Laurel Canyon Music

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Filtering by Category: Americana Music

Dying Star - Ruston Kelly

Ruston Kelly - Dying Star.jpg
  • Artist: Ruston Kelly

  • Release date: 7th September, 2018

  • Genre: Americana, Folk, Singer-Songwriter

  • Record Label: Concord Records

  • Tracks: 14

  • Website:

  • Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)

When your wife has released one of the Grammy nominated albums of the year, it quite easy for you own debut release to be slightly overshadowed. But Ruston’s 'Dying Star’ is well worth exploring further. What really stands out for me is the cinematic storytelling and songwriting plus some great pedal steel arrangements

‘Dying Star’ is a very impressive debut from Ruston, a little-known Nashville singer-songwriter with a fine voice and a gift for pairing heavy lyrics with remarkably graceful melodies. The album is full of impressive high crafted songs. It is a lovely blend of Americana, Country and Folk.

The album has the recurring themes of love, loss, pain, substances, desperation, self-discovery and the hope for salvation. As Kacey Musgraves’ marriage to Ruston inspired the blissful cosmic country sound on ‘Golden Hour’, perhaps Ruston’s next album might explore more positive themes.

The album was co-produced by Kelly and Jarrad K (Kate Nash, Weezer) and recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, TX. It includes 14 songs written/co-written by Ruston and features Ruston (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, xylophone, harmonica), Jarrad K (12-string guitar, background vocals, electric guitar, Rhodes), Tim Kelly (pedal steel), Ian Fitchuk (piano, organ, drums, percussion), Eli Beaird (bass) and Kyle Ryan (banjo) as well as background vocals from Jon Green, Natalie Hemby, Kacey Musgraves, Kate York, Abby Sevigny and Joy Williams. Of the album, Rushton comments, “A lot of my music is focused on suffering, or trying to understand the human condition through the lens of suffering…which probably sounds totally depressing, but it’s actually the flipside of that. Sometimes you’ve gotta go into that darkness—you need to get lost and then figure out for yourself how to find your way back. That’s the only way we can find pure joy, and really be thankful for the life we’ve been given.”

The album opens with the acoustic pop ‘Cover My Tracks’ followed by the lovely ‘Mockingbird’. I really like the acoustic guitar, pedal steel and harmonica interplay on this one. Classic Laurel Canyon fused with mid-tempo Country Rock, almost Neil Young meets Ryan Adams. Ruston shares, “I wrote ‘Mockingbird’ in a Dominican hotel, on the edge of a bed, at like six in the morning. I needed a release from a cyclical pattern of a doomed relationship. The kind that leaves you with less than what you went in with. It’s a story for everyone, the human condition, our connected plight in a mad world. Regardless of how it’s expressed, we all struggle through something with hope on the other side.”

The vocoder infused ‘Son of a Highway Daughter’ has echoes of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.” updated for the young Nashville generation. Rushton is a great storyteller and a perfect example is the reflective and sad ‘Paratrooper’s Battlecry’

The bluesy pop ‘Faceplant’ deals with the the subject substance abuse and it’s aftermath. “I’ve come too far to turn back now”. Continuing the same theme is ‘Blackout’ is a lovely mid-tempo fusion of strings, pretty harmonies and plenty of heartbreak and booze. Travelling and moving on are explored on ‘Big Brown Bus’, which sees Ruston leaving San Antonio in Texas and heading south to Mexico. I really like the song’s strong storytelling and pedal steel solo. Wonderful word play and story telling abound on ‘Mercury’ “A dying star with a junkyard heart”.

The tempo drops for the reflective and atmospheric ‘Anchors’ dealing with the end of a relationship. Lush and beautiful harmonies provided by by a female choir including Joy Williams (Civil Wars), Natalie Hemby and wife Kacey really enrich ‘Just For the Record’. ‘Trying To Let Her’ is another down tempo reflective love song about a man trying to figure out his live and relationships. ‘She is trying to love me and I’m trying to let her’.

One of my favourite songs on the album is the classy and classic ‘Jericho’. Again very reflective, personal and inward looking with a memorable hook, It finds Ruston channeling the dark minimalism of Bruce Springsteen's ‘Nebraska’ with a stark guitar-and-a-harmonica aesthetic. He uses the biblical city's ancient wall as a representation of his own isolation, but it's cut through with the harmonies of Natalie Hemby and ex-Civil Wars member Joy Williams, with whom Ruston co-wrote the tune. Together, they lift the song up, singing on the chorus, "I raised Jericho around me, but these walls are built to scale."

