Album Reviews

David Rawlings: Poor David’s Almanack

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Submitted by Iain Patience

David Rawlings is quite the guy these days. A still youthful picker with an extraordinary command of the roots and traditional end of US country music, often now called Americana, Rawlings has been plying his trade for many years, always earning praise, accolades and generating interest in both the genre and his own, personal take on it all. Surprisingly, perhaps, he also remains firmly footed and rooted in a bubble of modesty and humility that, frankly, is a rare thing in modern-day Music City, Nashville, where he is based.

With a new album, ‘Poor David’s Almanack’, a genuine solo effort, due to drop in a few weeks time, he is relaxed, confident and satisfied with the result of his own writing and recording that features his long-time music partner Gillian Welch and is produced and released on their joint-enterprise label, Acony Records.

Jerry Douglas: What If

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Anyone who might just have wondered what might have been if US Dobro and Weissenborn slide-guitar wizard Jerry Douglas had chosen another musical path, might just be in for a genuine surprise with his latest release, ‘What If’ on Rounder Records next month.  What If, indeed.

Generally, and perhaps a tad unfairly, regarded as a bluegrass picker, Douglas is a guy who has been a pro musician for over forty years and used to joke that just being out on the road, working, trying to feed his family, cost him a thousand bucks a day in missed session work in Music City, Nashville. Nowadays, with control over both his life and his music, he chooses when to tour and when and with whom to work. For around twenty years, he has been an integral part of Alison Krauss and Union Station, where his sparkling virtuosity has played a huge part in the band’s continued success and distinctive, award-winning sound.

With the new release on the horizon, Douglas took some time out to explain and expand on where he feels he is right now: ‘Forever, really, I’ve been writing and arranging music, always with places where horn sections should go,’ he says. ‘Instead of Sam Bush or Stuart Duncan, I’ve imagined and heard and wrote for horns. This time round, I found myself surrounded by great horn players and so decided it was time.’

Ali Handal Is Fearless With New Album That’s What She Said

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

If you like Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, and Kasey Musgraves, you will love Ali Handal.

Her sass and up-front attitude is refreshing, insightful and beautiful. Her guitar prowess is playful and technically flawless.

The phrase That’s What She Said, has been used in our culture for a while but not really put into a musical connotation like this. Ali takes her natural ability to converse and connect while being poetic and authentic.

Songs cover the gamut of love, life, cats and surviving cancer… with a sly-grin on her face, she makes the listener fidget in their seat. She plays off her guitar licks; her rhythms are like a pair of black boots with spurs. While cancer isn’t a laughable situation to be in, sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

Moved early on by wise and resilient women, singer/songwriter Ali Handal wore out Carole King’s Tapestry album. As a cat-obsessed six-year-old (some things never change), Ali honored her initial musical heroine by naming her very first kitten “Carole.” Over the years, the sweet melodies and lyrics penned by musical sages King, Dylan, Lennon, and McCartney captivated her. She had an epiphany when, as a teenager, she heard Led Zeppelin for the first time. Completely mesmerized by Jimmy Page’s seductive guitar riffs, Ali quit her piano lessons to pick up the guitar.

White Hot Guilt Drop New Single ‘Little Things’

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Submitted To Cashbox Canada

White Hot Guilt release a brand new - Electric Circus inspired - video for their single Little Things. "Electric Circus was always a program close to my heart," shares Josh Warburton (July Talk & one-half of the duo). "I actually appeared on a Halloween episode in the late 90s, and the fact that it was originally recorded during the afternoon allowed it to be this magic pot of gold that any Queen West pedestrian could stumble upon. To create a retrospective parody featuring a White Hot Guilt tune only felt natural.” Indie 88 premiered the video on the July 21st album release day. The self-titled album is available now via TDM Inc, distributed by Fontana North at fontananorth.lnk.to/WhiteHotGuiltEP. All proceeds from sales will be donated to 'SKETCH' - a Toronto-based community-arts-development initiative that creates equitable opportunities for young people homeless and on the margins from across Canada to experience the transformative power of the arts.

The new EP showcases a sort of future retrospect in dance music. Indie meets electro. Now meets then. Perhaps Warburton’s smooth falsetto channels the Bee Gees. The percussive organics alongside analog synths might make one think of LCD Soundsystem, while the horn sections hearken to something more like Stevie Wonder.

Adam Gregory Returns With New Single “Dirt Road Therapy”

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

After a brief hiatus, Country music legend Adam Gregory is back, and the award-winning singer is bringing a fresh new single with him available now on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play.

“Dirt Road Therapy” is the first of many upcoming singles to be released, which, along with several performances including the Big Valley Jamboree in Alberta on August 6th, lead up to the launch of Gregory’s latest album due to come out early 2018.

The song talks about how a good, long drive never fails to do wonders for the soul. Putting your troubles behind you, seeing the expanse of the open road, and feeling the wind go through your hair almost magically seems to clear the head and put troubling things in perspective. While there are numerous methods to shake off the blues, as the song goes, “sometimes all we need is dirt road therapy”!

Jim Roberts and the Resonants: Beneath The Blood Moon

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This initially seems to be a new independent release from a new US band. But a few years ago the Jack Roberts Harvey Band punched out an excellent, pulsing blues album called ‘Devil On A dirt Road,’ an album that was easily one of the best independent releases of the year. Jim Roberts and the Resonants is none other than the same basic outfit with a new, reinvented name and, yet again, another top-dollar, blues release that could once more prove to be one of the finest indie offerings of the year.

