Thursday, April 2, 2020

Single Review - Devil You Know - Megan O'Neill

With her new single Devil You Know from her forthcoming album Megan has addressed the popular topic of relationships. – Unlike many country songs this isn’t about the sliver lining, loss or remorse but a reflection on reality, but it is probably more honest than many would care to admit.

A slow, melancholy start with a wailing guitar as our storyteller reviews her relationship, looking at the way they fight, with the tempo reflecting the slow plod of a familiar but pointless relationship. It’s a heavy load to carry; you can feel the weight in the song.

As she starts to look at other men, starts to wonder “if they could do a better job than you” the tempo lifts to reflect a hope, a possibility!

The honesty comes in when Megan sings that even a new relationship will still end up the same, it just a matter of time before the cracks will emerge.  

The song asks questions but gives no answers 

What happens to relationships?

Would it really be different with someone else? 

Would it be better?

The great slide guitar riff halfway through really punctuates the statement its better the Devil You Know.

Repeating the chorus. She reflects some more

Sadly, like too many people she’s not prepared to risk it. History will only repeat itself, so it is better to stick with what you have - stay with the Devil You Know!

In a bizarre way, it is a declaration of love to the man she has. 

This is a great example of a modern country pop song. Well written, well-paced and well performed

Devil You Know, the new single from Megan O'Neill is available now to download and stream

Find Megan on Facebook and on her website  

Monday, March 30, 2020

Single Review - No God Of Mine - Taynee Lord

Taynee wrote No God of Mine when she suddenly realised all her failed past relationships shared the same zodiac sign & bad traits. Everybody knows someone who is arrogant enough to think they’re God’s gift. The song is inspired by a guy whose charm works wonders on many but when faced with someone who isn’t falling for his usual games, he isn’t too sure how to handle her. 

An electric guitar and drum intro leads into Taynee’s distinctive voice which has been described as high octane country twang. When she reaches for the top notes, I picture those American series about vampires and voodoo. Not a sound you expect from a girl from Bristol. Her voice commands your attention, it has a tough edge to it, which gives an air of control and really suits this song. Taynees’s voice helps to give an image of this strong, in control woman who is done with taking nonsense from men.

I’m not a puppet, you can’t pull my strings…You ain’t no Zeus…if you let me loose I may never come back

The instrumental breaks, which are in fact more like clever musical interludes, fit well with the lyrics. 

This is not a song full of self-pity, it’s upbeat, she knows this guy isn’t all that; she’s smarter than the other girls.

No God Of Mine, the new single from Taynee Lord is available to stream and download from 10 April

Taynee can be found on facebook, Instagram and checking your zodiac…

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Single Review - The River - Megan Dhalai

Hailing from the North East, Megan Dhalai is a singer songwriter who has already gained some interest and success despite this being her debut single!

After being nominated as best songwriter at the U Beat Awards as far back as 2016 and already playing major venues in Newcastle,  Megan has now released her debut track The River, and sent us an advance copy.

It is hard to know what to expect from any artist who is brand new to us, and Megan’s mature, deep vocal came as a very pleasant surprise.  Coupled with mournful pedal steel under the fabulous acoustic guitar the song  is very emotive 

The tempo is slow paced, rather like a slow flowing river, and the story takes you long with it, like a lazy river current!

Singing about holding on to memories while you are apart from your love, using those memories to prove to yourself that the love was and is real. The instrumentation and almost ethereal layering of vocals gives the song a fairly unique sound – not traditional Country but blending emotion with traditional  celtic  sounds and that haunting, folky voice. The use of pedal steel is close to perfect for this track. 

There is a definite vibe of Julee Cruise (Twin Peaks) in both voice and style here!

The River, the debut single from Megan Dhalai is available to stream and download from 3 April. 

Find Megan on Facebook, on Instagram and reminiscing by The River

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Single Review - Another You - Kezia Gill

Another You, the new single from Kezia Gill is quite obviously a collaboration, as the instrumentation and production is quite a departure from her usual style, with much use of effects and the mixing desk, rather than her usual acoustic guitar and traditional sounds.

After quite a poppy, jangly opening Kezia’s voice comes in, and when Kezia sings you listen because you know she has something to say.  The song is a declaration of love, and this time it is for real, it is forever.  This is not some sickly love song though, this is powerful, raw and emotional through the vocal.  It is a shouted declaration she wants him to hear it and know it, she wants the world to hear it and know it

The feeling is mutual – he only has eyes for her, he is making her feel loved

The song is sung in such a way that it needs to be played loud – or at least the vocal part.  Kezia has such a voice that the backing instruments are almost superfluous, although the rocking guitar break does strike the right note and the inclusion of just a kick drum may have helped to drive the track

We are lucky as DJs that we have the kit to play this song loud, for everyone else when Kezia plays this loud and proud with her band at a gig or festival, we are all in for a treat!

