THE MORNING LINE – Scene

The Morning Line’s 2019 LP, ‘North’, was an absolutely terrific album. Reawakening the sounds of ‘Girlfriend’ era Matthew Sweet, Soul Asylum’s best major label recordings and even a the productions of Sean Slade & Paul Q. Kolderie, it felt like a musical love letter to the 1990s. Retro, yet still somehow fresh, it’s melodic and jangly songs really captured the best of the band’s obvious talents.

Three years on, their first release for Justine Couvault’s Red On Red Records is another musical treat. A seven song collection, ‘Scene’ taps into the “mini album” format – something that seems to have been overlooked since the early 90s – which means there’s far less opportunity for the listener’s attention to wander, but still enough scope for a little variety along the way.

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EDWARD O’CONNELL – Feel Some Love

Edward O’Connell’s third album ‘Feel Some Love’ comes eight years after the excellent ‘Vanishing Act’, but for fans, no matter how much time has passed, it’s the kind of record that’ll hit the spot pretty much instantly. Within a few seconds of the opening track ‘Golden Light’ emerging from the speakers, it almost feels as if O’Connell has never been away. That number’s heavy use of chiming guitars, leading a melody that occasionally sounds as if it could slip into an old Tom Petty tune at the drop of a hat, is typical of the singer-songwriter in that has a sort of timeless quality, especially in the way he’s able to apply a rootsy and friendly vocal to a very bright guitar sound. Some understated harmonies, a hard struck piano, a swirling organ and a Jim Keltner-esque drum part are all on hand to layer a great tune, but everything escalates via a lead guitar break that tips the hat to Roger McGuinn styled melodies. As the final notes fade, there’s a feeling that – at just two minutes and forty two seconds into this album – you’re in more than safe hands.

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Chessi O’Dowd & Jack Blackman collaborate on superb cover of Joan Osborne’s ‘Pensacola’

Singer songwriter Chessi O’Dowd has teamed up with Jack Blackman to record a new cover of the Joan Osborne track ‘Pensacola’.  O’Dowd, a young performer from Warwickshire, cites Osborne’s 1995 album ‘Relish’ as an important influence, and by teaming up with Blackman – a performer who can count the legendary ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris among his fans – she hopes to bring one of the album’s best tracks to a new audience.

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BLACK TARPOON – The Thad EP

First impressions can be deceiving. Just one look at Black TarPoon and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d be about to experience an intensive stoner rock band, or maybe a massive riff-based juggernaut not too dissimilar to The Workhorse Movement. Nothing could be further from the truth. On their 2021 release ‘The Thad EP’ these Texan musicians go deep into a roots based sound where drawling vocals mesh with a country-blues groove. Their choice of band name – an anti-heroin reference – lends a certain sense of unease and Their cutting lyrics lend a further edge, but otherwise, their acoustic based sounds are surprisingly accessible. …And very retro in a 90s style.

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MATTY JAMES CASSIDY – Old Souls

Time catches up to you…and comes for us all” sings Matty James Cassidy during the chorus of ‘After All’, an instant highlight from his 2020 full length release ‘Old Souls’. It’s a sentiment that really seems to fit, as for the artist formerly known as Matty James, it seems he’s had nothing but time to reach this point in his career. Over a series of independent releases, he’s honed his mix of rock, blues and country to the point where this album genuinely sounds like a work calling out for greater attention. For anyone previously aware of Cassidy’s work, it’s a record that will more than entertain and thanks to a stronger sounding band and a much better production value, he’s turned in some of his best songs to date. ‘Old Souls’ has very clearly been made on a bigger budget, although fans should not worry that “bigger budget” somehow translates into “smoother material”, or be a case of that old chestnut “selling out” (a favourite war cry by record buyers who fear change and aren’t musicians themselves).

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