All tracks come from band-members and are powerful, lyrically strong and feature musicianship that genuinely engages with a clear sense of purpose and colour. Roberts himself is an evident slide guitar wizard who switches effortlessly between resonator, electric and cigar-box guitars with ease and ability. The remaining core band members also rock along with a determined drive that pushes through with each successive track. ‘Beneath The Blood Moon’ is a ten-track album that highlights this US West Coast blues band’s skills, confidence and sheer talent to full effect.  At times, straight-on blues, there are flashes of swampy Louisiana sounds in the mix together with Delta-inspired hooks and pounding hints of the Deep South.

An excellent album full of top-dollar playing, writing and delivery. One to grab when you can.

Ann Vriend (AV) Releases New Video Get Back to Me

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Award-winning artist Ann Vriend (AV) releases new video for the single "Get Back To Me," included in AV's new EP Anybody's Different, (Aporia Records) which has already received significant media attention. In addition to the Maple Blues Awards Cobalt Prize win for "All that I Can," the Australian EP release reached #2 on theirSoundslike Café national playlist, and "Will You Be There" has been added in high rotation at Quesada and z-teca burrito restaurants across Canada. The EP has been charting on national campus radio, reaching #1 on theCJSR Edmonton Top 30 and continuous charting on CKUA's Top 30 from April to July hitting #12. Ann was also nominated for Female Artist of the Year for the 2017 Edmonton Music Awards.

AV can take you by surprise. At every show, people say, "I didn't expect such a big voice to come out of such a tiny frame!" Her ballads bring people to tears, but then she cracks a witty, self-effacing joke and takes off her shiny second-hand high heels to play the piano. AV sings her heart out about her views of the world; her matter-of-fact, non-sugar-coated observations from her inner city neighborhood; her hard life lessons -- and yet there is a soulful, hopeful persistence for herself and the world to be better.

Lowest of the Low Release New Single Powerlines

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

One of Canada's most lauded independent bands, Lowest of the Low, announced earlier this year a string of live dates this summer including an appearance at Hillside Festival this Friday and a headlining show at The Danforth Music Hall on September 9th. Now the band are excited to announce that their fourth studio album Do The Right Now is set for release on September 8th via Pheromone Recordings.

On the single, front man Ron Hawkins reflects, "Powerlines is a song about my experiences writing the first Low album, Shakespeare My Butt. I had recently broken up with a long time partner and moved into a punk rock squat with some crazy characters I called friends. Every day I walked through the city with a notebook and drank in bars and went to galleries and shows and hung out in my little bohemian circle of anarchists, punks and poets. I became the protagonist in the movie of my life and the city was a cinematic sidekick and factored into the lyrics like a companion."

The visually stunning lyric video was made in collaboration with photographer, Tom Ryaboi, a pioneer of the art of roof topping. The video reflects Ron's relationship with his hometown of Toronto and his changing perspective of it over the years. The video is a natural fit to depict a very modern version of Toronto from perspectives not often seen.

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams Contraband Love

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Modern musical partnerships are no new things. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash; Duane and Gregg Allman; Doc and Merle Watson; Simon and Garfunkel; Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge – you get the picture, no doubt. With Nashville treasures and general US recording remarkables, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams you again have the real deal, a pair of seemingly intuitive musicians, singer-songwriters and all round stellar performers who seem to have arrived on the scene already fully formed.

Grabbing the chance to speak with both Campbell and Williams at home in world-festival-famous Woodstock in upstate New York on the brink of the release of their latest album, ‘Contraband Love,’ on Red House Records, it becomes readily apparent that this pair do almost everything together, including interviews. Both are in relaxed mode though about to hit the road playing with Emmylou Harris before kicking off with two New York nights, on a gruelling US-wide tour that they both agree will be tiring at times.

Campbell confirms he used to enjoy the touring, has been all over – much of it with Bob Dylan’s band – and can still enjoy hitting new towns, people and places along the way: ‘Though I dig being at home, sometimes it’s still cool to see new places, people; and that’s a benefit,’ he sighs.

Declaime Connects With Blu For Cerebral New Single Internally Yours

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

The underground West Coast hip hop/funk pioneer, Declaime (aka Dudley Perkins), connects with West Coast hip hop heavyweight, Blu, for the cerebral new single, Internally Yours, which premiered via Mass Appeal. Serving as the lead single for Declaime's forthcoming album, Young Spirit, the song features production by Georgia Anne Muldrow.

"Internally Yours is about inner truth. I'm talking about all the cats running this world to see that they are just like us,” says Declaime. “Their heart beats just like us. The whole album is about how the media and government, food messing with the kid's heads and their young spirits. Blu's speaking on some truths he had locked inside of him."

Due out on August 18 via SomeOthaShip Connect/eOne Music, Young Spirit balances Declaime's unique rapping delivery over psychedelic funk and jazz-laden production by Georgia Anne Muldrow and Madlib. The album also includes guest features from Saul Williams, Aloe Blacc, and more.

Declaime and Georgia will be going on tour in September. Stay tuned for updates on the cities they’ll perform in this fall.

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