Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week’s alternative CD releases

Siobhan Miller - Mercury (Songprint Recordings). The eagerly anticipated follow-up to Siobhan Miller’s critically acclaimed 2017 set, Strata, dispenses with the impeccable cover versions which have been such a feature of her recorded output to date in favour of a batch of freshly minted songs, several of them penned in close collaboration with her former Salt House bandmate Euan Burton, who also handled the bass and production duties on Mercury. Scottish singer-songwriter Siobhan’s sublime fusion of contemporary and folk influences could charm the proverbial birds down from the trees, and she’s in particularly fine fettle here on stand-out tracks such as The Western Edge, Losing and Mercury itself.

The Flesh Eaters - I Used To Be Pretty (Yep Roc). The adrenalin-fuelled heyday of punk may now seem like little more than a distant memory in an era increasingly dominated by bland corporate pop but seminal LA rockers The Flesh Eaters are doing their best to keep the spirit of those far off days alive via splendid albums such as this. Vocalist and creative mainstay Chris Desjardins is aided and abetted here by top-notch sidemen such as guitarist Dave Alvin and saxist Steve Berlin as he serves up compelling offerings such as Black Temptation, Fleetwood Mac’s The Green Manalishi and the epic 13-minute long closer, Ghost Cave Lament, which was apparently inspired by an extended instrumental piece from legendary flamenco guitarist Manitas de Plata.

Ina Forsman - Been Meaning To Tell You(Ruf Records). Ina Forsman’s critically acclaimed debut album established this Finnish performer as a major new talent on the European blues scene when it first saw the light of day in 2016, and her second solo set, Been Meaning To Tell You, provides another eloquent showcase for her versatility as a writer and performer. The contents were recorded at Wire Recording Studio in the musical hotbed of Austin, Texas as Ina joined forces once again with demon guitarist Laura Chavez to deliver visceral exercises in earthy music-making such as Miss Mistreated, Whatcha Gonna Do and Why You Gotta Be that way.

Johnny Winter - Live Through The ‘70s (Wienerworld). Distinctive Texan guitarist Johnny Winter was arguably operating at the peak of his performing powers during the 70s, and this fine video anthology captures extracts from some of his rabble-rousing live shows during the decade. The albino axeman’s uncomplicated brand of bluesy rock was recorded at various venues in Europe and America, including London’s Royal Albert Hall and the Grughalle in Essen as he regaled his audiences with energised versions of perennial crowd-pleasers such as Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo and Chuck Berry’s Johnny B.Goode.