Daniel Meade Interview/Redneck Dinner Party


Regular readers will be familiar with Daniel Meade whose album Keep Right Away was released way back in January . Produced by Old Crow Medicine Show’s bassist, Morgan Jahnig and featuring Diana Jones on one song the album was well received with one Texan based producer getting in touch with Blabber’n’Smoke asking about “this guy from Glasgow.” Fast friends with Sturgill Simpson, Ms. Jones and the Old Crow boys, when he’s not gigging away (this year saw two tours in Europe and shows in England with Pokey Lafarge) Meade can be regularly seen at several regular pub and club residencies in the Glasgow area either in a duo setting with his wizard guitar buddy, Lloyd Reid, or with his four piece Flying Mules. In fact when I interviewed Pokey LaFarge at his last Glasgow gig he asked the first question, “Do you know if Daniel is playing anywhere tonight?”

So it was great news that Meade has a new release available, Redneck Dinner Party. A new release but not a new album as such. Recorded in 2008 when Meade’s band was then called The Meatmen it’s an eleven song burst of rockabilly and country thrash, all penned by Meade, in a similar vein to Keep Right Away’s lead single Long Gone Wrong. Inevitably it’s not as polished (although polished is not a word one would generally use here) as Keep Right Away although the sound is clear and vibrant, the bass thudding from the speakers as the band seem to be having a ball. This is evident from the start with the raucous title song, an uproarious paean to hillbilly cooking where it seems everyone in the studio (and the street outside) are involved in the backing vocals and general noises that punctuate the song. It’s like a Glasgow version of Robert Earl Keen’s Merry Christmas From The Family taken at a faster pace with the family hyped up on Buckfast (and without the Christmas element of course).

This souped up take on country music permeates the album as Meade delves into familiar themes (drink, love, infidelity) and brands them with his own mark. The songs barrel along with some ferocity, the Killer piano on My Band’s Better Than Your Band worth the price of admission alone. Songs such as Pie Eyed Joe, Sod’s Law and That Girl’s Old Enough To Be Your Mother are tremendous slices of old fashioned Sun Records rockabilly although it’s a fair bet that had they been recorded back then they would have sat in the vaults for years as Meade is earthier than those God fearin’ folk back then would have allowed with lyrics like “so get your hat on your head and your ass on home.” God knows what they would have made of Shitkicker Blues, the frenzied album closer which sounds like a demented Nick Cave hallucinating in a Gospel tent.

Aside from the Jerry Lee Lewis inspired rockerama Meade finds time to visit another touchstone, Hank Williams, on the graceful country of She Lost My Heart In New York and the tumbledown heartbreak of Sweethearts and Broken Hearts, the latter having the potential to become a classic of the genre.
For an album that was hastily recorded to sell at gigs Redneck Dinner Party is simply superb and more proof, if needed, that Meade has his finger on the pulse of classic roots American music. Happily he was available to spend some time with Blabber’n’Smoke to talk about the album and bring us up to date.


Redneck Dinner Party dates back to 2009, why have you decided to reissue it?

It’s not really a re-issue as such as it was never issued at the time it was made, it only ever made it to crudely home-burned CDs that we would sell at gigs to fund getting to the next gig. I came across it again by chance earlier this year when my parents were moving house and it was in amongst a box of old CDs. I hadn’t heard it in years but it still sounded great (to me), so I thought I’d just release it properly for old times sakes really.
The majority of it was written when I spent a few months in L.A when I was 22 or 23, and I was introduced to all this great country music over there. I was already getting into Old Crow Medicine Show and there was a lot of similar cool stuff happening, it was great to be around and I guess I brought some of it home with me.
We recorded it at TornFace Studios with our good friend Chris Gorman. I don’t remember too much about the session but I hear it was a lot of fun! It somehow managed to get into Mark Lamaar’s hands and he played ‘I Remember Now’ on BBC Radio 2, and I just remember thinking that was it, we made it! Oh to be young…

So who’s playing on the album with you?
We have Richard Anderson on bass, now of the Shiverin’ Sheiks, Danny Shepherd on drums and on electric guitar we have Lloyd Reid, of course. This was actually the first thing we ever worked on together, still going strong!

Listening to the album today what sort of memories does it conjure up?

