The Pawn Shop Saints,”Weeds” (DollyRocker Records)- The Pawn Shop Saints’ creative driving force Jeb Barry is arguably New England’s finest contemporary songwriting talent, blessed with a rare ability to shine a welcome spotlight on some of the darker aspects of the American dream via some of the most arresting material that you could ever wish to hear. ”Weeds” is the fourth album that the band have captured for posterity since their formation just over a decade ago and it’s certainly their most folk orientated and unadorned offering to date. The spectre of the Covid 19 pandemic hovers over many of Barry’s finest explorations of love ,loss and emotional pain here and the finished product should be required listening for Americana devotees everywhere, with “Miss June,” “ Southern Drawl in Heaven” and his heartfelt tribute to the late great John Prine,”Twine,” emerging as three of the stand-out tracks.

Hannibal,”Hannibal” (Talking Elephant)- This splendid re-issue from the good people at Talking Elephant focusses attention on the sole album from British jazz rockers Hannibal. This 1970 long player has become a highly sought after collector’s item in vinyl form during the past half century and it’s certainly an interesting period piece which provides a richly rewarding vehicle for the unjustly undervalued talents of guitarist and songwriter Adrian Ingram. The album also provided an early outlet for the skills of horn player and keyboardist Bill Hunt, who would later go on to find much more in the way of fame and fortune with the Electric Light Orchestra and Roy Wood’s Wizard. Sax and clarinet player Cliff Williams also deserves a mention in dispatches for his often dissonant and inventive contributions to proceedings, most notably on the ten minute long epic “Bend For A Friend.”

The Magpie Arc, “Glamour in the Grey” (Collective/Perspective Records)- This compelling throwback to the golden age of British folk-rock some half a century ago marks the album debut of The Magpie Arc, a superlative Anglo-Scottish outfit featuring the combined talents singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist Nancy Kerr and Sheffield based guitar wizard Martin Simpson to name but a few. The latter is much better known for his acoustic artistry but he’s an equally adept performer in an electric setting too and Simpson’s distinctive vocals also grace two of the album’s finest creations, Mike Waterson’s “Jack Frost” and the American traditional song,”Pans of Biscuits."