Albums Of The Month – August 2023

Our Top Six Albums August 23

Lucinda Willams – Photo: LTTL

Top Six Album Releases

August 2023

Our Top Six Albums August 23

By Rob Dickens

Birds Of Play

Birdsongs Of The American West


25 August 2023

Birds of Play hail from Colorado…and obviously like a good pun. Birdsongs of the American West is their fourth album and demonstrates a wonderful craft, melding tight harmonies, compact arrangements and nature-inspired lyrics. Case in point, the first track “Texture”:

If texture is the language of time

River carved canyons speak in eloquent rhyme

Rainfall the choir of a world intertwined

This land suggests something divine

Birds Of Play are Alex Paul (lead vocalist, guitarist and bassist), Jack Tolan (guitars, mandolin and vocals), Eric Shedd (bass, mandolin, guitar and vocals) and Anneke Dean on violin, guitar and vocals. Their intertwoven playing represents a far-sighted cohesion that delivers a collection of beautiful folk/old-time traditional material.


Via McGuckin Entertainment PR

Colter Wall

Little Songs

La Honda Records/RCA Records

14 July 2023

Unique Western Canadian songwriter Colter Wall brings us another authentic record that sounds like it was recorded in a log cabin surrounded by cattle and dust, a rural version of Willie Nelson without the weed. His rich, baritone voice perfectly describes life on the land – rural communities experiencing serious times and fun times in a setting where life seems gloriously simple and unpressured.

Little Songs (“You got to fill the big empty with little songs”) was issued via his long-time label La Honda Records in a new joint venture with RCA Records.  The instrumentation is unvarnished, leaving the vocals and lyrics to take centre stage. Another celebration from this accomplished one-of-a-kind.

Yellowdog Studios in Wimberly, Texas was the setting for the recording with his long-time touring band, the same venue for his predecessor album Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs. Co-produced by Patrick Lyons, there are eight original songs and two covers – Ian Tyson‘s “The Coyote & The Cowboy” and Hoyt Axton‘s “Evangelina”.  


Lucinda Williams

Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart

Highway 20 Records/Thirty Tigers

30 June 2023

Three things.

Lucinda Williams is one of my all-time revered artists.

I saw her perform in April this year at Bluesfest Melbourne (that makes fourteen live shows for me, but the first since her stroke) and was at a loss for words as to how wonderful her voice was, the sparkling career-spanning set list and the terrific connection with her long-time backing band Buick 6 with the added class of guitarist Doug Pettibone.

The over-six-minute track “Where The Song Will Find Me” on Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart is up there with the best work she has ever done, and that’s saying something.

Nothing to add.


Via Jo Corbett Publicity

The Steel Woods

On Your Time

Woods Music/Thirty Tigers

6 October 2023

It’s taken me too long to hitch my horse to the wagon of The Steel Woods.

On Your Time is this powerful Southern rock band’s fourth studio album, just two years after their previous, well-received All of Your Stones and it does not disappoint. With a brooding, riff-laden and cutting sound filling in the right places for supreme, gravelly vocals a la Chris Stapleton, it’s a driving success.

Led by Wes Bayliss, the band’s guitarist, lead vocalist and co-founder, The Steel Woods mean business, as evidenced in the video for “Devil In This Holler” below.

I won’t let them out of my sight from hereon in.


Via Propeller Publicity

Viv & Riley

Imaginary People

Free Dirt Records

15 September 2023

Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno are gifted songwriters and multi-instrumentalists in their mid-20’s who are firmly ensconced in the dynamic music scene of Durham, North Carolina. For their new record, they have used the catchier moniker Viv & Riley and Imaginary People is a ten-track bittersweet indie folk treasure. The songs will have you singing along and, if you are so inclined, dancing around, such is the subtle use of crack melodies and arrangements. As to the overall vibe, think Watchhouse (ex Mandolin Orange).

Alex Bingham of Hiss Golden Messenger produced the album which features local musicians and comes on the heels of acclaimed earlier albums – I love Vivian’s 2018 solo album Time Is Everything and Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno (2021).

Let Imaginary People put a smile on your face.


Via Hearth Music

William The Conqueror

Excuse Me While I Vanish

Chrisalys Records

28 July 2023

This is a nuanced rock album with insistent rhythms and compelling hooks.

Formed in 2017, William The Conqueror are Ruarri Joseph (vocals, guitar), Naomi Holmes (bass guitar) and Harry Harding (drums). Excuse Me While I Vanish has much lyrical gravitas, influenced by Joseph being stuck in lockdown in Cornwall and witnessing the struggles of his healthcare wife:  

“My wife was insomniac for the first six months of lockdown, which made it impossible for me to moan or grieve the fact that everything I’d been working on for the last five years had come to a standstill. It was a much-needed perspective and made me realise what a selfish undertaking William had been – navel-gazing with my head in the clouds when what people needed was boots firmly on the ground, preferably on the feet of someone like Mandy.”

Ruarri Joseph

The band’s fourth album finds many engrossing sonic landscapes underwritten by a solid rhythm base distorted guitars and compelling spoken vocals.


Via Big Mouth Publicity



More Music Adventures Await!


Our Top Six Albums August 23

Our Top Six Albums August 23

Our Top Six Albums August 23

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Author: Rob Dickens

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