ELAINE LENNON – Elaine Lennon (LSR001CD)

Elaine LennonElaine Lennon releases her debut album on January 24th. Unless you knew the background, you wouldn’t know it was a debut album. Findlay Napier has produced it, the songs – almost all written by Lennon – are engaging, and Lennon’s voice is enthralling. The background is that Lennon’s lifelong passion had been music. When the youngest of her two children went to school in 2018, she sat down to work out whether she could be a professional musician. In less than two years, she has been named as “one to watch” by the Nashville Songwriters’ Association International and is about to release the self-titled album, Elaine Lennon.

Lennon’s vocals and piano are at the core of the album, with the band adding a nicely judged depth without being intrusive. My favourite track is ‘Fear (Breakup Song)’ which is delicately played and merges the images of relationship break up into a lyric about fighting and defeating Fear, as affirmative (for the Sci-Fi buffs) as Frank Herbert’s Litany Against Fear. It’s also a great tune, beautifully sung.

The link below is to ‘Trouble’ where you can hear for yourself the interplay between piano and vocal, in this case for a lyric about being in trouble because “love was not in my plan”. Lennon’s website has more detail on the origins of the song. Elsewhere ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ both rises to the glories of love which can “make you fly above the clouds” and also captures the ruefulness of “Only love can softly pull the seams apart/Only love can break your heart”. There’s a tenderness to the vocal which is simply delightful. ‘You and Me’ feels like it’s from the same song-writing seam, this time the unchallenged contentment of being in love.

The only cover on the album is “She’s Got You”, the Hank Cochran masterpiece which was a hit for Patsy Cline in the early 60’s. Lennon’s version is less country, but doesn’t half tug at the heartstrings; it’s a great cover which makes the song sound bang up to date despite its nearly sixty years age.

The album will be launched on January 20th at The Glad Café as part of Celtic Connections. From what I’ve heard on this album and what I’ve flicked through on YouTube of Lennon’s live performances, if you’re up in Glasgow it will be worth your while finding time for this.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website: https://www.elainelennon.com

‘Trouble’ – official video:

Annie Keating – new download single

Annie Keating

Annie Keating announces release of new digital-only single ‘Trouble’ to coincide with her first UK tour since 2013. Trick Star, Annie’s seventh and most accomplished album to date, was released to wide acclaim in 2016.

Talent spotted by BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris, Annie has recorded two sessions for his prestigious BBC Radio 2 show and has performed at numerous leading international festivals, including Take Root, the Brooklyn Americana Festival, Glasgow Americana Festival, The Brooklyn Indie Music Fest and NXNE.  Her current album, Trick Star received wide acclaim in the UK and beyond. Bob Harris called it, “A wonderful record. Heartfelt and real”, while Folk Radio UK described the album as “disarmingly engaging.” R2 magazine regards Keating as, “a budding Americana Star”, and Acoustic magazine insists that, “Keating will enchant anyone but a deaf shoe-gazer.” Her previous album Make Believing was championed by The Telegraph as a “best country music album” pick of 2015 when they wrote that “Keating is building the reputation her talent deserves.”

Keating has played on the bill with John Hiatt, Bon Iver, Chastity Brown and other greats. This is her third UK tour – trio format this time – accompanied by London own brilliant bassist Scott Warman and Brooklyn’s finest Steve Mayone on guitar and mandolin who regularly tours with the likes of Kate Taylor, Bow Thayer and Kris Delmhorst.

The summer tour includes three shows at this year’s Maverick Festival and double bills with Danni Nicholls, Ags Connolly, Gallery 47, Danielle Cawdell, Porchlight Smoker, Dan Webster and The Boy Who Kicked Pigs.

Artist’s website: http://www.anniekeating.com/

‘Trouble’ – official video:


A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar 21In the wake of his criminally underrated album Rain Machine, RICK FOOT returns with a six-track EP, Songs Of Idiocy & Expedience. It’s pared down even from the minimalism of the album and Rick says that the songs were arranged with an eye to live performance. It is amazing what you can do with just voice, double bass and a bit a technology. Rick double-tracks himself and throws in some percussive noises on ‘Your House: Full Of Twigs’.

Rick’s voice is laid back and sounds despairing at times and there is a political dimension to several songs. The opener, ‘Whoever You Vote For’ leads inexorably to the tag-line “the government still gets in” and ‘Your House’ is, I think, about a collapsing or collapsed society. Rick’s lyrics are often witty and sometimes quite surreal so ‘Potato’ and ‘House Of Cows’ require further study. The idiocy comes in ‘Lincolnshire Poachers’ but I won’t spoil it by telling you the story. Just go out and buy Rick’s records.


Singles Bar 21Anglo-Welsh trio THE TRIALS OF CATO formed in Beirut but now they are back home with an eponymous EP. They sound thoroughly traditional and it’s only when you start to listen carefully that you realise that these are original songs. ‘Matthew VanDyke’ has the rolling feel of an eighteenth century sea song but like the origins of the band it’s centred on the tragedy of the Middle East. ‘Reynard And The Goose’ is a conversation between the titular creatures – think ‘The False Knight On The Road’ – and is very clever. ‘Fighting Jack’ takes us back to the army and back to the war zones while ‘Aberdaron’ is sung in Welsh and paired with ‘The Shaskeen Jig’. There is so much potential here – we should hear more from The Trials of Cato before too long.