Just good ones really, we were just young guys having a very good time and I think it comes across like that. It’s hardly the most accomplished album you’ll hear, lyrically or musically, but that doesn’t matter, it’s just a lot of fun. I think the album/song titles and content would suggest that it’s not going to be one to ponder over, just get a few tipples down your throat and go for it, and I’m glad to say a lot of folk did just that, on a weekly basis. We used to play two gigs every Saturday in Glasgow for a couple of years, Maggie Mays, 6-8, then The Butterfly and Pig, 10-12, and it was always a party. Good, mad times.

Back to the present is there any news on a follow up to Keep Right Away?

Well myself and The Flying Mules do in fact have a new album recorded and good to go, it should be with you in the Spring. More details to come soon.

As usual you’ve been busy this year, touring with Diana Jones, Pokey LaFarge and about to go out with The Proclaimers. You’ve been abroad in Europe, how did those shows go?

I’m glad to report they’ve all been great, different in their own ways and never two crowds the same. That’s why it’s so much fun heading out with other acts like Pokey, Diana and The Proclaimers, you never know what to expect from night to night, fair keeps you on your toes. Plus you get to watch them every night and that’s a privilege, especially with acts of their calibre. I mean last night we were watching ‘Sunshine on Leith’ being sang back at The Proclaimers by 1600 punters in Motherwell from behind the stage, that’s something special!

Last time we talked you said Jerry Lee Lewis’ Live At The Star Club was your favourite album. I believe you saw Jerry Lee Lewis when he played in Glasgow this year. How was that and are there any other performers you would fight your way through to see?

It was great, strangely emotional knowing that I probably won’t have the chance to ever see him play again but he was still amazing at 80 and I managed to briefly meet him, shake his hand and say thank you, and he said it right back! I’d waited a long time for that, if it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be doing any of this so I’m glad I got the chance. My brother and I also met James Burton and Kenneth Lovelace, it was just one of those days..
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve seen most of my heroes live, but I’d still like to see Tom Waits and probably Tom Petty, there are probably more but not that I’d have a fight for, I’ve got soft knuckles and a softer nose so it would have to be someone ridiculous, probably someone raised from the dead, Big Bill Broonzy or Hank! Let me know if that happens cheers and I’ll gladly get in the ring.

Any plans for the New Year?

Taking a few weeks off actually, recharge and get to working on whatever’s next, whatever that may be. Any requests?

Redneck Dinner Party is available on CD although its a limited edition, you can purchase a copy from Daniel here while stocks last. It’s also available on itunes here

Jim Dead & The Doubters. Pray For Rain



Been a while since we heard from Jim Dead, Glasgow’s premier purveyor of dry gulch rock. His last missive from the missions was  I’m Not Lost back in 2013 where he and his compadre Craig Hughes plugged in with a crackling intensity. On Pray For Rain Dead has resurrected his occassional backing band The Doubters (on this occasion comprised of Stuart Begley on guitar; Frankie Coia on bass and Tommy Clark on drums ) and with his new posse in tow seems to have been spending some time in a bar with a jukebox populated with early ZZ Top and Creedence discs. It’s a cantankerous listen, scribbled with quarrelling guitars and a heavy bass/drum thud, Dead’s voice wailing like a biblical prophet. While his previous releases have always had a whiff of Morricone inspired dusty vistas here the gloves are off and the band are howling at the moon.

One of the highlights of Dead’s previous full length album, Ten Fires, was the loping death sentence of John Landstrom Must Die and it’s this song that is the template for Pray For Rain. Dead and Begley’s guitars spar throughout be it the on the jagged juggernaut that is the opening song, Wooden Kimono, the sludge ridden blues riff of the title song or the evil slide opening to You Coulda Said, the latter especially invigorating. There’s evidence of Dead’s allegiance to metal with Lovesick Blues sounding like an unholy marriage of Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer as Dead screams, “You don’t love me, I don’t like me too” over an almighty riff. And overall the riff is king here as Dead & The Doubters demolish the melodies on their steamroller ride with May The Road Rise an almighty example.

There are glimpses of Dead’s earlier incarnations. Crows On The Wire is a jaunty country rock romp (although it’s wired to the moon with its zinging guitar lines) and Home returns to his role as a shamanistic weatherman singing, “There’s a wind coming in from the west, woman by my side says she knows best. It’s taken all I have just to find a place where I can stop and have a rest.” It opens up with a resigned air, slowly jangled guitar over a slow beat before an excellent fuzzed guitar solo weighs in. This yin/yan dynamic persists throughout the song with Dead sounding increasingly desperate. The album closes with the slow burn of I’m Not Lost (a song that wasn’t on the EP of the same name) that harks back to the Neil Young like epics of Ten Fires. A seven minute long miasma of thrashing and squalling guitars with a Crazy Horse backbeat it pummels the listener into surrender.

