Well this is the last entry for my blog charting my favourite releases for the first 6 months of this year. Completed just in time to get ready to compile my favourites from July onwards!
Norrie McCulloch – These mountain blues
I like an amazing number of singer songwriters and bands from Scotland. This blog thus far has identified quite a few of them. 2016 saw me add a name to the list, that of Glasgow purveyor of americana or ‘celticana’, er, perhaps not the latter. Scottish Americana is the term that the esteemed Folk Radio UK have used so that’ll do for me. Dave McGowan of Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian can be found assisting Norris on the album along with Stuart Kidd and Marco Rea. The whole record, surprisingly for these digital times, was recorded wholly in analogue in an ancient building in Stirling, as opposed to a traditional recording studio. The album had a timescale of 3 days for recording. The end result is beautiful. Norrie has travelled across the Southern states of the US and the album resultantly has both an American and Scottish feel and sound to it.
Favourite track from the album? Hmm, where to start. OK, today I’ll opt for the wonderful title song. Check it out for yourself.
Peter Bruntnell – Nos da comrade
I first heard Peter Bruntnell’s music on the wonderful Whispering Bob Harris’s Radio 2 show. The album was Normal for Bridgewater back in 1999 and that was my introduction to this superb singer songwriter’s music. Peter delivers americana with a British influence.
He’s based in Devon and has made a slew of fine albums since Bridgewater was released. Not da Comrade, the Welsh for goodnight comrade incidentally, is the latest of these and was recorded in Peter’s home studio. The opening song on the album Mr Sunshine is very topical as I write this, well worth having a look at the video on Peter’s site.
The songcraft throughout is of the highest level, songs that draw you in and absorb you. Willy Vlautin of the sadly no more Richmond Fontaine has described Peter as his favourite singer songwriter no less. Add to this that the NME claimed that “Peter Bruntnell’s records should be taught in schools” acclaim from Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Jay Farrar, John Murry or Kathleen Edwards who all concur that Peter Bruntnell is a writer with rare and mysterious qualities you really can’t go wrong if you buy a Peter Bruntnell album.
Richmond Fontaine – You can’t go back if there’s nothing to go back to
I mentioned Willy Vlautin of Richmond Fontaine earlier. His band have made consistently excellent, finely crafted albums since they formed in Portland, Oregon in 1994. Vlautin is also a novelist which when you listen to his songs you can understand how he might translate that songwriting talent into writing compelling novels.
Willy formed The Delines, another fine band a few years back and maybe with the new project and the work as an author he felt it was time to bid farewell to Richmond Fontaine. I’m glad that we will still be able to enjoy his music yet I’m pretty certain I’m not the only one with a penchant for quality americana/alt-country who’s going to miss Richmond Fontaine.
I’ll leave you with a favourite song from the album, difficult to select just the one, I could have peppered this blog entry with them, but I’ll go for this song….