I expect this will be the last round-up this year of goodies that have come my way courtesy of the good folks at ReviewShine. That will upset some of you, I know. And the purists among you might be even more upset when I tell you the first act up have nothing to do with ReviewShine. They came to me via a nice man called Bryan and are just too good not to include.
"They" are Birds of Chicago, a duo made up Allison Russell of Po' Girl and JT Nero of, well, himself I suppose. Their self-titled debut album came out in October and is a bit of a gem. They turn their hands to all sorts of things - there's some soul, some torch songs, and a funky French number as well as the rootsy stuff - and it works very well when they put it all together. Favourite tracks after a couple of listens include "Cannonball", which has a sort of Delaney & Bonnie feel about it, and this one, which reminds me a bit of "Traffic From Paradise" era Rickie Lee Jones.
"The Wide Sea" - Birds of Chicago
Musically, Birds of Chicago bear some resemblance to our old friends Dolly Varden, who are up next (and who are themselves from Chicago, fact fans). The Dollies have always had a bit more of a pop element in the mix though, and its present and correct in this track from their new album. "For A While" is their first album for five years and comes out next month on Mid Fi Records. If you liked their previous albums - and any right-minded person would - you will definitely want to get the new one. Other stand-out tracks include "Saskatchewan to Chicago" and "Thank You".
"Walking The Chalkline Again" - Dolly Varden
Next we have a couple of female singer-songwriter. I had never heard of either of them before. My loss. Rebekah Pulley's fifth album "Tralala" came out last month. Jesse Lafser is only on her second. It is called "Land In Sight" and it came out in October. Both albums are well worth checking out. While you are doing that, I'll be looking into their back catalogues.
"The Drug Song" - Rebekah Pulley
"Pale Afternoon" - Jesse Lafser
We finish up with an old favourite of mine, Mr. Junior Brown. "Volume Ten" is a six-track EP and his first new music in absolute ages. Fans will be pleased to know that the twang and swing are there in good measure. There is also some blues and this rather endearing number about faded glory.
"The Phantom of the Opry" - Junior Brown
Here's some bonus Brown, from 1998's "Long Walk Back". The lyrics make more sense when you know it is an old Connie Francis hit.
"Lookin' For Love" - Junior Brown
Speaking of Connie...