A natural chanteuse who possesses just the right blend of sass and savvy, Aussie-born singer Ruby Boots (aka Rebecca Louise “Bex” Chilcott) was a seeker from early on. After leaving home at the age of 16, she took off for the outer reaches of Australia’s west coast, eventually landing a job on a pearl fishing trawler. It was there where she started dabbling in guitar, and eventually writing songs. After adopting a new name, she embarked on a career that’s brought her numerous awards and a fan following as well.
Chilcott, or Ms. Boots if you will, previously released three EPs and a full length debut she christened Solitude. However, her new album, the tellingly named Don’t Talk About It, handily elevates her standing. A set of songs that dwell on the wreckage left in the wake of romance, it pointedly addresses those prone to all sorts of sexual manipulation. Granted, that kind of abuse is nothing new, but in view of recent headlines, the focus Boots finds here seems especially apt.
Boots is aided in her efforts by the astute backing of the band Texas Gentlemen and support from a kindred spirit, Nikki Lane, who co-wrote the title track and provides the backing vocal. However, the focus remains wholly on Boots throughout, thanks to a saucy delivery that turns each song into a clear statement of purpose. “Don’t Talk About It” offers an especially strong example of her swagger and defiance. The determined “I’ll Make It Through,” has her declaring “I’m more than you can handle,” turning a song about survival into a hard won ode to independence.
To be sure, these songs never find Boots in retreat. If her attitude is any indication, she remains steadfast and undaunted. “Infatuation,” “It’s So Cruel” and “Easy Way Out” come across with drive and insistence, ample indication that she’s not about to back down. Happily, she’s willing to lure her lover by offering assurance as well. “I am a believer, standing strong by your side, I’m a hand to hold on to when its too hard to climb,” she declares on the spare “I Am A Woman.” Unlike the defiance Helen Reddy once railed about on her similarly-named song, this is one instance where Boots finds no need to roar.
Ironically, the relatively subdued song that ends the set, “Don’t Give a Damn,” is also the most emphatic. Boots rebukes an unfaithful lover while dishing out her disdain. As it climbs to its crescendo, it becomes increasingly clear that Don’t Talk About It makes certain statements that definitely need to be said.
“I had a dream that we were doing hard drugs in a street alley” is a hell of a line to kick off a song, and seems emblematic of your typical rock and roll band. But SUSTO are far from the typical. The Charleston five-piece covers vast sonic ground on their new album & I’m Fine Today, swaying between country-tinged rock (“Cosmic Cowboy”), contemplative pop ballads (“Mountain Top”), and any number of other genres that exist somewhere within the expansive fabric of Southern music. But lead single “Hard Drugs” is perhaps most typical of their nakedly honest, narrative approach to songwriting, covering themes of heartbreak and loneliness with an added dose of creative flair.
“& I’m Fine Today is our most earnest effort to create unique emotional soundscapes…
…while speaking candidly and openly about the realities of existence,” the band tells Consequence of Sound. “We are a group of people, touring musicians, who feel privileged to do what we do and we have given all of our energy to create an album that captures both the pain and beauty of being human.”
It can seem like a pretty hopeless world out there sometimes, but this is the kind of music that just hits in the right way on those long, dark nights of the soul. Hell, it might even make you laugh when you’re done moppin’ up those tears.
…The single “Hard Drugs” is a Gram Parsons flavored number that is as painfully self-conscious as it is tongue-in-cheek wry. A song about the negative side of drugs hasn’t been done this well since “Sister Morphine.” “I’m just glad that I found you, sorry that I couldn’t keep you around” is a beautifully bittersweet line.
“Far Out Feeling” features soulful strings and backing vocals that harken to Philadelphia circa 1974, like an outtake from Young Americans. “Gay in the South” eschews subtlety for a hard-hitting take on a world that still can’t readily accept differences. “Tell the truth unless you think you should lie,” is a rather straightforward, non-judgmental, albeit resigned piece of advice for those struggling with self-identity issues. Hard to believe in today’s atmosphere that my fellow Yanks could’ve been so naïve as to think that the battle for civil rights was over, but we’re nothing if not a nation content with simple answers to complex problems.
“Mystery Man” has a feel like the Golden Age of laid-back SoCal music that would flourish into the adult contemporary genre. That’s not meant as an insult. Despite the stereotyped image of cheesy, overproduced, oft-misogynistic love songs by acts like The Eagles or post-Peter-Green era Fleetwood Mac, there were also a lot of really good songs made under that nauseating umbrella term.