Another You, the new single from Kezia Gill, will be available to download and stream from 17 April 2020

Keep Kezia company on facebook and her website

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Single Review - Whiplash - Charlotte Young

It is very tempting and very easy to compare young female country singer/songwriter’s to Taylor Swift, but then again she is an inspiration for many of the class of 2020, and epitomises modern country.  So do we compare Charlotte Young to her?  Well, yes, and no!  The style is there, but Charlotte has a husky edge to her voice.

With her debut single Whiplash, Charlotte has given us a slight teenage vibe but with that matured edge, similar to Taylor Swift in her “you do and you don’t, will and you won’t”  lyric, but again, moved on, into a whiskey haze!

Charlotte allows the instruments to stress the emotions rather than just her vocals, with the reach for higher notes coming in later in the track.  The song tells the story of how she met him – it’s a very visual song. It all happened at a whiplash speed, short choppy lyrics and changes in tempo emphasise this feeling.

Whilst this is a debut single, Charlotte is certainly not new to performing, being a regular face on the Birmingham open mic scene, both singing and hosting as well as gigging around the Midlands, honing and perfecting her craft.

There is one more comparison with Taylor Swift – Charlotte has achieved a country chart number 1!

Whiplash, the debut single from Charlotte Young is available on all major digital platforms to stream and download

Charlotte can be found self isolating on facebook and instagram 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Single Review - Tip Of My Tongue - Gary Quinn

Gary Quinn writes a lot of his songs about love and romance – and we are never sure how many of them are autobiographical!  What Gary does particularly well is to take the emotions and feelings of relationships and putting them into words.

This is demonstrated in Gary’s latest single Tip Of My Tongue, where he is singing about all of those first feelings – first meeting, first dance, first kiss - are all you can think about. With his usual incredibly clever word craft, using the tip of the tongue represents not just how the memories consume you but how important  the senses are, and your tongue being not just sensory but also trying to put into words how you feel in all this excitement.

Playing live, Gary seems quite happy to be on stage with just a guitar and his stories – and even with a full band, or on a single like this, what you are really hearing is his voice and his words, although there is a great attention grabbing opening note to Tip Of My Tongue.

A fantastic ambassador for UK Country, it is a pleasure to hear new music from one of the hardest working singers, both on and off stage.

These are tricky times in the music and festival world, but we can be sure that Gary Quinn will always be around, making things happen and making great music.

Tip Of My Tongue is available to download and stream now on all digital platforms.  

You can find Gary on facebook, online, and out and about representing UK Country!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Single Review - Pity Party - Donna Marie

If you haven’t met Donna Marie before she’s the multi-instrumentalist in a Country Night In Nashville with a big guitar, bigger heart and even bigger voice. Donna Marie is a very talented singer/songwriter/producer in her own right, and is starting to get the individual recognition that she so richly deserves.

Speaking of getting what she deserves, her new single Pity Party is about someone realising their own worth.  

Super intro, single notes with Donnas voice over the top. Gentle, mellow, the measured tempo as she recounts what life was like with a guy who was controlling. She realises what a fool she was just going along with it all.

The tempo increases as our storyteller takes control of the situation and her life.

She feels pity for him, he didn’t expect she would find her courage and makes a stand. His “party”, way of life has coming to an end. Rather than anger or even sorrow, the song expresses regret, displaying a real maturity.  She recognises he didn’t intend to hurt her but didn’t know better.  The party is a metaphor for her life, the lights come on not only at the party but also in her mind, illuminating for her that this just isn’t right, awakening her inner lion, finding her courage

The instrumental break has a sense of motion to it, perhaps reflecting her own metaphorical move to becoming stronger.  Matt Wells on Dobro is a fabulous addition to this song, complementing Donna Marie’s warm and soothing voice

The song ends by repeating that she has found her courage and she can do what she wants underlined by the solo note fade out.

Pity Party, the latest single from Donna Marie is available to download and stream from 23 March.

For updates on where you can see Donna Marie live follow her on Facebook or her website

Friday, March 13, 2020

Single Review - Beautiful Mess - Stuart Landon

Well this title could be about a tricky situation he finds himself in or about an actual person.

