Gareth Owen – Rolling By

AT 81 YEARS OF AGE, PRIZE-WINNING POET, NOVELIST, BBC BROADCASTER AND PLAYWRIGHT, ISSUES ALBUM OF HIS OWN COUNTRY SONGS.

GARETH OWEN has published some seven volumes of poetry, of which over a hundred have appeared in various anthologies. For a number of years he was the popular presenter of the BBC’s long-running ‘Poetry Please!’

He was playing ‘Othello’ in Birmingham when he met the 16 year-old Ruby Turner in the theatre, and for a time managed her career. Reading The New Musical Express one day, looking for angles to help her career, he came across an article about the Country singer, Tom T. Hall and was sufficiently intrigued to buy his album; became a convert to Country music and began writing songs, mostly until now unheard except by close friends. Many years later, Ed Begley, the M.D. of Shakespeare miscellany he was part of, heard the songs and was impressed enough to put together a band and get Gareth into a studio to record them   

Rolling by is the happy result. It’s pure Americana, with Owen’s poetic talents and his gift for a catchy tune, lifting the varied story-songs in a novel and beguiling fashion.

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Allison Bencar – On The Run

Allison Bencar-
By Jim Asker

“Where I’m going no one knows and fewer souls dare to go..I’m just headed where the wind blows”-Allison Bencar

The Allison Bencar story begins in Cleveland, Ohio. That makes total sense, considering that many of the great Rock historians believe that Rock n’ Roll was also conceived there.

Chatting with Allison you might think that she was plopped into the wrong era. Some of her musical heroes and inspirations include Roy Orbison, Fleetwood Mac, Patsy Cline, The Beatles, Selena, and many more; from Johnny Cash to Garbage to Karen Carpenter. Karen Carpenter was a big one for Allison—“Yes Karen Carpenter was actually huge for me. She made me feel good about having a low voice. As a little girl I felt like she sang with her whole heart.”
Allison Bencar sings with her whole heart and then some. In using all of those influences, she makes her music her own. She’s not stuck in the past, but she sure has a good sense of it; she’s a modern girl with a big soul.
Allison’s first album is, “First Call.” The styles range from stripped down Country to sultry ballads to blistering Rock, and everything in between. It’s a rare artist that can handle so many variations and not sound clichéd. Bencar doesn’t only handle it; those styles all come to her naturally. Unlike a lot of things we see and hear today. She is authentic.
Allison grew up with a family that encouraged her and rooted for her right from the beginning. “I was 10 when I began singing,” said Allison. My mom and dad were always supportive, and my Aunt Nancy was an enormous advocate too. She was really the first to encourage me as a child singer.’’
By the time Allison was a teen, everyone was noticing that the girl was destined to follow a musical path. “I’d go down in the basement and sing stuff like “Crazy,” by Patsy Cline. My parents loved it. That encouragement made me want to go further. My mom was the one who introduced me to Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison, and she also got me into the school choir. Later it was my dad who encouraged me to step into a recording studio for the first time. My parents were, and remain still, incredible advocates.”

After performing at family functions and weddings, Allison found her way into a recording studio when she was 15. She took her share of voice lessons and after graduating from high school, Allison entered college at Cleveland State. She kept at her songwriting and singing while in college, honing her skills. Allison graduated with a degree in voice and theatre.
Following her path, by 2012 Allison made the move to Nashville. She wasn’t looking for an appearance on one of the ‘hit maker,’ shows like The Voice or Idol; she simply wanted to make music. “I definitely want to play my music for as many people as possible,” said Bencar. “However, having control over my career and my music is important to me. I’ve always had to fight for what I want, so to be honest I don’t really think about my career in a competitive sense with other artists. I just forge my own path”
That path led to Nashville’s Eastwood Studio in late 2013 to begin work on her album “First Call.” Allison likes to collaborate, so she enlisted her friend and fellow Cleveland native, Rob Muzick to co-produce with her. “Rob and I do a lot of co-writing, and it’s a great creative partnership.”
All of the eleven tracks on “First Call,” were either written or co-written by Allison. The entire eleven tracks stand on their own, each its own story.

