Albums of the Month – October 2020

Our Top Six Releases

Elizabeth Cook – Photo: LTTL

Top Six Releases

October 2020

By Rob Dickens

A somewhat different monthly outlook this time around. There were so many good releases in September, to me they largely overshadowed those albums that came my way which will be released in the near future. So here’s a more retro look on my top six releases.

There is plenty of drama in the music discussed below – tormented souls, multiple comebacks after challenges that might make others go under, harlots and cross gender. A colourful group to lighten our COVID load.

(Leading photo of Van Walker by Shannon McDonald)

Cidny Bullens

Walkin’ Through This World

21 August 2020

Blue Lobster

Talk about transformation. A four-decade rock ‘n’ roll career, Grammy-nominated, worked with Bob Dylan, Elton John, Rod Stewart, collaborated with Steve Earle, John Hiatt and Delbert McLinton. Lost a daughter to cancer in the 1990’s.

While Walkin’ Through This World is the artist’s ninth collection of original songs, it is the first release he has put out as Cidny Bulleens, a transgender man.

And it’s a spell-binding and moving album, beautifully put together, produced by Ray Kennedy and Bullens and recorded at Room & Board Studio in Nashville.

A wonderful celebration of gender transition, the songs are joyous, with guests including Rodney Crowell, Beth Neilson Chapman and Mary Gauthier.

Bulleens is the subject of an award-winning documentary short film The Gender Line.


Via Conqueroo

Clint Wilson

Another Death In The Family

11 September 2020


Another Death in the Family is only the second album from Melbourne singer/songwriter Clint Wilson.  His down-to-earth storytelling taps perfectly into the low-key Australian psyche, the lyrics are as welcome as a summer’s tall glass of water.

Two tracks were recorded at Wilson’s home studio, one being the catchy “Couldn’t Promise You Rain #4” (“I promised you love, but I couldn’t promise you rain“) and the other, the opening beguiling “Sons and Daughters” (see clip below). Almost all the remaining cuts were done at EOR Studio with Damian Cafarella and Lachlan Bryan, while “High School Sweethearts” (which features a perfect cameo from Gretta Ziller) was recorded at Newmarket Studios.

Another Death in the Family is a clear indication of Wilson’s insights and talent.


Via Wild Heart Publicity

Delta Spirit

What Is There

11 September 2020

New West

Confession up front: Delta Spirit is a band new to me, in both name and output. What Is There for me is a glorious revelation. It is their first album in six years, the ten-song set produced by the band and mixed by Tchad Blake (U2, Black Keys).

Formed in Southern California in 2005, the band took an extended break in 2015 to refresh their internal relationships which had become tested after a decade squeezed into a rigorous band schedule. Frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez used that hiatus releasing and touring behind three solo albums, multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich launched a career as a producer, while bassist Jonathan Jameson, guitarist Will McLaren, and drummer Brandon Young collaborated and toured with Sam Outlaw and others.

What Is There is a triumphant return, an Americana cinematic and epic ride which perfectly evidences their skills. Let’s hope they don’t wait for another six years, I have some more catching up to do!


Elizabeth Cook


11 September 2020

Agent Love Records/Thirty Tigers

I have followed Elizabeth Cook’s career since her 2013 Australian Tour and have seen her perform many times since, the last being at the 2019 Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion where my erstwhile colleague Jim Jacob captured her magically in the photo at the top of the page.

This outing starts off differently from the get go, with the burning apocalyptic opening track “Bones” (“I wear your bones around my neck” is a direct reference to a necklace containing her parents’ ashes) and sets the scene for Aftermath as she stretches out of her country roots.

It is a vastly entertaining journey over the twelve songs as she regales us with tales of resilience, weakness, death and survival. It’s honest and courageous.


Van Walker


28 August 2020


Let’s start this by saying I doubt I will hear a more emotional, passionate and heart-felt release this year.

‘Ghosting’ apparently refers to an abrupt cessation of communication with a partner or friend and the continued failure to engage in that relationship. I’m not sure whether Van Walker is the ghosting perpetrator or victim but the album Ghosting (fifteen songs at over 80 minutes) documents vividly the residue of a relationship and the pain is palpable. There are many contributors (too many to name) but they add magically to Walker’s guitar landscape.

It’s been a long time, a decade in fact, since Walker released an album under his own name. That’s too long but he has given us a cathartic classic.


Via Annie Johnsson Publicity

Waylon Payne

Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher, & Me

11 September 2020

Carnival Recording Company

Speaking of colourful characters this month! I sat in on a interview with Waylon Payne on the first day of AmericanaFest in Nashville last year and his life story is so rich and challenging that there’s not enough room here to even start relating it (GO HERE for a fuller account).

Suffice to stay that the unusually long and graphic album title Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher, & Me is not a work of fiction nor embellished in any way.

I came away from that Nashville session with the greatest of admiration for Payne and his brutal honesty in dealing with his many past demons. When I heard this record I was immediately transported back to his life story in all its detail, but also surprised how good these songs are, how much his voice fits the classic country mold (not the ute, beer and big hat variety) but the George Jones, Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry aesthetic.

My admiration for Payne just went up yet another notch.

Waylon Payne – Photo: LTTL



Our Top Six Releases

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Author: Rob Dickens

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