Thursday, April 30, 2020

Single Review - Hold You In My Dreams - Gareth Heesom

This new single from Gareth Heesom - Hold You In My Dreams -  has a real attention-grabbing opening with an almost spoken declaration of love over an occasional strummed guitar. In Gareth’s commanding voice, you can’t help but listen to him.  

After 30 seconds, in comes the full backing with a very traditional Country sound; a real emphasis on the simple but effective tick tock drum line.  The backing vocals are quite subtle but create a wonderful harmonised counterpoint to Gareth’s voice.

A lovely instrumental break leads to the final words of the song re-emphasising the emotion and ending with the dream like chimes.  It’s a real toe-tapping rhythm making what could be a sad tale into a happy feeling song

Our story-teller is in love, but although he is brave enough to tell himself – and us – he isn’t yet brave enough to tell the object of his desire this truth.  From the feel of the song though, you get the impression that he will…just not yet!

Right now, he will just dream about her, dream about their love and how their life together might be, and for now that seems to be enough.

One day I’ll be brave enough and I’ll tell you about this love but for now I’ll hold you in my dreams

One day Gareth, one day – and we’re all rooting for you!

It’s not a gushy love song, there a strong beat to tap/dance along to. It talks about the sun and there is a positive vibe, so grab a partner, preferably someone you have a crush on and dance. 

Hold You In My Dreams, the new single from Gareth Heesom is available to download and stream on all major platforms from 1 May

Find and follow Gareth on facebook his website and in his dreams... 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Single Review - Mistakes - Emilia Quinn

The new single Mistakes from Emilia Quinn is definitely on the Rock edge of Country Rock and it is definitely making a statement from the opening chords.

Rik first met Emilia when he introduced her on stage at Buckle and Boots 2019 where she delivered a very strong set, since then she has formed her own promotions company Whiskey Kisses putting on gigs in her native Leeds, as well as teaming up with Emma Moore for a now postponed tour.  Normally performing solo, Emilia has now assembled a band to support her, which makes a real difference with this new release.

The mistake in track is clearly a man!  “Mr Fights, Mr Exes, Mr Mistakes”. He’s the mister that that keeps crawling back, making her a liar and want to self-destruct. 

There is some very clever phrasing, but really this track is more about the overall sound, and you can hear the emotion in the way that Emilia sings and the heavy drum beat, electric guitar shreds, with the song dropping back to a slightly more mellow vocal before kicking back to the rocking feel.  The drum really drives the track with the superb guitar parts allowing Emilia to vary her singing, from measured to full on “rock chick”

There is a controlled anger in the song, the song is taking back control - if he’s coming back its on her terms! This is a girl with attitude. 

Don’t listen to this song with a glass of whiskey, listen to it with a bottle!

Mistakes, the new single from Emilia Quinn is available on all major platforms from 30 April. 

Find and Follow Emilia on facebook and her website 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Single Review - This Work is a Drug - The Fatherline

We had the pleasure of seeing the Fatherline perform their first ever gig, opening for Jessica Lynn on their European Tour last year, and since then we have been at almost every one of their gigs as they played The British Country Music Festival in Blackpool and supported Sam Coe  and Jess and the Bandits among other shows.

Fronted by the very talented Tim Prottey-Jones, an accomplished singer of many genres and a skilled multi-instrumentalist the set always includes the song This Work Is A Drug, normally right at the end. It seems to sum up everything about the performance that we had just seen, why any performer carries on working their way round gigs, setting up, performing and then back on the road, and is a stunning set ender. The music is the vice of any musician, their obsession carries them on regardless.

Having seen it performed live so many times, how will a studio version measure up?

Despite being a studio recording, the song loses nothing of its raw power and emotion. The instrumentation is perfect, building with the vocals as the song progresses. An almost spoken sullen start, then a hint at the underlying power in Tim’s voice, but its reined in to add to the emotion, this addiction isn’t to be shouted about but it can’t be helped. Its an alternative ballad. 

Halfway through the singing stops, and we have a wonderful bass line played, the drums join softly, keys and then lead guitar along with Tim’s voice take the song back up to a stunning crescendo before a gentle fade out.

The lyrics repeat “This work is a drug, I can’t stop, can’t get enough”, but it is the way Tim sings each line – with excellent harmonies with the rest on the band. – that puts the emotion into the words. The work is all he has, and yet it isn’t what he wants.

A great musical composition to reflect a personal situation. 

A superb single from the relatively new band The Fatherline – new but stuffed full of experience and talent.

This Work Is A Drug is available on all platforms from 1 May
Find and follow the Fatherline on facebook 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Album Review - Wildfire - Lauren Jane

Lauren will freely admit that much of Wildfire is influenced by a previous relationship – and some other encounters.  Its not a tale of woe or a love/love is gone album, the songs are honest reflections on what went wrong and what could have gone differently.

