I’ve known our next contributor for a long time now and I was really chuffed to review her latest album, “Silence Surrounds Me” (a collaboration with Geoffrey Richardson), earlier this year. When I asked Jo to contribute, her reply was: “Cool that sounds great. How about top 5 guilty secret music… The kind of stuff that we wouldn’t like people to see in our collection but we love anyway ? If you like that idea mine are…”

Gina GJust a Little Bit” -- Gina G

I am a huge Eurovision fan. Any other activity on Eurovision day is not considered! And that particular song, because it was a time in my life where I had plenty of crazy folk who would join me in riotously dancing to it. ;)

 

 

Bonnie TylerTotal Eclipse of the Heart” -- Bonnie Tyler

When I was ten I went for a day with my family and their friends. I don’t remember where we went but I remember listening to Bonnie Tyler in the way and back. I sat next to a family friend who loved it and I think I just caught her adoration at the time.

 

 

One DirectionStory of my Life” -- One Direction

Ummmmm -- nice melody, nice boys ( blush).

 

 

 

 

Barry ManilowMandy” -- Barry Manilow

Two reasons.

1)  It’s very romantic and I’m a sickly cheese monster.

2) The Simpsons cartoon turned it into ‘ oh Mindy’ and ‘oh Margy’. There are at least three different versions you can sing all at once!

 

Barbra & NeilAnd lastly, “You Don’t Bring me Flowers” -- Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand

Again I’ve loved Babs since I was a kid. I used to practice the routine on rollerskates in “Funny Girl” as soon as I was old enough to have a pair. I think it’s such a sad, sad song about how people stop noticing each other when they get into the groove of life. Also I love that it’s a man and a woman. Usually the kind of ‘ you are not adoring me’ narrative tends to be sung by women. Again I’m a cheesy puff but it felt important when I first heard it. I find music snobbery difficult to handle as good songs are good songs but most of these songs touched me at a young age and lit up the very prone-to-be romantic side of me.

We loved Ags Connolly’s debut album here at Riot Towers. We’re partial to a bit of country (or Ameripolitan to be more accurate) and “How About Now” is a great album. For our High Fives feature, Ags shares his favourite recorded and live moments of 2014.

Sturgill SimpsonSturgill Simpson live at St Pancras Old Church, London.

It’s been a huge year for Sturgill, with coverage in every major newspaper and US TV show propelling him to the high end of cult status. This gig was before all that though, in front of 30-40 people in a tiny church. Sturgill played solo and his voice and guitar were laid gloriously bare. I met Sturgill twice later in the year, and he proclaimed this gig to be one of his favourites. I of course agreed.

 

John FullbrightJohn Fullbright – “Songs” album and live at St. Albans Church, Oxford.

I’ve been aware of John Fullbright since his Grammy-nominated debut “From the Ground Up”, and this follow-up has taken him to a higher level in my view. His songwriting is incredibly mature and rounded for someone so relatively young. He reminds me of Randy Newman which is about as good as it gets in my view. The show of his I caught in Oxford was one of the best gigs of any type that I’ve seen in years.

Home is Where the Hurt IsHome is Where the Hurt Is” album -- JP Harris and the Tough Choices

There are a reassuring number of genuine, authentic country acts emerging at the moment, and JP Harris is at the head of the pack, having released his first album in 2011. This follow up is a full-on honky-tonk gem which deserves a bigger audience. Not a dull moment.

 

Jack GrelleSteering Me Away” album -- Jack Grelle

On the subject of real country artists who deserve a wider audience, Jack Grelle from Missouri made a terrific album this year. Having previously made old-time country /folk albums, Jack has decided to go hillbilly and the results are superb. Even if this album wasn’t great it would be worth checking out for the unexpected saxophone on “Chase You ‘cross This Country” alone.

 Jason EadyDaylight and Dark” album -- Jason Eady

Earlier in the year I named this my favourite album of the first half of 2014. It’s a concept album in the vein of ‘Phases and Stages’, but it stands on its own two feet. Another artist who deserves wider acclaim, Jason Eady has been around for a while but I think this album will be considered his best work so far.

