Making a name for herself fronting roots rock ‘n’ roll band Beth Lee & The Breakups, Texas-based singer-songwriter Beth Lee dips deep into a much broader range of musical influences for her latest album. These span her nineties love of Hope Sandoval, to the pop-friendly melodies of sixties girl groups, to the southern soul of Stax Records to contemporary Americana artists like Nicole Atkins.
Waiting On You Tonight puts Lee’s soulful, heartfelt vocals and her evident song-writing abilities centre-stage. She effortlessly distils generations of musical influences, from country to blues to soul to 60s pop to rock n roll, to deliver this gorgeous set of original songs that captures so much of what’s great about American music in its most golden age.
Based in Hailsham in East Sussex, Tim Izzard is a musician who has worked across a variety of musical genres but Starlight Rendezvous, released last month, is his debut rock album. Taking glam-era Bowie as its starting point the album makes nods in the direction of pop, prog, rock and garage, and delivers something that is both creative and original yet unashamedly wears its influences as unselfconsciously as Mick Ronson in his golden Starman costume.
Izzard tells us: “It’s a play-it-loud, 40 mins concept album (remember them!) where the time is 632 AF, we are in a Brave New World and ‘The Visitor’, Thomas Jerome Newton, is still alive and still waiting to find his way home after nearly 200 years.”
Izzard adds: “I wanted to write an album that sounded like what first and still excites me musically and that I’d want to listen to once finished. So back to Bowie playing Starman on TOTP and the album, Ziggy. Roxy Music’s first two albums, Transformer/Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. Bowie’s live Beeb version of Waiting For The Man still does it for me.“
“The chords and melody for Man Who Fell To Earth came easily to me one day, and just sounded immediately like it should be a tribute. So the title Man Who Fell To Earth I chose as he appeared like an alien on TOTP and left us so dramatically two days after Blackstar, almost as if his mission had been accomplished. The lyrics name-check his songs but also the impact they had on me ‘listening in my room’.“
That self-penned Bowie tribute, the excellent ‘Man Who Fell To Earth’ has already been picking up airplay including here on BBC Radio Sussex and in the US on glam rock internet station Dandy’s Stardust Dive.
Tim Izzard’s album Starlight Rendezvous is available on Bandcamp here:
Personal, amusing, heart-breaking, making a point, performances from the duo Milton Hide have always been memorable, strong in melody and full of hooks. Storytellers at heart, many of their songs are grounded in traditional English song, whilst others are rooted in other folk traditions, such as Appalachian, Klezmer and popular music. Emerging out of the East Sussex open mic and folk club circuit five years ago, the acoustic duo picked up many plaudits for their debut EP, Little Fish, released in 2018.
Now husband and wife duo, Jim and Josie Tipler, are set to release their first full-length album: Temperature’s Rising. All the songs on the album are self-penned originals that Milton Hide have performed live over the past few years.
Josie Tipler: “The name of the album and title track, Temperature’s Rising, seemed very appropriate when we started to work on the album. Greta Thunberg was making news and climate activists were very prominent in the media. Also, there was a lot of protesting going on – anger over US elections and Brexit. Added to which I was in the midst of menopause and suffering frequent hot flushes. All in all, the temperature was metaphorically and actually rising. Little did we know it was going to be even more appropriate as the global pandemic took hold.”
The line-up of musicians appearing on the album are all people the duo have met through playing live. Being unable to come into the studio because of Covid-19 restrictions, the guest musicians all provided their parts to producer, John Fowler, which he then weaved into the songs utilising his incredible editing skills.
Jim Tipler:“We perform as an acoustic duo but, as with our previous EP release, we made the decision to simply present each song in the way we feel best suits it. For some, this is pretty much as we perform it live, for others, we have given it a full band treatment.”
“We asked John Fowler to record and produce it as we had previously worked well with him on a single, Say It All The Time. We knew John would not be afraid to add instrumentation where required and can also play really well. The advantage of working with other musicians is that they pick up on things in your music that you sometimes don’t notice yourself. We love John’s enthusiasm and amazing attention to detail. It was a great symbiosis and a lot of fun! That said, we had to complete the album, using social distancing – spacing ourselves out in the studio as well as doing some recording ourselves in our home studio.”
Milton Hide are:
Jim Tipler – guitars, vocals and piano
Josie Tipler – vocals, clarinet, cajon and xylophone
The full line-up of album guests is:
John Fowler from Dandelion Charm – engineer/producer and multi-instrumentalist: guitars, bass, keyboards and drums
Clare Fowler from Dandelion Charm – backing vocals
Bruce Knapp from Moltenamba – guitars
Fred Gregory from Hatful of Rain – mandolin
Phil Jones from Hatful of Rain – string bass
Ian McIlroy from Rough Chowder – accordion
Simon Yapp from Ian Roland Subtown Set – Fiddle
Artwork for the album was created by Hastings artist Helen Bryant who uses bright inks and watercolours with pen outlines to produce unique striking imagery.
