Daniel Hertzov, Believing.

Denizens of Glasgow’s acoustic music scene will probably know of Daniel Hertzov, a Russian born, USA raised citizen of this fair city. Now there’s an opportunity to take him home after a gig with the release of this, his debut album. Fairly divided between acoustic songs and band based rockers, the former are the more successful with some of the latter approaching typical bar band boogie status (Savior, for example). However there are moments when Hertzov, backed with full band and a most impressive Hammond organ does capture a fairly glorious sound such as in “Mosaic.”
The acoustic based songs are a different matter with Hertzov capturing elements of early seventies singer songwriters. Cat Stevens comes to mind on the opening, title track while on “6 years,” a simple acoustic guitar and vocal delivery is similar to the style of Andy Roberts of the late lamented Liverpool Scene and Plainsong. Romantic, melodic and well delivered it is one of the highlights here. “Shelter “skelps along with mandolin predominating adding a folksy swing to the album. Finally “Trust the River” bridges the two styles, a piano ballad which flows like the titular waterway, this is a fine song which could be on any number of accomplished albums from the mid seventies, again with some fine Hammond organ there is a touch of classic Traffic here.
A trip to his excellent website is highly recommended, not only to buy the album but to see his whimsical musings.
6 Years

Kacey Cubero. “Fill Your Cup”

A welcome addition to that select group of female performers who fuse sultry vocals with bluesey country rock, Kasey Cubero is indeed, on the strength of this album, almost up there with Kathleen Edwards, Lucinda Williams and Sarah Borges. The twelve self penned songs are all impressive and while one or two of them may sound like Sheryl Crow circa “All I Wanna Do” (impressive enough I think) there are several here which are superb both in the writing and in the delivery. With a brace of immediately attractive radio friendly songs such as “It’s Alright” and “I Want More” (a tremendous song which conjures up the freewheeling wide open vistas that drive all great American rock songs) Cubero scores high. Add to that the slow burning sensual delight that is “Under my Skin” and the sweet pedal steel of “Fill Your Cup” and this record does indeed burrow under your skin.
While there are some detours into acoustic blues with “Two Trains” and “Old Cadillac” overall the sound is a burnished, streamlined classic Americana with guitarist Josh Davis excelling throughout with some fine spine tingling moments.
For a relatively unknown artist this is an exceptionally assured album. Ms. Cubero is coming to the UK shores later this year, check the website for details in the meantime here is Under My Skin

The Fox Hunt, Classic Grand, 17th July.

Well, as threatened, this West Virginia band whipped up a storm on this, the last night of their tour. And yes, they played Plastic Jesus. The audience, some of whom had followed them over from their dates in Ireland lapped it up.
I’ve written a full review which will come up elsewhere but here are some pics of the gig.
The band going home

Sean Taylor “Walk With Me “

It’s a bit like looking for crabs in rock pools, you find tiny little ones scuttling for cover and after a while you don’t bother to put them in your bucket. If you’re lucky however a large rock, pulled back, uncovers a magnificent specimen, large, fierce, a trophy to show to others. And so it is with this gig, lots of albums, often self released, nice, fair to middling, and then occasionally a trophy, something to shout about, this is one such specimen.
Sean Taylor resides in Kilburn but you wouldn’t guess that from his music. His voice is a strained, astringent murmur that is seductive and at times approaches the cool burr of J. J. Cale. His previous albums have been in the main singular affairs with Taylor playing all the instruments, here he handles the guitars and keyboards and is assisted by a stellar cast of musicians including B. J. Cole on pedal steel and Trevor Hutchinson on bass. Together they produce an album that is as comforting as a cup of Horlicks, warm, soporific, something to wallow in. There are love songs, ranging from the hushed “For You” with its tender saxophone evoking lonely rainy nights to the opening spare ballad “Perfect Candlelight” where voice and piano create an almost perfect tenderness.
Elsewhere Taylor evokes the lasciviousness of latter day Tim Buckley on “So High” and takes on a Shakespearean sonnet, “Love Hate On” which he turns into a lazy stroll with a beautiful string accompaniment. Likewise he takes the traditional “She Moves Through the Fair” and turns it into a sinister, doom-laden lament.
Best of all is “Hold On,” a sultry, sweaty and sexy longing that bundles all of Taylor’s influences into one of the best songs I’ve heard in a while. Worth buying for this alone.
Here’s Hold On
Website here