 

The next contribution is from Little Devils. They do a lot of touring around the UK and Europe and bass player Graeme Wheatley has shared some of the more surreal things that can happen when a bunch of musicians are on their travels.

theprioryhotel[1]February: Dover Priory

A venue that appears to be part of a David Lynch movie. The gig was as wild as ever – the audience barely human by the end of the night. The lovely but completely incomprehensible landlord, Eric, said something like “Your room is a bit cramped and the door doesn’t lock properly” I expected nothing less. In true David Lynch fashion, I probably expected worse – and so – it was no surprise when I went up to bed several drinks later – that I found I was in a storage cupboard. The drinks had had their effect and so, finding a mattress that was at least on something of an angle less than vertical – I hit the sack. 15 minutes later, the homicidal maniac from the movies burst thru the door and said something like “What the fuck are you doing in here? Your room is next door – this is the cupboard!” Fortunately, Eric is the soul of discretion and has only told every single musician who has played the Dover Priory since this happened.

TrambluesJune:Tramblues Festival Antwerp

We were met by the host and introduced to a lovely person called Vee who explained that she was there to look after us for the whole of the evening and that, in true Belgian style, all food and drink was free for the entire evening. Being the true professionals that we are, nary a drop of alcohol passed our tightened lips pre-performance. However, post-performance is another thing – and the Devils went for it! Big time at the festival and then at the after festival party – way into the wee hours. At around 4.00am we were sitting outside of the party taking the air and trying not to fall over from a seated position, when the host re-appeared with the wonderful idea that the Little Devils could close the party with a wee jam session!!! All we can say is thank God the audience were in a similar state and no one had a camera!

MaryportJuly: Maryport Festival

Just prior to setting off for the festival, Ian, the organiser, called to ask if we could squeeze in an extra show. Money talks – so we readily agreed – the extra payment meant we could eat! What we didn’t quite realise was there were now 3 gigs on one day followed by a fourth on the day after. Each gig on the Saturday was incredible – the audiences really carried us along on a wave of frothy bluesy enthusiasm and energy – each gig we raised the roof and played til the money ran out! A knackered bunch of Devils crawled into tents at about 2.00am after playing for around 9 hours. Next morning we jumped up and prepared to launch ourselves once more into the fray – but – there was a problem. Somewhere along the way, Yoka had left her voice behind! 9 hours of bluesy belters and raunchy rocking had taken its toll – there was nothing there. We ladled honey and paracetamol in generous doses into her and poured port and brandy onto the broken larynx – and the show went on. We managed to make the last gig and a great time was had by all – even if some of the songs were more instrumental than usual!

JimiOctober: Isle of Wight Weekender

We played an acoustic set in the afternoon which somehow managed to set off the fire alarm – but this didn’t dampen spirits, and the evening set went down a storm. We finished the final number and the drummer had no choice but to make a swift dash for the loo; so as not to keep the audience waiting, we started part one of the encore without drums for the first verse or so. Or so we thought. First verse came and went. Ditto chorus. Then the second verse and chorus and still no drummer. Eventually, young Alan appeared and tore through the crowd to manage to get back for the middle 8 – he had been imprisoned in the loo by a couple of members of the audience who, with the assistance of a lot of alcohol, had decided this was a great prank. They reconsidered after getting the evil eye from Big Ray!

The Hope TavernNovember:The Hope Tavern

We arrived in Market Rasen as the gentle folk of the town were quietly enjoying their Sunday lunches. Barely a murmur broke the pleasant afternoon atmosphere and we too picked up on the sentiment and quietly got our lunches and sat down to enjoy the pre-gig feast. “Anyone say Grace?” I innocently asked. “Thank Fuck for Food!” said the angelic Pintsized Powerhouse in a loud and clear voice….. There was a prairie tumbleweed moment amongst the good people of Market Rasen – fortunately followed by laughter!

