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young performers had brought their own personality to these songs rather than cloning the originals. That’s the way a ‘tribute’ album is supposed to be made. Many of these songs I’ve lived with for years, ever since first stumbling across Brinsley Schwarz close on forty years ago. The Parson Red Heads bring a plaintive touch to Don’t Lose Your Grip On Love with delicate West Coast harmonies and pedal steel wafting in the background. Texas beauty Amanda Shires totally owns I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass, slowing it right down, in hushed tones she brings a subtle sensuality to it heightened by her sawing fiddle. Pure magic. Fellow Texan Hayes Carll adds his laconic vocal to (I’m Gonna Start) Living Again If It Kills Me with the Trishas’ Kelley Mickwee providing ethereal harmonies. All Men Are Lies has a fun, bouncy rhythm and a warm and inviting tone which Robert Ellis takes on board with a humorous vocal that works perfectly. There are so many standout

performances I feel it’s unfair to pick any more in preferences to others, but I was totally gobsmacked by Erin Enderlin’s pleading, soulful rendition of Lover Don’t Go; heartbreak never sounded so good. Other performers featured include Caitlin Rose, Colin Gilmore, Chatham County Line, Lori McKenna, Griffin House and Ron Sexsmith and every track is A-plus. A genuine classic. Alan Cackett

Something Blue HOME SWEET HOME Self-released HHH This couple has crafted a winner with their second Americana/country album Though they’ve been nominated a

couple of times at the British Blues Awards, I wouldn’t describe husband-and-wife duo Something Blue’s music as blues. Rob Skinner (vocals, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, bass, drums) and Sarah Rayner (vocals, saxophones, harmonica) are deeply rooted in American roots music, despite the fact that they come from south England. A follow-up to last year’s GRASS ROOTS this duo proves that the UK can rival points in deep south America when it comes to rootsy country. More substantial than standard country radio fare, and more drinking-

and-twanging than, the ten songs are lyrically poignant, musically tight descendants of traditional country mixed with folk and bluegrass. The songs—all self-penned with the exception of the Carter Family’s Keep On the Sunny Side—are all based around an eventful weekend in late March this year, It’s not easy to pull this kind of thing off, but Something Blue succeed where many others have failed. The opening Up All Night is the morning after hangover following too much of the hard stuff. Not sure I’d be quite as upbeat, musically, after such a night. Painted On Smile is a well-written ballad with an optimistic edge about playing one too many bad gigs. Listen to a touch of horns on Disgrace as they add a distinctive flavour to this song whilst Sarah’s vocal has a slight jazzy feel and is very much to the point as they soldier on through the gig from hell. This leads us into the atmospheric Wish I’d Stayed At Home a powerful duet as the weekend goes from bad to worse. By the time they return home they discover they’ve been burgled with the dark Black And White, but despite this, via the Carter Family they Keep On The Sunny Side. Overall, this is an album that makes good use of the old-fashioned country-styles with influences from jazz, blues and folk, put together with just enough of a modern edge. Alan Cackett

Steve Cherelle THE IVORY COLLECTION Self-released HHHI Essex-based singer’s warm and inviting vocals will definitely charm their way into your heart and soul Steve Cherelle is a popular singer on

the UK country music club circuit and also a highly successful BBC radio presenter hosting country music shows on local stations across southern England. This latest album sees him stepping out of his comfort zone to record an album of his favourite songs, with mainly his own piano accompaniment—hence the title. As you listen to this 15-song collection you will find that Cherelle has a charming voice with a John Denver flavour that is complemented by simple but often effective instrumentation. It’s a beautiful blend of excellent country-pop songs

comprised of thought-provoking melodies that will surely please your heart and soul as it reaches well beyond its acoustic roots. Considering his background in the

line-dance dominated British country music scene, you will almost certainly be surprised to see that he has chosen songs by the likes of Patty Larkin, Sara McLachlan, Jimmy Webb, Megson and Nanci Griffith. This is not the kind of material you’re likely to hear in a British country music club. Many of these songs have been my personal favourites over the years, especially Emmylou Harris’ Boulder To Birmingham. David Ball’s When The Thought Of You, Stephanie Davis’ Learning To Live Again and Kristofferson’s Casey’s Last Ride. He turns in heartfelt renditions, placing his own personal stamp on them without in any way trying to clone the originals. Occasionally, the result is lacking that something special, as with Bob Dylan’s To Make You Feel My Love, but in the main these are creditable versions that shows a real maturity in his delivery. He brings in extra little touches with the use of cello and Maria Lee’s versatile pipes on a few tunes providing harmony both sweet and purposely strained. She comes very much to the fore on Jimmy Webb’s Postcard From Paris and the Garth Brooks’ hit Learning To Live Again drifting in and out of the background like a will o’-the-wisp. Definitely an album that grows on you with repeated listens. Alan Cackett

Steve Thompson aka Blabbermouth RAMBLE Proper Music Distribution HHH Contemplative and contemporary folk music Other than the obvious—that he maybe

never stops wittering on—I have no idea how Steve Thompson acquired his rather unattractive moniker. He seems to be at ease with it and it maybe does him no harm as a distinguishing feature. There is certainly no hint of malice, which the nickname hints at, in this melodious acoustic album. The listener is taken on a personal journey from growing up on the Sussex coast through London and onto to New York and Amsterdam—cities visited during his still fairly recently adopted

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