The first of two tracks this week is Rose City Band’s ‘Wildflowers’, the last track on their second, June 2020, album Summerlong. I heard this on Iggy Pop’s Friday night show, sandwiched in typical Iggy style between some Khruangbin, who I’ve covered before in this series, and a stomping gospel-hall worksong recorded at the end of the 1950s by folklorist Alan Lomax.
Rose City Band is essentially the side-project work of one man, Ripley Johnson, who plays all the instruments other than the drums. Johnson’s role on the project was intended originally to be obscured and the album was released with deliberately little promotion as a means of allowing the music to speak and setting it free of expectation. With references listed as the Byrds and Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, and country rock, psychedelia and Krautrock in general, the sound is easy to describe but a bit less easy to pin down precisely. In a more modern vein, I’m picking up echoes of Adam Granduciel’s work in The War on Drugs, in its mellifluously fluid guitar lines allied to a muscular rhythm. See what you think here:
You can pick up Summerlong at Rose City Band’s bandcamp.
The man has a beard to be admired, too.
Second up this week is Diana Jones, whose new album Song To A Refugee was released at the back end of last month. I’ve been a fan for a while of her country-folk approach and the honesty, authenticity and grounded nature of her songwriting, imbued with feminism as well as a genuine feel for environmental issues, social justice and the dispossessed. I saw her live, twice, the first time at Perth’s Southern Fried in 2009 and the second at the wonderful Union Chapel in Islington after which she graciously signed my CD and poster. The new album, her sixth, seeks to give voice to asylum seekers, and from it I’ve picked ‘We Believe You’, recorded after the album was initially complete, and whose lyrics are inspired by the need for greater humanitarian regard for people forced to move by war, fire, famine and brutality to leave everything behind and undertake journeys which are themselves brutalising:
If you can tell a person by the company they keep, Diana’s gentle guitar and rich, distinctive vocal line is augmented here by Steve Earle, Richard Thompson and the 85-year-old Peggy Seeger – none of them particularly easy to harmonise alongside – yet the track manages to bring together the spirit and the fire of all of them.
Diana Jones is not on bandcamp, so you’ll need to pick up Song To A Refugee from a record shop near you or, otherwise, from the usual chains or streamers via this link. She has a UK tour lined up for November, according to her website, though I suspect these are no longer going ahead. If not, they will no doubt be re-arranged and, when they are, do get along and support an original, genuine talent the warmth of whose live show will leave you in your seat thinking that she’s singing only to you.