 

Here’s another couple of people that we love here at MusicRiot; Pete and Maura Kennedy. They’re fabulously gifted songwriters, singers and players and they’re lovely people as well. They decided to share their thoughts on some of the more interesting venues they’ve played around the UK. Let the good times roll…

Stirrin' it up NorthStirrin’ it up North A Cajun crawfish fest in Cumbria? Hey la bas! This gig, in a tiny village hall tucked into the forest, features the intimate rapport of a classic folk club, but with the added boon of massive pots of Louisiana style gumbo. Last time we were there, the performers (that would be us) rolled up their sleeves and became Cajun sous chefs for the night. After we served up the gumbo, we took off our aprons, picked up our guitars, and sang. That’s not gonna happen at the Albert Hall…so laissez les bon temps roulez!

Hedingham CastleHedingham Castle Back in the States, no one has a Norman castle in their back yard, but in East Anglia, anything is possible! At last report, the music program has been suspended here, but we trust that the banquet hall, which once rang with lutenists entertaining Hank VIII with his own greatest hit, Greensleeves, will once again host modern troubadours. We loved the candlelight, the banners and balconies, and the natural reverb echoing off those solid Norman stone walls.

WoodendWoodend Bowling and Tennis Club Anyone for tennis? This venue, in a nice Glasgow suburb, seemed like an unlikely spot for a concert, but it turned out to be great! While the tennis players volley and the lawn bowlers knock down pins outside, Glaswegian Americana fans pack the activity hall inside. It’s the kind of gig where, in the midst of your set of original songs, you will suddenly find yourself inspired to belt out a Johnny Cash medley, with the crowd singing along lustily in perfect Memphis accents…

 

Under the Bridge
London Irish Village, Chelsea Football Club Another venue that seems unlikely, by virtue of its location underneath the grandstands at the actual football stadium. You’re not obliged to play “We Are the Champions”, although you can if you wish! The pub also functions as a top flight photo gallery, with a stellar collection of rock prints. For pre-gig inspiration, check out the prints of the early Clash in Camden Lock, or the Small Faces, each member walking his own baby alligator on a leash…

The Kitchen GardenThe Kitchen Garden, King’s Heath, Birmingham Approaching King’s Heath, we expected a verdant bowery, with peaceful flocks grazing while shepherds piped soothing airs. Instead, we found a bustling and diverse neighborhood chock full of interesting shops, none the least of which is our very own venue, The Kitchen Garden. Need a rake, a bird bath, or perhaps a stone Buddha for the back garden? This is the only gig we know of that offers those essentials, along with live music. It’s a lovely urban oasis, and no doubt the spot where local bard W. Shakespeare would have hung out had he surfaced a few centuries later. Come for tea or coffee, surrounded by flora of all varieties, and stay for live music in an intimate setting quite unlike any other on the circuit.

Meanwhile“Meanwhile” -- Part Time Heroes

Whilst this is completely new to me and probably the best album I’ve heard in 2014, it actually got released back in 2008 but pretty much passed everyone by. I first heard the track “Shadowlands” on Jamie Cullum’s Jazz show that airs on Radio 2; my ears pricked up immediately and I instantly sought out the album, which is a gem, not a duff track on it. They use various vocalists and it certainly has a contemporary jazzy feel to it but I also hear echoes of Terry Callier and lots of other stuff going on. It’s destined to be one of those lost classics, certainly worth investigating for sure.

Carleen_AndersonCarleen Anderson at Ronnie Scott’s

I didn’t get to as many gigs as I would have liked to this year due to Stone Foundation’s hectic schedule throughout 2014. The one that really stood out head & shoulders above everything else I saw this year was Carleen Anderson’s performance at Ronnie Scott’s at the start of the year. She is (still) such an underrated talent with an exceptional vocal range, obviously we (Stone foundation) were very fortunate to have Carleen grace our last album where she contributed an amazing vocal to one of our songs called “When You’re in My World“. She is an amazing songwriter and arranger too; her new material is just outstanding, as good as anything she has ever written and I really hope it sees the light of day sometime soon. It was an inspiring evening and one that will stay with me.

Eminent Hipsters“Eminent Hipsters” -- Donald Fagen

I’ve been reading a lot this year, much more so than usual, I have no idea why, perhaps I have been looking for inspiration to kick start my own scribblings again; I’m 12 chapters in to my first book but kind of stalled once again really due to other commitments but I hope to pick up the trail again come the new year and get it finished. This book by Steely Dan main man Donald Fagen was a real treat, his words danced from the pages. It covers all the cool hipster characters that influenced his own inevitable style, it also covers his late college years in New York where he first met Walter Becker his co-founder and musical partner in Steely Dan. It’s a very funny book too, especially in the latter chapters when documenting his time on tour recently with Boz Scaggs & Michael Mcdonald. It brings to life the up’s and down of the anxieties and indignities of life on the road in the most brilliantly humorous way.

Ana_MatronicRadio DJs

This year I rediscovered the joys of the radio. A couple of programmes in particular really inspired me. Ana Matronic’s Disco show that aired on Friday nights for six weeks on Radio 2 was a real winner; she didn’t so much play obvious disco musak in the sense of the naff, cliched sound you would imagine but focussed on the real grooves of that period such as the influential Salsoul sound and some of the orchestral arrangements that people like Barry White popularized with Love Unlimited and also the wonderful world of Gamble & Huff and that whole Philly thing. It introduced me to a lot of new stuff that I hadn’t heard previously like Francine McGee’s “Delirium”; I also ended up buying the whole works, a box set of Philly stuff. Don Letts’ show on 6 Music has also turned me on to a lot of new music too; only last night I heard something by Jaga Jazzist called “Made for Radio” that had my attention from the off. I think it’s great to know that there is still some really thoughtful radio still being aired and made; long may it continue. It’s how I first got inspired, by listening to Peel on a transistor in my bedroom when I should have been doing my homework; I guess in many ways I was………

No Deal“Space is the Place” -- Yusef Lateef / Melanie De Biasio “No Deal”

I’ve been gravitating towards a more jazzy sound over the past couple of years. I’ve kind of not lost interest but put Guitar / Rock music on the back burner for a while; it’s not what I want to inform me when it comes to my own writing at the moment. I’m more pre occupied with space in arrangements; this Yusef Lateef track kind of personifies that mind set. I’ve heard a lot of great new music too this year but mainly in a pop vein like the Jessie Ware album & that Jungle single “Busy Earnin'” which I really liked. Also one of my favourite new albums and discoveries of this year has been the Melanie De Biasio album “No Deal…”; she is a classically trained flautist from Belgium who has a tremendous voice too. It’s a great record and one that also exemplifies my love of space in the music. It’s not in a hurry to impress; it creeps up on you. In saying all of this I must admit that I was impressed with Ryan Adams’ spectacular return to form on his last (self-titled) LP; the production and sound of it is incredible. It sounds like “Rumours” which is a tough task to pull off.

So, here we go with the first of our guest contributions to this year’s High Fives. Phil Burdett is a singer-songwriter from Essex whose album “Dunfearing and the West Country High” was one of Allan’s top 5 albums for the year. He’s a very entertaining interviewee and he’s a great guy to have a beer (or several) with. Anyway, here are Phil’s favourite five musical events of 2014:

The Basement TapesRelease of Bob Dylan’s complete “Basement Tapes” Read more

So, purely in alphabetical order (by album title) because there’s no way I’m trying to rank these in order of preference. They’re all very different and I can recommend any one of them to any real music fan; these are my five favourite albums of 2014.

Dunfearing and the West Country High“Dunfearing and the West Country High” – Phil Burdett

Phil Burdett’s latest album (on Drumfire Records) was a complete surprise for me. I’d heard Phil play a solo acoustic set a couple of years ago on a night out with the Riot Squad, but this was a completely different beast. “Dunfearing…” is the first part of the “Secular Mystic” trilogy, which should be completed with the release of parts two and three in 2015. It’s an album that sounds gorgeous; you could just sit and let its mix of folk, rock, country and a bit of jazz wash over you, but a little bit of extra effort and careful listening brings out all of the detail that Phil and the musicians have packed in to it; and there’s a lovely tribute to the late Jackie Leven. After reviewing the album, we also managed to grab an interview with Phil during the summer, which is a fascinating insight into a great songwriter.

How About Now“How About Now” – Ags Connolly

By sheer coincidence, also on Drumfire records, was the debut album from Ags Connolly, “How About Now”, which is now also available in a lovely limited edition vinyl pressing. Ags is based in Oxford but his roots are deep in the American South and his genre is a country offshoot known as Ameripolitan. He takes the outlaw attitude of artists like James Hand, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck et al and gives it a personal twist with some very poignant songs. The album was produced in Edinburgh by his Drumfire labelmate, Dean Owens, and works well with full country band arrangements as well as the powerful solo acoustic guitar backing of the closing song “How About Now” (which was a genuine one-take recording).

NYH“New York Horns” – New York Horns

I know; you’re surprised that I’ve picked a jazz album. Truth is that I love to hear a good horn section, and most horn players away from the day job like to stretch themselves with a bit of jazz. The horns in question are John Isley (saxophone), Chris Anderson (trumpet) and Neal Pawley (trombone), better known as the horn section of The Asbury Jukes, aided and abetted by Jeff Kazee (keys) and Glenn Alexander (guitar). There isn’t a bad, or even a mediocre track on the album and with moods ranging from the blues of “Strollin’ with Sean” through the evocative, mellow “Morningside at Midnight” to the 24-carat soul of “Can’t Stand to See You Cry”, there’s something for everyone.

Stone Foundation“To Find the Spirit” – Stone Foundation

And continuing on the soul theme, how about some genuine home-grown English West Midlands soul? Stone Foundation has been steadily building up a devoted following for about ten years now, but “To Find the Spirit” may turn out to be the game-changer for them. The band takes influences from all over the soul spectrum to create a sound very much of this century but which appeals to very disparate groups of fans. The album grabbed me from the first few bars with the Hammond and horns intro of “To Find the Spirit” and impressed from start to finish. After 10 months (and seeing the band live three times), the standout song is definitely “Don’t Let the Rain”, driven along by Neil Sheasby’s slinky bass groove but, again, there’s no filler here.

Tone, Twang and Taste“Tone, Twang and Taste”Pete Kennedy

Now the reason this one’s here is that Pete Kennedy (one half of one of my favourite groups, The Kennedys) decided to pay tribute to the pioneers of the electric guitar prior to the rock ‘n’ roll era; the guys who had grab the interest by using technique and melodic invention rather than volume and a thudding 4/4 beat. Pete is a superb technical musician and “Tone, Twang and Taste” is so obviously a labour of love; every song is played with immaculate attention to detail and they all sound like they were great fun to do, particularly Pete’s ukulele version of “Rhapsody in Blue”. The commercial possibilities for this album were always very limited, and that’s one of the reasons I admire Pete so much for producing something that made me smile from start to finish.

You can read the original reviews of these albums on the site complete with all of the links to the songs on Spotify or Youtube; just type the title into the search box and you’re away. Go on, have a listen; they’re all great albums.

SaltwaterIf you happen to have dipped a toe in the pool that is the British blues scene recently, you may have noticed that there are some very snappy critters swimming there waiting for the unwary. As with any scene that’s out of the mainstream, it’s inevitable that cliques develop, a fact that isn’t helped by too many performers chasing too few fans. It’s a classic supply and demand situation. As well as reducing the cash available to performers, it creates a situation where greed and selfishness seem to be excusable and some of those critters in that pool are piranhas. You can hear accusations of nepotism, award-rigging and other bits of nastiness, but the worst thing you can do is to question someone’s authenticity, which is ironic given that the players who are currently really successful are imitating the players from the 60s and 70s who imitated the original blues artists from the 30s and 40s.

Ok, so here’s where that was all heading; I’ve been listening to an album by John Fairhurst. The album’s called “Saltwater” and it’s not full of tasteful imitations of Clapton playing “Further on Up the Road” or “Key to the Highway”; the inspiration here comes from Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter and many others. The smoothness has been filtered out and this goes back to the raw earthiness of early country blues and Chicago electric blues.

