Your Life In A Song: Artist Spotlight – July 2016

File_001This is the first of our biannual articles about the artists who are on our radar. Ones that we hope will enhance your listening material. They are a mixed bag encompassing both ends of the spectrum that we call country music. Some are break through artists; some are veterans who have not had the breakthrough that they deserve. All have one thing in common. They make great music. The majority hail from the USA which is to be expected but we also recognise the great talent that we have in the UK.

Music is subjective. One man’s meat etc.. but we hope we can point you in the correct direction.

In no particular order…

CODY JINKS

Your Life In A Song wasn’t in existence in January 2015 when ‘Adobe Sessions’, his most recent album was released. We will be when his new album ‘I’m Not The Devil’ is released on 12th August.

Quite simply ‘Adobe Sessions’ was one of the finest albums released last year. Outstanding songs and a vocal performance to match, Jinks is becoming a very much in-demand country artist.

A native of Fort Worth, Texas, this guy is the real deal. We recommend ‘Mamma’s Son’, ‘Cast No Stones’, ‘David’ and…. everything. It’s that good!!

We can’t wait to get our hands on the new album.

KELSEY WALDON

On the very same day as Cody Jinks releases his new album, the latest album from Kelsey Waldon will also be released.  What a stellar day August 12th will be. ‘The Gold Mine’ was another album release that pre-dated our inception. It came into being in 2014. It’s another that was hugely impressive.

She is a singer songwriter who hails from Monkeys Eyebrow in Kentucky. Trust us we haven’t made that up! Her new album ‘I’ve Got A Way’ is another that is highly anticipated by the country purists. Her style is classic country.

She penned the whole of her previous album. She has also composed most of the new release includes a couple of country standards. Bill Monroe’s ‘Travelling Down This Lonesome Road’ and Vern and Rex Gosdin’s ‘There Must Be a Someone’.

A traditional female artist like Kelsey Waldon has next to no chance of her music being played on country radio and it takes a little digging under the surface before her talent comes to the surface. Keep digging. It’s worth it.

COREY KENT WHITE

One of the means of quick exposure in the US is an appearance on the now defunct ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice’. Corey Kent White chose the latter and this proved to be a wise choice. He finished top 8 and it enabled him to shift a sizeable amount of copies of his first EP.

A common feature of talent show contestants is the lack of longevity. There is often a “here today, gone tomorrow” scenario and there have been many promising artists who have sank without trace.

Thankfully White seems to have avoided this and the release of his second EP ‘Long Way’ in May this year leads us to believe that this young singer songwriter from Oklahoma may well be a future star.

The four tracks are all particularly strong, diverse and he has a fine singing voice. An EP is a taster and a vehicle to demonstrate the potential of an artist. We will await with interest an album but we will be certainly keeping a close eye on this guy’s future career.

‘Long Way’, the fourth track on the EP is a huge favourite here at YLIAS and should be a huge hit. It has however been ignored by country radio. No surprises there.

DANIEL MEADE AND THE FLYING MULES

We had the great pleasure of seeing these guys support Sturgill Simpson in Manchester. They rocked the place and were warmly appreciated. Daniel Meade is a Glaswegian and he fronts a band containing guitar player Lloyd Reid, double bass player Mark Ferrie and Thomas Sutherland on drums.

Their brand of infectious retro Americana is sure to get your foot tapping. The new album ‘Let Me Off At The Bottom’ is now available and all 11 tracks have been composed by Meade.

He formally operated as a solo performer and released his debut album ‘As Good As It Can Be’ in 2013. He has worked with Old Crow Medicine Show, Pokey Lefarge, The Proclaimers and has been associated with Sturgill Simpson for the last couple of years. He has now supported him on two tours. Sturgill doesn’t suffer fools.

They are working the circuit constantly and if you have the chance to see them we strongly recommend that you do so. If your bag is boogie-woogie and roots with a touch of country blues, this band is for you.

WILLIAM MICHAEL MORGAN

We have been championing the cause of this guy since we heard the 6 track EP in March of this year.

We have already mentioned the contribution that Corey Kent White has made with his EP. It gives Morgan’s a close run but we say WMM wins by a short margin.

This guy can sing. He has a depth to his voice that totally belies his young age. For a 23-year-old he has a very mature sound.