Now in 2018, Allison is gearing up to release her sophomore album, On the Run this spring with her engineer/co-producer husband, Jared Delaney. This is an 11 track concept album about self-discovery, grit and adventure. It also features many of Allison and Jared’s talented Nashville friends. “This has truly been a labor of love and such a wonderful experience making this album with some of my closest friends here. We made every session a chance to share a meal and hang out, ” says Allison.

“I love the social aspect of music. The relationships I have made with my band mates just makes for a greater chemisty and family vibe on stage.”

On the Run is vibey Outlaw Pop with a retro soul.  You will hear some of Allison’s influences like Fleetwood Mac, Kacey Musgraves and The Eagles to name a few.

Allison Bencar serves her talent with a strong and dedicated work ethic; in between her own shows in and around Nashville, she cuts demos and constantly writes.
So where is this young woman Allison Bencar headed—she sees the entire journey as a long and open road. “There should never be a destination,” says Allison.
“Music is what I am meant to do but not just for me and my own joy. I have a responsibility to use my gift for the good of others; to make them smile, to make them laugh, to let them know they are not alone and sometimes to just be a light in their darkest moments. To me music is the greatest art form because it is a language we all understand. No matter what happens, music lives forever. My songs are about being in the moment– living right now so that we never forget how right now feels.”
For more information on Allison Bencar visit www.allisonbencar.com.

Bri Murphy – Things We’d Rather Not Say

Plaintive and soaring, Things We’d Rather Not Say waltzes out of your speakers with the breezy ease that comes from a life steeped in melody.

Album Notes
Plaintive and soaring, Things We’d Rather Not Say waltzes out of your speakers with the breezy ease that comes from a life steeped in melody.

Determined to be particular in her work, Murphy decided to take the project out of her current haunt of Nashville and back to her hometown. She settled in to Pine Hollow studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Turning to studio owner (and sound engineer for The National) Evan Middlesworth for co-production, Murphy reached out to old high school classmates Ben Lester (Tallest Man on Earth, S. Carey) and Dave Power (The Staves, AeroFlynn) and local legend Robbie Weisshaar to track the record. Oh, and her dad came up to play keys.

Recorded during a cold snap – it didn’t get above 0 the whole time they were recording – the record has the warm glow of thick sweaters and crackling fires. Tracked mostly live, the band would start by just working through a song until the energy felt right and hitting record. The magical sessions got an extra dose of pixie dust at the hands of mixing engineer Jerry Streeter (Brandi Carlile, Vance Joy, Elephant Revival) and mastering savant Gavin Lurssen (Alison Krauss, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn).

Holistically, Murphy approaches her work with the goal of always seeking the light. “I hope people take away a sense of hope and love from this record,” says Murphy. “More than anything, I hope they find some pieces of the beauty, magic, and light we created up in the Northwoods when we were weaving these songs into a record, that they can carry with them through these strange and somewhat dark times.”

Jeremy Parsons – Things I Need To Say

“Things I Need To Say” has Jeremy Parsons embark on a great journey, with a tender folk style informing the entirety of the album. Details matter a great detail from the tenderness of the fiddle to the reassuring vocals that grace every track. Best of all the entire album comes together as a great story, with each song yet another chapter. Lyrics emphasize the daunting demands that life often requires in order to truly excel. Opting for such a style the colorful rush of melody and rhythm further adds to the soothing nature.  Stylistically the pieces are rooted in folk, with elements of chamber pop, country, rock, and even the blues coming into a singular whole.

 

On “Makin’ Things Up As I Go” Jeremy Parsons starts the album on a high note, as the light sunny sound goes for a celebratory spirit. Much more introspective in nature is the gentle” Life”. A distinctly western twang with fine slide guitar frames the powerful “Circumstance”. Blues informs the swinging “Purpose”. Slowing things down into a languid pace the contemplative “Lisa’s Lost” goes through the sad events that unfortunately can take a prominent place in a person’s life. Light flourishes work wonders on the dreamy “After All These Years”. With an autumnal flavor “Things I Need To Say” serves as the highlight of the album, guided with a strong sense of honesty. Nicely bringing the album together is the delicate “Why Is The Bluebird Blue”.

