It’s been a bumper time at Blabber ‘n’ Smoke for albums tumbling through the letterbox. So much for the “silly season” so beloved of the press who complain that nothing much happens in August (that is, the world goes on, disasters happen but they don’t have their politicians to knock about with). Anyway, here’s a round up of what’s been rattling the walls around here.
First off some Scottish folk in the guise of Iain Thomson and Field of Dreams. Thomson is a shepherd in Mull who has now released two albums where he proves himself to be a very talented writer and a strong performer. Although the album is self released it comes beautifully packaged with a booklet where Thomson explains the origins of the songs. With a wide variety of instruments including accordion, fiddle, tin whistles and bodhran adding a traditional air and with several songs referring to local characters or history this is a great listen. Tostary, named after a ruined village on Mull is a haunting lament for the lost generations of the Highlands that evokes the beauty of the glens. Press Gang/Shouting Numbers relates an historical tale from Napoleanic times and is as fine a modern folk song as I have heard in a long time. One minor quibble is that the song, Southern Line, relating Thomson’s time as a truck driver, although fine in itself, sounds slight compared to the rest of the album.
Roy Schneider is a Florida based singer and songwriter whose album Erleichda is available to coincide with his appearance next week in the UK. A multi instrumentalist whose songs hark back to seventies country rock he is a fine purveyor of classic Americana best exemplified on Angels Along The Road. With banjo rippling away on a tale that references several touchstones including the highway and the devil this is a great song. Throughout the album very nifty finger picking, sweet violin, banjo and mandolin are all played by the man himself (who also appears to be quite an accomplished cartoonist, a veritable renaissance man indeed) and although in the long run not all of the songs stand out from the herd the overall vibe is good. Ending the album with a cover of The Grateful Dead’s Brokedown Palace just about sums it up. And finally anyone who names their album after a fictitious word dreamed up by novelist Tom Robbins is pretty cool.
Angels Along the Road
Celilo hail from Portland, Oregon and their album Bending Mirrors has been around for some time but is now given a push on the back of upcoming tour dates over here. A five piece they have a sound that is often dreamy and lush. Washes of guitar and mellotron sweep over the songs but there is a skeleton of guitar and banjo underpinning this. This works best on Wy-am where the result is sublime but Sloan martin, who wrote all of the album delivers several others that are almost as good.
While there are comparisons to be made with Richmond Fontaine, Granfaloon Bus and Clem Snide Celilo manage to create their own limpid world. They are in the UK in November if any of this whets your appetite.
From the moment the brash acoustic strumming that opens Roman Candle’s Oh tall Tree in the Ear tumbles out of the speakers you know you are in for a treat. This three piece North Carolina band offer eleven great songs with an intensity that is infectious. Oozing with melody, at times shambolic, at others rocking with a vengeance they embrace artists such as Dylan, The Drive By Truckers, Glossary and The Replacements on what is a thumping great listen. The stand out song here is, without a doubt Why Modern Radio is A-OK which has the makings of a modern classic.
Why modern Radio is A-OK