The region continued its productive musical creativity in 2016 with a whole host of new releases, singles, EPs, downloads, videos and albums, many of them on vinyl I’m delighted to say.
New albums were too numerous to mention them all but notable releases came from Let’s Eat Grandma, Morganway, Mojo Preachers (who had a great launch night for Fine City Blues at The Murderers), The Georgia Shackleton Trio, Clark & Zuppardi, Inlay, Matt Watson crowdfunded and with excellent national reviews, he launches the album officially at the Sewell Theatre on 28 January at a gig with Yve Mary B and Falling From Trees. There were a couple of absolute gems (deservedly well-received and reviewed too) from Jess Morgan, and Alden, Patterson and Dashwood, and just a couple of weeks ago, the much anticipated debut from the lovely Yve Mary B.
Also, a few months ago I was pleased to receive a beautiful vinyl pressing of the second album by another of my favourite acts, the classy Grifter Kid and the Midnight Raiders with “Them That Are Bruised”. Largely based in London these days they are a band with local roots and frequently return to Norwich for gigs although I still yearn to see them in a suitable, sympathetic venue they are always a joy to see and hear and they were finally given some of the equipment and consideration they deserve at The Birdcage and rewarded everyone present with a truly lovely show. On that occasion they showcased some of the newer numbers they were in the process of recording for this album.
It opens with a familiar track from gigs over the past year or two, the wistful and melancholic Closing Down, and closes with another live favourite of mine: Always Fighting with the Light, their Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. I think I heard both of these for the first time probably at a private house gig a couple of years ago (the “White Russians” night!). They made a memorable impression on me at the time and I am so pleased to finally have recordings of these. Inbetween them are ten other tracks of beautiful, often sultry, class. Vocals are shared by the band and Rowan has a voice every bit as atmospheric as her upright bass playing. A gorgeous tone and quality to it, really evocative.
The album has a great mood and enough variety in tempo and feel with the shared vocals and sumptuous mix of guitar, sax, clarinet, harmonica, double bass, drums and piano as well as guests on lap steel and violin. Some of the titles will give an indication to the tone set of beautiful reflective melancholy: Wasted Dreams, Death Would You Be My Friend, Trouble Everyday, Preparing for War, Selena and yet the listening experience is a pleasurable uplifting one due to the quality of the songs and the playing plus of course some of the playful lyrics and wordplay, the whole delivered in a smoky, jazzy style.
I hope this album doesn’t slip under the radar as I have a lot of time and love for this band having seen them play locally countless times over the years. However much of a treat it is to catch them playing in a small pub I would really love to see them in a more tailored venue where I think they would really thrive and shine with the right environment, sound and audience. Try and catch them when they next visit, you’ll love them too.
Alden, Patterson & Dashwood’s Call Me Home, and Jess Morgan’s Edison Gloriette are both album highlights of the year for me. I reviewed Call Me Home for Outline and was hugely impressed by it. From the gorgeous hand printed packaging to the quality songs within it, all beautifully produced with a sensitive “less is more” touch by violinist Alex. Alex and Christina have been playing together in Norwich for a number of years and now with the inclusion of Noel on dobro they have created something very special indeed. An album I listen to a lot. Buy it here.
Another I listen to frequently is Jess’ lovely album. Both acts launched their respective records in Norwich at the same gig, at NS&V’s Octagon Chapel in October. My copy of Edison Gloriette is on oxblood vinyl and the songs are in my view some of her best works. Again with a lovely production, the songs breathe and allow one to fully appreciate the excellent playing and the storytelling lyrics which are highly descriptive, giving the songs a cinematic quality (“The waitress leans in closer, her hair soft on his face, she wipes his lips clean with a napkin, and smells like pancakes … “) Buy Edison Gloriette here.
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