On the uptempo “Waves,” Osbornes sings about “smoking weed with God,” a line that points at both the spiritual and hippie vibe that runs throughout this navel-gazing effort. & I’m Fine Today is not only a wink-wink cynical line but also a spot-on summary of the mood of this album.
Eight months after releasing the best-selling country album of the year, Chris Stapleton is back with a companion piece. From A Room: Volume 2 arrives December 1st, delivering another batch of songs culled from Stapleton’s Library of Congress-sized back catalog. It’s lean and live-sounding, with hands-off production by Dave Cobb – who captures each song with minimal knob-twiddling, shining some honest light on a working band that’s logged countless stage hours since Traveller‘s 2015 release – and plenty of guitar solos from the industry’s most unsung instrumentalist. Stapleton’s voice remains as titanic ever, but on these nine tracks, he packs an equally sized punch as both picker and bandleader. Volume 2 isn’t just about songs in RCA Studio A (the “room” in the title); it’s about the people occupying that studio too, and Stapleton keeps fine company throughout.
1. “Millionaire” (Kevin Welch) Originally recorded by Kevin Welch, “Millionaire” gets a swinging, Heartbreakers-worthy update by Stapleton and company, who turn the tune into a soulful blast of heartland rock. The song’s secret weapon: Morgane Stapleton, whose harmonies trace her husband’s melodies at every twist and turn.
2. “Hard Livin'” (Chris Stapleton, Kendell Marvel) Stapleton summons the ghost of Waylon Jennings with this song’s phase-shifted guitar riff, renewing his outlaw stripes along the way. Before the final solo, he lets a loud, lawless “Wooo!” escape from his throat, proof that recording “Hard Livin'” was easier than its title suggests. File this stomping Southern rocker alongside Traveller‘s “Nobody to Blame.”
3. “Scarecrow in the Garden” (Stapleton, Brice Long, Matt Fleener)
With a Celtic-sounding verse and a haunting, minor-key chorus, “Scarecrow in the Garden” is the album’s first non-anthem, trading the bombast of the first two tracks for something more reminiscent of an old-school murder ballad. During the song’s final moments, Stapleton paints a gripping picture of a farmer at the end of his rope. “I was sitting here all night / With a Bible in my left hand and a pistol in my right,” he sings.
4. “Nobody’s Lonely Tonight” (Stapleton, Mike Henderson) Written with ex-SteelDriver Mike Henderson, this low-and-slow soul ballad borrows some of its movements from the Great American Songbook, sounding like something Cole Porter might’ve written after too many drunken nights in the Delta.
5. “Tryin’ to Untangle My Mind” (Stapleton, Jaren Boyer, Marvel) “I’m lonesome and stoned, so far down the Devil’s looking high,” Stapleton sings, embodying one of his most familiar characters: the tortured, heartbroken protagonist who’s looking for relief in all the wrong places. Behind him, the band kicks up plenty of bluesy dust.
6. “A Simple Song” (Stapleton, Darrell Hayes) The title says it all. Unhurried and unplugged, “A Simple Song” sketches its storyline in broad strokes. There’s a factory worker, a broken family and a romance that’s keeping the narrator afloat. Like “Drunkard’s Prayer,” it’s one of the most intimate songs on the album, reminiscent of older tunes like “Whiskey and You.”
7. “Midnight Train to Memphis” (Stapleton, Henderson) A booming, burly rocker, “Midnight Train to Memphis” finds Stapleton in jail, serving a 40-day sentence while a distant train wails its horn outside the prison walls. The whole riff is built upon a monster guitar riff, injecting venom and vitriol into Volume 2‘s final stretch.
8. “Drunkard’s Prayer” (Stapleton, Jameson Clark) “I hate the fact it takes a bottle to get me on my knees,” Stapleton bellows, playing the part of a broken, boozy man who hopes God will be more forgiving of his sins than the woman who recently left him. The guitar pattern echoes Willie Nelson’s reading of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and like that song, “Drunkard’s Prayer” is delivered entirely alone, a move that drives home the song’s lonely message.
9. “Friendship” (Homer Banks, Lester Snell) Bookending the album with another cover tune, “Friendship” finds Stapleton singing a forgotten country-soul number from the Stax archives. The Staples Singers’ patriarch, Pops Staples, recorded the song shortly before his death, and Stapleton’s version updates the original with deeper groves and gorgeous guitar tremolo.