Full Tonne Kidd

While much of Scots Americana pays homage to the likes of The Byrds and Alex Chilton with twelve strings jangling and melodies oozing with power pop chords some newer bands are looking elsewhere for their inspiration. This is probably most evident with the latest “next big thing,” Kassidy, who namecheck the Laurel Canyon sound as a primary influence. In a similar vein Full Tonne Kid, hailing from that small piece of America that is Bellshill, have a freewheelin’ acoustic blues based sound that owes more to the likes of Steve Stills and Delaney and Bonnie than Big Star. Country blues and gospel influences are well to the fore on their forthcoming EP which showcases five songs that recall the halcyon days of blue eyed hippies getting back to the country and their country roots.
A four piece consisting of Gary Carmichael and Colin Fullerton on vocals and guitars, Bryan Ferrie, bass and David Stone on drums they have a wicked sense of humour if you read their bios on their website where they create some fantastical forebears. Proof of the pudding however is in the music and this is delivered with a confident swagger. With vocals that recall Sal Valentino from Stoneground, muscular and ingrained with a Southern soul feel, Carmichael and Fullerton sing with feeling, you would never imagine these guys don’t live in Louisiana or some such place. The guitars snarl and slide to great effect and from the countdown that introduces “A Stranger” to the final notes of “Tell My Woman” this is a nice slice of country rock. The standout song is “Catch Me if You Can” where some excellent harmonica and a swamp driven beat proves that you don’t have to come from the South to have the bayou blues.
Have a look at the band here, the EP will be available there soon. In the meantime here’s Catch Me if You Can
Full Tonne Kid are playing at The Belhaven, Wishaw, on August 7th and at Glasgow’s 13th Note on the 14th August.

Howe Gelb & A Band of Gypsies. Alegrias

As the mainstay of Giant Sand Howe Gelb has slowly, over the past twenty years or so, built up a reputation as one of the stalwarts of what we call Americana. Whether with the shifting line up of Giant Sand or solo he has blistered, strummed, crooned and goofed around on over thirty albums. His star shone most brightly however with the release of ‘Sno Angel, an album recorded in Canada with a gospel choir that garnered rave reviews and exposed him, however briefly, to a wider audience. The album was a mixture of familiar old songs and some new ones but the relatively straightforward renditions (by Gelb standards) showed him to be a great writer and performer.
Five years on and he’s done it again, this time in Cordoba, Spain with a cast of gypsy (their description) musicians. The flashing guitars, flamenco stylings and sheer brio enhance another brace of songs from his back catalogue that is wildly exuberant and brimful with an effortless sense of cool. The overall feel is of an informal “juerga, where flamenco musicians jam together enjoying the music and each other’s company and according to the press this is what happened when Gelb stumbled across these musicians essentially flamenco star Raimundo Amador’s group. While many folks notion of flamenco is that of The Gypsy Kings’ flamboyant Bamboleo, this is a more measured, slower, sexier traditional sound, not too far removed from the Mexican influences which abound in Gelb’s home town of Tucson.
The reworkings of songs such as Uneven Light of day, Always Horses Coming and Where The Wind Turns The Skin Into Leather are recognisable as Giant Sand songs but the loose limbed renditions evoke lazy sunny siestas, mañana made musical. Gelb’s voice has never sounded better, weathered smooth into a sexy, sultry croon. Along with the remakes there are several new songs written in Cordoba, none better than Broken Bird & The Ghost River. This beauty floats and shimmers with a female chorus that evokes the best of sixties Euro pop.
All in all this should be the album of the summer, heard in pavement cafes and town squares and on a hi-fi near you.
Alegrias means “joy,” you can read a great interview with Gelb here where he describes the genesis of the album and you can buy it here
Broken Bird and the Ghost River