Albums Of The Month – February 2024

Our Top Six Albums February 2024

John Smith – Photo: LTTL

Top Six Album Releases

February 2024

Our Top Six Albums February 2024

By Rob Dickens

Clay Parker and Jodi James

Your Very Own Dream

Independent

19 January 2024

We’ve covered and praised the Louisianan pair Clay Parker and Jodi James before, including an interview in 2016.

Following their self-titled debut EP in 2016 and 2018’s The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound, they offer their most mature project yet on Your Very Own Dream. The sound is meticulous and filled with much space, the pace is as gentle as it needs to be to accentuate the meaning. The soft rifts, the delightful harmonies and winsome lyrics add up to a winning collection.

OFFICIAL SITE

Eric Brace & Thomm Jutz

Simple Motion

Red Beet Records/Proper Music

16 February 2024

Eric Brace and Thomm Jutz with their ‘debut record’ Simple Motion. It’s a curious thing, as they have played countless shows together and collaborated with the late, sorely missed Peter Cooper and in other guises as well. (See our review of Eric Brace & Last Train Home with Everything Will Be and Daytime Highs & Overnight Lows and the aforementioned trio’s Riverland. Yes, we are fans!

Both Brace and Jutz are in that pantheon of musicians that seem to be able to hit that elusive golden double – prolific and sustained excellence. This album does not disappoint.

Framed in Jutz’s recording studio, the bountiful fourteen tracks cover the gamut of the very best songwriting – lyrics that vividly convey the full range of human emotions, feelings and situations – sometimes with just the two voices and guitars, other times utilising brilliant players (bassist Mark Fain, drummer Lynn Williams, fiddler Tammy Rogers, banjo players Richard Bailey and Justin Moses, and mandolinist Mike Compton.

The arrangements are, as usual for this pair, perfectly conceived and executed. In my mind, Eric Brace and Thomm Jutz can do no wrong and I can’t wait for their next collaboration, in whatever form they choose.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Broken Jukebox Media

John Smith

The Living Kind

Thirty Tigers/Commoner Records

15 March 2024

Another artist we have touted for a while. John Smith is an immaculate guitarist with an enviable folk voice. I saw him last at the Port Fairy Folk Festival last year on the back of his most recent album The Fray (2021).

This time around, with The Living Kind, he embarks on an adventurous new chapter, enlisting the services of acclaimed producer (and artist) Joe Henry. The songs were recorded entirely live at Henry’s home in Maine, with the agreed inspiration of three sources – Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden, John Martyn’s Solid Air and Joni Mitchell’s Hejira.

The album creates an unforgettable, cohesive mood, with the emotion and passion dripping through and Smith’s vocals reaching a new edge, a reflection of personal troubled times.

Smith says the album is about:

“responsibility and being keenly aware of your place within a family dynamic. When I started writing these songs, I knew immediately what was happening; in the space of three years, I had essentially become a different person and had a lot more to deal with. I wrote the songs just as we were beginning to rebuild our lives. They are about changing for the better in the face of loss. Celebrating the good things and facing up to the bad. Staying positive, trying to keep an eye on the centre, holding on to those we love and working towards a better future.”

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Pitchcandy PR

Malcolm MacWatt

Dark Harvest

Need To Know Records

27 January 2024

Malcom MacWatt has form. On his previous release Settler, he seamlessly merged Scottish and American styles and lore, bringing his razor-sharp focus on events real and potent. Dark Harvest again exhibits a unique blend of Celtic meets Appalachian cultures so that the differences are minimal, exposing the compelling commonality of humans and their predicaments.

Except piano, he plays all the instruments on the album with many of the arrangements being improvised at the moment of recording, so strong are the narratives contained within the songs and his stand-out vocals.

“Folk music isn’t stuck in the past. It’s constantly being written and rewritten, and while I throw a little light onto certain historical events, I’m also trying to create new stories and songs that reflect life today.”

Malcom MacWatt

This record is not for the faint of heart, with a sombre tone designed for compulsory self-reflection – tales depicting horror, murder, injustice, and violence, but, mixed with feats of courage, heroism and devotion, and you have songs that reflect MacWatt’s big heart and undeniable conscience.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Broken Jukebox Media

Rod Picott

Starlight Tour

Independent

2 February 2024

While we often feature new voices, this month’s Albums just happen to be replete with artists we have embraced in the past. That is the case with the prepossessing Rod Picott whose discography is the exemplar of consistency and creativity.

Starlight Tour was our Feature Review recently where I opined that Picott’s copious output may be due to a blue-collar work ethic. Whatever the reason, it in no way detracts from the sheer quality of his work and we are the better for his constant presence in our lives.

You can read the rest of that review HERE.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Broken Jukebox Media

Watchhouse

Austin City Limits Live At The Moody Theater

Yep Roc Records

13 January 2024

Watchhouse‘s main singer Andrew Marlin has this voice that, after a while, seeps into your brain. It’s gentle, controlled, lilting and world-weary, all at the same time. Used to great effect with the previously-named Mandolin Orange, Watchhouse and the roots supergroup Mighty Poplar where Marlin adds a vocal doorway into the phenomenal musicianship of that band.

The other half of the duo, Emily Franzt adds many layers, different vocals, guitar and violin that are emblematic of the pair’s unique sound.

This live album was recorded in January 2020 and supported by Clint Mullican (bass), Josh Oliver (guitar) and Joe Westerlund (drums). The fifteen-song set is evidence of their loyal following and how to captivate an audience on stage. (Interestingly, this show was only three months after we saw them in Kentucky – see our review)

OFFICIAL SITE

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LAST MONTH’S BEST ALBUMS

More Music Adventures Await!

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Our Top Six Albums February 2024

Our Top Six Albums February 2024

Our Top Six Albums February 2024

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Author: Rob Dickens

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2 Comments

  1. I’ll look forward to listening to John Smith’s new offering.

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    • Keiran, I think you will enjoy

      Post a Reply

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