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Quick Picks


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The Sound Cafe Rating

5 star = essential, 4 star = excellent, 3 star = good, 2 = fans/collectors, 1 = for completionists only

Hardware: Billy F Gibbons

Hardware, Billy F Gibbons’ third solo album, out June 4 from Concord. The song, available now, takes the form of a narrative tone poem with mysterious instrumental accompaniment. It clearly derives inspiration from the high desert location of Escape Studios where the Hardware recording sessions happened last summer. The album was recorded by Gibbons along with drummer Matt Sorum and guitarist Austin Hanks. Both Sorum and Hanks, it should be mentioned, are based in the California desert these days with Gibbons front and centre

Gráinne Brady: Newcomer

The much-anticipated second album from Glasgow-based Irish composer Gráinne Brady, entitled Newcomer, has been released.


Originally from Co. Cavan, Gráinne has been writing music for 15 years, and has steadily built a career, at the heart of the Scottish traditional music scene, as a well-respected musician and composer.


Following from her debut solo album The Road Across the Hills, Gráinne’s second album expands on the tale of Irish writer Patrick MacGill’s Children of the Dead End.


Newcomer focuses on the story of Norah Ryan, the literary heroine explored in its companion novel The Rat-Pit. Norah was a woman of strength and beauty, who nevertheless was vulnerable to poverty, exploitation, and emotional loss.

The ACT Americana Trio: Whole Lotta Livin'

The ACT Americana Trio started playing together in Vancouver five years ago, collaborating on tracks and tunes that highlight smart songwriting, well blended vocals, and skills on too many instruments to count. Now they connect from Vancouver to Vegas, thanks to the pandemic and its plans, but the distance is nothing that a little technology couldn’t conquer. For Whole Lotta Livin’, they reached even further afield to Nashville and Toronto, bringing in the help of Steve Dawson, Gary Craig and Jeremy Holmes to lend their talents to the track.

Natalie Henry: Apple and Pride

Newcastle’s Natalie Henry entered 2021 with a bang, successfully crowd-funding a brand-spankin-new album to the tune of $15,000. After recording at Rocking Horse Studios in the Byron Bay hinterland in February.


The album was produced by Country Music heavyweight Catherine Britt (toured and performed with the likes of Sir Elton John and Dolly Parton) and Michael Muchow (of ARIA charting music renown), and is due for release soon.

Elizabeth & Jameson: Northern Shores & Stories

Northern Shores & Stories is the debut studio album by Elizabeth & Jameson, a concept album inspired by the North Yorkshire coast in England and in particular the harbour town of Whitby. After deciding that they wanted to create a concept piece based around a specific place the duo decided fairly quickly on Whitby - not because of any strong links to the area, but simply because they are so fond of it and felt confident that it would hold the inspiration that they sought for their songs and stories. And they weren't disappointed!

Eli West: Tapered Point Of Stone

Eli West’s perspective is nothing short of ground-breaking. A trained designer, he sees music architecturally, visualizing his compositions spatially. It’s a highly unusual way to think about music, tied to his verdant natural world of the Pacific Northwest. On his new album, Tapered Point of Stone, released April 23rd, 2021, West lays out original songs and tunes like houses built by hand, weaving their melodies into the setting of acoustic roots music that first inspired him. Recorded in 2020, just before everything shut down, the album brings together West’s favoured quartet of musicians: Andrew Marlin (Mandolin Orange) on mandolin and guitar, Christian Sedelmeyer (Jerry Douglas) on fiddle, himself on mandolin, guitar, and banjo, and Clint Mullican (Mandolin Orange) on bass.

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