At 72, Morrison can still belt the blues with passion and swagger. The opening title track is an original that pays homage to Willie Dixon‘s “Hoochie Coochie Man” riff. He elaborates on the wrongs in life and love, but exhorts listeners to get up and move on without self-pity. He follows with the single “Transformation,” a trademark Celtic R&B tune and the set’s outlier; his vocal interaction with Beck‘s tasty slide guitar is irresistible. “I Can Tell,” with Beck and Farlowe, is the first of two Bo Diddley tunes, and offers a fantastic lead-in to the medley of T-Bone Walker‘s “Stormy Monday” and Doc Pomus‘ “Lonely Avenue.” Morrison has cut the former several times dating back to Them, while a version of the latter appeared on 1993’s Too Long in Exile. Beck shines, unfurling his guitar wrangling with fire as Farlowe (who had a hit with “Stormy Monday in the early ’60s) and Morrison exchange verses effortlessly, making these the singer’s definitive versions. Fame vocally opens the original “Goin’ to Chicago” with a jazzman’s swing, accompanied only by double bass. Harmonica, electric guitar, and drums follow his organ on the second verse and Morrison enters on the third in a fingerpopping slow burn. Morrison first recorded “Bring It on Home to Me,” for the live It’s Too Late to Stop Now…. While that version was far more animated, this one offers the soulman’s nuanced best as a vocal stylist and he sings the hell out of it. Beck‘s solo on the tune is his own watermark on the set. Morrison‘s “Ordinary People” is a stomping, textbook case in how to write classic-style blues in the 21st century. A stride piano is the engine for the growling read of Sister Rosetta Tharpe‘s gospel blues “How Far from God,” and Morrison‘s passionate delivery makes every word believable. “Teardrops from My Eyes” was Ruth Brown‘s first number one hit; led by Fame, the band lays down swinging R&B, creating a solid backdrop for Morrison to wail. Little Walter‘s “Mean Old World” was once an oft-covered standard, and Morrison reminds us why by reviving its fiery spirit. A rowdy, raucous take on Bo Diddley‘s “Ride on Josephine” closes out this party on a proper note, with Morrison letting the backing chorus and the tune’s trademark boogie riff guide him. On Roll with the Punches, Morrison revisits his roots without nostalgia or overt reverence. For him, these songs are as vital and important to him as his own songs. The spontaneity on this set is more akin to a live record than a studio effort, making it a most welcome entry in his catalog.
Jaime Wyatt’s life story is about as country as it gets. After a recording contract fell through when she was 17, Wyatt developed a drug problem that ended in her robbing her dealer and going to jail. She spent eight months in county jail and came out the other side with a new lease on life—along with the seven tracks that constitute Felony Blues. Those include a cover of Merle Haggard’s “Misery and Gin” and the original composition “Stone Hotel,” an exuberant track about making peace with jail life (“Time holds still at the stone hotel / three free meals on the county bill.
Wyatt was born in Los Angeles but grew up in rural Washington, near Seattle. Country music was a big part of life for her family; distant relatives on her mom’s side even lived in Bakersfield. The capital of California country music’s influence can be heard throughout Felony Blues.
“My mother’s extended family played country in Bakersfield. I never knew that, I was just always drawn to that kind of singing,” Wyatt says of her distinctive twang. “I remember seeing a pedal steel in their trailer, their double wide.”
For all intents and purposes Wyatt is outlaw country through and through. “I just like to take country and fuck it up” she tells me, paraphrasing Shooter Jennings, a good friend of hers. “I try not to get too frustrated with labels on that. I do think it’s funny that the outlaw country thing is so big right now, calling it that even is funny. Most folks don’t know about living outside of the law.”
BJ Barham has spent a decade howling his songs in a boozy, broken rasp, as though he’s just choked down a whiskey shot and the glass it came in. With Wolves, though, he sings a surprisingly happier tune, spinning his recent marriage and cleaned-up lifestyle into music that’s both focused and frenzied. American Aquarium’s punky, pissed-off country-rock still packs a dangerous punch — just listen to the title track, which compares the frontman’s vices to a pack of predators — but Wolves focuses on the promise of new beginnings rather than the drunken confusion of last call.
