Monday, 1 May 2017


They say you can’t keep a good band down, and that’s certainly true of UK roots band Red Moon Joe. Buoyed by the success of Midnight Trains, the first Red Moon Joe album in more than 20 years, they return with the newly minted Time & Life. And as with their previous albums, they continue to move forward, reminding us of the true essence of time and life: to never stay in one place for too long.

This time around, the band headed down to Liverpool’s Elevator studios, laying down their bluegrass-inflected tracks, this time augmented with keyboards and a 3-piece brass section and a little help from some special guests including Del Amitri’s Justin Currie, Virginian singer-songwriter Cathryn Craig and Jason Isbell’s guitarist Sadler Vaden. The result is an album that brings together Red Moon Joe’s mid-80s cowpunk origins through 90s, making Time & Life an album for right now, that does both the band and UK Americana proud.

These songs move away from traditional themes of lost love and heartache, drawing on the universal issues of ageing and the maelstrom of feelings, joys and anxieties that come with it. ‘Slow Sun Wheeling’ takes its title, like the album, from a poem by Algernon Swinburne; it’s essentially about regret but also living life to the full and squeezing every bit of joy that you can into every day. ‘Elvis, Townes And Hank’ considers the price of fame, while ‘Shadows’ is about an old friend fighting a battle with the bottle after the breakdown of a relationship. Another standout cut is ‘Orgreave’, about the spirit of defiance and the dignity shown by miners and their families in the face of injustice and violence.

Red Moon Joe were originally formed in Lancashire in 1985 by Mark Wilkinson, who was already forging a career as the go-to guitarist for visiting Nashville legends. With cowpunk and paisley underground in vogue, the band toured constantly throughout the UK and Europe, releasing the album Arms Of Sorrow on the iconic Run River label, also home to Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. The band split in 1993, with Wilkinson resuming his career as a ‘hired gun’, sharing stages with the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Guy Clark and Emmylou Harris. Wilkinson reconvened Red Moon Joe in 2010, eventually releasing Midnight Trains to considerable praise three years later.

“There is a real sense of enjoyment that comes through these songs... Quality country rock” 4/5 RnR
“This is a CD you should not be without” 9/10 Americana UK
“Guaranteed to rock’n’roll in the finest garage country band style.” 4/5 Fatea
“This album is probably their best yet.” 4/5 Music News 
“What British-Americana should be, music with stateside outer trappings but beating with a very British heart.” Dancing About Architecture


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