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Albums Of The Month – March 2021

Our Top Six Releases Mar 21

Luke Sinclair – Photo: LTTL

Top Six Releases

March 2021

Our Top Six Releases

By Rob Dickens

Bones Owens

Bones Owens

Black Ranch Records/Thirty Tigers

26 February 2021

Bones Owens is Missouri-bred and Nashville-based, but he sounds more like a linchpin of the bluesy rock ‘n’ roll scene in neighbouring Memphis. His self-titled debut is a jubilant concoction – gritty and pulsating guitar, swinging riffs and strong vocals. Swagger with substance.

The album came to life at The Smoakstack studio in Nashville with production from Paul Moak, a five-time Grammy nominee who has also worked with Joy Williams, Marc Broussard and The Blind Boys of Alabama. Most of the album finds Owens joining forces with the drummer Julian Dorio (Eagles of Death Metal, The Whigs) and bassist Jonathan Draper (All Them Witches), recording live to tape.

In discussing the journey that led Owens to his debut he said, “this record is the culmination of years of blood, sweat, and tears in the business… making records in other bands, making records for other people, etc. It’s the end of a goal to make my own full-length album, and at the same time just the beginning of this chapter.”

It’s taken a while but expect Bones Owens to be sharing his rocking vitality for a while to come.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via The Syndicate

Eli West

Tapered Point Of Stone

Independent

23 April 2021

An American roots gem from go to whoa. Gifted musician and singer Eli West here offers up beautiful instrumental compositions and cracking songs with some wonderful players, all originals. Featured with West who plays mandolin, guitar and banjo are his favoured musicians Andrew Marlin and Clint Mullican (Mandolin Orange), with Christian Sedelmyer (Jerry Douglas Band).

This album is not about demonstrating virtuosity. Rather it’s about warmth,collecting fine songs and tunes and playing them with friends (albeit incredibly talented ones).

Interestingly, West is a trained designer and to a significant extent sees music like architecture – a careful combination of objects and space. The latter can be employed to great effect in both comedy and music and is a statuesque aspect of this record which was recorded in 2020, just before everything shut down. It was sure worth the wait. If you are worried about the state of the world (and you have every right to), listen to Tapered Point Of Stone, it will cheer you up no end.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Hearth Music

Hope Dunbar

Sweetheartland

Independent

2 April 2021

Nebraska-based Americana-folk singer-songwriter Hope Dunbar speaks the truth. She has an uncanny ability to observe her surroundings, translate them and turn them into short stories that matter. Her previous release Three Black Crows in 2017 was an acclaimed stark and honest account (read our interview with Hope after that release).

The follow-up Sweetheartland was recorded in Nashville, before the pandemic hit, and produced by Zack Smith, Jesse Thompson and Dunbar herself. 

“My mission in this project was to fully realize my own strength and identity as a songwriter,” says Dunbar. “My intention … was to walk in and say, ‘I’m not asking your permission. I’m doing what I want to do. I am fully empowered, and I’m choosing to make this record.’”

Here’s but one example of her songwriting chops, from her homage “John Prine”: “I’m flipping through the pages of a waiting room magazine while the clock keeps on ticking like a pickaxe steadily chipping away at the vision of who I thought I could be.”

On this new outing, Dunbar also showcases her enviable vocal skills, a range to match the strident vision of this terrifically bold record.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Skye Media

Jerry Joseph

The Beautiful Madness

Independent

21 August 2020

It’s taken me a while to get on to this Jerry Joseph. He has fans in high places. Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers produced the album and wrote the liner notes, Jason Isbell says he is one of the best songwriters and performers ever (they both backed him on this release) and Richmond Fontaine liked him so much they took him as support for their UK farewell tour in 2016.

Currently residing in Portland Oregon Joseph has been releasing records and touring all over since the early 1990’s. He founded the NOMAD Music Foundation, a non-profit to provide music and instruments to children in war zones. The Beautiful Madness is an unapologetic and raw documentation on the world today – it was in fact written in Mexico, California and South Africa. He comments on the #metoo movement, pays tribute to David Bowie, opines on racial hatred and delivers other precious observations on this wonderfully in-your-face project.

The album was recorded at Matt Patton’s studio, Dial Back Sound, in Water Valley, Mississippi with the Stiff Boys aka all the Drive-By Truckers backing him up for the entire album.  Notably, it was also the first time the Truckers have recorded with Isbell since he left the band in 2007.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Stuart Coupe Publicity

Kristian Montgomery and the Winter Kill Band

Prince of Poverty

Independent

5 March 2021

We get quite a few music submissions at Listening through The Lens provided directly by independent artists. Honestly, the quality is variable and, more often than not, they get swamped by larger-scale releases of which there are plenty.

A brief email with little background and a download link was all I got in this instance which provides even less incentive for a reviewer whose juggling many projects on the go.

But Kristian Montgomery and the Winter Kill Band and their album Prince of Poverty is a strong and worthy ensemble of alt. country and Americana tracks, delivered with straight aim and a worldly balance.

Sorry, that’s all I can tell you. Maybe that’s all we need to know?

OFFICIAL SITE

The Luke Sinclair Set

Heavy Dreams

Independent

5 February 2021

Raised by Eagles‘ front man Luke Sinclair, after an intended hiatus from musical projects, wrote these songs in 2019 and recorded them in early 2020. Mercifully, he was far enough advanced to be able to complete the project (via on-line mixing sessions) during the next, unintended interval – the lengthy COVID-19 Lockdown in his Melbourne hometown.

Sinclair’s humility shows through when using the moniker Luke Sinclair Set, based on the premise that most ‘solo’ records are so collaborative that all the attention should not be on one person.

Heavy Dreams is a wonderful debut, proving his ability to dissect the human condition through delicate and evocative arrangements which include selective gorgeous backing vocals and Matt Dixon‘s trenchant and edgy guitar work.

The songs were written by Sinclair, arranged by him with Zane Lynd and the album overflows with fine musicians – Lynd (bass, guitar, piano, harmony vocals), Dixon (lead guitars), Liam O’Leary (drums), Kelly Day – Broads (Korg synth, harmony vocals and arrangements) and Simon Burke (piano, organ).  The album was recorded by Roger Bergodaz at Union Street Studios Melbourne and mastered by Pete Lyman at Infrasonic Mastering, Nashville.

Heavy Dreams (solo album or not) is proof positive of Sinclair’s immense musical vision and artistry.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via House of Webb Publicity

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Our Top Six Releases Mar 21

Our Top Six Releases Mar 21

Our Top Six Releases Mar 21

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Author: Rob Dickens

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