 

Jeremy Parsons crafts an album with a unique vision, one that feels earnest, honest, and so real.

Cat Canteri – Inner North

Singer-songwriter Cat Canteri has been slowly been building herself an impressive career that now numbers three solo albums.

The sense of patience, self-determination and the evolution and refinement of her songwriting makes Inner North her most rewarding record to date.

Canteri’s ability to drift between styles is a real strength and the way she does it so seamlessly is a testament to her versatility. Primarily this is an album of contemporary folk music, both electric and acoustic, yet it also draws on indie rock and pop, country music, jazz and languid blues. Opener The Only One is as ragged as she gets, with her ringing Ryan Adams-styled guitar balanced by her warm and rich vocal tone. Canteri’s singing is prominent in the mix throughout this album and it impresses with dips into deep soul on Remember The Time and pure, rollicking country on How Crazy I’ve Been. One of the strongest moments on the album is the exquisitely presented, heart-wrenching tale of Bridget Agnew.

Reminiscent of the sound of Joan Armatrading, Eleanor Friedberger and the occasional flash of Joni Mitchell, Canteri’s album is a wonderful sonic snapshot of Melbourne’s inner north, past and present, through the eyes of the people that inhabit these suburbs.

The Vagaband – Something Wicked This Way Comes

Based in Norwich, The Vagaband are a nine-piece crew whose punning name aptly sums up their wandering musical pathways. The politically satirical title track gets things rolling, an uptempo fiddle-driven slice of Laurel Canyon close harmony folk rock that calls CS&N. Hanging around the same era, once past the intro,  Bright Are The Stars, which features The Arlenes on harmonies, recalls the melody line of The Byrds     I Am A Pilgrim. And then there   s One For The Road which evokes the same queasy narcotic disorientation of Three Dog Night   s Mama Told Me Not To Come. That was, of course, written by Randy Newman and the same influence can be heard on the lazy New Orleans piano rag and brass styled Spiritual Man.

Then, that   s surely Dylan circa Desire underpinning the scuffling Not My Day To Die while, featuring Morganway   s Yve Mary Barwood on vocals,  the bluesy An Eye For An Eye flirts with spaghetti western moods with its tolling bells and desert parched guitar twang, even if the line about getting back to the garden is clearly pinched from Joni   s Woodstock.

In contrast, things come closer to home with the strummed guitar ballad Through The Back Doors which sails close to Lennon   s Jealous Guy and There   ll Only Be One Elvis (Costello not Presley) has a touch of Oasis lurking behind its Americana sway. However, it   s back to swampier climes for the low key sung, Mexicana doped and dobro shaped Black Eyed Sally.

Musical echoes of Lennon   s I Heard The News Today in evidence, it finally ends with the nostalgia-themed Zoetrope. Frontman Jos    McGill says the album   s about    American cultural imperialism on our own turf   , acknowledging the irony that much of their music appropriates this while still planting its feet in British roots rock soil. Wickedly good.

Tamsin Quin – Gypsy Blood

Unique and charismatic Folk/Americana with a twist of intriguing and whimsical storytelling.

Tamsin Quin is a refreshingly-unique acoustic Folk songwriter and musician from South West England. With influences such as Laura Marling, Seth Lakeman and the Levellers, you’ll be in for a whirlwind of charismatic tale telling with a fresh modern twist.

This album was the result of a crowdfunding campaign which ran in September/October 2017. Over 100 people pledged to help Tamsin get into the studio with a full band to create something wonderful. The album was recorded at Earthworm Amber Studios in Wiltshire, produced by Jon Buckett, engineered by Pete Hewington and mastered by Pete Maher. Guest musicians include Lukas Drinkwater, Lee Alder, Patrick Ward, Jon Buckett and Tom Bradley.

See what others have to say below:

“Tamsin wows, simple. She has an ease, an intimacy about her stage presence and when performing she’s in her comfort-zone, making it a pleasure to listen to.” – Darren Worrow, Index Wiltshire

“A tiny package of blues, pop and folk rolled into one. This lady is great; it is as simple as that.” – Dave Franklin, Swindonian.

“Tamsin is infectious… in a really good way. Her song craft and performance is enough to make others raise their game.” – Keiran Moore, Sheer Music

Erin O’Dowd-Old Town

Originally from the musically fertile Tulsa, Oklahoma, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Erin O’ Dowd knows a thing or two about being more than a one trick pony. With her five-piece band in tow, O’Dowd brings together disparate streams of country, psych folk and other roots elements for her debut album, Old Town. Filled with songs that take listeners on unexpected routes, the LP reveals the artist’s talents for capturing human beings at both their most vulnerable and best. A listen to heartbreaker/tearjerker material such as “Robin’s Egg Blue” and “Forgiveness” reveals the former while her performances across these 10 tracks reveals the latter.

Old Town is written from a deeply introspective place, and was inspired by the roller coaster of events of my life up until now,” O’Dowd says. “That includes a lot of heartache, overcoming great personal obstacles, and reconciliation with my past and with my highest self. Putting this album out is a victory in itself, as I overcame a major life-threatening illness that put my career on hold for over a year, and went through the loss of my best friend and the loss of my first songwriting partner. Old Town explores the places I’ve been, celebrates victory over the darkness, and points me in the direction of where I’ll go.”

Sam Lewis – Loversity

I was driving to play a show in Richmond when I saw a rainbow building just off the interstate,” says Sam Lewis. “The building had a word on it, but all I could see was – SITY. I immediately said ‘loversity’, even though the sign said ‘diversity’. My friend and I Googled it, and it wasn’t a real word, but I thought, well, I like that word.”

The Nashville artist has toured the country multiple times over with the likes of celebrated icons, such as Los Lobos and Chris Stapleton. Better yet, you might recognize his warm molasses vocal strut from his collaborations with the likes of Kacey Musgraves and John Prine or the Wood Brothers. Needless to say, Sam Lewis has been putting in his dues and becoming more of a household name in the process for it. Riding the line between multiple genre-based influences and invoking ladles full of heartfelt soul at a time into his work, Lewis is such a promising prospect in the Americana world that Stapleton has even gone on the record to vouch for him as “a modern Townes Van Zandt”.

Whether he writes with the same metrical finesse as the legendary songwriter is up for debate     after all, art is objective. What Lewis is for certain, however, is a much-needed helping of soul food for the heart in these divisive times. His straightforward lyrical flow moves forward with a certainty that listeners will be brought from point A to B without much intervention in-between, but what he has to say is as needed as it is inevitable. The evident nature of “Loversity” is a warm embrace aiming to unify a world whose people are more times at odds with one another than they aren’t. It’s upbeat, horn-powered Southern gospel, and it’s also the titular track from off of Lewis’ forthcoming album.

Ben Glover – Shorebound

The newfound sounds and shapes that comprise Shorebound mark a moment in Ben Glover’s musical history – a moment that nods to the past decade of his artistry even while pivoting into the next era. “I’m a believer in cycles, and 2018 will mark ten years since I released my first album,” Glover says, “so it feels very much that this album is a major turning point in a cycle. Shorebound is an acknowledgment of where I am and a celebration of the people who I’ve gotten here with.”

Indeed, collaboration has long filled Glover’s career including co-writing the Americana Music Association UK’s 2017 International Song of the Year (“Blackbirds”) with Gretchen Peters. Playing well with others is something Glover both excels at and enjoys. He joins forces with friends on both sides of the Atlantic for Shorebound, including Peters, Ricky Ross (frontman and songwriter from Scottish rockers Deacon Blue), Mary Gauthier, Kim Richey, Angel Snow, Robert Vincent, Amy Speace, Anthony Toner, and others.

Not only does Shorebound pull together Glover’s favorite musical collaborators, it also culls his best life lessons. Where previous albums Atlantic and The Emigrant witnessed him searching for his place in the world, geographically and otherwise, Shorebound finds him more settled, within himself, his career, and his two hometowns of Glenarm, N.Ireland, and Nashville, Tennessee.