Pauper Sky Records [Release date 18.05.18]

On the cover of his last album (Willow Springs (2016)) Illinois-based singer songwriter Michael McDermott looked like a shaven headed ex-con.  Two years on, he looks like Jimmy Carr’s leery half-brother.  I’m not sure which is scarier.

But on record, at least, thankfully not much has changed. Out From Under finds McDermott, now four years clean, in a positive, but reflective, vein of form epitomised by the hard driving ‘Never Going Down Again’.

On the haunting opener ‘Cal-Sag Road’ he sounds like a Wild West old timer (or perhaps Robbie Robertson), and on the finger picking ‘Gotta Go To Work’ like he’s sitting in a rocking chair on the Wild West boardwalk of a one horse town.

But once again it’s the spirit of Springsteen that looms large over this storyteller’s set  both in terms of construction and delivery – with the closing ‘Gold Help Us’ being his own ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’.

After a life of drugs, drink, jail, tragedy and failure, it looks like, 11 studio albums in, Michael McDermott has finally found redemption.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

COLD  TONE HARVEST  After You [Release date 11.05.18]

I struggled to fathom just where the crosshairs of this debut release from country infused Southeast Michigan Americana quartet, Cold Tone Harvest, were focused.

With a somewhat unusual line-up including trumpet, tuba and double bass, alongside lap steel, banjo, dobro and more conventional guitars, bass, and drums, Cold Tone Harvest  led by singer-songwriter Andrew Sigworth serve up a platter of wistful, at times downbeat Americana, infused with [soft] country rock elements.

And while Sigworth’s soft husky drawl is central to the record, it’s actually the two numbers featuring lead vocals from bassist Tony Pace – ‘Adeline’, a gently chugging country rock number with an early Eagles vibe, and the slow paced cover of Neil Young’s ‘Out On The Weekend’ that will be of most interest to GRTR! readers.

The melancholy, chiming guitar loaded, ‘Random Stance’ also offers some crossover potential, but elsewhere it’s a fairly routine downbeat roots set that will appeal more to purists.  ***1/2  

Review by Pete Whalley

LUCKY BONES Matchstick Men
Lucky Bones Promotions [Release date 18.05.18]

Album number three from Dublin-based singer songwriter Eamonn O’Connor, and he’s still searching for that elusive breakthrough.

His debut Together We Are All Alone (2011) and the follow up Someone’s Son (2013) were both recorded in the sleepy town of Bastrop, some forty miles from Austin, Texas, with producer Stephen Ceresia.  For Matchstick Men, he’s returned to home soil, opting to work with producer Gavin Glass in Dublin.

But with the same group of players, Matchstick Men is evolution rather than revolution, offering another slice of O’Connor’s brand of radio friendly, adult-orientated pop.

Once again, shades of Chris De Burgh (and a faint Fergal Sharkey warble) spring to mind in his vocal delivery across eight songs that encompass elements of folk, country, rock and soul.  But while previous releases each had a couple of standout numbers, Matchstick Men is all rather ‘safe’ and, frankly, predictable.

RTE Radio airplay probably beckons the catchy title track and the radio friendly ‘Breathe’, but beyond that, it’s difficult to see Matchstick Men making much of an impact.  Especially in an era, and genre, where there’s so much competition.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

ANNIE KEATING Ghost Of The Untraveled Road EP
8th Street Studios [Release date 25.05.18]

EP?  Mini-album?  Does it matter?  What we have here is a 5 song acoustic set from Brooklyn based Americana singer songwriter Annie Keating.

Truth be told, we weren’t bowled over by her last album, Trick Star (2016), which, while peppered with upbeat moments, was a bit too downbeat, and generally speaking a record that failed to set the pulse racing.

Written while on tour last summer, Ghost Of The Untraveled Road features regular cohorts Steve Mayone (mandolin, nylon guitar and harmony vocals), Jason Mercer (upright bass), and Chris Tarrow (guitars and pedal steel), and Yuval Lion (drums), joined by Alex Hargreaves (fiddle) and Kate Steinberg (harmony vocals).

The bad news, despite claims of Ghosts being ‘poetic, raw, tough and tender, and beautiful, engaging, honest and real’ is, that like Trick Star, it continues to see Keating reverse into a melancholy alleyway that has little by way of commercial appeal.  One where the shadow of Robert Zimmerman looms large.  **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

Josh Taerk’s latest Lockdown session was streamed on Sunday 25 October. More about Josh: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/?s=%22Josh+Taerk%22

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 27 September 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 29 September 2020.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 26 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HEARTWIND Strangers (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 FATES WARNING Long Day, Good (Metal Blade)
14:00-16:00 PADRAIG JACK Making Sand (indie)

Power Plays w/c 26 October (Mon-Fri)

LYKANTROPI Axis Of Margaret (Despotz Records)
LIONS SHARE Aim Higher (indie)
ALL RUNS RED What Good Would That Do (indie)
TRIDENT WATERS Six Feet Under (indie)
HOLDING ABSENCE Beyond Belief (indie)
DORIS BRENDEL Other Side Of The World (Sky Rocket Records)

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