Kevin Daniel- Craig Cardiff- Nineteen Hand Horse- Whistlebelly
Kevin Daniel - Been Here Before
Daniel begins his second album with "Single in the Center," a cut about finding clarity in the aftermath of an evening filled with too much booze. Daniel plays his guitar slowly and slightly ominously, perhaps representing the emerged-from haze while organ fills push things to a brighter future and his somber vocals acknowledge past mistakes. "Don't See the Light" bounces to a completely different groove, bright and upbeat, although Daniel is comparing a hard breakup to death in the song. "Lovemares" is an acapella cut; the only instruments here are the voices of Daniel and his band members, while "My Oh My" features guest singer Ashley Joy Hardee of Matrimony. Telling, and in line with his words throughout the album, "Build it All" features the lyric "A life worth living means a broken heart," and certainly the 12 cuts on Been Here Before are presented by a man who indeed has been there before and who takes full blame for anything that might have gone wrong. With a voice that's affectation-free and that oozes honesty it's easy to hear why Daniel is becoming so beloved on the Americana scene.
Craig Cardiff - All This Time Running
On the scene for about 25-years now, Canadian folk singer Cardiff deals out a supersize helping here with 11 cuts plus six bonus cuts. Fans new to the Cardiff camp will likely notice that his songs often sound like a folksier version of what Hootie & the Blowfish might do, but there's no missing the fact that he is Canadian as numerous songs are named after places in Canada, like "Yellowknife," the delicate and mysterious "Greyhound, SK" that references Saskatchewan, and among the bonus tracks, "Ymir, BC," a sublime cut about the tiny, one-time boomtown of Ymir in British Columbia. "The American" is about being in love with someone from the U.S. and comes complete with orchestration while a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up," another bonus track, sounds good here without the female vocal part, sung by Kate Bush on Gabriel's original.
Nineteen Hand Horse - Revel
This band's lead singer, Nathalie Archangel, has stayed busy during the pandemic working as a nurse practitioner; Mark Anthony Montijo, her husband and co-leader of Nineteen Hand Horse is also in the medical field, he's a psychologist. Here the couple, along with third band member Mark "Lemonade" Monroe and a host of side musicians, give themselves and fans a chance to temporarily forget all about the pandemic with this set that has its roots firmly entrenched in old school country. Archangel at times sounds like Stevie Nicks, albeit with a country bent, and even though the band's music looks to the past, don't expect their lyrics to be retro. On "The Withering Romance of Trains" Archangel sings "F*@k the train, I want a Tesla!" The cut is extremely catchy and listeners will find themselves echoing the lyrics long after the song ends; they just need to be careful about joyfully dropping F bombs if there are tender ears around. Archangel and Montijo trade verses on "19 Hand Tale," a loping cut that's influenced by Roger Miller's "King of the Road," the band has a rocking twang-fest on "Better as a Goddess (Than a Lover)" while "Something Beautiful (Maybe Tonight)" is done in more of a pop vein. The effort wraps up with "Ghost Train," a cut that rocks down the tracks with a nod to "spy" sounds in a delightful mix of "Peter Gunn" theme song and an appropriately eerie Western groove.
Whistlebelly - "Chicken F#!ker"
Time to rise and shine with this new single from the U.K.-based country rock band Whistlebelly. The song begins with the crow of a rooster and then proceeds to wake up the whole barnyard with a rollicking banjo and guitar-driven song about trying to collect a debt. And you probably wouldn't want to be in the position of the person owing the money as lead singer Mike "The Rage" sings "Pay me my money/Pay me it now!" like a scorned hillbilly who's had his still blown up or his weed patch ransacked. The Rage further adds that "You can run but you can't hide;" fans will want to run to play this fun cut over and over.