Saturday, July 11, 2020

Single Review - Every Story - Tennessee Twin



Despite Lockdown, Tennessee Twin have kept themselves busy livestreaming as part of The Songs and Stories Collective as well as on their own for various pages and now by releasing their new single Every Story produced entirely remotely.

Opening with a strident electric guitar, Victoria’s gentle voice comes in as a wonderful counterpoint and starts telling the first story of the song.  Geoff’s deeper voice is in stark contrast, but when they blend, they blend superbly, with the guitar, banjo and drums underpinning the vocals.

The track has a fabulous melody and a lovely rhythm to it, managing to be relaxed while keeping a certain pace to it.

The changes of tempo, the switch from acoustic guitar to electric guitar are clever and add to the feeling of a narrative, or story telling which is the theme of the track. Weaving mini stories into the lyrics we are reminded that there is more than meets the eye - and two sides to Every Story.

The words make you want to listen, to appreciate the stories contained in it, but you just can’t help tapping your foot and starting to sing along.  The music draws you in just as much as the stories do!

The repetition of two sides to every story to end the song really makes the point and encourages you to always look at both sides of every story.

Every Story, the new single from Tennessee Twin is available to download and stream now.

Find and follow Victoria and Geoff on Facebook, and catch them every Sunday livestreaming with The Songs and Stories Collective



Thursday, July 9, 2020

Single Review - I Want You - The Rising



This Friday sees the latest in The Rising’s bold plan of releasing a single per month.  I Want You shows that Chris and Chantelle have delivered on that intent, and still managed to do so despite Lockdown affecting us all, and the music industry especially.

To describe the band as pop country doesn’t quite do them justice, and although they are definitely more on the pop side of country, this manifests as happy dance-along music, with this newest single having a very “breezy and summery” feel – you’ll be tapping your steering wheel in the car or tapping your feet as you listen, if only the weather could give us the same feel!

The Rising are not afraid to experiment and push boundaries – with the idea of monthly releases, with cover versions and with the way they play and play around with instruments in the studio.  Despite now being based in the Midlands, there is still a definite Irish influence to their music, some of it reminiscent of the Coors.

Time and statistics will tell if the concept has worked, but for now we can sit back and enjoy the music and also applaud how hard working Chris and Chantelle have been throughout Lockdown with their frequent releases, social media presence and their regular Monday night livestreams  - a strong work ethic that deserves success and recognition.

Whatever happens, you certainly sense that musically these guys want to have fun – so kick back and have fun listening!

I Want You, the new single from the Rising is available on all major platforms on Friday 10 July

Find and follow the Rising on Facebook and Spotify – and catch them on Monday evenings livestreaming

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Single Review - You - Phoenix Morby



The new single You from Phoenix Morby opens with a simple acoustic guitar, and this sets the style and tempo for the whole song.  Our storyteller, is honest and open about his feelings, there’s no recriminations, no over emotion.  It’s a simple tale of love that isn’t to be, and he understands that.  He wishes that it was different, he wishes that she will “one day see the truth” but his main concern is that she is happy, whatever her decision is.

As long as you're happy, I'm happy for you

The light percussion behind the guitar and vocal underline the calm acceptance of the situation, it is almost haunting.  The instrumental sections give you time to reflect, what have you lost? do you understand the grief?

This is a rainy day song.

The song was produced by Donna Marie Songs under her Climbing Mountains label, and she has done a great job of balancing the vocals and instrumentation, drawing us in to the feelings of the singer

Sit and listen, reflect. 

You, the new single from Phoenix Morby is released on 10 July on all major platforms.  
Find and Follow Phoenix on Facebook and his website and listen to him on Spotify      

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Single Review - Laura Mae - Swamp Doctor



Laura Mae opens with a beautiful acoustic guitar with strings to open, and then that voice, oh my word that voice.  Deep, husky, you can smell the tobacco, taste the whisky and the dirt from the trail when Alex MacLaine starts half singing/half speaking the lyrics.

In case the song didn’t sound Country enough a pair of female voices come in to support that gruff lead vocal.

Swamp Doctor says 
Laura Mae sounded southern & old fashioned for a fallen Alabama soul suffering still and seeing the dusk of life for all it means to her. I was inspired by the simple arrangement and harmony of southern folk songs, often with one guitar and two voices.

The style of this song immediately transports you back in time,  to the Country and Western era of rugged cowboy types  where saloons offer the only entertainment in those dirt road towns; which is fitting as the story itself is a look back, the life of Laura Mae.  Laura Mae was once young and pretty, and even though she is no longer either of those, she is turning grey along with the skies, but she still tries. Life is getting harder and she is becoming wearier, but the drink helps her forget. She isn’t brave as the young girls thinks, but just carries on and tries to recreate her youth.  It is important for her because – due to circumstances – Laura Mae is a lady of the night.

