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Americana Music Blog

Jane Allison proves why she’s the next soul-folk sensation with her single, ‘Don’t Spill Water’

Soul-folk sensation Jane Allison has released her latest single, Don’t Spill Water; with disco, funk, psych-pop and blues-rock written into the mellifluous mix, it’s impossible not to get swept up by the vibrant energy.

The Welsh singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actress seems to emanate as much magnetism on screen as she does through her captivatingly narrative singles. She may stay true to the storytelling roots of Folk, but when it comes to her sonic style, that is where the bold experimentalism grips you.

Through the choppy staccato chords and rich ABBA-Esque vocals, Don’t Spill Water is an intoxicating invitation to strip yourself of the resentful weight you carry through life. That’s a reminder that we all need from time to time.

Don’t Spill Water is now available to stream on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Bob Ballard invites you to enjoy your lockdown-induced mania in ‘Locked Up’.

Bob Ballard

You can laugh, or you can cry, and we have been doing plenty of the latter during our mania-inducing isolation during lockdown (don’t lie), it’s always refreshing to get a fresh perspective, such as the one in Bob Ballard’s light-hearted lockdown track, Locked Up.

The dusty desert rock hit carries some staunchly rock n roll hallmarks; to amplify Ballard’s playful, freshly ambivalent attitude, jazzy psychedelic tones weave their way into the mix.

In essence, Locked Up proves just how well the devil-may-care attitude would have served us if we’d adopted it from the start. After all of the anxiety, we’re still breathing; we can still enjoy sardonically ingenious tracks such as Locked Up that take some of the sting out of our dystopic existence.

Get a serotonin hit from Locked Up for yourselves by heading over to Bob Ballard’s official website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Marc Delgado tells The Cautionary Tale of Richard Manuel

The Cautionary Tale of Richard Manuel is the indie psych-folk debut single from Woodstock-based, California-born singer-songwriter Marc Delgado. If the styles of Paul Simon, the National and Dinosaur Jr coalesced, the sonic result wouldn’t be all too far from Delgado’s debut that pulls the storytelling roots of folk up through a sleek and modern production.

The kicking beat, lofty colourful guitars and spacy synths converge to create a psychedelic platform for Delgado’s instantly magnetic vocals that draw you in by the unapologetically unadulterated passion to provide 3:28 minutes of total aural escapism.

The Cautionary Tale of Richard Manuel is now available to stream via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

ELLSWORTH delivers 70s Americana escapism with ‘Potholes’.

ELLSWORTH

Oregon-born folk singer-songwriter ELLSWORTH’s latest single, Potholes, carries the same amount of soul as Jack Johnson’s consoling releases, the Americana escapism of Dylan’s records in the 70s and the same melancholic air that truthfully resides in us all from time to time.

The relatability in this façade-less dreamy feat of folky bluegrass indie sweetens the already choral tones. With lyrics such as ‘turn my body inside out, I shook it real hard, nothing fell out’ for your mind to devour, you’d have to be dead from the soul down not to feel something as you listen to Potholes weave through the stunningly composed progressions.

Check out ELLSWORTH on her website and Facebook.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Bobtail Yearlings – Willy the Cocoa: Honkytonk folk pop

Bobtail Yearlings

Bobtail Yearlings’ release, Willy the Cocoa, is quaint enough to make Neutral Milk Hotel sound straightlaced and Nick Cave unimaginative.

The baroque indie folk-pop single tells a tragic story by using stark lyricism to paint a portrait of societal anxiety through whimsical observations and the insinuations of lament at the duality between the lives of the privileged and disadvantaged.

Despite the sombre scribing of the death of a mentally disabled man, in its essence, Willy the Cocoa is an uplifting single that won’t fail to leave you mesmerised with the artist’s quintessential charm.

The honkytonk track may not be everyone’s taste, but anyone with an infinity for avant-garde will find that their intrigue pays off this time around.

You can check out the audio webcomic that accompanies Willy the Cocoa for yourselves here.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Madelyn Jones prescribes indie-pop tranquillity in her latest single, ‘Carolina Blue’.

Colorado-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Madelyn Jones has followed on from the success of her 2020 debut single, For You, with the release of her tranquil indie-pop track, Carolina Blue.

Carolina Blue is the perfect soundscape for those chilled summer nights; as the lyrics inspire affectionate nostalgia, the mellow pace of the sun-bleached indie-pop instrumentals brings Nashville-style catharsis

At a young age, Madelyn Jones is already exhibiting the same level of maturity and finesse as her dynamic array of influences. The singer-songwriter who has been writing songs since the 5th grade takes inspiration from everyone from Taylor Swift to the Beatles to Frank Sinatra. Discernibly, she can authentically mimic all of the aforementioned’s abilities to evoke emotion through music, and got her money’s worth from her music degree at Belmont University.

Carolina Blue is now available to stream on all platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

 

Folk meets Britpop in River Knight’s latest single, She Came Round, featuring Ralph Walling.

Americana meets UK Britpop in River Night’s alt-folk single, She Came Round, featuring Ralph Walling. While instrumentally, the semi-orchestral folky instrumentals run in the same vein as Dylan’s did in the 70s, there’s a touch of Oasis and the Stone Roses to the vocals that contrast with the accordant tones of the acoustic guitar progressions.

She Came Round is just one of the authentically original singles from the Southampton-based duo’s lockdown-born album, Grow, which released on June 25th. With plenty of tour dates in their diary, 2021 could very well be the year of River Knight.