Jim Dead & The Doubters will be playing at the album release show at the 13th Note in Glasgow on Friday 4th December with support from Craig Hughes’ Dog Howl Moon. If Dead can summon up the intensity he’s captured here it should be a fine night.


Joe Nisbet Jr. The Gospel According To Mr. Niz.

Listening to The McCrary Sisters’ vocals on the new single from Blue Rose Code reminded me of their blistering show back in August at Perth’s Southern Fried Festival. This also reminded me of the stellar work carried out by their Scottish band and in particular the guitar work of Joe Nisbet Jr, guitar work which had also graced Ag’s Connolly’s show a few days earlier. Nisbet is a bit of a hidden treasure. He’s worked extensively with The Proclaimers and China Crisis and is the regular go to player for Dick Gaughan and Justin Currie. He’s the one bending the strings and playing those country licks on Ags Connolly’s excellent album How About Now and was up on stage with Dougie McLean for the closing song of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Caledonia.

Seems like Mr. Nisbet and his buddy, bass player Nico Bruce, are like a Scots version of the wrecking crew, laying down some wicked music but forever in the background. I was intrigued to discover then that he had released an album at the back end of 2013 called The Gospel According To Mr. Niz, a copy of which he gracefully provided Blabber’n’Smoke with. The intrigue grew when some Googling unveiled the story behind the album of which he says, “Took 4 days to record but had been 30 years in the making.” It turns out that Joe Nisbet Sr. was an evangelical preacher and when Joe Jr. was a kid he accompanied his dad on a two-month tour of the American South with pop preaching each night accompanied by Gospel choirs. This, says Nisbet, was, “the beginning of a lifelong fascination with the classic sound of the black gospel quintets of the 40’s and 50’s.” It abided during his tenures with China Crisis and The Proclaimers but when Justin Currie persuaded Nisbet to add his vocals on Currie’s songs and then to sing himself he was finally able to make his own Gospel record which we will now delve into.

The Gospel According to Mr. Niz has 13 songs, the majority based on vocal quartet songs from the 40s and 50s with two covers  of Rev. Gary Davis and Mississippi Fred McDowell. There are no choirs or harmonies here however with Nisbet handling the vocals himself. For a guitarist who doesn’t sing he does a fine job here, his voice at times recalling John Mayall in the late sixties proving that white men can sing the blues even though the accent is sometimes not spot on. However and remarkably there are times when he almost reminds one of a young Elvis crooning the gospel, most notably on Maybe It’s You and Peace In The Valley. It’s a stripped back album, the basic set up being Nisbet on guitar, Nico Bruce on double bass and drums from Keith Burns while Neil Weir adds trumpet on occasion. Producer Phil Cunningham (of Hogmanay fame) captures the bare sound as if they were in the Sun studios, the bass snapping and slapping, the guitar threshing like Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s. There are moments however when Nisbet’s guitar wizardry is astounding, the shimmering effects on Walk With Me up there with Ry Cooder’s brooding soundtrack work.

Nisbet, not an evangelist himself, takes liberties throughout, changing and adding lyrics to suit his take on these songs. The listening experience is greatly enhanced by his notes on the songs which are enlightening and witty such as his comment on his pulverising version of I John which he says, “opens with John the Divine on Patmos and ends with Robert Fripp in Berlin.” His rendition of Joe Louis which incorporates The Walls Of Jericho as originally sung by the Dixieaires is a delight and the one occasion here when he’s compelled to add some harmonies.  While songs such as Samson & Delilah, I Am A Pilgrim and Peace In The Valley will be familiar to many I’m sure that aficionados of gospel music will find that Nesbit has delivered a very singular take on the genre, a take that is inspiring and a great listen.

I’m sure there’s more to tell here, the image of a wee Edinburgh lad in tented prayer meetings in the rural South 30 years ago surely deserves some inquiry, a sure fire documentary for the Beeb perhaps. Anyway, I’ll leave it to Mr. Nesbit Jr. to tell it more eloquently than I can manage.

Buy The Gospel According To Mr. Niz here

Donna Ulisse. Hard Cry Moon.