The song has a big opening, great drum beat that provides an energy that underlines the whole track, add in a banjo for that traditional country and to get you toe tapping; before we hear Stuart’s voice and it rightly steals your attention. 

“Come with me” is a catchy and upbeat chorus. You’ll be singing along before you realise it. 

As we listen to the lyrics, we realise its song about falling for a girl! But, this is a guy who is used to being on his own so she tempts him a little. As his emotions come flooding in, he’s scared; this is not something familiar and yet he just can’t ignore it. 

Charmingly, he describes her as a “beautiful mess” but we are not given the background as to why. Surely, he is the mess – she is the one keeping him a little grounded. 

There’s a fabulous instrumental break which brings in the keys, highlighting the amazing musical talents of The Angels With Dirty Faces.

Despite the rapid pace of how these feelings (maybe love) develop, Stuart’s voice remains clear and calm. It is, in itself, intoxicating. 

As usual Stuart’s storytelling captures a familiar situation beautifully and leaves the audience wanting to hear more. 

We you can catch him next at Bodega Nottingham on 15 March for the single’s launch, and hear the single when it drops on Monday 16 March on all digital platforms

Find Stuart on facebook and online 

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Single Review - Running From The Rain - Bob Fitzgerald

Bob tells us that Running From The Rain was initially inspired by a motorbike journey... which the inclement British weather loomed large in my wing mirrors, the rain seemingly chasing me no matter what. The chorus hook just came to me as I rode, I pulled over immediately, took out my iPhone and sang it straight in. The Storyline lyrics tell a universal tale of driving on searching for better times yet to come; “Whenever it pours down on me, is when I make my way. I’m headed out where the sky’s oh so clear, turn my back on the grey. Yeah, I’ll just keep running from the rain.”

This debut single starts with a recording of the rain; we hear the guitar strum, a lightness of music that promises something good and then the engine starts, and the song takes on a different beat. I feel a dramatic edge. 

The drum staccato effect ends each sentence, adding an arrogance to the character, he’s telling us not to ask, he doesn’t plan to stick around, and it’s only a matter of time before trouble will rear its head.

There’s the country element of loss but not this guy; his love will leave scars, leave you feeling bad as well as wondering if you can ever win.

He’s running from the rain, but life too.

3 minutes in we are treated to a 15 second instrumental section that recalls Brad Paisley and Keith Urban plying their trade and producing something spectacular from the guitar.

The single was released Friday 6th March and went straight to number 2 on the iTunes country chart - but the rain slowed down Silverball Country!

Hide in the car, switch up the track and tap along.

Running from the Rain, the debut single from Bob Fitzgerald is available to download and stream now on all digital platforms.  
Follow Bob on Facebook 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Single Review - Sally - The Good Lies

UK Based pop country duo the Good Lies have just released their newest single Sally, the follow up to their debut single Summer Dream.  In their bio, Darren and Lauren say that when they met they “just clicked” – and listening to this track you can hear that it is certainly true.  The whole song is confident sounding, opening with Lauren’s gentle voice into harmony into Darren singing - the switch is smooth and effortless

It’s a sad song, beautifully performed and has a soft almost Summer vibe to it. Sally (lets call her that for this song) is self conscious, reserved and our storytellers want to try and help, feel they should hold back but they don’t give up.  In a way it is uplifting, it reflects the need to look out for other people, not try to judge them but to understand and be there for them when they need it.

A recognisable but difficult theme, the emotion is real and tackled in a very delicate way, and the musical performance is showcasing not just the great writing skill but the talents of these seasoned performers.

Only the second single from The Good Lies, Sally is definitely a promise of more great music to come – and makes you think about checking up on your friends…

Check up on The Good Lies on their website and facebook

Sally is available to download now on all digital platforms

Thursday, February 20, 2020

EP Review - My Heart Will Wait - Nicol and Elliot

We get a wide range of emails in the Silverball Country inbox, but one in particular caught our attention as it was a little bit different!  The email was about Last Night From Glasgow and tells us not just about a music release but also a new project.

The project is Hive, and to us it sounds a fabulous initiative to support independent artistes – and that is exactly what is needed in the UK Country/Americana scene

In the words of LNFG

Hive is for artists, by artists and provides them with a self-contained toolkit to release, publish and promote their catalogue within the protective environment of an existing label. The composition of the initiative is designed to encourage artists to work together in a mutually beneficial way and to share the responsibilities that come with releasing music

Clearly there is far more to a successful music release than just popping into a studio, recording and sitting back… so for LNFG to put together this package to help artistes to not only promote their own music but support others in a similar situation is a big step, and to be applauded!

