Angela Perley isn’t someone who wears her influences lightly; from sixties guitar rock through seventies country rock (Fleetwood Mac perhaps) to jangly eighties bands like The Bangles, The Go Gos and Katrina & The Waves. There’s also a touch of country/Americana thrown in, particularly on the penultimate song, ‘Holding On’, with its over-driven slide guitar and the pedal steel that adds just a tinge of blue to the entire album. Apart from the album’s final song, the solo piece ‘Wreck Me’, the songs are all fairly big productions with guitars facing off against each other, keys adding different textures and, of course, the sad machine pitching in with plaintive fills. To get the best from ‘Turn Me Loose’, you probably need to listen to it on the freeway (which sounds cool in a way that motorway never will) with the electric guitars playin’ way up loud.

From the opening song, ‘Plug Me In’, which channels the country rock of Eagles’ ‘Take It Easy’, adds a middle finger attitude and the urge to be moving which runs through the whole album with references to cars, planes, motorcycles, taxis, planes and even roller skates. Angela Perley’s desperate to be on the move; she needs to go somewhere, anywhere. Maybe it’s the inevitable reaction to a couple of years of movement restrictions after a long career as a touring musician – it’s certainly a theme that permeates the album.

‘Ripple’ is where Seventies glam-rock meets Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Brothers boogie; the riff is simple and the song’s driven along by powerhouse drumming as Angela sings about some of the things she wants to escape (including the vampires of the music business). Her influences are very clear musically and lyrically on the Sixties-inspired flower power-evoking ‘Near You’ with the reference to a “mellow fellow” and an almost English intonation in the lead vocal that harks back to the Sixties British invasion era.

‘Turn Me Loose’ is a collection of ten diverse songs pulled together by the combination of clean and over-driven guitars, Angela Perley’s musical influences and an itch to get out there and experience life again. You should listen to it on Route 66 in the summer, but you might have to make do with the M6 in spring. Either way, it’s going to sound great.

‘Turn Me Loose’ is available now from

Have a listen to the foot-stomping ‘Ripple’ here:

‘Where Do I Begin’ is a perfect example of the way digitisation and the internet has changed the music business. The conventional business wouldn’t know how to deal with it; five songs (OK, six if you count the no-swearing version of ‘Living Between the Lines’) is too much for an EP and not enough for an album (unless they’re eight-minute prog rock epics). Cutting out the major label bureaucracy means that if you have five great songs that hang together well, you can get it to the market fairly easily and call it a mini album. That’s exactly what Adam Reichmann and Todd Schnitzer have done with their debut as One Adam One.

The album’s almost a two-man show with Reichmann and Schnitzer singing and playing everything apart from some background vocals from Stephanie Stewart and a bit of baritone guitar from John Horton. Two things defining the album are the layers of instruments and vocals created by producer Todd Schnitzer and the fragile, vulnerable vocal of Adam Reichmann, at times on the edge of cracking completely, combining to create a beautiful melancholy feel across the five songs using all of the country/Americana palette (including pedal steel) and even a bit of harpsichord. The layering of tracks and use of reverb create an other-worldly feel that emphasises the melancholy style of the slow tempos and the vulnerability of the lead vocals.

Apart from the uptempo ‘Cold Murmurs’ with its driving tempo, lovely harmonies and maybe a hint of Tom Petty’s ‘Running Down a Dream’. It’s a song of renewal and optimism that offers a vivid contrast to the more downbeat songs that dominate the album. The opening song, the appropriately titled ‘Where Do I Begin’, builds from a gentle strummed acoustic intro to a full band arrangement with synths as the lyrics tell a story of hopelessness and helplessness after a broken relationship, while the closer, ‘Platte River’, is a slow, organ-driven, piece of nostalgia for a lost place, time and relationship.

‘Hollywood Ending’ has an arrangement that builds to a big finish as the lyrics explore the gulf between real life and the media presentation of life; it’s powerful stuff. Finally, ‘Living Between the Lines’ (my personal favourite) has an ominous reverbed guitar intro before Adam Reichmann’s vocal comes in the higher end of his range, almost cracking at times. The song tells the story of the unsung and unnoticed who do all of the things that we take for granted. The chorus is absolutely gorgeous.

‘Where Do I Begin’ is five great songs, arranged cleverly to enhance the melancholy content of the songs and, ultimately, the upbeat sense of rebirth in ‘Cold Murmurs’. It may only be five songs, but it creates a sense of sadness, anger and nostalgia before taking a more positive turn. The album is a lovely snapshot of the genesis of One Adam One; I’m hoping there’s a lot more to come.

‘Where Do I Begin’ is released on Die Trying Records in the UK on Friday March 31st.

