Quick plays: TONY McLOUGHLIN, KELLY STEWARD

TONY McLOUGHLIN True Native
Fuego [Release date 15.11.19]

Irish born singer -songwriter Tony McLoughlin’s seventh studio album picks up where his previous offering – The Contender (2013) – ‘a glorious Telecaster infused slab of Tom Petty / Springsteen inspired Americana’ – left off.

Eschewing working again with Ben Reel in favour of another fellow Irish guitarist – and legend of the Americana and Country scene Philip Donnelly – and with a new bunch of players in tow, the set opens with the pairing of ‘Blood On Blood’ and ‘Flying Bird’ that chug along with McLoughlin’s Petty/Dylan nasally tones painting suitably gritty tumbleweed soundcapes.

He then moves into more downbeat country roads with ‘The Colour Of Spring’, and the Springsteen styled ‘True Native’, before dabbling in light sub-Quo boogie (‘Here Comes The Wind’), returning to opening grooves with the broody, haunting ‘Below Zero’, and closing out with another gentle country pairing ‘If You Were A Bluebird’ and the harmonica infused ‘Mercury’.

The Americana market has become ever more crowded over the last six years, but there remains a gritty soul about McLoughlin’s work that makes his work well worth exploring for those with an interest in the genre.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

KELLY STEWARD Tales And Tributes Of The Deserving And Not So

KELLY STEWARD Tales And Tributes Of The Deserving And Not So
[Release date 13.12.19]

The debut album from Midwestern American singer/songwriter Kelly Steward opens in gorgeous Americana style – harking back to the glory days of the Laurel Canyon female singer songwriters, and in particular, to this reviewer’s jaded ears, Linda Ronstadt.

The opening three numbers – ‘Golden Sun’, ‘Mississippi Risin” and ‘Outlaw’ have all the hallmarks you could wish for – aching vocals, a suitably evocative twang to the guitars, and some wonderful playing from a supporting cast that includes pedal steel, lapsteel, mandolin, banjo and violin.

But after that opening volley, the quality of the song writing does drop off a little, and what amounts to a rather short ‘long player’ – just 9 songs over a shade under 30 minutes – rapidly runs out of steam.  But there’s enough ‘calling cards’ to suggest we’ll be hearing more from Steward in the future.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

SCOTT & MARIA Never Lost (EP) [Release date 30.08.19]

Following on from their well debut album – Bright Star (2017) – one which seems to have passed us by at GRTR! – neo-folk/indie pop duo Scott Ferguson & Maria Payne Vlahogiannis release a new 5 track EP.

The Anglo-Celtic-Hellenic duo major on acoustic based songs built around shared lead and excellent harmony vocals, with Scott playing guitars and bass, and Maria contributing percussion, her soulful vocals reminiscent of River City People’s Siobhan Maher when the band explored more folkie pastures.

Song wise, Never Lost touches on bases as diverse as Kate Bash and The Coral.  But Bright Star failed to make much of a splash, and there’s a lot of competition out there, so, good as they are, Scott & Maria are going to have to ‘go some’ to break out of the local folk circuit.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)

Power Plays w/c 11 November (Mon-Fri)

MILES NIELSEN AND THE RUSTED HEARTS Hands Up (indie)
THE FARGO RAILROAD COMPANY Something In The Water (indie)
THE DARK ELEMENT If I Had A Heart (Frontiers)
LIBERTY LIES A Thousand People (indie)
DIRTY SHIRLEY Here Comes The King (Frontiers)
CARRY THE CROWN Runaway (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 11 November (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 WORK OF ART Exhibits (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SIGN X Like A Fire (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 JACK BROADBENT Moonshine Blue (Creature Records)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)



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