2016 was in my view an excellent year for music in the folk, americana, alt-country, blues and world music genres. Six months in and 2017 is proving to be an equally fine year musically. So it felt an appropriate juncture to start blogging about some of my personal favourite record releases from January to June. This is the first instalment.
Ned Roberts Outside My Mind
Ned was something of a new discovery for me. I’d heard his name but until this year hadn’t had the good fortune to actually hear his music. From the evidence of Outside My Mind I’ve been missing out and have some catching up to do. He’s based in London, has a folk-inflected sound, elements of americana and a strong sense of singer songwriters form Laurel Canyon, California circa the 1970’s. There’s perhaps a hint of James Taylor in the mix. All positive as far as I’m concerned. Do check out his music. Here’s a track from his album to whet your musical appetite.
Amelia Curran Watershed
I’ve enjoyed Amelia Curran’s thoughtful and lyrically compelling music for some time now. So I was delighted when her new album Watershed came out earlier in the year on Six Shooter Records. Amelia is further evidence that there is a massive amount of talent in Canada. And when I think about it an amazing number of my favourite singer songwriters are from that country.
Amelia’s website bio describes the album thus “From the opening notes of the title track throughout the album, waves of distorted guitar batter Watershed’s softer shores. The surges of electric riffs create a strong undertow, churning and roiling as Curran’s lyrics express agitation, frustration and exhaustion with fighting the currents”.
If you’ve not encountered Amelia Curran’s music before, Watershed is a very good starting point. And then work backwards through her previous releases. Rich rewards await.
Neil McSweeney A Coat Worth Wearing
Last year if I had to choose my song of the year it would have been Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater By The Tides. In 2017 my song of the year arrived in the first 3 months, Neil McSweeney’s Land of Cockayne.
Rather like Ned Roberts I really feel I have been late to the party in discovering Neil’s music. Since A Coat Worth Wearing arrived in my mail at the station however I’ve found myself going back again and again to this mesmerising and intriguing album. Intriguing in that whilst if you had to try and pin a genre to Neil’s music folk would probably be the best fit, yet there are flourishes of electronica, little beeps and samples in the musical mix courtesy of producer Andy Bell, who also runs Hudson Records, the label Neil records for.
Neil’s fantastic live too, he played a superb session at The Musician in Leicester in the spring alongside the excellent Vera Van Heeringen. He also came into the studio on 16 March to chat and play some live songs. Well worth catching up with on MixCloud if you haven’t heard it. I suspect you’ll instantly become a fan. And when Neil came in he chose some brilliant tracks by other artists for me to play, including an EP that has become a massive hit with me – Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell’s EP The North Farm Sessions. Tracks from it, along with those from Neil’s own album, have been gracing my show playlists for some time now!