Bluegrass singer/songwriter Donna Ulisse’s latest album, Hard Cry Moon is a wonderfully down-home piece of work. Dedicated to her grandfathers, one Italian, one American, she sings about her memories of these men on several of the songs here while the remainder are effectively tinted with nostalgia. Conjuring up a more innocent time Ulisse and her players (Casey Campbell, mandolin; Dennis Crouch, upright bass; Stuart Duncan, fiddle and Scott Vestal on banjo) weave together a wonderfully delicate tapestry of sounds with her voice evocative and warm. Assisting her on harmonies is husband Rick Stanley, cousin of the famed duo Carter and Ralph.

The album opens with the spritely Black Train which positively belts along in true bluegrass style with some scintillating instrumental breaks. Ulisse then delivers the first of her eulogies here with Working On the C&O describing her grandfather’s 50 years working on the railroad,  initially as a “gandy dancer.” She explains this term in the liner notes and the song is a fine example of honouring and remembering a generation who worked harder than most of us could ever imagine. Her liner notes also explain her ode to her Italian “papa” who died when she was aged just seven, her abiding memories of him belonging to time spent in his well tended garden. The song, Papa’s Garden is a heart tugging piece which one could well imagine Dolly Parton singing sharing as it does Parton’s love of family narrative. In between there’s a fine song, We’re Gonna Find A Preacher which one imagines is Ulisse’s idea of romance around her grandparents’ time and which is delivered with a fine patina evoking old times, the fiddle sawing away over plinking guitar and banjo as the couple “with his daddy’s suit and my mama’s gown” plan to elope.

There’s more memories on It Could have Been The Mandolin where Ulisse sings about the joys of hearing Bluegrass on the radio while she covers Whispering Pines, a song she has long loved. Elsewhere she just delivers some excellent songs such as the very fine title song which has the makings of a classic heartbreak song. Away from the comfort of the majority of the album there’s a sense of danger on the spooky The River’s Running Free while Ain’t That A Pity is a rapid fire bluegrass workout. The album ends with the very gentle I’ll Sleep In Peace at Night with Ulisse joined on harmonies by Fayssoux McLean, a veteran of Emmylou Harris sessions.

While Hard Cry Moon is a fine example of the bluegrass Ulisse there’s space here to mention an album she slipped out earlier this year called The Songwriter In Me. Issued in conjunction with a book she’s written about her song writing it consists of demos which are in stark contrast to her fully realised projects. It’s a riveting listen and places Ulisse firmly in the tradition of singers and writers such as Diana Jones and is well worth checking out.


Brent Best. Your Dog, Champ. At The Helm Records/Last Chance Records


There was an interesting buzz amongst some of the online Americana community when news of this album’s release was announced earlier this year. Naturally folk were keen to hear Brent Best again after a five year layoff, after all his band, Slobberbone were up there with the Drive By Truckers as an ass kicking roots rock outfit with author Stephen King name checking them as one of his favourites. In addition there was a degree of relief with the album having been crowd funded some years back with some folk fearing that the disc was destined to join the realms of fabled “lost” records. Truth was that Best was beset by a series of calamities that would have derailed anyone and by the time he was back on his feet he and his label, Last Chance Records, went out of their way to contact the original funders with Best penning an open letter explaining the five year wait and asking lost backers to contact him. Released a few months ago in the States Your Dog, Champ, it’s fair to say, more than repaid the wait with the reviews generous in their acclaim. The UK release is the first fruit of a promising collaboration between US label Last Chance and Brighton based At The Helm Records with some further delights promised.

First thing to say about the album is that it’s not the old rambunctious swagger of Slobberbone with Best admitting that when he started recording he “proceeded to furiously overdub the shit out of them (the songs), overcooking them within an inch of their life.” He’d been living with these songs for a while and it seems that only when he had got himself settled that he was able to fully realise his vision, re-recording the songs and then getting some simpatico players in to fine tune them. The end result is one of those albums which wears a patina of dust with some gnarly roots digging deep. A combination of dark ballads, acoustic based with pedal steel and fiddle accoutrements, and growling electric workouts all graced with Best’s grumbled vocals, it’s an album that impresses more and more on repeated listening, the lyrics repaying close attention as Best travels down a dark highway, the sort of album that fans of Neil Young have probably given up on ever hearing again from Shakey.
The album opens with the breezy soft country rock of Daddy Was A Liar, a deceptively upbeat song with a dark underbelly which opens with a bagful of kittens drowned and ends with an infant suffering the same fate. No such deception on the following Good Man Now with Best opening the song with the blunt, “Mama you always told me that the only good man was a dead man.” A grim tale of patricide with soaring pedal steel and screeching violin the song swings from slow ballad to ballsy rock in dramatic fashion. This howl of a violin is used again on the claustrophobic clutter of Tangled, the “heaviest song” here; crunching guitars over a rumbling bass line, splashing cymbals and a deep spiralling guitar solo make for a fine sonic soup with Best responding to himself on the chorus via overdubs sounding like REM on Quaaludes.

