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Music Album reviews with Kevin Bryan: January 13, 2020

Latest releases from Christy Moore, Steep Canyon Rangers and Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts

Christy Moore
Magic Nights
(Sony Music)
★★★★

CHRISTY MOORE has made a point of recording all his live gigs for posterity for many years now and the Irish troubadour’s producer Jimmy Higgins has selected 26 atmospheric performances from this invaluable musical archive for this release.

 Magic Nights, an absorbing new two-CD collection, provides an ideal introduction to Moore’s distinctive brand of music-making, drawing on long-term staples of the acoustic bard’s live set such as Only Our Rivers Run Free, The Pogues’ A Pair of Brown Eyes and Jackson Browne’s Before The Deluge.

This famously warmhearted and socially aware performer has never been afraid to ring the changes in assembling the set lists for his live shows and Magic Nights also unveils an appealing selection of newly discovered gems, including Albert Niland’s eminently singable Sail On Jimmy and Sean Mone’s bittersweet Rosalita and Jack Campbell.

North Carolina Songbook
(Yep Roc)
★★★★

STEEP CANYON RANGERS are a regular fixture at MerleFest, the North Carolina roots music festival, and their latest appearance at the prestigious event found this eclectic bluegrass outfit paying homage to some of the state’s most impressive musical icons via a quite extraordinary live set.

This stunning performance is now available on CD and vinyl for the benefit of those poor unfortunates who weren’t able to attend the show in person, showcasing their unique revamps of such diverse ditties as Ben E King’s Stand By Me, James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James and, in many ways most surprising of all, maverick jazz man Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk.

As a vehicle for the Asheville outfit’s stylish vocal harmonies and deft instrumental artistry, North Carolina Songbook is a well-nigh faultless affair and Americana devotees should find it essential listening.

Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts
OHBAHOY
(Self Released)
★★★

HARD-WORKING Midwest rockers Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts took a well-deserved break from their relentless touring schedule a few months ago to assemble the eagerly anticipated follow-up to their 2016 album Heavy Metal.

The finished product – revelling in the chiming guitars and finely crafted pop sensibilities which represented a virtual licence to print money for the likes of Tom Petty and The Travelling Wilburys – showcases the sublime blend of country rock and power pop which has become the five-piece band’s musical trademark.

Miles, the gifted son of Cheap Trick’s maverick guitar ace Rick Nielsen, has absorbed influences from such diverse sources as Otis Redding and Jellyfish along the way to create a distinctive brand of Americana, captured at its most instantly impressive via prime cuts such as Hands Up, Old Enough and Overpass.

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