High Fives 2014 – Ags Connolly
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.
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 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.
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.
“Steering 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.
“Daylight 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.