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Health & Happiness Hour (Andy Gunn & Vikki Kitson in session) 20 Jan 2016

This week’s on the Medicine Show Radio Health & Happiness Hour - a session from Andy Gunn, Vikki Kitson & Fraser McLean  ft. tour Cam Penner, ft House Concert Hub artist David Starr ft. album Jurra from The Mekons & Robbie Fulks, with classic music from Eddie…

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www.benbullington.com

This is the third album in for Montana based Ben Bullington and he's assembled a stellar bunch of musicians to help him present this latest batch of songs. Recording at George Bradfute's Tone Chapparal, outside Nashville, is itself a sign of high quality as far as I'm concerned. But if George at the helm wasn't enough, how's about this for a collection of sidemen? Amongst others, there's Fats Kaplin, Kenny Malone, Will Kimbrough, Dave Jacques and Rodney Crowell. With musicians of that calibre you can be sure it's worth paying attention to all that's going on. The focus of the production is very much on the songs and on Ben's singing of them; he has a warm, throaty singing style reminiscent of Guy Clark at times. Nonetheless, there's some glorious touches in the background, whether it's George Bradfute's clarinet playing on 'Yankee Girl' or Fats Kaplin's pedal steel playing, especially on 'Cheyenne Range' where he evokes the wide open spaces in the way that only a pedal steel can. In fact, that whole arrangement on 'Cheyenne Range' is quite wondrous, with lots of resonating bass notes giving a fantastic warmth and depth to the sound.

Ben's eleven songs deal in a homely and gentle way with the world he lives in and the people in his life; he observes things with a sympathetic eye and tells stories of the lives being played out around him. He tends to observe and remain outside the story himself and this gives his work an air of poignant reflection rather than of direct emotional involvement. The arrangements tend to match this gentle detachment; no big surging tunes here, just beautifully constructed ambience to set Ben's stories against. You can easily hear that these songs would sound just fine in solo performance. There's beauty in Ben's own playing and bags of character in his singing. As far as his writing is concerned, I believe I can hear echos of other American folk favourites in the style of each song, and maybe Ben's still inching toward his own distinctive style - and maybe that will become known as the Montana sound.
John Davy


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Tags: Ben, Bullington, davy, john

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February 2016

1
Lucinda Williams
104 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
PV,MOV,PKO,MDW
2
Dylan LeBlanc
82 pts.
Cautionary Tales
Single Lock Records
LK,HB
3
Dori Freeman
71 pts.
Dori Freeman
Free Dirt Records
BH,JAB,SP,DH,ML
4
Buddy Miller & Friends
52 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
JB,AR
5
Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
42 pts.
Soultime!
Leroy Records
PJ
6
Amelia White
39 pts.
Home Sweet Hotel
White Wolf Records
MF,DHO
7
Sam Outlaw
38 pts.
Angeleno
Six Shooter Records
BR
8
Gunther Brown
36 pts.
North Wind
Continental
CRS
9
Matty Charles & Katie Rose
35 pts.
Catching Arrows
1906 Records
SZ,BM,FB
10
Kreg Viesselman
34 pts.
To The Mountain
Continental Song City
KG,JF
11
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
32 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
 
12
Anna Laube
28 pts.
Anna Laube
Ahhh… Pockets!
EM
 
Buford Pope
28 pts.
The Poem & The Rose
Unchained Records
MP,PH,BK
 
David Ramirez
28 pts.
Fables
Thirty Tigers
JD
 
Kate Campbell
28 pts.
The K.O.A.Tapes (Vol. 1)
Large River Records
TJ
16
Cam Penner
22 pts.
Sex & Politics
Independent
LM
17
Donnie Fritts
21 pts.
Oh My Goodness
Single Lock Records
JBO,TK
18
Eleanor Friedberger
19 pts.
New View
French Kiss Records
 
 
John Moreland
19 pts.
High on Tulsa Heat
Thirty Tigers
JDO
 
Peter Cooper
19 pts.
Depot Lights: The Songs Of Eric Taylor
Red Beet
NC
21
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Marlon Williams
Dead Oceans
FCE
 
Nathan Bell
18 pts.
I Don't Do This For Love, I Do This For Love
Stone Barn Records
 
23
Pilgrim
17 pts.
Easy People
Horton Records
 
24
Bob Margolin
16 pts.
My Road
VizzTone
RK
 
David Berkeley
16 pts.
Cardboard Boat
Straw Man Music

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