Eclectic is good, we like eclectic, nothing wrong with albums that sit tight in a genre but it’s always refreshing to kick back and listen to an album that has it’s own shuffle function built in, K. A. Morton & the wellwishers is such an album, the shape-shifting recording is a collection of musical vignettes without leitmotif.
“I see songs like short films, pictures, rather than stories. They’re like the landscapes I used to paint at college.”
A quote from Fife’s K.A. Morton endeavouring to explain his restless music, by day a community servant driving a mobile library to the rural communities of Scotland and by night a musician and writer of songs who cut his musical teeth playing guitar in ‘alternative’ bands in his youth, his love of music refined during a period at art college in Scotland, where as member of the band Laughing Academy he supported luminaries of the era including The Cure and Big Country.
“We’ll Be Dead” from K.A. Morton & the wellwishers
The band on this album are unconventional in that ‘they’ are a revolving line-up of local musicians who’ve played live with K.A. Morton at various gigs including the sold-out Wickerman Festival in southern Scotland, the album was produced and engineered by friend and collaborator John Cura, and K.A’s son Liam also plays on the album that’s released on K.A.’s own Kens Home Brew Recordings.
“Shadows to Dust” from K.A. Morton & the Wellwishers
Country folk from Seattle WA, fronted by Annie Ford who was born in a log cabin and raised in rural Virginia, before heading out to the wider world to play fiddle and sing, following the unforgiving and well worn road of street busking Annie became a fixture at Pike Place Market in Seattle where she hooked up with Gill Landry of Old Crow Medicine Show and was invited to join him on tour.
On her return to Seattle Annie quickly settled and began to ply her trade as a full time musician fiddling and singing with a host of local bands playing a variety of Americana, now with the backing of band Matt Manges (drums / songwriter), Olie Eshleman (pedal steel), Ivan Molton (bass), and Tim Sargent (guitar and banjo) they’ve released a classy debut album, a recording that deftly brings together the hotchpotch of influences collected on the bands respective musical journeys with the added dynamic borne of having two principal songwriters Annie and Matt.
Naomi Wachira self-titled debut album was created with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign and it’s release in January of 2014 comes of the back of a wonderful 2013 for the Kenyan born folk singer-songwriter. The artist enjoyed some much deserved publicity in July as the Seattle Times widely promoted a photo of Naomi at Seattle’s naturalization ceremony on July 4th where she as received her American citizenship with tears streaming down her face, then following her appearance on the cover the Seattle Weekly after being awarded Best Folk Singer in Seattle 2013 by the publication Naomi’s music came to the attention of Damien Jurado which in turn led to them developing friendship and a working relationship with Jurado producing Naomi’s album.
The resulting album is a fine collection of folk songs imbued with elements of the artists African roots, taking the finer elements of the American music she discovered and fell in love with and the music she grew up with in Kenya to create a set of original songs that carry the tensions and the hopes and dreams of an artist whose travels started as a child led her to the American Pacific Northwest. Growing up in Kenya the daughter of a Kijabe pastor in the Kenyan Great Rift Valley, Naomi joined the traveling family band at the age of five and this experience singing in her parents choir carries through to her contemporary folk songs she now sings on the other side of the world – “In my family everyone sang and everyone knew their part. Harmony was second nature for us”. The album does not follow what may be considered stereotypical African music but instead is influenced by elements of African rhythm deftly blended with American folk and Naomi’s expressive vocal, highly recommended.