She Came Round is now available to stream via SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Rich Ragany and the Digressions – ‘Beyond Nostalgia and Heartache’ album review

Beyond Nostalgia & Heartache by Rich Ragany And The Digressions

Why is Rich Ragany not consistently selling-out theatres and gracing the covers of the likes of Mojo and The Wire? That’s a question that repeatedly came to mind during the first couple of listens through new album Beyond Nostalgia and Heartache. So, for the uninitiated, first – some history; ‘Rags’, Canadian-born but now firmly London-based, was frontman and principle songwriter with The Role Models, who gave us three great albums, the last of which – 2017’s Dance Moves – hit #25 on Vive Le Rock magazine’s Albums of the Year Top 50.

But, at the same time, Rags had a “bunch of songs that weren’t very Role Models-like”, and – with the help of guitarists Gaff and Kit Swing, and a plan to just do “a little solo thing” – they grew into the first Rich Ragany and the Digressions album Like We’ll Never Make It, and a band completed by the excellent additions of Andy Brook (keyboards), Ricky McGuire (bass), and Simon Maxwell (drums). Tours followed with The Lemonheads, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Whitfield Crane, and Warrior Soul, and a slated slot as main support for Status Quo’s Backbone UK tour. Then…lockdown.

So, with plenty of time and ample supplies of talent on hand, the band got busy writing, arranging, and recording a bunch of new songs. The result, then, is this; Beyond Nostalgia and Heartache. There’s a poignancy to that title that’s reflected throughout the album; September 2020 saw the sudden, tragic death of Rags’ older brother George, aged just 57, from Glioblastoma, an aggressive and fast-developing form of brain cancer. That led to last year’s From Nowhere To You single, a touching tribute to George in aid of The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, but you can hear George’s presence throughout Beyond Nostalgia…particularly in the slower, more reflective Sleep and album opener Sometimes You Can Hear The Voices.

That’s not to say that Beyond Nostalgia… is melancholy, though; far from it. This is a record about hope, about finding the light in dark times, and about bright futures; it’s uplifting, instantly familiar and yet fresh and light and scintillating all at once. There’s pop sensibilities in here hand-in-glove with the rock, along with touches of Country Rock and Americana, and that airiness that seemed to come from Minneapolis bands like Hang Time-era Soul Asylum, Husker Du, and The Replacements; in fact, it’s Paul Westerberg that springs to mind most often whilst listening to Beyond Nostalgia…, both in terms of Ragany’s vocal delivery and lyric writing and in the deliciously well-crafted song-writing, the upfront arrangements, and the instant catchiness and ear-worm hooks of songs like It Was Lonely At The Time, Fade In Blue, and the rockier Marionette, little flashes of the lyrical poetry of Dave Pirner and the road-trip rock choruses of Ragany’s compatriot Brian Adams.

Guitarist Kit Swing delivers some stunning, soaring co-vocal work across the album, notably on Heartbreakers Don’t Try, Blackout ‘Til Tuesday, and album closer This Is How You Spell Tonight, and there’s some subtly gorgeous guitar work and tasteful, retro-feeling Hammond and Rhodes piano work throughout, but ultimately – despite the masterly performances – this is primarily a record about songs. And it delivers them in spades.

Beyond Nostalgia and Heartache is a stunning, beautiful record, inspiring and optimistic, positive, comfortable, and immediate. Catchy, hummable, and full of songs that glue themselves inside your head as if they’ve been old friends for years, Beyond Nostalgia and Heartache could just be the album The Replacements never made.

9.5                               Alex Holmes

The Unwriters deliver serious sonic flavour in their blues-funk-rock single, ‘The Devil’s Run’.

The Devil's Run (Freedom & Justice) by Tᕼᕮ ᑌᑎᗯᖇITᕮᖇS

Italian alt-rock outfit The Unwriters have unleashed their latest blues-funk-rock single, The Devil’s Run (Freedom & Justice); any fans of Black Midi will want it in their ears. Despite the, quite literally, devilish sensibility to the single, there’s a potent amount of soul weaved into the psychotropic release.

The funk-riding bass lines, reverb-drenched choppy guitar chords, snapping percussion, and psych-heavy synths all pull together to offer some serious sonic flavour that you’ll want to devour time and time again.

The Unwriters may be relatively fresh from their inception, but between them, they have over 25 years of experience in the industry, which goes a long way in explaining the level of maturity in their highly nuanced sound that dabbles in everything from old school hip hop to gospel.

The Devil’s Run is now available to stream and download via Bandcamp.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Award-winning alt-folk artist Colin Clyne has released his latest single, ‘Within Hindsight’

Colin Clyne

Award-winning Scottish alt-folk singer-songwriter Colin Clyne’s latest single, Within Hindsight, takes you back to the time when ballads were tender and minimal instrumentation carried alchemically profound magnetism.

The tones in Within Hindsight are enough to evoke synaesthesia as you drink in the sepia colours weaved into the acoustic guitar progression and soft neo-classic-style meanderings of the piano. The gravelly whisky-soaked vocals hit the high notes with soaring ease, allowing Clyne to exhibit both his arresting vocal range and emotional range. They say that there are 34,000 possible human emotions, Within Hindsight resonates as capable of evoking most of them.

After spending ten years in California collecting accolades, including being a two-time winner of ‘The Best Acoustic Act’ at San Diego Music Awards, and featuring on a list of the best singer-songwriters curated by NBC that listed him alongside Tom Waits, it is safe to say that he made quite the impression. There is no reason why he can’t celebrate the same success on this side of the pond.

Within Hindsight is due for official release on June 25th.

You can check out Colin Clyne via his website, Facebook and Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast