No standing on ceremony. We've got a lot to get through today so let's get cracking.
I have recently been signed up with this service called ReviewShine which sends bloggers advance copies of forthcoming releases by independent artists, most of them performing what you might loosely call Americana. On the basis of the stuff I have been sent in the first couple of weeks I would draw two conclusions: there is a lot more out there than this or other, more distinguished, blogs like A Fifty Cent Lighter and a Whiskey Buzz will ever have time to listen to; and a remarkably high percentage of it deserves to be listened to. Putting those two together means inevitably there is good music that isn't getting heard.
So rather than give you a detailed run down of one or two CDs, I thought I would take you on a whistle-stop tour of some of the edited highlights of what I have heard, in the hope that it will encourage you to investigate further. I will try to do this at least once a month. Even if you tell me to stop.
Here goes with the initial selection.
First up, and possibly pick of the bunch, is Mia Dyson. Already well known in her native Australia, she has relocated to LA and her "You And Me" EP, which comes out tomorrow on Black Door Records, is her first release since doing so. Some reviews compare her to Lucinda Williams, which I understand, but personally I was reminded of Frankie Miller. This is blue-eyed soul of the highest order. Even the involvement of Dave Stewart of the Eurhythmics could not put me off.
"Choose" - Mia Dyson
Also vying for top spot we have Natalia Zukerman, whose fifth album "Gas Station Roses" came out earlier this month on Weasel Records and is available on her website and elsewhere. It is a really strong selection of songs in assorted folk and roots styles and I love the slightly smoky tone of her voice. I could have picked just about any track off the album as a highlight. It is well worth checking out.
"The Right Time" - Natalia Zukerman
Here are three more ladies. Victoria George's "Lately I" EP (self-released and due out in May) is what I would call modern pop-country. It is not the sort of thing I listen to a lot, but it is very well done and this track stands out for having a bit more "oomph" to it. "Beyond The Trees" by Melanie Budd is another strong album, in a style that blends a bit of all of the above. It comes out officially on 5 April. And I have been very taken by Jeanne Jolly's beautiful voice, which is shown to particularly good effect on this track from her "Falling in Carolina" EP, which came out late last year. It is available on eMusic and probably elsewhere.
"Two Of Us" - Victoria George
"Nothing To Feel" - Melanie Budd
"I'd Rather Be Lonely" - Jeanne Jolly
We'll finish off the mp3s with some men, in case you were worried that I had turned into an affirmative action blog. "Stacked" is the new album by Atlanta four-piece Fisheye and consists of good, solid country-rock tunes. The vocalist reminds me very strongly of old Robbie Fulks. And Billy Two Shoes are a more or less random assortment of dudes who donate all proceeds from their music to help feed the poor in Kentucky and Ohio, which gives you an added reason to support them. This is my favourite track from their latest album, "Full Breakfast", which came out in January.
"The Bridge" - Fisheye
"Don't Ya Get Down" - Billy Two Shoes
And if you still have any breath left after all that, we'll bring things to a close with a couple of clips. First up is Natalia Zukerman with the title track of her new album. And then we have the mighty Frankie Miller, who I mentioned way back when, with a great rendition of Randy Newman's "Sail Away".