John Fairhurst is originally from Wigan; he now lives in Bristol and recorded this album in Bristol and London with the help of Toby Murray (drums), Joe Strouzer (harmonica and vocals), Emma Divine (vocals), Tim Loudon (bass), Luke Barter (bass), Jago Whitehead (drums & percussion), Phil Jewson (piano), Saul Wodak (guitar effects) and Alex Beitzke (bass). I have a little confession to make about the album; on the first listen, I was halfway through before I actually started to get it (during the guitar solo on “I’m Coming Home”, actually). I blame it on the previous review I did, which was a very cleanly-produced singer-songwriter and it took a while to move from that to the over-driven guitar, wailing harmonica and Tom-Waits-dukes-it-out-with-Mark-Lanegan vocals. So let’s go back to the start.

The two opening songs, “Breakdown” and “Who You Fooling” get things off to a raucous start with plenty of amped-up slide and harmonica to get things rolling before the album’s only cover, the Mississippi John Hurt song “Pay Day”, which is much gentler, using the old country blues devices of repeated lines and call and response with the help of the Dean Street Choir. There’s even a sneaky little Eric Clapton reference at the end. “More More More” and “Time Goes By” are rooted in the rural, country blues tradition, the first having a UK skiffle feel while “Time Goes By” could be Tom Waits with the badly-tuned pub piano accompaniment.

You couldn’t really describe “I’m Coming Home” as blues; it’s a mutant Jimi Hendrix/Neil Young hybrid with “Voodoo Chile”-style riff and fill playing in the verses and a Shakey-style solo from the “American Stars and Bars” era. It’s the first of the album’s epic pieces. “No Shelter” is another elemental piece built around a simple (but loud) guitar riff and a reasonably good choice for the album’s first single while “Black Cat” is pure Muddy Waters; it’s a straight-ahead twelve-bar with belting harmonica and that always sounds good to me. So, more of the same to finish the album off?

No way; the penultimate song, written by the whole band, is “Dance in the Pines”, a mad surf-punk piece which splices DNA from The Cramps, Dick Dale and The Ventures. It’s off the wall and it’s brilliant. The album’s closer and title track, “Saltwater” is the magnum opus and absolutely has to be the last track; it wouldn’t be as effective anywhere else on the album. The song, which is a restyling of the Robert Johnson “Crossroads” story substituting the ocean for Clarksdale, has the singer refusing to shake hands with The Devil. It’s an epic which starts with acoustic guitar and vocal (slipping into a Wigan accent) which builds through a rural bluegrass-tinged to a kitchen-sink finale featuring Emma Divine delivering a vocal which easily equals Clare Torry’s famous performance on “Great Gig in the Sky”. And it’s the last track on the album because you can’t follow that; job done.

If you’re sick of hearing second and third generation blues revivalists recycling smooth guitar licks and bland vocals (no, I’m not naming names) then this could be just the album for you; don’t file under easy listening.

Out now (JF005).

Wild SkiesWild Skies” is the debut album from Linda Sutti, who is from Piacenza in Italy, but writes and sings in English. Her co-writer and producer on the album is our old friend, Henrik Freischlader, who is German but also writes and sings in English. Following his usual pattern, Henrik not only co-writes and produces the album but also plays drums, guitars and bass. The studio line-up is completed by Omer Klein (keys), Christopher Huber (violin), Cornelius Thiem (cello) and Johannes Krayer (pedal steel).

Linda’s style is conventional singer-songwriter lyrically while the music moves through jazz and light rock and towards a more poppy sound (but definitely without any EDM). Her voice is strong and distinctive and she’s equally effective on the intimate and raucous ends of the scale with touches of Rickie Lee Jones and Norah Jones (who both had pretty memorable debut albums) at various times.

The album’s opener, “Hurry”, does just the opposite; it’s an appeal from a lover to relax and wind down, but the singer isn’t having any of it. It’s a medium-tempo laid-back jazz groove with what I can only describe as a chauffeur’s gear change towards the end; it’s certainly a lot smoother than the truckers’ variety. “Try” is the most obvious single and pop tune on the album, with a hint of Suzanne Vega vocally and a lighters-in-the-air chorus. The title song, “Wild Skies”, and “Every Tick of Our Time” are both from the introspective 70s singer-songwriter tradition with the former featuring some subtle electric piano and a tempo change to emphasise the chorus while the latter has a beautiful string section intro leading into a song backed with only acoustic guitar.

