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Category: English pieces (Page 2 of 11)

Jude Johnstone – Shatter



Beautiful shards.

The American singer-songwriter Jude Johnstone also remained relatively unknown in her home country for five consecutive CD’s. Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks and Trisha Yearwood, among others, recorded her songs and Johnstone sometimes scored an indirect hit that way.

Despite the obvious quality of her compositions and her voice, she never broke through with her own records to a large audience, although she could also be heard in various TV series.

Her sixth CD again implicitly asks why not, because Johnstone, once discovered by the now deceased E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, proves remarkably inspired on it.

She explores unexpectedly new terrain in eleven songs with influences from Continue reading

Where are you, Mac?

What is going on with you, Mac? You have not performed since 2016, neither in your beloved Nola nor outside of it, and there is only old news on your site, except for a twitter photo.

That one picture shoud be the evidence that you are doing fine, Mac, that you are still Dr. John, the high priest of sophisticated New Orleans funk, pretty much the last living link with the fifties, the time that the rhythm ‘n’ blues in your city slowly began to change.

You are pictured with all the regalia that fit your part, Mac: the walking stick, the strings of beads around your neck, the proverbial silly hat of latter years that undoubtedly has to hide your bald head and the tightly braided pony tail that must compensate that fact, but mostly the ironic grin: Look, here I am, Dr. John, I am still here!

It is posted on January 31 and therefore suggests to be recent. You are on it with Steve Gleason, one time American football player with the New Orleans Saints and these days a tireless fighter for innovations that can give other ALS patients a richer life despite (or maybe thanks to) his slowly, but ever increasing ALS.

However, I have not been able to find the date of that edition of the New Orleans Legends Awards where you posed together, Mac.

That one of the hashtags in the picture is Throwback Thursday, is not encouraging either, Continue reading

Jeffrey Halford & the Healers – West towards South


Floating Records 1 93483 47746 6

convincing director

On his tenth album, bluesy singer-songwriter and guitarist Jeffrey Halford outlines the lives of two American brothers in five songs written by him alone and five together with keyboardist, oercussionist and co-producer Adam Rossi.

He plays them together with his Healers: Rossi and bassist Bill MacBeath plus a handful of guest musicians: Scott Amendola and Rob Hooper – drums, Dave Coltrara and Kevin White – bass, Tom Heyman – guitar and steel guitar, Mark Karan and Don Rossi – guitar and Alyssa Joy Claffi – fiddle. You can clearly hear that Halford also worked with MacBeath, Rossi, and Heyman on predecessor “Lo-fi dreams” and with the two last ones on “Rainmaker” as well. The sound is as close as it is loose and the songs seem to be played live.

Halford combines elements from Continue reading

Ethan Johns and the Blackeyed Dogs – Anamnesis

Three Crows Records

5 052442 014522

magic memories.

From the opening notes of the first of seventeen songs on his fourth album, singer-songwriter and producer Ethan Johns takes a new direction. However, the short opener ‘The invitation’, a cross between ambient and symphonic rock, is misleading: the other songs appear to be more firmly rooted in English folk and americana than his earlier work.

Johns recorded them live in his studio in the English countryside with his Blackeyed Dogs, with whom he already made ‘The Silver Liner’ in 2015.

Drummer Jeremy Stacey, bass player Nick Pini, keyboard player Stephanie Jean Kid and fiddle player Georgina Leach also sing enthusiastically and, moreover, all had a voice in the organic production. The renowned producer Johns apparently felt more of a band member than anything else, although he wrote all the songs.

The more than twenty years that he lived in the US are more clearly audible than on his previous albums: Continue reading

Trouble holding back – Helen Rose


lively old soul

There are ten songs on singer-saxophonist Helen Rose’s first full-length album, of which she only co-wrote three. Marvin Etzioni was one of the other writers, whereas the original Lone Justice bass player also was the (co-)composer of four other songs. He arranged the traditional ‘When the levee breaks’ too, together with Rose and Ben Peeler.

While he is important behind the scenes, the 24 year-old Rose is exactly that in the spotlights: she proves to be a versatile and extremely convincing singer in different genres.

One of the highlights is the musically careful ‘Flatlands of North Dakota’: that song is a direct reference to Bobby Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Jo’ because of the string section’s ominous countermelody and the thematically related lyrics of a woman who wants to escape North Dakota no matter the cost.

There are parallels with Rose’s life: Continue reading

For the loss of divinity – Rich DePaolo


undiscovered treasure

Because the American singer-guitarist Rich DePaolo released his eleven song debut himself in 2003, it did not ring any bells here, although he has built a solid reputation in his hometown Ithaca by playing with others and producing them.

After the only 48 seconds long, but depressing sound collage ‘One gun salute’, with which his album opens, DePaolo impressionistically recalls the assault on flight PanAm 103 in 1988 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. He makes that huge tragedy poignant by his personal, pessimistic point of view.

Striking too is the solemn melody, Continue reading

Killed for kings – Rich DePaolo


treasure trove

The first of the twelve songs on singer-guitarist Rich DePaolo’s second album is ironically called ‘More of the same’. DePaolo’s debut ‘For the loss of divinity’ contained comparable songs, but was already self-released in 2003, so few will know that. Apart from that fact, in that song he sings about stars that want to remain stars whatever the cost, something he clearly does not dream of, nor can dream about: above all he is a producer, an engineer and a guitar player for others.

That song is an ideal prelude for his album, because Continue reading

Goin’ gone – Kat Danser

Black Hen BHCD0087

living blues.

Canadian singer-guitar player Kat Danser planted her feet even firmer in the blues than on predecessor ‘Baptized by the mud’, a title which is exemplary for her rootsy approach.

On that album from 2013 Danser already worked together with master guitarist/producer Steve Dawson and they continue that co-operation in the eight songs she wrote and two covers by Sam McGee and Mississippi Fred McDowell.

Dawson did not only produce the album, he also played the guitar, something he did on her previous one too. He also brought along drummer Gary Craig, bass and mandoline player Jeremy Holmes, fiddler and mandoline player Matt Combs and saxophone and harmonica player Jim Hoke. They accompany Danser’s Continue reading

Malford Milligan & the Southern Aces – Life will humble you


Stagger Lee/Royal Family Records RFRCD-29083


Malford Milligan’s masterpiece.


The Afro-American Texan singer Malford Milligan and guitarist-singer Jack Hustinx have known each other for more than twenty years.

Milligan’s solo album Sweet cherry soul from 2002, produced by Hustinx, sealed their friendship and was the start of leading Dutch roots band the Shiner Twins, founded by Hustinx.

Hustinx also produced Milligan’s thirteen new songs and played both the acoustic guitar and rhythm guitar again. They also wrote five new songs for it.

They completed the rootsy collection of (country) soul songs with two songs from Hustinx’ own album Over yonder and six ballads from their friend Stephen Bruton and Charlie Rich, amongst others.

At Milligan’s request, Hustinx brought Over yonder’s Southern Aces back together again.

Drummer Nicky Hustinx, bassist Roelof Klijn, keyboardist Roel Spanjers and guitar players Hustinx and Eric van Dijsseldonk leave each other room, but their singer too, with Continue reading

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