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The Driving Test

A Musical Car Ride

Whilst we would love to give every album/EP/single a full indepth review,we are only human and don't have a time turner so we aren't able to give every release the time and attention it deserves.

In the past that would have ment that we either reviewed a release or we didn't, but now we have a third option, a middle way.

The solution here has been a simple one. Rather than review individual artists' CD's at length, we play them one after the other on a long car journey. The simple listening test is: "are they bearable in the car - interesting, enjoyable, not distracting". This may not be how the artists want us to hear their work, but it's how a lot gets listened to for the first time and at least raises awarenes! The rating system is simple and provides a shorthan for reference.:

***** Classic album, standout artist - a joy to listen to anywhere
**** Great album - the perfect soundtrack to a long car journey
*** Good album - pleasant background in the car - but nothing unique
** You have to be a fan of this music/artist. I've spared you a review
* You are either the artist or a close relative. (As I'm not, sorry no review)

Kyle Carey - The Art of Forgetting ****
The Art of Forgetting is Kyle Carey's follow up to the highly rated North Star, and features some impressive talent alongside her, including Rhiannon Giddens with whom she duets wonderfully with on For Your Journey. The poetic Tell Me Love is driven by the banjo and mandolin; and Opel Grey is a lavish tale of lost love. With one foot in the Appalachians, and one in Skye, she effortlessly melds together two musical traditions. It's all tied together with Carey's trademark sumptuous vocals, ensuring that you won't be indulging in the art of forgetting with this release. AJ

Reverend Shawn Amos - Breaks It Down ***
Based in LA, but with his soul in 1960s Chicago, the bluesman is back with his third album, the aptly title Breaks It Down. The album never feels too much like a heavy homage to the glory days, instead injecting his music with a modern feel, nowhere more so than in the excellent 2017. At the heart of the release is the Freedom Suite which features gospel rock and soul within the three tracks - Uncle Tom's Prayer, Does My Life Matter, and We've Got To Come Together. We even get two covers thrown in, with The Jean Genie and Elvis Costello's (What's So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding. AJ

Dave Richardson - Carry Me Along ***
The debut album from Vermonter Dave Richardson, Carry Me Along is a fairly generic roots record, albeit one that finds the time to sing about a squid on display at the Smithsonian. Richardson has a pleasingly clean vocal style that occasionally introduces just a touch of country into proceedings, most notably on Goodbye Baltimore. Richardson also utilises the talents of a trio of vocalists very well - Liv Baxter, Emily Mure, and Mali Obamsawin. While Carry Me Along isn't going to win any plaudits for innovation, it's a lovely album to spend time with. AJ

Roger Stevens - We Are Now Approaching Hassocks ** Acclaimed poet Roger Stevens returns with his third album on the Irregular Records label, to reflect on the confusion of modern life. As you'd expect the lyrics are on point, though Steven's vocal style won't be to everyone's tastes. Karen Moses of the Victory Sisters provides some superb backing vocals which does give some of the tracks a lift. There are some good songs - I Hope Our Love Will Last is a catchy earworm; Fragile is a slow and haunting track about the fragility of the earth; Too Late Now is a moving ode to lost parents. A bit more miss than hit, but the hits make it worth a listen. AJ

Pauline Andres - Fearless Heart ***
Album number 3 for the French songwriter is a slow-burner - languid and rich, but not in a particular hurry to get anywhere. Fearless Heart is a Nashville infused alt-country album with a lot of soul; seductive at times, and very atmospheric. The title track is probably the pick with more of a driving beat, before it drifts off into a dreamy state of being. Somewhat easy to dismiss on the first listen, Fearless Heart certainly rewards those who hit the repeat button. Perfect for lazy sunny afternoons where all you want to do is drift away somewhere beautiful. AJ

Anne-Marie Sanderson - Book Songs Vol. 1 (EP) ****
An EP inspired by six modern novels, Books Songs Vol. 1 is an unexpected delight. Sanderson's vocals are just wonderful, sending a track like Holloway soaring, and she is clearly a very accomplished guitarist too. Haweswater, based on Sarah Hall's debut novel, is a particular delight; full of darkness and danger. Mara's Song, inspired by Doris Lessing's Mara and Dann, has an epic sweep to it and a great deal of beauty. Sanderson's third EP builds on the promise of previous releases and bodes very well indeed for the future. AJ

Trent Miller - Torn Between Us ***
The fourth album by the London-based Italian singer-songwriter reflects a period battling with assorted demons as well as navigating difficult divorce, so it's all the more surprising that much of it feels so upbeat. Drawing on his Americana influences, you'll hear echoes of the Byrds, Gene Clark and Dylan, but also nods towards homegrown names such as The Beatles, Cat Stevens and even the Cocteau Twins. There's no career defining songs here, but the organ-backed slow waltzer 'Since You've Gone', the dark-shaded 'Moonlight Café' with its lyrics about escaping through alcohol and the swayalong resignation of 'She's Leaving his Place For Good' make it worth checking out. MD

Molly-Anne - Glow (Demo EP) ****
Billed as "rising UK Country artist" Molly-Anne's three track EP evokes a vibe of dreamy Californian Summers yet with a touch of melancholy. A perfect example of the sort of English take on Americana, there's a light breeziness about the title track and Corona Del Mar that show an underlying poppy sensibility and easy charm. Young Fever takes a slightly darker turn yet one that's more maudlin that depressing. Having this as the soundtrack to your driving journey might alleviate some of the trials and tribulations of testing traffic. MA

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