Staples on pump organ and harmonica.

While there were inevitable regrets, the sense of liberation the divorce brought gave rise to several songs, the pedal steel stained ‘Take The Wheel’ was inspired by a weekend catching up with old high school friends, the simply strummed standout ‘Dogs Of New Orleans’ is about being in the moment while album opener ‘Nearby’ and the bluegrass, fiddle accompanied ‘Walk A Little Closer’ capture the moments when love feels right.

As such, clearly having had to make tough decisions and show some steel, written for her daughter, the slow waltzing ‘Beautiful Girl’, which has Staples on ukulele, is a tender mother’s reassurance that “it’s all right to be gentle and it’s all right to be kind and it’s all right to be brave and scared.. it’s all right to be angry, it’s all right to change your mind”, a song about having compassion and understanding that “ see there’s enough for you and there’s enough for everyone”.

She includes one cover, a thematically resonant cover of Dylan’s ‘Workingman Blues #2’ on which she says the line “I got a brand new suit, a brand new wife, I can live on rice and beans” hit home about having the courage to do whatever it takes to start over and, as the title says, live how we want to live. There are lessons here.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.lisabastoni.com

‘Silver Line’ – live:

Jenn Grant announces deluxe reissue of Compostela

Jenn Grant announces deluxe reissue of Compostela

Jenn Grant announces the release of Compostela of her double JUNO nominated album, Compostela. Set for release on 4th December 2015, the expanded album includes a French version of Bombshell, a spine tingling cover of Hunters and Collectors classic ‘Throw Your Arms’, as well as acoustic takes of album originals  ‘Mauve’, ‘Bring Me A Rose’ and JUNO Nominated Songwriter of the Year track ‘Trailer Park’.

Speaking on the deluxe edition Jenn says:

“It’s almost been a year since Compostela was first released and it’s been amazing to tour around the world with this record. I’m so proud of everything that has come from it. This deluxe edition sees me recorded in French for the very first time  and recording a cover version of Hunters and Collector track that I performed on my first Australian tour. I wanted to sing a song that connected with that audience but also be able to give it my own style. Some songs just fit your voice like a glove, and this one feels that way to me.

Compostela translates to “Field of Stars” Or “Star Field” and  the album features a band of stars, including Sarah Harmer, Buck 65, Ron Sexsmith, Rose Cousins, Don Kerr, Kim Harris, Stewart Legere, Justin Rutledge, and Rachel Sermanni. Compostela was produced by Jenn’s husband and renowned producer Daniel Ledwell.

Compostela was nominated for two major Canadian music awards on release JUNO 2015 Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year and has seen Jenn play sold out shows across North America, Europe and Australia. With 175 of dates so far in 2015 and counting, Jenn sees out 2015 with an Australian tour and five Music Nova Scotia nominations and three Canadian Folk Awards.

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Artist’s website: http://jenngrant.com/

‘Spades’ – official video:

Jenn Grant – Compostela

Jenn Grant - Compostela

Following sold out dates in UK this spring, award winning (Polaris Longlisted/JUNO nominee) singer songwriter, Jenn Grant returns to the UK this September for shows on Sept 26th The Green Note, London, Sept 27th Prince Albert, Brighton, Sep 30th Gullivers NQ Manchester, and Oct 1st – The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham.

Hailing from Prince Edward Island, in Canada’s Maritimes.  Jenn’s new album Compostela was released last month in the UK. Already in her native Canada, the album has been nominated for two major Canadian music awards: JUNO 2015 Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. Jenn was also voted Top 10 Must See Female Artists at this Years SXSW .

Jenn has just completed a short visit to the UK last weekend where she appeared on BBC Radio Good Morning Sunday with Clare Balding and was the invited guest performer at the London premiere screening of Storytelling, a documentary about the renowned artist Andrew Salgado.

Jenn’s new record Compostela translates to “Field of Stars” Or “Star Field”. Grant is known for her kind heart and for her love of friends in the music scene across the globe. Here, there’s a band of stars on Compostela, including Sarah Harmer, Buck 65, Ron Sexsmith, Rose Cousins, Don Kerr, Kim Harris, Stewart Legere, Justin Rutledge, and Rachel Sermanni.

Compostela is produced by Jenn’s husband and renowned producer Daniel Ledwell, In the studio they built close to their home, in Lake Echo, Nova Scotia, he has helped to transform Grant’s folk, indie rock and alternative pop ballads into lush and adventurous offerings.

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Jenn Grant – ‘Wild Animal’:

ROBBY HECHT – Robby Hecht (Old Man Henry Records)

robby hechtA UK tour from late June with David Berkeley and Peter Bradley Adams should bring overdue wider recognition for Hecht, an East Tennessee born singer-songwriter who’s overcome bipolar disorder to record what are, with the release of his latest, three outstanding albums.

Blessed with a honeyed and soulful voice that blends elements of Marc Cohn, Don McLean, Justin Rutledge and Paul Simon and superbly produced by Lex Price, he delivers a warm brew of  mellow rootsy Americana in a relaxed, unhurried style, his songs reflecting the ebb and flow of the heart, whether addressing the end of a relationship as on ‘I Don’t Believe It’, the strangers in the night memory of ‘Cars And Bars’, the celebration of life that is ‘Feeling It Now’ where he references his own personal struggle or the drum thumping march beat bittersweet love song to New York City.

Elsewhere that same laid back groove casts a comforting glow over the slow waltzing ‘Soon I As Sleeping’, a melancholic sorrows-drowning duet with Rose Cousins, the jazzy, horns-backed late night mood of ‘The Light Is Gone’’s lost love (where his voice almost breaks down with hurt) and the dreamy star-lit night skies feel of ‘When I’m With You Now’.

Although he does tranquil and forlorn to perfection, there is one musically upbeat track, the pedal steel coloured, scuffling rhythm of  ‘Papa’s Down The Road Dead’ (despite what you might expect, it’s more celebratory than downcast) which has a similar vibe to Simon’s ‘Born At The Right Time’, minus, of course, the Latin American touches. Even the title sounds Simonesque.

As with his previous albums, there’s one cover version, the choice this time being ‘Hard Times’ by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings albeit, backed by piano and organ, a somewhat softer, soul-wearied reading than the original, while those fortunate to have discovered the stellar talents of Amy Speace will be familiar with ‘The Sea And The Shore’, an achingly beautiful impossible love allegory co-write that previously appeared on her How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat.

While many an artist may enjoy regional success, given the sheer size of the competition out there these days,  it’s becoming increasingly harder to break out into the Americana mainstream but if anyone truly deserves to, it is Hecht.

Mike Davies

Artist website: www.robbyhecht.com