Don’t just take my word for it, here’s the video for ‘Living Between the Lines’:

Here’s another project that’s been touched by the shadow of COVID. Lowri Evans and Sarah Zyborska met for the first time at the 2019 Festival Interceltique de Lorient after each had been gigging individually on the Welsh circuit for several years. It’s been a long flash-to-bang time for the project, but they finally got there and the end result is an album of rare beauty influenced by Americana, country, indie the opening song ‘Tell Me World is an uptempo nod in the direction of Belle & Sebastian’s ‘The Boy with The Arab Strap’) and Celtic folk. ‘Tell Me World’ is ten original songs written by Lowri and Sarah (eight together and one each individually). At the risk of sounding blindingly obvious, ‘Tell Me World’ is an album that sounds very Welsh (both Lowri and Sarah are bilingual and two of the songs have Welsh lyrics) and generally the songs have a female, or even feminist, perspective. The one obvious exception is ‘Workshop’, inspired by the contents of an old man’s garden shed, which serves as a metaphor for a place we can escape to indulge our creative urges.

The album’s a very delicate piece of work, ethereal, with a nod in the direction of bands like Clannad with layers of vocals and subtle, underplayed band arrangements from a group of musicians that includes Christians’ singer and keyboard player Henry Priestman. With a variety of musical stylings and lyrical themes that range from the intensely personal ‘She’s A Lover’ (about Lowri’s Mam) and ‘Genes’ (a clever play on words inspired by the birth of Sarah’s daughter) to the more socio-political ‘Waiting in the Background’ and ‘Crazy, Crazy Times’, there’s one constant; the beautiful vocals. Sarah and Lowri’s voices blend together perfectly whether it’s in simple homophonic harmonies or as a celestial choir.

The feminist perspective is obvious in the album’s second song, ‘Waiting in the Background’, which looks at the perceptions of women’s roles in various recent historical eras and highlights the fact that there’s still a long way to go. ‘Crazy, Crazy Times’ also has a socio-political slant, asking us to take responsibility for our own actions rather than just blaming it on a crazy world. At the other end of the scale, ‘She’s A Lover’ is a hymn of (mainly) praise to Lowri’s mam which has a Celtic country feel and features some delicate pedal steel. The album’s closing song’ ‘Atgofion’ has Welsh lyrics, which is fitting for a tale of an emigré’s memories of a Wales she will never see again.

The album’s a lovely mixture of styles, band arrangements, lyrical themes and even languages which is held together by great group of musicians and two stunningly good voices. It wraps itself around you like a warm blanket while giving you plenty to think about as well. It’s certainly the best debut I’ve heard in a long time.

‘Tell Me World’ is out on Friday March 24th on Shimi Records (SHIMICD0028).

Here’s a lockdown video of ‘Crazy, Crazy Times’:

There are a couple of things you can expect from any Steve Dawson album: it’s going to be beautifully arranged and played, and definitely unpredictable. ‘Eyes Closed, Dreaming’ doesn’t disappoint on either count. It’s the third of Steve’s pandemic albums, with contributions pieced together remotely, a logical and necessary extension during lockdown of the studio practice of recording parts separately. It’s a tribute to Steve and all the superb musicians involved that the whole album feels like it was recorded by musicians playing in the same room. The arrangements on the album are trademark Steve Dawson with lots of layers of guitars and a whole raft of instruments that are unusual in any context but particularly in Americana arrangements. As ever, he makes it work, creating soundscapes that sound uncluttered while using multiple guitars, bass, drums, keyboards (including Moog and mellotron), strings, horns and even marxophone, vibraphone and pump organ.

Steve enjoys reworking other people’s songs with his own spin and there are four of those on the album, ‘Long Time to Get Old’ and ‘Guess Things Happen That Way’ get the swampy Southern rock treatment, while ‘Small Town Talk’ with its horns, nods in the direction of Muscle Shoals and ‘Let Him Go on Mama’ is a solo piece with Weissenborn backing that closes the album. There are also a couple of reworkings of traditional songs. These are all great versions that give Steve a chance to have a bit of fun and show his instrumental versatility, but the backbone of the album is the four songs co-written with Matt Patershuk.

Matt’s a hugely creative and poetic songwriter and the four co-writes are a good representation of the breadth of topics he likes to cover, from the nostalgic ‘Polaroid’, harking back to a pre-digital era to the wonders of nature expressed in ‘The Owl’. ‘Hemingway’ references, well, Ernest Hemingway, while ‘A Gift’ is about taking care of your family and showing pride in workmanship. Like all of Matt’s songs, they’re thought-provoking and occasionally spring a few surprises. As good as the rest of the album is, these four songs shine brightly.

Steve Dawson’s one of the many that accepted the pandemic lemons and made artisan lemonade by learning a completely new way of working and using the enforced break to create three superb albums. ‘Eyes Closed, Dreaming’ covers a range of styles from folk ballads through Americana to ragtime and Hawaiian music and Steve sounds convincing in all of them with his range of instruments, particularly the Weissenborn. And I almost forgot to mention that he has a great laid-back and soulful vocal style. You won’t get bored listening to this album.

‘’Eyes Closed, Dreaming’ is released on Black Hen Music (BHCD0098) on Friday March 24th.

Here’s a live studio video for ‘Small Town Talk’: