LISSIE – Thank You To The Flowers EP

Lissie’s full length debut, 2010’s ‘Catching A Tiger’, gained the American singer-songwriter well deserved worldwide acclaim. With its mix of adult pop, a few country tinges and an obvious Stevie Nicks influence, she captured the imaginations of the adult rock-pop audience with some timeless sounding tunes. Although her 2013 follow up ‘Back To Forever’ scored another UK top twenty chart placing, it wasn’t enough for Columbia Records who subsequently dropped Lissie from their roster following its release. Finding a new home with Cooking Vinyl (the ever reliable home for artists who’d previously ended high profile contracts), she released a further two albums in 2016 and 2018. Even though these discs (‘My Wild West’ and ‘Castles’) did not appear to gain as much press attention, they were equally successful – and especially so in the UK, where ‘Castles’ earnt Lissie her first top ten placing.

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FRED ABONG – Our Mother Of Perpetual Help

Fred Abong was especially busy throughout 2018 and 2019. He re-ignited his on/off solo career with the excellent ‘Homeless’ EP, which subsequently saw him touring as support with his old Throwing Muses bandmate Kristin Hersh. That was swiftly followed by the equally cool lo-fi release ‘Pulsing’ which saw critical acclaim from a few indie websites which led to Abong going on the road with Hersh once more. Not just as support act, but doubling up as the evening’s opening entertainment and as bassist with the KH Trio.

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GRAHAM BONNET – Back Row In The Stalls

For most people, Graham Bonnet will be best known for his brief stint as Rainbow vocalist between 1979 and 1980. Although he didn’t get to spend long as Ritchie Blackmore’s singer of choice, his talents drove two of the band’s biggest singles – ‘All Night Long’ (a UK #5 hit) and the brilliant radio staple ‘Since You Been Gone’ (UK #6) – and he also performed with Rainbow when they headlined the first Monsters of Rock Festival in August 1980. You could definitely make a case for him being the band’s best-known voice.

Bonnet’s career as a professional singer started over a decade earlier and he achieved a brief spell of fame as one half of pop duo The Marbles, whose ‘Only One Woman’ (an oft-overlooked UK top 5 hit from 1968) showcased a voice that would later become an instantly recognisable talent. Following The Marbles’ early demise, Graham embarked on a solo career, but as careers go, it was rather slow to get off the ground. In 1974, he recorded material for what was to be his first solo album, but the recordings were shelved at the last moment. These were subsequently believed lost until they turned up on a cassette four decades later. Most of these songs were issued digitally as ‘Private-i (The Archives, Vol. 1)’ in 2015, but given the age of the average Bonnet buff, a bunch of digital files would never suffice. Thankfully, the bulk of the material – plus bonus tracks – appeared on CD the following year. With its original title reinstated, Graham’s debut LP finally became a reality.

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J. GRAVES – Deathbed EP

Illumin Records was set up by Annie Graves in the 90s to promote and distribute her own music. After a few years, the label ceased to be, but sometimes things make an unexpected return. Over a quarter of a century later, it was revived by her daughter Jessa – known professionally as J. Graves – as an outlet for new music. The resurrected Illumin would not only be a vehicle for J.’s future releases, but also give an independent platform for other “womxn in music”.

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JOAN OSBORNE – Trouble And Strife

For almost everyone, Joan Osborne will be best remembered for her mid nineties hit ‘One of Us’, but her long career has thrown up so many other gems along the way. Even that mega-hit’s parent album, 1995’s ‘Relish’ featured far superior tracks: with ‘Spider Web’, she introduced the world to her sassy blend of blues and soul via an insatiable groove and sultry vocal and her cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Man In The Long Black Coat’, slowed down to a spooky crawl, ran rings around Zimmerman’s rather jerky original recording. Across several other far more neglected albums, Joan’s vocal talents continued to shine. ‘Dead Roses’, a particular highlight from her 2006 release ‘Pretty Little Stranger’, suggested she could rival Bonnie Raitt in the bluesy stakes; various cuts from 2012’s ‘Bring It On Home’ demonstrated her husky take on various R&B standards to great effect and 2017’s ‘Songs of Bob Dylan’ had plenty to offer anyone with a keen interest in different takes on a familiar back-catalogue. Wherever you choose to dip into Joan’s work, there’s something to enjoy…and always a nagging feeling that she should have been bigger. Perhaps her over reliance on other people’s material has hindered her being a star on a global scale, but there’s no questioning her vocal talent. However, none of her previous highlights are a match for her 2020 release ‘Trouble and Strife’.

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