1. ‘Temperature’s Rising’ – with a full band this is a rock track that was inspired by the first Women’s March after the inauguration of President Trump and the marches against Brexit, with the popular slogan “Bridges, not walls”
2. ‘A Little Piece Of Mind’ – is an ode to menopause and mid-life crisis.
3. ‘Littlefield’ – was the first single released from the album, late 2020. Whilst walking the dog one dreary depressing evening, Jim spotted a light in the window of a house that had been empty for many months. It cheered him up.
4. ‘Riding The Whale’ – describes Jim’s childhood memories of playing games on the beach with his dad
5. ‘Making Progress’ – a bit of a rant about stresses of the modern world – work, capitalism, the media and politics.
6. ‘Buckle Up’ – inspired by the true story of Sergeant Paul Meyer USAF, who ‘borrowed’ a C130 transport aircraft to fly from England back to his newly-wed wife in Virginia. A tale of extreme love and homesickness.
7. ‘Turnaround’ – the band often get lost and we now see this as a metaphor for our life. You can always change the road you’re on if you think you’re getting nowhere.
8. ‘Something You Don’t See Everyday’ – A social comment on the irony of becoming desensitised to daily horrors served up to us by modern media platforms. (contains a swearword – radio edit available)
9. ‘Spacetime’ – Professor Brian Cox explained the theory of spacetime on a documentary that Jim watched late one night. It made perfect sense after a large glass of Irish whiskey. This is Jim’s memory of the explanation.
10. ‘Say It All The Time’ – describes a black mood walk on the South Downs. Previously released as a single and re-mixed and mastered for the album.
11. ‘The Ghosts Of Milton Hide’ – written as a retrospective warning to our own children to avoid the woods after dark.
12. ‘Took To Wing (Nightingale)’ – an original modern fable about a woman seeking refuge from abuse and finding freedom in the forest. A finale to the album.
Milton Hide – what they say:
“…A superior folk-club act with a great deal of potential.” Rock’n’Reel magazine
“…high in melodic quality, perfectly-matched voices and rich with storytelling…” Folk Words
“Lovely stuff”Mike Harding
“This is a surprisingly enchanting EP” Northern Sky Magazine
“This is one of those mini-albums which goes straight onto my playlists in its entirety, with its thought-provoking lyrics and catchy tunes.” Trevor Oxborrow – The Folk Show
Fans of guitar whizz Orianthi can look forward to a new album. Released on 6th November on the Frontiers label ‘O’ will be Orianthi’s first studio album in seven years and follows her recent signing to the Italian based rock/metal label.
“It is a very inspired album, with things kept pretty raw. I didn’t overthink it,” explains Orianthi. “Marti [Frederiksen, producer, mixer, co-songwriter] and I wanted to create a unique sound and vibe with every track and we experimented a lot with synths and different guitar tones. Lyrically, a lot of this record comes from life experience and other people’s stories. It’s going to be so fun to play these songs live!”
‘Impulsive’ a single and video from the forthcoming album was recently released.
The Australian vocalist/guitarist first came to public attention back in 2009 when ‘According to You’ became an international hit for the then 24-year old. She soon became a go-to player for a number of the best known rock celebs, including Alice Cooper, Carlos Santana and Steve Vai and was also slated to appear as part of Michael Jackson’s planned series of concert dates at the O2 until the singer’s shock death put an end to that.
“I am thrilled about this new chapter with Frontiers!” she adds. “Their passion and enthusiasm for music is such a great reminder of why I love creating music. I couldn’t be more excited to release my upcoming album with them.”
A new album from blues-infused guitar legend Snowy White and his band The White Flames is due out on 9th October this year.
In advance of next month’s full album release, ‘I Wish I Could’ a delicious slice of virtuoso blues combined with White’s characteristically laid-back and personal lyrics is now available as a single.
Most famous for his 1983 worldwide hit ‘Bird of Paradise’ from his debut solo album, White has developed his own unique style of ‘English’ blues, a combination of clear, clean blues phrases and harder-edged contemporary rock riffs.
In the seventies he toured the east coast of America, getting as far south as New Orleans and discovering the life of a touring musician was one that suited him. By that time he had become friendly with former Fleetwood Mac guitar legend, Peter Green, and they spent a lot of time jamming together. In the Autumn of 1976 he was invited to tour America and Europe with Pink Floyd and the following year went on to guest on the solo album of Floyd’s keyboard player Rick Wright. In 1979 White accompanied Peter Green on his return to the studio after several years away and the album ‘In the Skies’ was the result. Further work with Pink Floyd ensued which was then followed by a three year stint in Thin Lizzy, leaving in 1982 to commence his solo career.