The first release on this new initiative was from Nicol and Elliott who sent their new EP to us following a chat with Katee Kross at a gig in Glasgow – collaboration at its best!

The title track of the EP – My Heart Will Wait – is very evocative, with the mellow instrumentation and Rachels vocals taking you to a smoky cafĂ©, late at night, with the harmonies and violin helping to set that scene.  The slightly faster paced The Long Way Down feels like a continuation, as though the EP is a story rather than a collection of songs, featuring more of Andrew’s vocals this time.  So Long Ago is very much driven by the two voices combining, with piano and drum marking the pace and lending a more Jazz/Blues feel while final track Letting You Go takes us back to a very folk feel, with slowed and very minimal instrumentation.

(Andrew) Nicol and (Rachel) Elliot initially collaborated for a one off show, but their mix of influences, which combine indie with folk, Americana with Southern Gothic and a massive dose of Celtic come together to create a haunting, emotive very listenable EP, with harmonies, held notes and perfect instrumentation.

We hope to hear a lot more from this duo – and a lot more from Last Night From Glasgow’s excellent Hive initiative

My Heart Will Wait, the new ep from Nicol and Elliot is available to stream and download. For more about them, check their Facebook , keep in touch with Last Night From Glasgow on Facebook  and online 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Single Review - Reminds Me Of You - Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones has never really left the scene, and his new song is a clear reminder to us all that he is still here!  He’s been on a journey or two in the past, and now he is sharing his experiences in songs. 

Reminds Me Of You has a big, powerful opening, brings in that distinctive steel guitar sound, then we get the voice, the story, the imagery.

This song is so achingly country!

It is a song about not being with the one you love – one of the central pillars of country music!  It is instantly relatable to anyone who is forced to be apart – separated by distance, by work, by chasing a dream.  We know in our heart that we have to keep at it – but everything “reminds me of you

Although Andrew is from Oxfordshire, he has a Mid Atlantic/Country singing voice – and it doesn’t sound like he is trying to be Nashville, it sounds real, authentic, and perfect for this emotional song.

You can hear, feel, almost see the emotion, the longing to be back home, probably at the end of a long day, thinking back on everything he has done, and everything he has seen that is a reminder of home, a home he wants to get back to.

Reminds Me Of You is a travelling song, it’s a heartfelt song, and it is a love song in the great tradition of Country Music.

It is a fitting release for Valentine’s day, and a fitting release for Andrew’s first solo venture after previously performing as a part of Acoustic Journey and Journey Home

Reminds Me Of You, the new single from Andrew Jones is available to download and stream from 14 February. You can find out more about Andrew on his website

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Single Review - Love Machine - The Rising

Belfast natives the Rising have a bold new single and a bold new strategy 

The new single is bold - it is a Country reimagining of the 2004 single Love Machine from Girls Aloud.

The strategy is bold - it goes against the long-established way of releasing singles and albums – Chris intends an almost constant programme of new music releases, in his words:

This ambitious new strategy is designed to meet modern consumption and the changing face of the music industry in the digital age. We will be releasing a new single every month this year”

The intention is to “keep on everyone’s radar”, and Chris is certainly not one to shy away from embracing new ideas and encouraging discussion about trends in music, especially in the Independent/Country scene

This first single of the new strategy is a cover of the original pop single, but the backing instruments have been replaced by country instruments including banjo and even a cowbell with a beautiful instrumental break opening the final third of the track.

The Rising’s vocalist Chantelle has kept up with the almost frenetic pace of the original 116 beats per minute track – and if has managed to increase the pace to 127 beats per minute! Originally performed as an “unexpected cover” on BBC Introducing, the positive reaction led the Rising to record it and release it as their first single of 2020

The single, Love Machine, is a well-produced and performed cover, time will tell if the new way of doing things will also prove successful –we wish luck to The Rising and will watch with interest!

Love Machine is available to download from 23 February with pre-saves live on Valentine’s day.

Follow The Rising on Facebook and on their website while they follow new ideas…

Monday, February 10, 2020

Single Review - Better In Blue Jeans - Laura Oakes

A valentine’s day gift from Laura Oakes - Better in Blue Jeans!

Does anything say country more than a pair of blue jeans?

This is another country-pop offering from Laura with a vibrant upbeat from the opening line. The drum provides the beat that is almost impossible not to tap along to.  The full band is in there too, bass and lead guitar and if you listen clearly enough, the steel guitar.  