The album opens with the upbeat Tennessee Tonight – not a relationship song as such, but about her relationship with country music and the spiritual home – Tennessee.  It’s a great first track, showing both Lauren’s voice and the instrumentation that underpins the whole album, with this track including some honky-tonk piano

From here we get into the other messages of the album. The Other Side opens with a steel guitar which neatly sets the mood of sadness but also her personal strength – also reflected in Coffee, in which Lauren has a real edge to her vocals. It too is an end of the relationship song, and you can tell it wasn’t her choice – but her mind is sure made up. The title track Wildfire picks up on a similar theme, the tale of a relationship that has burned brightly but now burned out, but rather than sounding bitter, Lauren sings this as someone who is accepting the reality and is moving on

The album stays on theme and on style all the way through with a combination of Lauren’s beautiful voice and the subtle, but well played instruments – guitar, keys, steel and drums

Its not all failed or ended relationships!  If I Was Whiskey is a song of considering love – fabulous slow paced, picking banjo giving a lovely tick-tock feel under the drums and vocal; Boots At The Back Door Back  takes us back to loud instrumentation with a nice guitar solo over light vocals – nice reversal there! A brief affair – or maybe this is something more.  We’ll have to see when the sun comes up – and be relaxed about what might happen. It is quite bright and breezy, and the soft ending leaves the possibilities hanging…. Dance With Me opens very upbeat, a new relationship, two people realising that they want to be together, to “dance” and that you need to shake off the past and see what’s in front of you. Clever use of tempo changes match the pace of the song to the pace of the relationship.

This album demonstrates Lauren’s song writing ability – these are very well-crafted songs – and also her maturity in looking back over the past but looking forward to her own future.  Hurricane with its introspective lyrics “I’ll be strong and I’ll be weak”; I Run To You with the realisation that sometimes the one you turn to when you need help is not always going to be there – but you wish they were; and Half a Heart which seems to sum up all that is good and bad in love.  If you buy the physical CD you will get a bonus acoustic version of this track which rounds off the album very well with its short phrasing, piano and emotive strings arrangement

Overall a fascinating album, ably showcasing Laurens obvious talent as a performer and a storyteller

Wildfire, the new album from Lauren Jane is available to stream and download from 24 April.

Find and follow Lauren on  facebook and her website

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

EP Review - Another Highway - Bob Fitzgerald

Bob released his debut single in March and scored a #2 hit on the Country Charts –he has now released the rest of the EP to follow up that success

We already know that Running From The Rain is a dramatic song, with country themes, staccato drums and something spectacular from the guitar, but does the rest of the EP stack up the same?

One Of These Nights certainly carries on in the same vein of explosive opening, punchy instrumentation and a country theme – this time its about drinking!  While the idea “get some friends together” seems like a distant memory at the moment, the song summons up those memories of all-nighters, wild nights and just hanging with friends and will hopefully get you planning for when the bars open again. Tequila, whiskey and sangria – I’m in!

She’ll Do slows the pace, and reverts to just an acoustic guitar to accompany Bob’s vocals, quite an old fashioned sound with a beat to sway along to, With a very clever play on the dual meaning of “she’ll do” in this song about love, relationships and choices.

Final track Run serves to round off the EP nicely – and sounds like the kind of track to end a live set. The tempo and style bring together the best of Bob’s ability, and it is a travelling track, making you yearn for the open road and long summer days “as we’re gonna chase the setting sun”

So, does the whole EP measure up to the initial hit single? Yes it does, a well-paced well matched collection of songs with the feeling that Bob needs the festival season to come back soon so he can truly show off his ability.

Another Highway, the new EP from Bob Fitzgerald is available on all digital platforms from 24 April and can be pre-ordered now

Find and follow Bob on facebook and on the highway, chasing the setting sun...

Monday, April 20, 2020

Single Review - Jackson's Farm - John Jenkins

Jackson’s Farm is the first single to be released from John Jenkins’ forthcoming album Growing Old (Songs From My Front Porch)

As the rain pours an acoustic guitar brings in the song which has a gentle and nostalgic feel. The vocals are soft, slow and measured, allowing the instruments to fill the pauses between words.

The string arrangement by Amy Chalmers is simply stunning, and it adds something special to the feel of the song 

The whole song is simple – in a good way. Primarily guitar, John’s voice and the soaring strings
(c) Andrew Wharton

This whole style suits the story in the song. Our storyteller is looking back on a love, on a life, remembering how it was with memories all around him on Jackson’s Farm

Stood by the window, I'm watching the rainfall and feeling nostalgic. Get out the old photos The rain represents my tears; the rain is hard, life can be too. 

Jackson's Farm, the new single from John Jenkins is available to download and stream now on all digital platforms

You can find John  on facebook, his website, presenting his Americana Blues Country and Folk show at Vintage Radio Birkenhead or just sat by the window, watching the rain...

Friday, April 17, 2020

Single Review - Popcorn - Tommy Taylor

A song about Popcorn Sutton the notorious moonshiner.

Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton was an American Appalachian moonshiner and bootlegger who lived nearby Cocke County, Tennessee.   Several documentaries and his self-published autobiographical guide depict his moonshining activities.   In 2010, J&M Concepts LLC named a whiskey after him,  the bottle design was however changed in 2016, following a lawsuit from Jack Daniels claiming the new bottle design was too similar to their own.


