Quick plays: UNION DUKE, AUBURN, CARRIE TREE

UNION DUKE Golden Days

UNION DUKE Golden Days [Release date 14.06.19]

Bridging indie rock with bluegrass and country, and laden with three, four and even five voice harmonies, Toronto-based quintet Union Duke put the pedal to the metal with their third release.

With banjo, fiddle and ukulele getting billing as prominent as Rob McLaren’s electric guitar, there’s plenty of twang, stompin’ and dancehall verve on display throughout the 13 track set recorded ‘live’ in the studio and mixed by Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire).

From the hillbilly banjo infused opener ‘Heavy Wind’, through the cool breeze of ‘Got You On My Mind’, the ‘yee-haw’ drinking song ‘Coffee/Whiskey’, to the plaintive ‘My Only Fighter’, and the country closer ‘Chasing Headlights’, there’s a camaraderie/feel good factor in evidence that suggests these guys would be a great live draw.

That said, from a ‘repeat plays’ perspective, it’s unlikely Golden Days is commercial enough to find an audience far beyond post gig ‘merch’ stall sales.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

AUBURN Game Of Faith

With semi-spoken, husky, breathy, vocals with a distinctive ‘squeak’ – that for some inexplicable reason conjure images of Cleo Laine (?!) – Liz Linten is another singer with a rather unique vocal style (last month it was Last Flight To Pluto’s Alice Freya).

Auburn are her Blues/Roots/Americana ensemble, featuring guitarist (and producer) Thomm Jutz, whose delicate blues runs provide the most sympathetic and complementary of counterparts, with Mark Fain (bass) and Lynn Williams (drums) unobtrusively filling out the ‘late night’ soundscape of Game Of Faith.

The fifth album into a career that parallels managing other artists including Eliza Carthy and Shane MacGowan, it’s probably fair to say Liz/Auburn are something of an acquired taste (Amazon reviews of previous releases – most of which which can be picked up for well less than one of Her Majesty’s pound coins – all emanate from a single acolyte).

Although dip into Game Of Faith – an album written in the last few months of 2018 in a flurry of outpouring in relation to all aspects of ‘trust’ – and it’s enchanting, mesmeric even, with the bossa nova styled Prosecco-fuelled ‘Profiles’ and the upbeat ‘It’s Not Love’ clear standouts.

But played beginning to end, the 14 tracks becomes rather formulaic and, frankly, a little wearisome. **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

CARRIE TREE The Canoe [Release date 26.04.19]

Perhaps not your ‘regular’ folky acoustic singer songwriter, the third album by Brighton based Carrie Tree feels like a mash of Tori Amos meets Leonard Cohen.

As a result, ‘upbeat’ isn’t a word that you’d associate with the deliberately understated and at times ethereal arrangements and production of Markus Sieber (known for his ambient acoustic recordings as Auka).

Combined with his spatial and delicate soundscapes, Tree’s contemplative song writing – inspired by life’s ‘journeys’ – isn’t going to set any pulses racing or toes tapping. Instead, The Cause is one of those records for life’s quieter, more contemplative moments.

One for reconnecting with nature, and your ‘inner self’, and perhaps meriting of further exploration by fans of the likes of John Martyn, Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice and the like.  **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


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Power Plays w/c 13 May (Mon-Fri)

WARM RAIN Here Comes The Rain Again (Rain Recordings)
DARWIN Cosmic Rays (indie)
MICHAEL THOMPSON BAND Love & Beyond (Frontiers)
MARQUIS DRIVE Shine On (indie)
YOUR LIFE & MINE Remind To Remember (indie)
EMERALD SUN What becomes Of You (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 13 May (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 JIM PETERIK WORLD STAGE Winds Of Change (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 WHITESNAKE Flesh & Blood (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BUFORD POPE The Waiting Game (Unchained Records)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

NEVER THE BRIDE Surprise (2005)



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