Kevin Bryan record reviews

Our resident music expert brings you his latest recommendations

Phil Beer,”Plays Guitar and Fiddle.Sings a bit.” (Talking Elephant TECD 272)-The multi-talented Mr.Beer has become a highly regarded figure in folk music circles through his work with outfits such as Show of Hands and The Albion Band but this excellent new offering is a purely solo affair,recorded live at various intimate venues during the past few years. Beer’s choice of material is,as ever,quite impeccable,including Jackson Browne’s “The Rebel Jesus.” Lowell George’s classic road song,”Willin’” and the great Nic Jones’ arrangement of the traditional “Warlike Lads of Russia.”

“Ronnie Lane Memorial Concert” (Angel Air SJPCD 450)-London’s Royal Albert Hall was the venue in April 2004 for a star-studded event celebrating the musical legacy of singer,bass player and songwriter Ronnie Lane. Rock luminaries such as Ronnie Wood,Pete Townshend and Paul Weller joined forces to revisit some of the timeless ditties that Ronnie helped to create during his time with The Faces and Small Faces as well as some charmingly bucolic excerpts from his subsequent solo career led by “The Poacher,” “Harvest Home” and Lane’s infectious 1973 hit,”How Come.”

Annie Keating,”Make Believing” (Self-Released)-This prime purveyor of gently raucous Americana has been compared to the likes of Lucinda Williams,Emmylou Harris and John Prine over the years, and she’s certainly an acoustic balladeer of rare warmth,intelligence and charm. The bulk of Annie’s sixth independent album was recorded in the space of just a weekend,and this lends a feeling of added spontaneity to fine tracks such as the life affirming opener “Coney Island” and the bittersweet finale,”If You Want To Fly.”

The Walkabouts,”Nighttown” (Glitterhouse GRCD 811)- Glitterhouse’s latest expanded Walkabouts re-issue focusses attention on this enigmatic outfit’s 1997 offering,”Nighttown.” This melancholic exploration of the life of the nocturnal city has been fleshed out a little with the inclusion of a bonus disc featuring the unadorned demo versions of several of the tracks which would later find their way into the finished product. Creative mainstay Chris Eckman’s unique musical vision is at its most arresting on songs such as “Follow Me An Angel” and “These Proud Streets,” ably underpinned once again by the sterling efforts of conductor/arranger Mark Nichols.