The track opens with ‘Popcorn’ talking about the old days and payment of money, in comes the electric guitar, strong and powerful, it suggests trouble ahead.

This is loud country music, perhaps reminiscent of Tommy’s background playing in a rock band. The song has a toe tapping beat throughout; Tommy’s gravelly voice sings about whiskey production and country life and music. Punctuated by the music. Definitely 3 chords and the truth!

There’s a dramatic pause of complete silence after 2 minutes 39 seconds, straight back into Tommy and the music.

Guitar picking ends the song, but the final word goes to Popcorn -  
there ain’t nobody who can make likker like him

Please note some might find some language in the song offensive.

The track was self-recorded by Tommy in his bar whilst the country in is lockdown due to Covid -19 - it's hard to believe this is his debut single.

All sales are going towards the son of Tommy’s friends who has sadly been diagnosed with Leukaemia - so learn a bit of history, give your ears a treat and do your bit for charity. 

Popcorn is available for pre-order from 18th April and on full release from 8th May 2020.  You can find Tommy hanging out in his diner in Filey Tommys

I just love this quote from Popcorn:

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Single Review - Run To - Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn and her band seem to spend half the year on tour – and we are looking forward to their UK leg later this year - until then we can get some comfort from her new single – Run To

We were lucky enough to get the first review copy of this track ahead of its release on 24 April.

If you’ve seen Jessica and her band on stage you will know that they deliver a big show – and here they have delivered a big song!

Not a high energy track, Run To is more of a power ballad. It’s not quite Country but why worry about labelling a genre when a song is this good?

A brief instrumental intro with crystal clear piano quickly ushers in Jessica’s voice.  The track revolves around the vocal, but the backing not only comes to the fore as a form of punctuation but serves to drive the song with drums coming in for an early crescendo – the song just builds and builds with that voice  starting to soar. Just as you think the song has peaked, in comes the intense guitar solo, the guitar which then takes over from the keys for that in fill between the lyrics.

And then Jessica takes it up another gear adding pure power…before a soft final line…and that soft final breath…

Jessica is singing of love, of desire – that feeling when you realise that you not only want to be with someone, but you want to be with them now and forever. You can’t be with them soon enough – so you want to run to them, “hold you in my arms… tell you my secrets”

It’s a powerful emotion told in a powerful song

Run To, the new single from Jessica Lynn is available to preorder now, and to download and stream from 24 April

Find and follow Jessica and the band on facebook and her website

Saturday, April 11, 2020

EP Review - Hearts and Horizons - Malcolm MacWatt

With his latest EP, Hearts and Horizons, Scottish Born Malcolm McWatt addresses four emotions in four songs - grief, obsession, loneliness and endurance

The EP opens with the incredibly clever and emotive Raining Down In Nashville. Written in the traditional story telling style, the song uses incredible imagery and dual meanings. A phone call, bad news, crying until “my shirt was wet” and a cop who tells the storyteller that “you gotta move on” – a message taken up and emphasised in the harmonised chorus, reminding us that you have to move on from grief and loss; the tears mimicked by the “rain in Nashville”. Its set to the full musical array of a guitar, banjo and drums keeping the beat; whilst its sad you will want to tap along. In true country spirit look for the silver lining. Malcolm tells us that this song was influenced by the death of a country singer in 2019, but the song could be about any kind of loss – it is quite late on that we even get a clue what the news was in that phone call, allowing us to interpret the loss in any way that we choose. 

Lie For Your Love opens with a long string intro with drums announcing the vocal. It is a soft voice, gently explaining that this relationship is wrong, telling her that the storyteller is not what she thinks he is, not what he is painting himself to be.  Joined by Clare Portman, they beautifully admit to one another that they wold do anything for the other’s love, steal cheat and lie; leaving the question is it love or obsession? 

The two artists complement each other perfectly, there’s that steady drum beat in the background, a definitely Malcolm sound.

That’s How We Roll is a lovely song as a standalone, and sets up the final track quite well. It’s a relationship that we hopefully all recognise, and if we don’t have it we aspire to it.  Two people who simply deal with whatever comes up, together.  Not quite as catchy as the preceding songs with more banjo in this one.

I'm ready to roll to the next song!

Living Alone

Although Malcolm’s music has a traditional feel, this is song is on an absolutely contemporary theme.  Talking about the internet and its role in seeking love.  This really resonates, perhaps with those of a certain age, lives straddling the old days and the new.  Most people don’t want to be lonely and are looking for that special someone.

A quite cynical quote, which I hope isn’t true: “the internet has replaced the bar at the weekend

Heed the warning, don’t leave it too long, we all get too used to living alone

With this new EP Malcolm has very much travelled the Americana road, using banjo, pedal steel and dobro to accompany the songs, plus the drums punctuating the emotions and the guitar leading all of the instrumentation.  The addition of Clare Portman’s vocals act as a perfect counterpoint to Malcolm’s own voice

Hearts and Horizons
, the latest EP from Malcolm MacWatt is available to download and stream on all major digital platforms

You can find and follow Malcolm on Facebook and online

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