At first JOE MARTIN sounds American but the subtlety of his lyrics suggest otherwise – he’s really based in Leeds. He’s supported on Small World by Andy Leggett on double bass and Henry Senior on pedal steel. ‘Denver’ is pure Americana as is ‘When The Time Is Right’. The former has a lovely wistful lyric with a clever closing line that suggests that he’s not totally subsumed into the genre but can also look in from the outside. Joe’s acoustic guitar playing is clever without being flashy and his voice, and indeed his songs, are front and centre.


‘Trouble’ is the new digital-only single from the rather wonderful Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter ANNIE KEATING. A smooth country blues, ‘Trouble’ follows on from Annie’s recent album, Trick Star, and heralds her upcoming UK tour. It settles quickly into its groove with a simple bass line echoing her acoustic guitar decorated with restrained slide guitar.


Falkirk band THE NICKAJACK MEN make their recording debut with an EP, Wasting Away. They fall somewhere in the alt-rock/country field but the best track here is probably the nearly-folky ‘Marilyn’ with some really nice echoey vocals by Lewis White and the slow bluesy ‘Erb’ is pretty good, too. Twin guitars and keyboards give The Nickajack Men a full, rich sound over the bass and drums of Jamie Burns and Matthew McAlister. An excellent debut.


MARIA KELLY releases her first EP in download-only format. The Things I Should follows three singles all produced by Matt Harries. The second track ‘Far Below’ reveals a hidden strength in her voice as the arrangement cranks up the pressure. In contrast ‘Where’s The Worth’ is more delicate with lots of strings and a spare drum arrangement while ‘Pretend’ takes a more folk-pop direction.



A round-up of EPs and singles that have come our way

SINGLES BAR 10 Oct 2015‘Gladdie’ is the new single from AMY GODDARD and a taster for her forthcoming second album. It is inspired by letters sent to her great-grandmother during the Great War by a young soldier, one of four brothers none of whom came home from the trenches. The song features Amy’s bell-like acoustic guitar and a chorus drenched with strings, some courtesy of Naomi Hitchings. The melody is a waltz with a slight period feel but avoids being a pastiche and her lyrics convey the matter-of-factness of some of the correspondence as well as Gladdie’s anticipation as she waits for the next letter to arrive – until the last one is in a different handwriting. The song is a semi-finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest and more than worth its place.


SINGLES BAR 10 Oct 2015The title track of May Day 1916, the new EP from THE CELIA BRYCE BAND, also involves letters, this time from a wife to her husband serving at the front and full of the minutiae of everyday life – something for a man away from home to cling on to. The second track is an instrumental, ‘Corporal Morris’, a lament with a decidedly Scottish feel – there’s more than a little ‘Farewell To Tarwathie’ in there. Both tracks have a suitably military feel with brass from 3 G. Dean Owens’ ‘Shine Like The Road’ is an anthemic ballad and ‘Small Print’ is a bluesy boogie that changes the mood completely. All proceeds from ‘May Day 1916’ will go to the Royal British Legion.


SINGLES BAR 10 Oct 2015BOREAS is the bringer of winter, an appropriate name for a band that links Scotland and Norway. In advance of their debut album, Ahoy Hoy, the quartet releases a single ‘North Sea Holes’ – a suitably chilly subject – originally written by Ewan MacColl for Singing The Fishing. I’m not sure if Lori Watson or Rachel Newton takes the lead vocal line but Rachel’s harp is the dominant instrument over a fiddle drone from Britt Pernille Frøholm and Irene Tillung’s accordion ebbing and flowing like the sea itself until both elbow their way to the front for an instrumental break. The second track is ‘Bjornen/Facing The Bear (Radio Edit)’, a pair of tunes which begin with some wonderfully doomy bass notes.


SINGLES BAR 10 Oct 2015Trouble is the third EP from Hampshire singer-songwriter JOE BOOLEY. The title track benefits from a glossy production job and lots of atmospheric echo but Joe throttles back for the other tracks. ‘What Did You Expect’ is beautifully expressed teenage melancholia with a single repeated guitar note emphasising the sometimes sinister lyrics. In ‘The One Thing’ Joe talks about how he “will leave this God-forsaken place”. I know his home town and he’s not wrong. Joe is a clever song-writer and if you like your misery unadulterated this is for you.

SINGLES BAR 10 Oct 2015OCTOBER GOLD follow their second album, Bridge Of The Sun, with an eponymous EP. The Montreal duo of Kit Soden (acoustic guitar and voice) and Aliza Thibodeau (violin, piano and voice) have simplified things somewhat, adding only bass, cello, French horn and percussion but their sound is still big thanks to Aliza’s multi-layered violin. Although they write their own material their lyrics are derived from the nineteenth century poetry of Archibald Lampman and Thomas Moore, both of whom can be seen in stained glass in Ottowa’s public library. The songs are literary and complex and often melodically surprising – the last lines of ‘Altitude’ for example build from nowhere into an attention-grabbing climax..

Joe Booley – new EP

Joe Booley - new EP

Hard graft has seen the Hampshire-based songwriter’s prowess grow as quickly as his fan base with continual gigging along with writing, recording and self-producing the entirety of his EP within the musically fertile walls of his DIY bedroom studio.

A sense of journey can be felt in every strike of guitar string in his latest EP Trouble, set for release Monday 26th October. The young wordsmith combines the soul clamping emotions of heart-felt ballads and indie-folk with thick, rich harmonies that float seamlessly throughout each bold and poignant track.

Roots of his punk-rock past can be heard in Booley’s vocals in encapsulating moments of angst that cut though the spacious and airy instrumentation, reflecting an emphatic understanding of song writing and production far beyond his years.

The multi-instrumentalist releases the captivating Trouble EP via Beth Shalom Records on Monday 26rd October.

‘Trouble’ – official video:


Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/joebooleymusic