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Quick Play: A round-up of October 2012 album releases

We've listed albums in order of star rating. Best first.

Reviews by Pete Whalley



This gentle folk / Americana self-release is a rather fine, if somewhat understated example of the genre. Deploying the 'less is more principle' the delicate balance achieved by McGraw's smooth baritone and Fer's beautifully restrained vocals, underpinned by some subtle backings, makes their first official collaboration one that fans of the genre would be well advised to seek out.

Recorded in Chicago in the summer of 2011 with renowned producer Zach Goheen, vocal lines and song writing has been equally shared and the album also includes vocal harmony contributions from Po' Girl Allison Russell and JT Nero, some wonderfully fluid electric guitar lines from Fey herself and sparse but perfectly weighted cello, violin and dobro contributions from Nora Barton, Jared Rabin and Benny Sidelinger.

But ultimately, it's the vocal chemistry and restful delivery that carries the listener like a gentle summer breeze that raises Seed Of A Pine above the rest. ****

Review by Pete Whalley


On the cover of his latest album Damien 'Damo' Demsey may look like Frank 'Lamps' Lampard having scored a water volley ball goal - arms akimbo and gazing to the heavens - but whether Almighty Love is a match winner is open to debate.

While probably an unfamiliar name to most, Dubliner Dempsey is part of a bloodline of classy Irish singer songwriters that includes the likes of Christy Moore and Paul Brady. Mixing contemporary social commentary with songs containing with subtle traditional Celtic imagery, he's part of an exclusive band of artists that nudge against, but never quite cross over into the mainstream.

At 37, he's no 'young blood' and is a well-established part of the scene having attracted acclaim from both within the industry and the broadsheet and with six Meteor Music Awards under his belt. There are themes of injustice and longing and loss, of heartache and hope, despair and adventure, excitement and childhood - all delivered with a passion seldom since heard since Van Morrision's at his peak.

With fans including Brian Eno, Sinéad O'Connor, Morrissey and U2, Dempsey tells it as he sees it, and Almighty Love delivers some hard hitting messages on his sixth album. It's powerful stuff and Dempsey pulls no punches.

As with all 'serious' artists, Dempsey is likely to divide opinion, and there's plenty here to admire - your appetite for it will depend, in part of whether you're looking for stimulation or escapism. Either way, Almighty Love is quality piece work. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley


For those, like me, unfamiliar with the work of Mary Gauthier, she's a time served southern songstress who writes in a Springsteen storytelling style and sings with a distinctive drawl that, at times strays into a barroom slur.

This unplugged set finds her live with a small band at the very highest level at the Blue Rock Ranch and Studio just outside Austin, Texas. It captures her acoustic guitar and harmonica based set with perfection in a bittersweet style that harks back to folk luminaries such as The Boss, Dylan and Neil Young.

Tales from the dark side of life - of loss, despair, anguish and despondency abound, but always with an element of hope, and while her somewhat unique drawl matches the material perfectly, to some it may be an acquired taste. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Drew Nelson may have an 'international reputation' and several critically acclaimed albums under his belt, but the Michigan based folk / Americana artist is a new one on me. Those more alive to the alt country genre may, however, be better informed.

Recorded in his home state of Michigan, and his first for Red House Records, with his long term producer Michael Crittenden (B-3 organ, Wurlitzer, piano, guitars) on board and with a solid bunch of supporting players, Nelson's mix of Springsteen and Don Henley style delivery should be a winner.

It's an easy on the ear set, and one that for the most part sounds more like a (latter day) Billy Ray Cyrus. That's not an altogether bad thing and it's hugely Sateside FM Radio friendly. Whether it will cause any ripples over here beyond Bob Harris listeners is debateable, but he's touring the UK (supporting Mathew Southern Comfort on a number of dates in the November and could be worth exploring. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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