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.

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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.

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