For the remainder Best adopts a sound not dissimilar to that of Uncle Tupelo, a dry alt-country manner driving the songs. His portraits of characters and situations on Aunt Ramona, Career Day and Robert Cole (songs he says that almost wrote themselves) are keen observations delivered in finest “No Depression” style although there is some tenderness in here as well such as on the mandolin and fiddle laced Queen Bee. He bares his soul on the weeping ballad Clotine, a love song of sorts (that could provide several months’ work for a psychoanalyst) it’s beautifully crafted and flows with a wonderful sense of regret and longing.

The album ends with the plaintive It Is You, another gem with Best’s words and gruff voice perfectly offset by his very fine players, the fiddle emotive, pedal steel gently caressing while his harmonica solo is a model of perfection. Throughout the album the musicians (including Ralph White of the Bad Livers on fiddle, Petra Kelly on violin, Andy Rodgers, Boxcar Bandits, on banjo, Scott Danborn from Centromatic on piano, Burton Lee pedal steel, Grady Don Sandlin drums, Drew Phelps bass and Claude Bernand from the Gourds on accordion) are on top form while Best handles acoustic and electric guitars with some aplomb. Altogether, Your Dog, Champ is perfectly positioned as a late contender for one of the best albums of the year and plans are afoot for Best to tour the UK early next year to promote the album.


John Murry/Grum Gallagher/Bobby Deans. Fallen Angels Club. The Admiral Bar, Glasgow. Thursday 5th November

murry live

John Murry sure picked a fine night to revisit Glasgow. Richard Hawley was playing up the street, it was bonfire night and local team Celtic were playing a European fixture. Never mind, the Murry afficiandos were having none of that and it was gratifying to see a full house turn out for the man whose album, The Graceless Age, is generally considered to be one of the best albums of the last decade.

Currently residing in Ireland, Murry was accompanied by a musician he had met over there, Grum Gallagher. When Blabber’n’Smoke spoke to John a few months back he described Grum as “someone completely on the same wavelength (as me),” something that in an interview set up might be considered to be just PR puffery. Well, anyone who was at this show can attest to the fact that indeed the pair go together like the proverbial horse and carriage, Gallagher a perfect foil for Murry’s wounded tales. On past occasions Murry has been electrifyingly scary, his songs a catharsis of sorts describing past trials and tribulations including a near death experience. Tonight he appeared more comfortable, still spilling out with a passion but with a sense that he is playing the songs rather than reliving the past. He remains however a riveting performer; there’s blood and guts in his Southern Gothic, the songs still sting but tonight he nailed it balancing pain with performance brilliantly.

With Gallagher on guitar, a wonderful beat up Eastwood electric which he’s modified over the years, coaxing and caressing a variety of effects and sympathetic soundscapes Murry effortlessly captured the mesmerising pull of his records. As always the between song banter was a deadpan drawl of dark humour and self deprecation, at one point suggesting he and the audience pack it in and all go to see Hawley instead. There was no chance of that as he opened with a tender and heartfelt version of What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted and then covered The Afghan Whigs’ What Jail Is Like pitching some barbs at Greg Dulli in the introduction before launching into his own songs. While there were magisterial readings of some of The Graceless Age’s gems including California, The Ballad Of The Pajama Kid and Southern Sky, all graced with Gallagher’s sonic grumblings Murry unveiled several new songs that are equally as haunting. The Stars Are God’s Bullet Holes (as Murry quipped, He’s shooting at us) was a powerful diatribe with some profane language and vivid imagery, Oscar Wilde celebrated the outsider and The Wrong Man continued his habit of his soul searching positing Murry as the last man to depend on with the delivery tonight challenging Springsteen as the blue collar troubadour; here the audience was rapt, hanging onto every word. Glass Slipper, a song co-written with Chuck Prophet was another show stopper, muddy as the Mississippi and as mesmerising as a death cell confession.