White’s first solo album was entitled White Flames and included the aforementioned ‘Bird of Paradise’ smash. In 1987 White put together a blues-orientated outfit, the Blues Agency, recording two albums. In the 90s White then toured and recorded with two Dutch-Indonesian musicians, Juan van Emmerloot (drums/percussion) and Walter Latupeirissa (bass and rhythm guitar). As The White Flames they recorded a string of albums, including No Faith Required, Restless, The Way It Is and Realistic, performing all over Europe.
A long stint then followed working with Roger Waters once more,which included Waters’ Dark Side Of The Moon and Wall’ tours. In between tours White founded the Snowy White Blues Project, recording the albums ‘In Our Time Of Living’ and ‘In Our Time…Live’.
White’s most recent solo album, The Situation came out in 2018. The new album Something On Me features Thomas White on drums, Rowan Bassett on bass and appearances by various other White Flames.
An album of soulful Americana Love Life is the latest album from US singer-songwriter Tawny Ellis.
With the title reflecting the theme that runs throughout the songs on the album, Ellis says:
“This record took about three years to finish. I can’t tell you why. It’s just the natural progression of it. The songs for the most part are very personal stories or perhaps stories I tell you about what I have observed in relationships. I built these songs mostly with three different people, Gio Loria – my husband, Jesse Seibenberg and Ted Russell-Kamp. I was lucky to have all of their extraordinary talent and input on board.”
Alongside her lush vocals and lyrical storytelling Ellis says she is known as ‘the girl with the weird instruments’ and her steel guitar an omnichord playing can be heard on the album, her talent for the latter developing when she borrowed an instrument that had originally belonged to Brian Eno, at the suggestion of her producer/musician friend Daniel Lanois.
“It’s a wonderful tool for writing and experimenting and I ended upwriting most of the record on it. It’s progressions opened up doorways for me, kind of like a key to the magic.”
Also featuring on the album are Jessie Siebenberg (guitar, steel guitar, drums, piano, keys), Ted Russell-Kamp (guitar, bass), Gio Loria (guitar), Kaitlin Wolfberg (violin, vocals), Scarlet Rivera (violin), Quinn (drums) and Brooke Lizotte (piano).
Released: 24th July 2020 by Music Building Records
Forty years ago former Mott and Bowie alumni Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson teamed up with Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny), co-producers the Slimmer Twins (Steve Popovich Sr. and Marty Mooney) and the Iron City Houserockers to create the band’s legendary second album Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive).
Hailed by Rolling Stone magazine at the time as “a new American classic”Cleveland International Records is now releasing the album as an expanded 40th anniversary deluxe reissue on 22nd May.
Although their debut album Love’s So Tough essentially took the band’s live show and brought it to the studio, they were looking for something more far-reaching for the follow-up. Lead singer Joe Grushecky wrote the title track ‘Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive)’ at the time Pittsburgh’s steel industry was “going down the chutes,” he says.
“I started really zeroing in on the characters of Pittsburgh, the people who lived in my neighbourhoods, the guys who were coming out and seeing us play every night,” says Grushecky. “The whole identity of Pittsburgh was changing.”
During one particular show, as the audience was becoming a bit too enthusiastic, Grushecky told a fan, “Man, have a good time, but get out alive!” He suddenly realised he had a great song title, which ended up becoming the moniker for the album as a whole.
Grushecky credits Van Zandt for making him a better writer by encouraging him to make every lyric of every song count and guiding him through that process. “Steve was great with arranging,” he says. “He gave invaluable input and ideas to the band.”
Ronson and Hunter may have looked the archetypal rock and roll stars of the day, but Grushecky recalls the reality being somewhat different. “They were salt of the earth guys and they were a team,” he says. “You could tell the strong affection they had for each other. It was an honour for me to work with both of them. I’ll say that to my dying days. It was just a tremendous experience for me.”
Ian Hunter looks back fondly on his time working with the band:
“Joe and the Houserockers were and are an actual rock and roll band. So many ‘rock and roll’ bands are not real – they just look and act like they are – and fool people most of the time. These guys are for real – and what a lovely man Joe is.”
In the liner notes Grushecky offers his own reflection of the record that emerged:
“We had great songs and the band was smoking,” he writes. “We all knew something special was happening. The results were a mixture of Pittsburgh rock and roll, Jersey Shore savvy and soul, and English mystic and muscle. Add a dash of Cleveland moxie and an anything goes attitude and a legendary album was born.”
The core group was Grushecky on vocals and guitar, Gil Snyder on piano and vocals, Ned E. Rankin on drums, Art Nardini on bass, Marc Reisman on harmonica and background vocals, and new recruit Eddie Britt on guitar, who replaced founding member Gary Scalese following an injury.