He can also write songs although the lead track on this EP ‘I Met A Girl’ was penned by Sam Hunt. Yes, the same Sam Hunt who is sometimes accused of being a non-country artist. Granted, Sam’s version is very different but it’s a great song and Morgan makes it his own.

Morgan is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi who at the age of 12 was playing guitar and singing Keith Whitley songs. After seeing Dierks Bentley in concert he formed a band and embarked upon his first gigs.

At 13 he released his first album, as you do! He started to visit Nashville for song writing sessions at 16 and at 19 had secured his first publishing contract with Warner/Chappell Music and a recording deal with Warner Music Nashville.

‘I Met A Girl’ was actually released in July 2015 as a single. The EP followed later. It’s currently making its way up the US country charts.

He has already appeared at the Grand Ole Opry and his future seems very assured. He can’t really fail with a voice that is so suited for country music. Think George Strait at 22.

We can’t wait for the release of a full album. We have not heard any whispers of a release date but for now we recommend that you get on this guys case. He’s the real deal.

CALEB CAUDLE

‘Carolina Ghost’ has been included in our best tracks list of 2016. The album that shares its name came out in April and is superb. A country record that sticks to its core values. It’s also a very “feel good” album lyrically.

Unlike many of his peers, Caudle appears to have rid himself of the gloom and despondency that often forms the backdrop to country songs. He originates from North Carolina and has released 6 studio albums.

All share the same high standard production values and song writing. The sounds are traditional Americana/Country and won’t disappoint those of us who appreciate a hefty dose of pedal steel now and again.

His style is very Sam Outlaw/Cale Tyson but to date he has not really had the level of success that his talent deserves. He indicated to us a while ago that he intends to visit the UK shortly and line up some gigs.

CC SMUGGLERS

We saw CC Smugglers at C2C 2016 appearing at the Brooklyn Bowl. They were superb and we said so at the time. Since then they have continued to tour extensively and are presently strumming their stuff in Europe supporting Bruce Springsteen.

They are based in Bedfordshire and are led by the best front man we have seen for some time. Richie Prynne is Mr Showman. Their particular brand of Americana Rockabilly will leave a smile on your face especially if you see them performing live.

Whilst they may turn it up in their live show this shouldn’t detract from the competence the band have in the instrumentation department. The full works are utilised. Fiddles, banjos, double bass.

They began by busking around the country. Nothing unusual there you may say. Many aspiring country artists have strummed a guitar outside a railway station. However they took this a step further by busking for the lines outside concert gigs, particularly Old Crow Medicine Show, their musical heroes. It seems to be paying off. Last year they were performing in school halls. This year the North Sea Jazz Festival.

To date their recorded musical output has only consisted of a single 6 track EP and this will be the next real test for the band. Can they recreate the live vibe in a studio recording? Can they sustain this over a full album? Time will tell.

If they can we may be hearing quite a lot of CC Smugglers.

LAURA OAKES

The current Best UK female singer Laura Oakes (in our opinion) is headlining her UK tour with Frankie Davies.

We have followed her career development since we saw her at C2C in 2015. The competition for female singers is fierce but Laura is a tough one to beat.

She released her first single in 2013 ‘Don’t Let It Hit Ya’ and followed this with ‘Snakes and Ladders’, both of which are included on her four track EP.

She has recently released ‘Dreamin’, hopefully a taster for another EP or an album. Again this will be the test. She certainly has the voice and her song writing to date has been very impressive. Can she consistently produce the goods?

We need a female country music star and Laura certainly has the capability to step up the plate.

DRAKE WHITE

In common with a number of others here, it’s difficult to form a definitive opinion upon the merits of an artist having only heard limited output. Drake White is another that falls into the category.

To date he has released a single, ‘Simple Life’ in 2013 that didn’t chart and a live EP ‘It Feels Good’ in September 2015.

He came to the attention of future star spotters when the single ‘Living The Dream’ was released in December last year.

It seems to be all systems go for Drake White this year. An Opry performance, a support gig on the last Zac Brown Band tour and numerous slots on US national TV seems to have propelled this Alabama native into the spotlight. We certainly like the output so far. In fact we like it a lot.

He has a new album ‘Spark’ available on the 19th August. For now we recommend that you check him out on YouTube, particularly the awesome JAMINTHEVAN sessions with his superb band. This guy is going places.