The video for the track is a hand-drawn animation by Hussam Aamir that depicts Laura Mae in a state of self-isolation as she contemplates life, her actions and how the world keeps turning without her engaging in it. However, the imagery is all there in the song, the picture all too clear.  

Although it is a sad song, about a sad life there is still that glimmer of hope for Laura Mae because she has never given up – although the ending seems inevitable. Typical country, life often throws you a bad hand, there is nothing to do but get on with it.

Laura Mae, the new single from Swamp Doctor is available on all major digital platforms on Friday 26 June

Join Swamp Doctor on facebook and join us as we raise a toast to the struggles of Laura Mae

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Single Review - Pick Me Up - Vicki Manser



Vicki Manser comes to us via the world of musical theatre where she has appeared in the West End and touring shows.  This is quite evident when you listen to her debut single Pick Me Up, as her voice shows beautiful control and range as the song progresses.

The song opens with just an acoustic guitar with a hint of mandolin and then comes Vicki’s soft, almost breathy voice.  Throughout, the instrumentation – adding in drums and electric guitar – gently supports and highlights the vocal so that your full attention is on the words and sound of the voice, the pleading for help from someone who is experiencing personal trouble and doubt and is looking to that one person who can “Pick Me Up

It is a country inspired song, although more toward that folk end of the spectrum, and is a co-write by Tim Prottey-Jones, Demi Marriner and Dan Weller, very well known names in UK Country, and Vicki herself cites the influence of family in her love of Country Music and Bluegrass

Country and Bluegrass has always played such a big part in my life and I am so excited to release my debut single. UK Country music is forever blossoming and this is just the start for me, so expect a lot more new music to come from me!

Well Vicki, if this is your first single we can’t wait to see what else you do!

Pick Me Up, the debut single from Vicki Manser is available on all major platforms from 12 June


Friday, June 5, 2020

EP Review - Big Man Small Town - Alan Finlan



Alan Finlan’s new EP is part anthology, part new material – it is the three singles that he has already released (Whiskey Eyes, Battle of the Bands and the title Track Big Man Small Town) plus three new tracks Alan tells us “because I couldn’t wait to release them as singles!

Those new tracks are

Cowboy Truth
The title suggests,  this track is very country, giving a good life lesson about relationships, work and the way to live your life. Its upbeat with some great guitar work under that slightly gruff vocal. 
There is a lovely chorus that will stick, the intention behind the song is that a father tells his son “If you want to wear the boots, you tell the cowboy truth”.
This and the following two songs give the impression that Alan is starting to find and acknowledge his own style in the studio 

No Money By Monday
Very much vocal driven to start with a big dual electric guitar break coming in before we return to that vocal/acoustic verse. It’s a working man’s tale of working all week, to spend all your pay over the weekend. The instrumental section lifts the energy within the track. Guitar picking adds a nice touch.  As the song progresses it highlights Alan’s vocal range – soft here, raw and edgy there.

Making Your Mark
An unusual opening; you’ll be transported to an old Irish bar, someone has a hand drum whilst the other tap out the beat, and arms are swinging, mostly linked with a Guinness in them. Its reminiscent of the music of the Saw Doctors. 
With a squeezebox and some plucked strings adding to the overall effect it’s a little different from Alan’s almost trademark gruff country but we are starting to see that his recorded music is a little different to his live performances, however despite the change of style here it does get closer his live energy and is quite a fun song to listen to  

Big Man Small Town, Alan Finlan's new EP is available now to download and stream

You can find and follow Alan on facebook and wandering around his home town...

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Single Review - Against The Grain - Tommy Taylor



Tommy’s done it again – locked down in his restaurant he has recorded a new song in one take.  Having not been recorded with the luxuries of a recording studio it has a slightly rough edge to it – but that just serves to add a certain grittiness to the track and to his vocal.

Tommy’s restaurant – “Tommy’s” in Filey looks like it is a must visit when we are out of lockdown – it provides an American South inspired menu, it provides American South inspired music and now it seems to be providing American South inspired recordings!

Against The Grain is free to stream – Tommy seems to be more interested in making music than chart position – and his previous single Popcorn was raising money for a local charity

It's Tommy with his guitar and his voice with a gentle string track behind, and he is playing that guitar like he really means it!  Soft and gentle music suits everyone’s mood in these circumstances, the long opening provides the opportunity to reflect and then in comes the voice that seems to suit the bleak view outside the window. 

The song sounds raw and honest – Tommy called the recording “warts and all” and in a way that seems to sum up the theme of the song – take me as I am.  The storyteller knows that he isn’t perfect, but that’s just how he is, he “goes against the grain”


Against The Grain, the new single from Tommy Taylor is available now to stream 

You can find and follow Tommy on Facebook  and find Tommy's on Facebook too!