Featuring many of the Houserockers’ signature tunes like ‘Pumping Iron, ‘Junior’s Bar’, and, of course, the title track, the album is released by legendary indie label Cleveland as a remastered two-CD set that includes a bonus disc with 16 previously unreleased tracks of demos and other rarities. The new vinyl edition will include a download card of those same 16 tracks to go with a vinyl replica of the original album.
Cleveland International Records was originally launched in 1977 by Steve Popovich and was relaunched in 2019 by Popovich’s son.
Cladaich Loch Iù is the debut album from Gaelic folk singer Steven MacIomhair. In English meaning ‘Shores of Loch Ewe’ his album has been inspired primarily by songs from his own part of the world combined with other well-known Gaelic songs that he has picked up over the years.
“It was a great experience to come together with such brilliant musicians and take some of my favourite Gaelic songs and breath new life into them. Everyone involved in the album brought a different element with them which created a final product of which I’m very proud,” Steven tells Darren’s music blog.
“It was important for me to include, in the album, some songs from my own village and bring these excellent works to a wider audience’s attention.”
Born in a small village in the West Coast of Scotland, Naast, near Poolewe, he grew up in a musical home where he developed a love for singing. During his school years his interest and passion for the Gaelic language grew and lead him to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig where he completed a course in Gaelic broadcasting, and most recently, an Honours Degree in Education and Gaelic. Steven started competing in both local and national Mòds when he was 12 years old and won the James C MacPhee Memorial Medal in 1999, just 10 years later he went on to win the coveted An Comunn Gàidhealach Gold Medal. He is currently a Gaelic primary school teacher in Dingwall.
Initially launched on the 28th of August 2019 at a gig he organised in Dingwall and available digitally the album is now also available on CD.
The CD, Cladaich Loch Iù, is available to buy from:
Glasgow: Gaelic Books Council Shop, Mansfied Street, Partick.
Stornoway: An Comunn Gàidhealach Office
Prophecy Playground is an alternative-folk project founded by guitarist singer-songwriter and composer Or Izekson. They combine gently-written melancholic songs and instrumental themes with a carefully-arranged string section, taking elements from classical European chamber music. The melancholic nature of the songs combined with Izekson’s distinctive guitar means comparisons have often been made with the likes of Nick Drake.
Founded in 2018 in Tel Aviv, Prophecy Playground started performing in local bars and small music venues with the band’s live setup consisting of a cellist, violinist and percussionist plus singer-guitar player Izekson surrounded by his four acoustic guitars, each tuned differently.
Released on the Dutch International folk label Friendly Folk Records, Prophecy Playground’s debut album Comfort Zone is something of a concept album. Izekson’s lyrics deal with themes such as the struggle for inner-self embetterment, the lack of purpose in the virtual age, and a perpetual longing for a home, both in the physical and the spiritual one. The album contains three instrumental pieces and two cover versions – a tribute to 60’s British folk-rock pioneer Kevin Ayers and legendary blues guitar player Mississippi John Hurt, two of Izekson’s most influential musical figures.
A single from the album ‘Politely Polluting’ was released in December with this experimental video filmed in Wales.
The instrumental arrangements for the album include the violin, cello, upright bass, harp, trumpet and flute, and were written by the Tel Aviv pianist/composer Yasmin Raviv. The aim behind the album’s production was to combine skillful acoustic guitar playing with carefully-written arrangements for string section and other orchestral instruments, whilst taking care not to harm the gentleness and fragility of the songs. The album was recorded with producer Gil Smetana, one of Israel’s leading and most experienced music producers, who contributed his distinctive touch.
The band is currently touring Israel in different venues and festivals and will hold album launch mini-tours in US and UK this coming spring, followed by a full European tour in the summer.
Comfort Zone released 15th February 2020 on Friendly Folk Records
Back in 2017, Kankou Kouyate a singer and songwriter from Mali from a renowned musical family, met Scottish musician Mark Mulholland. A collaboration ensued which led to a batch of original songs fusing both African and western influences. The ten-track album Kuma (meaning “words” in Bambara – Mali’s most common language) is the result of that collaboration. Parisian musician Olaf Hund adds electronic beats and on a couple of tracks Vincent Bucher provides some beautifully evocative harmonica. Combined with the rock, blues and folk influences of Mulholland’s guitar work and Kankou’s enchanting voice they have created something altogether special.
In Mali, Kouyate has worked with musicians such as Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate and Cheick Tidiane Seck. She’s collaborated in Africa Express and also contributed to the soundtrack for a 2015 documentary about musicians displaced by Mali’s civil war while internationally she has worked with the likes of Damon Albarn, Brian Eno and Nick Zinner.