Calling all fans of sophisticated adult pop! Singer songwriter Hailey Beavis has a new EP scheduled for release before the end of January. The second release on independent label OK Pal Records – a label founded by Beavis with singer songwriter Faith Elliott – her new single ‘Stranger Inside’ fuses heavy keyboard sounds and a wistful vocal, hinting at a love of pop electronica.
It’s the middle of December and there’s a conflicting mood in the air. People are gearing up for Christmas so there’s a bustling feel to the city, yet at the same time, it’s the night after a General Election so any excitement is contrasted by the dread of another five years with a Conservative government increasing austerity measures and generally widening an already massive divide between rich and poor.
Taking his place at the mic stand on a sparsely decorated stage, the legendary Jim Bob seems aware of this mood. “I feel like I should say something…profound” he tells the audience, before even playing a note. Quite how profound a man could be while wearing a gold sparkly jacket and sunglasses on loan from The Banana Splits is anyone’s guess. “…Or we could have a sing-song”, he beams, before launching into a stripped down version of Carter’s ‘Is Wrestling Fixed?’, its opening lines greeted with a huge roar. It’s a great performance, but drawing more heavily from the whimsical than the energetic, its a less-than-obvious opener. Nevertheless, the front half of the audience is hugely receptive and even in the bar areas nearer to the back of the venue, bellowing voices are more than evident. Digging further into the Carter back catalogue, the fantastic Billy’s Smart Circus whips up the audience further into a shouting mass – this first dip into the fan favourite ’30 Something’ album boding well for the rest of the set.
Charlotte Carpenter is no stranger to Christmas songs – in 2018, she recorded a gloriously downbeat version of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’. Nor is she a stranger to reflective, semi-autobiographical works, as evidenced in her own ‘Burn’ and ‘Shelter’.
With her digital single ‘Another Year’, both elements collide as Charlotte reflects upon her place in the world in the build up to Christmas 2019. Continue reading
Best known as being one of the creative forces behind Nashville’s The Great Affairs, Denny Smith is a prolific songwriter. At any given time, he’s stockpiling ideas for new songs and recording demos. He even seems to instinctively know whether the song idea is destined for his main band, a solo album, or even a side project where oddities ultimately end up.
Various stripped back ideas formed his first solo album ‘An Overnight Low’ in 2016. It was a record that appeared to reach an audience of twelve people. His second solo record, ‘From The Dark’ gathers more introspective material that wouldn’t all fit with the Great Affairs mould of straight up roots rock, but fans of that band will surely find an easily recognisable voice within the album’s ten songs. As its title suggests, ‘From The Dark’ is an album that often seems concerned with a future unknown and of life’s unexpected wobbles. The songs are often presented in a way that its messages come from up close and, in Smith’s own words, are “stripped of artifice”. Although he says the album isn’t about story-telling in the strictest sense, more a case of “getting things off [his] chest as unself-conciously as possible”, From The Dark’ is personal, but rarely feels like a voyage into abject misery. Even at its most heart-wrenching, it appears thoughtful and reflective; you won’t find anything here that’s as laid barely as, say, Mike Viola’s heartbreaking ‘Painkillers’ or Joni Mitchell’s ‘Little Green’.
Slide guitar player Jack Broadbent’s fourth release ‘Portrait’ was a fantastic slab of retro blues. His purist style breathed life into the genre simply by being raw. His straightforward approach was very welcome since, at that point, everyone else seemed to be playing rock with a blues influence and trying to pass that off as “the blues”. Seriously, why listen to Joe Bonamassa when you can listen to something with more more heart and – more importantly – a much greater understanding of the genre? Broadbent’s love of tradition came like a lightning bolt and ‘Portrait’ was an album that deserved a much bigger audience. Over the next couple of years, Jack busied himself upon the gig circuit and released a no-frills live document ‘One Night Stand’ which gave listeners an even better insight as to why he should’ve be considered the most important figure in the UK blues scene at that time.
2019’s ‘Moonshine Blue’ is a fantastic record, but it’s also one that marks a change in style. Perhaps Broadbent thought that the stripped back slide guitar blues – although raw and exciting – could also be limiting, and so, on his fifth album he fuses a couple of subtler elements of his previously explored work with a quieter, folkier mood. The results are often lovely, but creates more of a singer-songwriter’s work. This is also a record that’ll draw in a new audience, which – let’s face it – is something that every good musician wants.