Clear lyrics throughout, even in the tongue twisting line “so where this undiluted, high falutin’ all about?” I’m not entirely sure what this means, but I know it’s not complimentary! 

Laura is singing about the guy that’s made it, evident by his change in dress sense. She’s proud of them but that doesn’t excuse their behaviour and it’s something that she doesn’t like, she doesn’t recognise their behaviour and much prefers the person that they were before - the guy in blue jeans!

No, you’ve not gone mad, you may have heard Laura sing the song live – she sang it at the Long Road Festival in 2018 and again at The Islington in May 2019. Clearly you reacted positively enough for her to record it, so why wait, download as that extra valentine’s treat, even if it needs to be for yourself.

It’s a catchy number that will stick in your head - I want to hear this song blasting out in every one of the Levi stores!

Better in Blue Jeans, the new single from Laura Oakes is available to download from 14 February. You can catch Laura on Facebook or live throughout March

Oxford, Friends Meeting House, 6th March

Liverpool, Phase One, 7th March

Leeds, Oporto, 9th March

Glasgow, Poetry Club, 11th March

Birmingham, Cuban Embassy, 12th March

Francesca with Laura Oakes backstage at Millport

Friday, February 7, 2020

Single Review - Cinderella's Had A Drink - Tommy Atkins

Hailing from Newcastle, Tommy Atkins has definitely called on real life experiences for this song – describing the scenes at midnight in any high street of any UK town, it may be a far cry from Nashville but it sure is Nashville style storytelling and a recognisable if throwback Nashville style sound - there is a real 90s vibe to this track, from the opening guitar and fiddle combo. 

We love a Country song with a theme that we can relate to – and in this case we can all relate even if we’d prefer not to admit it!

Although this song is about Cinderella, it sure isn’t a fairy tale – when you lose a show at midnight its because you are drunk, and your glass carriage is actually a cab home!

Cinderella’s Had a Drink is a well-crafted, seemingly traditional country song but with a very modern twist – observational but not judgemental because let’s face it, we’ve all been there!

Tommy himself describes it as

“a love letter to my friends from my early twenties: to the drunken nights, the hellish hangovers and the poor life decisions we made together.  It was inspired by a particular friend of mine who I nicknamed Cinderella, as she would always end the night with one shoe less than she started with. Newcastle knows how to party, and the honkytonks on Nashville’s Broadway reminded me of my hometown: they were full of hard-working people just out to have a good time.”

We all know a Cinderella, we’ve all been Cinderella!  If that evokes memories for you, then the single is available to download now having already made an impact on the UK country chart  

Find Tommy on his website or facebook, on the festival circuit…and picking up shoes at midnight!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Album Review - Show Your Hand - Kate Kross

Just from a casual look at her facebook page, it is obvious that Katee Kross is working very hard to bring her music to a wide audience, outside of her native Scotland.  Unfortunately, despite how busy she is, I have only once had the chance to hear her live – and only briefly at the inaugural Country In The Afternoon when Katee was tempted to come all the way down South to Putney

What a joy it was then to receive an advance copy of her newest album “Show Your Hand” the title track of which is already being picked up for UK airplay

Katee’s voice is very distinctive – a blend of Country, Scottish and Powerful, all coming together to create a beautiful sound. The instrumentation across the album evokes a very traditional Country Sound, with the mix just right that it supports and highlights Katee’s vocals, setting the style but not overpowering the singing

The album opens with the title track Show Your Hand, which itself opens with Katee singing over just strummed guitar chords before increasing the tempo into a truly toe tapping tune. It is easy to see why this tune has been picked up so eagerly by radio DJs – it is certainly a standout track.  A more laid-back tempo for Two Outlaws with a real trad/cowboy feel. Diamonds in The Dust picks the speed back up and picks up the storytelling style.

Katee has very cleverly varied the tempo as she has put this album together, which makes it very listenable.  From the slowed down Dancing With My Past to the “jangly” Bumble Bee and the drumbeat driven Still The People Talk you are eager to hear what will come next. More plaintive on Please Stay, more trad again on Never Meant To Be Forever, Katee has made this album into a musical journey.  What Will Be feels almost like an encore track, taking the levels back up and into the final track Keep On Keepin’ On – surely worthy of a single release of its own, and a definite show closer crowd pleaser for the forthcoming festival season!

The album shows why Katee is so busy, and so talked about, and this release certainly shows her hand to those who are yet to properly discover her work!]

Show Your Hand, the new album from Katee Kross launches on 22 February 2022. 

Follow Katee on Facebook  and on her website