Down on the Road” is the album’s ‘get out of my life’ song with a 60s psychedelic backing that Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger would have been proud of, and is followed by the acoustic piece “For the Thrill” which, for me, is the weakest song on the album. “Silence” is a pretty successful attempt to capture a fleeting moment and features some lovely subtle rhythm guitar from Henrik and a couple of very nice hooks to pull you into the verses. “Prince Coffee” uses stirring a cold cup of coffee as a metaphor for trying to make a relationship work and it just about succeeds, with a little help from the polka-tinted arrangement.

Ordinary Life”, with its minimalist backing deals with a common problem for musicians (or any kind of performing): the paradox of the wisdom and the impossibility of maintaining a meaningful relationship with a civilian, which seems to be resolved in the only song on the album written entirely by Henrik Freischlader, “Dear Mr So-and-So”. The funky guitar and keys along with Linda’s robust delivery create a sound which could be Rickie Lee Jones at her best. The final track, “No Fear”, hints at the 70s pop/folk crossovers of artist like Rab Noakes and Gerry Rafferty (and more recently John Tams) combining folk roots with electric instrumentation to good effect.

Overall, it’s a very varied and listenable album, which you would expect with the involvement of Henrik Freischlader, and there are a couple of standout songs which would work on Radio 2 in the UK. Linda Sutti’s voice is strong and convincing throughout and the strings and pedal steel aren’t overused, which increases the impact when they do feature. My only criticism is that the lyrics could occasionally be a bit stronger, which may be down to both Henrik and Linda writing in a second language; I certainly wouldn’t want to try writing a lyric in French. Putting that aside, there’s a lot to like about this album and I recommend that you give it a listen.

Out now on Cable Car Records (CCR 0311-44).

Debi Does TitleI know I probably use this phrase far too often, but this really is something that’s a little bit different and it’s difficult to know where to start. Debi Doss is from St Louis and came to the UK in the 70s as a live music photographer (and a very good one at that) but somehow ended up working as a backing vocalist for her childhood heroes, The Kinks, which led to around ten years of working as a live and session singer for a list of bands that’s way too long for this piece. She even did the female vocal on “Video Killed the Radio Star” and appeared in the video (the first ever shown on MTV USA). All of which helps to explain most of the track listing on the EP.

Video… ” is a mainly acoustic guitar-backed version of the Buggles hit with multi-tracked vocals on the chorus and some subtle electric guitar and handclaps in the bridge; this version proves that it was a great song without the big Buggles production. We all know that “Waterloo Sunset” is a great song, so it’s interesting to hear a version where the intro is acoustic and finger-picked, with the falling chromatic bassline picked out on a six-string at a much slower tempo than the classic Kinks version. The electric comes in on the bridge again for emphasis before dropping back into the acoustic backing and the vocal’s powerful but controlled. And I’ve just realised that Dzal Martin, who I loved in No Dice way back when is the guitar player. “Nothing Lasts Forever”, from The Kinks musical “Preservation” is styled very much like the Kinks original but without the Ray Davies vocal and it works pretty well. “Je Chante” (“I Sing”) is a Debi Doss original written in French and delivered with some nice Gallic cello underneath the vocal; it’s lightweight but pretty and takes to the last track on the EP.

Fly High – Part 1” is a fragment and, I suspect, the catalyst for the release of this EP. It’s a tribute to her nephew, Scotty, who drowned in Big River, St Louis, in June 2014. It’s a mantra with keyboards, xylophone and guitar leading into a coda which feels like a stairway to the heavens and is completed with a xylophone “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” motif. Short, but poignant. This EP is well worth a listen, but there’s an awful lot more to Debi Doss than the music. If you were into music in the 70s, then you really need to check out the images on her website.

The “Debi Does” EP is out on November 24.