This week’s record review from Kevin Bryan

This week’s record reviews from Kevin Bryan...

Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle: Colvin & Earle (Fantasy Records)­ - This fine collaboration between Grammy award winning country balladeers Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle explores the natural empathy which so obviously exists between these musical soul­mates as they appear together on record for the very first time. Producer Buddy Miller has overseen a free flowing and upbeat package which strikes an appealing balance between newly minted creations such as Tell Me Moses and You’re Still Gone and the duo’s heartfelt covers of golden oldies such as the Stones’ Ruby Tuesday and the Nashville Teens’ 1964 hit, Tobacco Road.

Albert Castiglia, Big Dog (Ruf Records)­ - Fiery Florida bluesman Albert Castiglia describes Big Dog as a “driving along the highway with the top down kind of record,” and this certainly isn’t the sort of package that you should invest in if you’re an avid devotee of subtlety or introspection. The energised opening track, Let The Big Dog Eat, sets the ball rolling with a genuine flourish and the entertainment level rarely flags from then on, with Where The Devil Makes His Deals and the socially aware Somehow emerging as two of the musical highlights.

The Monkees, Good Times! (Rhino Records)­ - This refreshing exercise in musical nostalgia from The Monkees showcases some appealing new material alongside several hitherto unreleased recordings from their sixties heyday which were unearthed from the archives and given the finishing touches by the band’s three surviving members. Michael Nesmith’s wistful vocals on Ben Gibbard’s Me & Magdalena are a genuine delight, and the trio’s skilfully crafted harmonies underpin another stand­out track in the shape of Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller’s swirling psych-rock creation, Birth Of An Accidental Hipster.

Annie Keating, Trick Star (Self­Released)­ - Annie Keating’s most recent album, Make Believing, was hailed as one of the finest country music offerings of 2015, prompting favourable comparisons with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Bonnie Raitt. The Brooklyn based singer­songwriter’s eagerly anticipated follow­up set is a similarly intimate and compelling piece of work, recorded live in the space of just one weekend and blessed with deliciously understated ditties such as You Bring The Sun, Lucky and the relective Slow Waltz.