On the cover of his last album, 'Almighty Love', Dublin singer/songwriter Damien Dempsey was depicted in the Irish Sea, wearing a wetsuit, arms stretched out to the sky, with the landmark Poolbeg Chimneys in the background. Damien is a keen outdoor swimmer. When working in London he likes to go for a dip in the ponds at Hampstead Heath. His new album, 'Soulsun', ends with the same theme: In 'Soft Rain' the singer watches as the sun travels the width of his country, "... traverses the broad majestic Shannon, creeps up the beautiful Burren, barren, across to the mystical islands of Aran, and sprinkles gold dust over the ever young Atlantic Ocean. I'm goin' in. Are ye comin'?"
An album that sounds like it was recorded in 1973 which is high praise indeed for a band who in 2017 have evoked the memories of a time when Prog was king along with the rock/jazz crossover of the time.
"I got old and decided I didn't want to be an old punk", says Lil' Lost Lou in Vive Le Rock magazine, explaining what prompted her to go the country way. Lou is from Camden Town and has her own band, however this is her solo debut.
The Weeks are twin brothers Cyle (vocals) and Cain (drums), Sam Williams (guitar/vocals) and Damien Bone (bass). The band formed in high school in Jackson, Mississippi. They released their first EP in 2006.
The band left Nashville to record in order to disassociate themselves from their everyday routines in the city, and to find a halfway point between their two homes old and new, Mississippi and Nashville. “Memphis has always been the capital of North Mississippi to us", says guitarist Sam Williams. “ We went there to be at Ardent. We knew Paul had learned everything from John Frye and John Hammond so we figured that was the spot. It’s important to keep those historic studios alive and not let them become museums.”
New album, ‘Easy’ certainly does not belong in a museum. Kicking off with ‘Talk Like that’ a rocker that brings to mind bands like Marah and Stewboss, bands so full of energy.
Second track ‘Ike’ gets a sweet Muscle Shoals vibe going for it with a 'Frightend Rabbit' chrous which is followed by the Foals like rift of ‘Start it Up”.
‘Hands on the Radio’ is only the fourth track in and with it’s funky vibe lays before you an album of kaleidoscope colours.
On the record, frontman Cyle Barnes says, “ We called it Easy because every time I make music with these guys, it’s easy. It feels good. But the other side of it is there’s nothing easy about being in a band. There’s nothing easy about staying together for ten years and still wanting to make music. We have the hardest and easiest job on the planet. But it works for us.”
There is a ‘Southern’ feel throughout the eleven tracks of this great driving record. We just need some sunshine to roll down the windows, so we can share this record with the world!
After 15 solo years dogged by poor deals, the odd single release and probably a lack of being in the right place at the right time, Dave O’Grady aka Seafoam Green releases his debut collection of songs titled Topanga Canyon.
O’Grady is an Irish born, but Liverpool based singer songwriter who clearly has his heart set in the American mid-west, and has been listening to a lot of Creedance, Crosby Stills & Nash and a plethora of Americana.
Interestingly, the album is actually a collaboration with Rich Robinson who he apparently started working with after a chance meeting over in Nashville. Following supporting Robinson on his solo tour, the two started writing and recording together what turns out is a very fine set of rock and roll, Americana songs.
In the nicest possible way, this feels like an album set in the 70s played by flare wearing, handlebar moustachioed dudes, full of guitar licks, pedal steel and damn fine tunes. Vocally O’Grady mentions John Fogerty as an influence, but I can’t get Ron Sexsmith out of my head when he starts singing. A female voice regularly joins in on the harmony parts to great effect too.
Celtic Wanderings starts the album off in a gorgeous manner - quiet, considered, multi layered and beautifully played and sung. Lowly Lou is the opposite - raucous, rock and roll with the chorus a repeating sing along to the Lou mentioned in the title. Rabble rousing and would provide the perfect backdrop to siping bourbon in a bar in Nashville. Royal Call is heavy on the gorgeous pedal steel, and again it’s a dual vocal affair which just adds to the prettiness of the song.
And so it goes on. This is another of those rare albums nowadays which benefits from actual sitting down and listening to it, in it’s entirety whilst giving it your full attention, and you will be rewarded.
The musicianship, the tunes, the feel of the album is something special - it’s a good time album that just cheers you up after playing it. This is an album played by talented musicians, who play real instruments and that should be celebrated.
It’s interesting to note that the album release funding was helped by the Merseyside Arts Foundation. Let’s hope that this album sells enough for them to not need to look around for funds for album number two, because we need Seafoam Green to make music like this for years to come.