The title track ‘Dying Star’ drifts away on pedal steel accents and light percussion. The album closes with the rather short but perfectly formed ‘Brightly Burst Into The Air’.

High Fences - James Edwyn and The Borrowed Band (06/10/17)

  • Artist: James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band

  • Release Date: 6th October, 2017

  • Genre: Americana, Rock

  • Record Label: Dead Records Collective

  • Tracks: 10

  • Website:

  • Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)

Glasgow based Scottish Americana & Folk-Rock band James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band are certainly making waves. After the excitement and critical acclaim surrounding their debut album ‘The Tower’ in 2014, their second album ‘High Fences’ released in October 2017 certainly lives up it’s promise. It’s released on the band’s own Dead Record Collective label and is currently winning them even more attention. The band feature James Edwyn, Emma Joyce, Scott Keenan, Ronnie Gilmour, Ross McLaughlin and Neil McDonald

They thrilled at this years AMA UK conference & showcase and also performed on the main stage of the FATEA’s 30th birthday bash in Bournemouth. They have been very busy this year with a UK tour and many other successful festival appearances.

‘High Fences' is a perfect showcase of the bands unique combination of the finest melody-driven songwriting along with their trademark attention to production and arrangement. The inclusion of pedal steel and horns adding an extra dimension.

There are echoes of The Band too in the interplay and rich grooves in ‘Get Back Up’. It is a album of wonderful contrast and texture including the guitar-driven alt-country of the opening track ‘Passing San Ysidro’ , the gentle flow and reflection of ‘Pushing Statues’ through to the soulful ‘Quoting Sagan’. Soul and heart is what this album has in abundance. There is even the lovely ‘Never In A While’ which strips everything down to just James Edwyn on acoustic guitar. It perfectly suits the intimate nature of the song.

With it’s gentle melodic pop sway, ‘Starlet’ is another particular highlight of mine, with Emma Joyce’s harmony vocals adding to the rich mix. The album closes on two slow waltzers with ‘Burning Man’ and Ronnie Gilmour’s guitar playing perfectly complementing James Edwyn’s soulful and heartfelt delivery in ‘Doubts’ bringing to mind CSNY and The Eagles.

Buy the album here >>>

Mumford and Sons - Delta (16/11/18)

Mumford and Sons - Delta.jpg
  • Artist: Mumford & Sons

  • Release Date: 16th November, 2018

  • Genre: Folk, Rock, Pop

  • Record Label: Island

  • Tracks: 14

  • Website:

Delta is the upcoming fourth studio album by British band Mumford & Sons. It is set to be released on 16 November 2018 through Gentlemen of the Road and Island Records.The album was recorded at The Church Studios in London with producer Paul Epworth..

The album is supported by the lead single, "Guiding Light", which was premiered on 20 September 2018 on BBC Radio 1. It will also be supported by a 60-date world tour to begin in November 2018

Motel Bouquet - Caitlin Canty (30/03/18)

Caitlin Canty - Motel Bouquet.jpg
  • Artist: Caitlyn Canty

  • Release Date: 30th March, 2018

  • Genre: Folk, Blues, Americana, Singer-Songwriter

  • Record Label: Caitlin Canty / Tone Tree Music

  • Tracks: 10

  • Website:

Caitlin Canty is an US singer/songwriter whose music carves a line through folk, blues, and country ballads. Her voice was called “casually devastating” by the San Francisco Chronicle and NPR Music describes her songs as having a “haunting urgency.”

’Motel Bouquet’, Caitlin’s third album, features ten original songs that hold her darkly radiant voice firmly in the spotlight. Produced by Grammy-nominated Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers) and recorded live over three days in Nashville, the album boasts a band of some of finest musicians in roots music, including fiddler Stuart Duncan and vocalist Aoife O’Donovan. Rolling Stone hails Motel Bouquet as “dreamy and daring” with “poetic lyrics and haunting melodies.”

Down The Road Wherever - Mark Knopfler

Mark Knopfler - Down The Road Wherever.jpg
  • Artist: Mark Knopfler

  • Release Date: 16th November, 2018

  • Genre: Rock, Blues, Americana

  • Record Label: Universal Music

  • Tracks: 16

  • Website:

Ask Mark Knopfler to explain the title of his ninth solo studio album and he will tell you that ‘Down The Road Wherever’ is a line from one of the tracks: 'One Song At A Time.' He'll give the credit for that title phrase to a sadly departed friend with whom he shared a lifelong love of songwriting and guitar playing, and their endless potential to change lives.