There were more covers, a fine medley of Tracks Of My Tears and Do You Want To Dance given the Murry treatment, Dylan’s contribution to the Wonderboys soundtrack, prefaced by Murry’s comment that anyone who really likes Dylan is diagnosable and, a nod to the location tonight, Abba’s Super Trooper which mentions Glasgow in the lyrics and which had the crowd singing along. Tonight Murry seemed less wounded, more on a roll.

Excellent guitar foil to Murry he may be but Grum Gallagher gave notice of his talent earlier with a short solo set that portrayed him as an excellent writer and performer. Playing guitar with a mellifluous dexterity, keeping bass notes throbbing throughout some jangled melodies, he is a troubadour in the Nick Cave fashion (at least this is one thought, much of the conversation after his set was regarding who exactly he reminded one of with several names, Momus, Tom Waits, Robyn Hitchcock and, yes, Richard Hawley, mentioned). In fact His baritone voice and his dark and strange lyrics (e.g. it’s not safe to steal the lamplight from the defecator’s mouth,” I think I heard this line) can bring to mind many of the above but it’s at least good company to be in. He gave us a grand sea shanty, played with a Brechtian gusto, a fine tale of a drink fuelled apparition of the Virgin Mary in his song Anthracite (along with a fine tale of Ireland being like Mexico, a land where statues move) and finally an excellently absurdist tale about doctors and pills, this song being the one which led to the Hitchcock comparisons. A very talented guy and Blabber’n’Smoke will be looking to return to him in the near future.

First support slot of the night was filled by local singer/songwriter Bobby Deans. Playing a nylon stringed guitar he was at his best on a song about the homeless called No Rest with some nice key changes and a refreshing lack of polemic. An engaging character he was brave enough to sing a song about his own past and his mother whom he never knew which was delivered in a restrained fashion until the end when he was wailing away at the ghosts he had conjured up.

Fiddle & Banjo. Tunes From The North, Songs From The South.

Seems like we haven’t had any old time music reviewed here for a while so it’s a pleasure to introduce Fiddle & Banjo AKA Karrnnel Sawitsky (fiddle) and Daniel Koulack (banjo), a Canadian duo who mine similar territory to Cahalen Morrison and Eli West but more closely resemble Appalachian scholars Anna & Elizabeth who we reviewed a few months back. They share the timeless quality that permeates traditional music, taking music from the past (some of it familiar to the listener from childhood songs or from the numerous visitations of musicians on albums over the past eighty years, and some not so familiar) and imbue them with a freshness, a new life, a new version for those musicians and listeners yet to follow.

The album title is derived from the duo’s stated intention of joining up the Canadian dance music they grew up playing with those age-old Appalachian songs and tunes that have influenced them and a host of other string players. The result is a superb (and superbly balanced) set of traditional numbers and their own tunes. Familiars such as Killin’ Floor, How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live and Arkansas Traveller rub shoulders with some fine inventions from the pair. Several of the tracks are medleys of traditional tunes (helpfully noted in the liner) and one cannot help but marvel at not only their dexterity but the telepathy in the playing, Koulack playing clawhammer style as Sawitsky fiddles creating a rarefied atmosphere that is just thrilling and at times spine tingling; whether playing a waltz time tune or setting up a reel they weave magnificently.

Excellent as these forays into an instrumental heaven are, the album is enhanced greatly by the presence of guest Joey Landreth who sings and plays Dobro on several songs here. His finely wearied delivery offers a touchstone for those who might find an instrumental album somewhat daunting. In addition the songs allow Sawitsky and Koulack freer rein to saw away in a less measured fashion than on the instrumentals as on the frenzy the whip up on Little Birdie. Landreth’s Dobro also provides some bluesy touches to Skip James’ Killin’ Floor and the closing magisterial reading of How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live. Finally, they get extra points for opening with a brief rendition of Pete Seeger’s Goofing Off Suite, a wonderful tune and going back to an original point one that will be familiar to fans of Raising Arizona.

Wrapped up in some fine packaging the album is a wonderful window into the past and will surely appeal to anyone who gets a nice chill when they hear that high lonesome sound.


