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Saturday 18 June 2011

ReviewShine Round-Up

Before we get to the music, a brief public service announcement. It has been brought to my attention that there has been a bit of a hoo-hah about some bloggers turning out not to be who they claimed they were. In the interests of transparency, I feel I should reveal that my real name is not Ernie Goggins and that is not a picture of me in the top right corner (that is actually Penny Penny, the Tsonga disco king). I won't go so far as to reveal my true identify but suffice to say I am a Syrian lesbian and feel the need for some discretion.

Now back to business. It is time for one of our irregular round-ups of some of the many fine artists whose latest albums have made their way to me courtesy of ReviewShine. As before I feel I should apologise to those I feature, and even more those I don't feature, for not doing them justice. There is simply too much good stuff out there to cope with.

First up is the charming Kathryn Caine from Charlottesville, Virginia. A former Shakespearean scholar and London busker, Kathryn now devotes her time to making really good music in a broadly bluegrass and country style. Her current album, "Down Home Girl", is available via Bandcamp as well as all the usual outlets. This track, currently my favourite, is all about the Caine family farm in North Carolina. Listening to it is the next best thing to being there.

"Honeyhill" - Kathryn Caine

In a similar style, although with the folk influences perhaps a bit more prominent, is "These Open Roads", the debut album from Haroula Rose. Originally from Chicago but now based in LA, Haroula deserted both cities and headed off to Athens, Georgia to record the album. It features members of the Drive By Truckers, Neutral Milk Hotel and others, and her songs and singing are very worthy of the cast list.

"Free To Be Me" - Haroula Rose

Sean Hunting Morse is originally from Denver and that was where he recorded "Lines From Someplace", which I suppose you would classify as a mini-album (there are only seven tracks). Apart from a couple of jazz-tinged numbers which I was less keen on, not being a great one for the jazz, it is a good strong set of folk/blues songs. "Malibu" is a particular highlight.

"Malibu" - Sean Hunting Morse

Moving on to something slighter rougher-edged now, you ought to check out "Beyond The Ark" by Mike McGuire. I know nothing at all about Mike, but judging by the sound and subject matter of his songs I would guess he has been going for awhile, has maybe had a few ups and downs along the way, but will keep on going to the end of the road. For me the overall feel is very reminiscent of Otis Gibbs (a very good thing) but without the extravagent beard (maybe not such a good thing, it depends on your views on beards).

"Military Time" - Mike McGuire

And finally, something I can only describe as indescribable - "Dead Dog on a Highway" by The Dad Horse Experience. Dad Horse Ottn (which I very much doubt is the name his poor parents gave him) is a German musician who mixes up country, polka and other oom-pah-pah noises with a bit of the punk spirit, and sings them all in a voice that hints ever so slightly at his German origins. It doesn't always work - there are one or two tracks on the album that I struggled to get through - but when it does it is strangely beguiling. Apparently the album's producer has previously worked with the Holmes Brothers, and you can see a certain similarity in the overall sound. I found the religious numbers the most enjoyable, like his take on Hank's "I Saw The Light" and this next one. See what you think.

"Kingdom It Will Come" - The Dad Horse Experience

To finish, let's go back to where we started. Here's Kathryn Caine and friends with a very lively take on the old Tom Paxton standard, "The Last Thing On My Mind".

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