‘I remember my pal Chet Atkins once saying that he picked his way out of poverty one song at a time, and it just stuck in my mind,’ says Mark. ‘You get to an age where it is a few songs. But Down The Road Wherever seems to be appropriate, just because it's what I've always done. I've always tried to keep my own geography happening in the songs, that applies there as well.’ In One Song At A Time' that autobiographical geography pinpoints Deptford, where the up-and-coming Dire Straits began to make their way, one song at a time.

The unassuming spirit of the itinerant songsmith is still Knopfler's pilot light, inextinguishable through more than 40 years at the absolute pinnacle of his profession. ‘Down The Road Wherever’ is the latest, elegant evidence of that steadfast hunger, a bold and often surprising songbook of 14 selections (more on the deluxe editions) boiled down from twice as many that went into the workshop.

Hummingbird - John Smith (05/10/18)

John Smith - Hummingbird.jpg
  • Artist: John Smith

  • Release Date: 5th October, 2018

  • Genre: Folk, Americana, Singer-Songwriter

  • Record Label: Commoner Records

  • Tracks: 10

  • Website:

John Smith is an acclaimed singer, songwriter and guitarist from Devon, England. He has played to audiences all over the world in living rooms, festival tents and sold-out concert halls. He is a genuine folksinger, an inquisitive truth-seeker, devoted song interpreter, and enchanting writer. A contributor and collaborator, John quickly and effortlessly earns the esteem of his comrades and heroes. He has opened for folk greats including John Martyn, Davy Graham and John Renbourn, who called John Smith the future of folk music. On the contemporary side, he has also opened for Iron and Wine, Tinariwen, and Ben Howard. He has guested with artists such as Jackson Browne, Jerry Douglas, Glen Hansard and Rodney Crowell. He has played guitar for artists such as David Gray, Lisa Hannigan, Joe Henry and Joan Baez.

John described his reason for making Hummingbird "Ever since my teenage epiphany at the altar of Folk Music, hearing Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn for the first time, I have been a devotee. The six strings of my guitar have granted me access to a sacred space between things, the unconscious interweaving sensations that allow us that gentle buzz on hearing a good folk song. It was with this in mind that I returned to Sam Lakeman s Somerset studio in March of 2018, two years since recording my previous album Headlong in that same place, to commit six of my favourite folk songs to tape, alongside one cover version and three original songs. The tracks quickly took on their own shape in Sam s able hands. I invited several good friends to join me in this process: Cara Dillon, John McCusker and Ben Nicholls"

True North - Phillip Henry (05/10/18)

Phillip Henry - True North.jpg
  • Artist: Phillip Henry

  • Release Date: 5th October, 2018

  • Genre: Folk, Americana

  • Record Label: Dragonfly Roots

  • Tracks: 11

  • Website:

In the autumn of 2018, Phillip Henry will celebrate the release of his long awaited solo album ‘True North’ with a national tour. Commemorating ten years since his journey to Kolkata to study under the great slide guitarist Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya,

‘True North’ charts a life spent travelling the globe, collecting tunes, stories, and instruments. From music written whilst kangaroo spotting in Australia, to tunes learnt from a Canadian maestro on First Nations reservation land in Canada; songs of the road; and pieces written by musician friends from Kent to Kolkata ; the album's diversity is matched only by the virtuosity of Henry's playing. One musician, one instrument, is the guiding principle; yet instruments range from mellow Weissenborn depths to spectacular Dobro flourishes, to the sounds of the rare Indian Chaturangui (a 22 string guitar from the sub-continent). Here is a fusion of global styles deeply infused with Henry's British folk roots, and brought together with a considered beauty all his own.

Phillip Henry is an in demand performer whose collaborations with fellow musicians such as Peter Knight (Steeleye Span), Steve Knightley (Show of Hands), and Hannah Martin (Edgelarks), have led to the evolution of a unique instrumental style that has wowed audiences around the world. Now he is preparing to take his solo show on the road with a very special series of concerts. As well as his collection of slide guitars, his show-stopping beatbox harmonica, a great favourite with audiences, is sure to make an appearance. Featuring old favourites, and material from True North, this will be an evening to inspire the mind and lighten the soul.

Songs Of The Plains - Colter Wall (12/10/18)

Colter Wall - SOTP.jpg
  • Artist: Colter Wall

  • Release Date: 12th October, 2018

  • Genre: Country, Americana, Blues, Rock

  • Record Label: Young Mary Record Company

  • Tracks: 13

  • Website:

The excellent second album from Saskatoon based Americana singer-songwriter Colter Wall.

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