Patrick Sweany. Daytime Turned To Nighttime. Nine Mile Records

Nashville based Patrick Sweany first came to Blabber’n’Smoke’s attention in 2013 with his album Close To The Floor, a fine collection of swampy blues and soul songs with some edge to them. Some of that edge was due to recent family bereavements, Sweany sounding angry and defiant. Two years down the line and he’s recently domiciled, settling into a new home with his wife and with the resultant music portraying a man who is more content with life, still digging the blues but with a skip in his step.

Sweany describes Daytime Turned To Nighttime as his “grown up record” and it does sound as if he’s a man who’s comfortable in his own skin. While recording the album he was also busy renovating his new home while listening to classic Southern sounds, Lee Dorsey, Bobby Charles, Bobbie Gentry; his choice of rhythm section here (Ron Eoff, bass and Bryan Owings, drums) reflects this, the pair having a pedigree including Tony Joe White, Levon Helm and Solomon Burke. With Sweany and producer Joe McMahon on guitars, Tyson Rogers on keys and Alexis Saski and Laura Mayo offering some sublime vocal swoops the album is a syrupy trip through the delta with some snarly rustbucket kicks thrown in for good effect.

There are ten songs here and all deserve attention. Sweany opens with the blue collar First Of The Week which recalls Bobby Bland and then heads into the acoustic blues swagger of Tiger Pride which struts like prime Taj Mahal. The loose limbed slow rolling feel is maintained on the following Here To Stay (Rock + Roll), tasty guitar licks over a slipping and sliding rhythm conjuring up a back porch cook out, the band playing and the pork slowly melting. The heart of the album however is a brace of slow burning numbers that gather together influences such as Gospel, New Orleans strut and Southern rock. Sweethearts Together is slowed down to a coma pace, wonderfully sluggish, barely perceptible flourishes from guitar and keyboards fluttering briefly. Afraid Of You sweeps in with a glowering majesty, guitars swooping and keening around a determined acoustic guitar motif in a manner reminiscent of the Allman’s Midnight Rider while Nothing Happened At All is stone cold Southern rock, fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd should tune into this.

Throughout the album Sweany’s voice is draped in the sweat of classic soul singers and he excels on the wonderful Too Many Hours which captures the classic meeting of sacred and secular which is at the heart of great soul music and for those who might long for his more rough hewn blues persona there’s a really dirty howling Wolf type workout on Back Home. Here Sweany delivers in buckets, fiery and feisty, howling at the moon.


Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou. Expatriot. Anglophone Recording Company.

Erstwhile members of Danny And The Champions of the World, London husband and wife duo, Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou have achieved something of a coup by scooping up acclaimed producer Ethan Johns to helm this, their fourth album release. Johns had toured with them and was somewhat enamoured of their sound and welcomed them into his home studio. The album, in the main consisting of the duo’s voices and Trevor’s acoustic guitar does sound great, crystal clear, the voices ringing out with the spare additional instrumentation given just the right amount of space and colour. The press release notes that the album has the couple moving on from their folk sound although there’s not a significant shift in their sound here. Instead there’s a confidence and assurance that might reflect the guiding hands of Johns at the desk and a year of solid touring supporting name acts at auditoriums across the world. In addition there’s a nod to an increasing American influence in the music, a hint of which is offered in the cover art which is a recreation of their pose on their 2010 single England. Instead of a George Cross painted behind them there’s now a stark black rendering of the album title. Do they feel estranged from the current version of Englishness or demonstrating that they’ve spread their wings?

There are certainly some comments on the state of the nation here, finger pointing songs as Dylan called them; the wheezing harmonica led The Relinquished, which bemoans factory working the exemplar here. The Dylanesque style here is repeated throughout the album especially on the opening title song and the declamatory Babe To Cradle with the latter’s opening lines “You callous kings and queens, it’s time to lay down your rusty crowns, they don’t impress us anymore,” reminiscent of Greenwich Village folkies and Broadside magazine. Much of the album indeed has a sixties glow, the tender Our Tryingest Hour rippling with echoes of Paul Simon and it’s tempting indeed to think of Trevor and Hannah-Lou as a modern version of Richard and Mimi Farina here. However there is a definite whiff of that dappled English folk sensibility on the mesmerising If only I Were The Kind where the vocals are shadowed by some nuanced guitar feedback. Again, there’s a retro feel here which in this case recalls the very early Fairport Convention when they were in thrall to Joni Mitchell and not yet folk rocking.