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in his mid-thirties, Rob has been making country and folk music for many years with local Monmouthshire group, Flying Spider Revival—this is his first solo venture. It is very good and all the more impressive, as Rob seems to do everything: the writing (he’s written all ten songs) and production. Plus singing, playing the guitar and at times the keyboards and banjo too. There are so many good songs here

that it is difficult to know where to start. Where The Wild Things Are is a tale of being protective towards someone very dear to you; Light and Whiskey are very engaging country-blues numbers. Deserted has a dark subject, a vocal style reminiscent of John Hiatt and a good storyline that retains your attention to the end. Mid album, there is quite a delightful instrumental: Overture/ Intermission, with firstly some beautiful electric guitar arrangements, and later, on skilful keyboards. My favourite track is The House That Love

Built; a charming tale of buying a badly neglected house out of town and making it a home for you and your family—I’m quite sure this is autobiographical, and the song communicates the joy that the project has brought to Rob. Somewhat of a contrast, Living In Harmony tells of how difficult life can be at times with the strains brought about in most relationships. After a guitar intro of nearly a minute, the final track Louisiana settles into a plausible tale of yearning for a more pleasant country style existence than the dead- end city neighbourhood. By the way, it is compulsory for companies to complete statistical returns for Rob. However, it is not compulsory to listen to his music, but if you like good country-blues you will want to anyway. Paul Collins

Shawn Jones STRUGGLE MAKES YOU STRONGER High Drive Records HHHH Excellent mix of country, blues and soul for discerning and mature ears California-based country-blues singer-

songwriter Shawn Jones has made the UK connection with several low-key tours that have seen him establish a small but growing fan base over here. A dynamic stage performer who impresses equally

with his stunning guitar work and soulful vocals, Jones is no stranger to the music scene, having toured and recorded with the late Waylon Jennings. He shines like a beacon on this latest album on which he wrote or co-wrote all twelve songs. In an era when too many records sound overly ‘studioed’ out, Shawn seems to be revelling in the quiet art of simplicity. There’s a band vibe running throughout driven by his own incredible lead and acoustic guitar augmented by the solid bass of either Sam Bolle, Jaymes Felix or Dean Cortez , drummers Craig Macintyre, Larry Mitchell and keyboardist Armen Chakmakian. On several tracks, Shawn’s vocals are enriched by some wonderful female singers, who add elements of feminine emotion … both sweet and purposely strained. On the title song he shows himself to

be a very insightful person as his lyrics reflect his mood and range from thought provoking to humorous. He ignites on the bluesy She Don’t Know (‘Bout Her Own Mojo) as his voice is soulful while his edgy guitar interjects with expressive riffs. Slowing things down with the contemplative Day Without Rain it almost seems as if Shawn Jones has not only mixed genres, but musical styles as well. There are toe- tapping tunes for the good times, such as Yours To Lose and Time To Make A Change, and songs that speak of life’s most difficult moments, like Learn To Be Strong. Mixing style with thought-provoking lyrical content, Shawn Jones has a reverence for the past, present and future. Alan Cackett

Some Velvet Evening NO LAW AGAINST TALKING Self Released HHHH Detroit duo plays old style honky-tonk in the manner of the Grand Ol Opry If you like your music with plenty of

pedal steel, slap-back bass and close harmonies, then NO LAW AGAINST TALKING will be right up your street. Comprising Carrie Shepard and John Holk, this pair write songs that evoke memories of Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, as well as echoing Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton. Most performers hate being compared to luminaries from the past, but looking at their website it appears that this pair

welcome such attention with open arms. These original tunes are highly infectious

and sung so sweetly, that you can’t help but enjoy this hayride. Carrie has a gorgeous voice, especially on Behind The Line and the wicked, One Night Of Sin, which will certainly leave you feeling a little hotter at the end of its two minutes and seventeen seconds! This album is not breaking any new ground, but that isn’t what it’s trying to do. This rather short thirty four minutes-long collection is meant to entertain first and leave you feeling good. Well as they say, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Available from Amazon, iTunes etc. if this

is your kind of music, I would check it out. John Jobling

Teea Goans THAT’S JUST ME Crosswind Teea-2 HHHH Goans doesn’t simply sing country music, she delivers its very essence Missouri-born Teea Goans releases a fine

follow-up to her excellent 2010 THE WAY I REMEMBER IT debut, this time tentatively stepping out from the tight traditional country sounds to embrace jazzy tones, a little swing and suave countrypolitan stylings, yet still retaining that natural country feel that seems inbred in her genes. This album is a perfect listen for anyone who enjoys the classic country sounds of the 1960s with its fine blending of a few songs from the distant past with some new songs that evoke that era. She makes a wonderfully understated rendition of Bob Montgomery’s Misty Blue, with a perfect balance between tinkling piano, pedal steel and unobtrusive strings. She totally inhabits Larry Gatlin’s I’ve Done Enough Dying Today, making the song very much her very own. She doesn’t fare quite so well with Kris Kristofferson’s Nobody Wins. The definitive version is by Brenda Lee, and if I’d not been so familiar with that one, then Ms Goans would have had a winner on her hands. I have to say that I’ve heard way too many versions of Over The Rainbow to stomach another one, and though she sings it well enough, as it’s the final—unlucky 13th—track, I tend to press the stop button after the preceding Wake Up Dancing. A gorgeous song about the

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