AUSTIN BASED MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST FOLK DUO BEAT ROOT REVIVAL RELEASED SELF-TITLED ALBUM MAY 13, 2016
TOURING WITH JONATHAN JACKSON + ENATION BEGINNING MAY 19
ALBUM RELEASE PARTY AT THE CONTINENTAL CLUB IN AUSTIN JUNE 1
Beat Root Revival, A new duo of folk, roots, howling blues & classic pop, have a pretty interesting sound, an Americana mesh of folk, rock, and blues that is similar in tone to the Waterboys, without the epicness, traditional instruments played by Andrea giving the celtic connection,or The Avett Brothers on their less bluegrassy tunes. And there are some very good tracks on this debut album, making even the simplest songs on it feel like epics, take “Before it gets to Late” which manages to be bright and chiming while also being sad and mournful. Not everything here clicks together at that level, but each track is inventive, and when the songwriting of Ben and Andrea and the arrangements cross paths perfectly, as they do on most songs, this makes for a delightful album. Hopefully over the coming weeks there will be plenty of excellent reviews for BRR appearing on the internet but till then this one will have to do,one thing for sure BRR will be getting plenty of airplay here at TME.fm to help them climb the roots charts. Not many of the numerous albums we receive here via the internet and still occasionally via the post get reviewed never mind played so BRR are a stand out duo and their album is an outstanding effort.
I dislike writing reviews but I love listening to BRR,get yourselves a copy and enjoy the music and write yourselves a review and post it here.
Ben Jones and Andrea Magee, the folk duo known as Beat Root Revival will release their self-titled album on May 13, 2016 through New Orleans based label Toulouse Records (distributed by Sony/RED). They are the label’s first signing and the album, which was recorded at Mesa Recording Studios in Austin, TX and produced by Jones (except “Fire” which was co-produced by Magee), will be its debut release.
Both multi-instrumentalists, Jones, who is from England, plays almost all of the instruments on the album including guitar, bass, piano, drums, bass harmonica, melodica, Hammond organ, ukulele, banjo and mandolin while Magee, who’s style is deeply rooted in her Irish heritage, plays guitar, bodhran, Irish whistles and flute.
Magee’s exposure to music came at an early age. “When I was ten, I started playing the flute, and began playing in bars in Ireland with my sister and my dad. A lot of my early years in music were in either classical or traditional Irish music.” She studied and received an honors degree in music, then became a music teacher in charge of the music department in a high school. For Jones, “I got started being interested in music relatively late,” he says. “I was about twelve.” His father was a guiding influence playing him music from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Neil Young. By his teenage years, he was able to put all of those influences together and start his own band.
Magee’s fate changed in 2013 when she wowed Sharon Osborne, Nicole Scherzinger and the other judges on X Factor UK with her original song, “Any Minute Now” during her audition making it through to the next round. After her experience with X Factor and all of the attention she garnered from it, Magee moved to Kent, England where she began teaching again while moonlighting on the local music scene. After opening up for Jones’ band, they found their chemistry undeniable. “We wound up sharing each other’s’ songs, and we were both fascinated by the fact that we were both pushing our own material. And we used this to drive each other forward,” says Magee.
After word of mouth spread about their live performances the duo decided to take a chance and see what musical adventures they could find in America. In 2014, they traveled to Austin, TX to their first SXSW where they experienced massive culture shock. “We were just a little bit shell-shocked when we walked up and down Sixth Street,” says Magee. “We were so much in awe, and thought it was incredible. We were trying to get gigs, and we thought it was going to be impossible.”
But thanks to the hospitality of a local taxi driver who was willing to show them some of the musical hotspots, they made some valuable connections, one of which led to a big performance. “We ended up talking to the owner of one of the clubs who asked us if we would be interested in opening for Dale Watson,” says Magee. “So, that was our introduction to Austin. He and his band were so taken with our sound that they asked us to come to the Continental to open for him – on our very first trip!”
The duo decided to stay in Austin where they continue to play in and around the local music scene. They’ve played at at such notable venues as the historic Ryman Auditorium, The Bluebird Café, The Continental Club and The Basement in addition to making frequent trips to Nashville and other cities. With each show they play, their fan base continues to grow charming audiences their impassioned concerts. They just played Music City Roots outside of Nashville on May 11 and they will be going on tour with Jonathan Jackson + Enation beginning May 19 (tour dates below). They will also play a special album release party at The Continental Club in Austin on June 1.
Beat Root Revival Tour Dates: June 1 – Austin, TX @ The Continental Club
Dates With Jonathan Jackson + Enation: May 19 – Indianapolis, IN @ The HI-FI May 20 – Columbus, OH @ A and R Music Bar May 21 – Pittsburgh, PA @ The Club at Stage AE June 4 – Kansas City, MO @ Knuckleheads Saloon June 10 – Huntsville, AL @ Furniture Factory Bar & Grill June 11 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall June 17 – Atlanta, GA @ Vinyl June 18 – Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre June 22 – Dewey Beach, DE @ Rusty Rudder June 23 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live June 25 Hampton, VA @ Hampton Block Party
For more information, please contact: Julie Lichtenstein / 37-Media Julie@37-media.com