JOLIE HOLLAND & SAMANTHA PARTON – Wildflower Blues (Cinquefoil Records CINQ-CD-017)

Wildflower BluesIf you’re struggling to remember, Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton are former members of the wonderful Be Good Tanyas, the exact status of whom is currently uncertain. Jolie actually left the band before their debut album was released but she is now reunited with Samantha for Wildflower Blues, their debut album as a duo.

The majority of the ten songs here are written by Jolie and Samantha in partnership or with some outside help but they also bring in some well-chosen covers. They open with Townes Van Zandt’s bitter-sweet ‘You Are Not Needed Now’ and there are the familiar fragile country harmonies that you would expect. After the first verse you realise that things have changed and there is a band making some big sounds behind them. The band is in fact a trio: Stevie Weinstein-Foner on guitar and vocals, multi-instrumentalist Jared Samuel and drummer Justin Veloso.

The second cover is ‘Jocko’s Lament’ by Michael Hurley, famed in the UK as writer of ‘The Werewolf’, and the third is Bob Dylan’s ‘Minstrel Boy’ for which Jolie has written extra lyrics. I’m not sure if Bob would like the new words but I just love hearing Jolie and Samantha sing that tune for longer than the original might allow.

The first of the original songs is the title track which verges on pop music and features Paul Rigby on fuzz guitar. It has a bluesy swing that features throughout the record and it’s followed by ‘Make It Up To Me’ which gets down and dirty and reads like the sub-plot of Dexter where our hero is trying not to let his wife find out that he’s a serial killer. There is some really dirty guitar and Jared’s piano sounding positively angry. Jolie’s song ‘The Last’ continues on a similar theme.

Wildflower Blues is a gorgeous album that I’ve practically had on repeat since I first played it. There is just so much happening here that I defy you not to enjoy it.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the JOLIE HOLLAND & SAMANTHA PARTON – Wildflower Blues link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

ORDER – [VINYL]

Artists’ website: www.jolieandsamantha.com

‘You Are Not Needed Now’ – live:

Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion – first new album for fourteen years

Bob Delyn

Known for creating a Celtic cauldron of eclectic bardic beats and credited for the Welsh folk revival of the 90’s – Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion are back with a brand new album.   Their latest release Dal i ‘Redig Dipyn Bach (Still ploughing on a little bit) has them throwing a glance or two back over their shoulders to their folk beginnings…..

Bob Delyn is the alter ego of one of the towering figures of contemporary Welsh music and poetry, Twm Morys. A recognized poet in his own right, having won the chair in the National Eisteddfod of Wales for poetry in the ‘strict’ metres of ‘cynghanedd’, his talent with words is combined with his musical talents in the songs of Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion.  Twm has gathered around him some of Wales’ best musicians, who share the same belief in giving the old traditions a new life.  Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion do not sing folk songs, but have recreated a tradition in their own unique style, and in doing so have made Welsh folk music a far more interesting place.

Dal i ‘Redig Dipyn Bach is Bob Delyn’s first album since Dore released 14 years ago.  Why take so long I hear you ask?  “Life kidnapped us all, the same as everybody else!” answers Twm.  This album saw a different creative approach to previous albums as the band members were scattered across Wales and it was difficult to meet up and develop ideas.  Most of the songs on the new album were composed and arranged by Twm Morys. Fellow poet and songwriter, the late Iwan Llwyd, also features as a theme throughout the album – with two songs written by Iwan himself, Sŵn ar Gardyn Post and Comin Abergwesyn.

The album opens with the voice of John Williams from Cwm Grwyne Fechan in the Black Mountains.  The voice was recorded by T.J.Morgan in 1939 as John Williams, a miller, was one of five people left in the valley who spoke Welsh.  Today there are 250 pupils in the Welsh school in Abergavenny – ‘Cân John Williams’ is dedicated to the children and teachers at Ysgol Gymraeg y Fenni (Abergavenny Welsh School).   The album also features two songs in Breton, ‘Meur a Wech’ & ‘Nemet Dour’ both songs written by Twm Morys. Twm gives a brief introduction to ‘Meur a Wech’ in the sleeve notes: ‘something wonderful has happened: the calvary has arrived before the end, and in the middle of the great drought there has fallen a drop of rain, sweeter than wine.’

Most of the songs featured on the album were recorded and produced in Stiwdio Pant yr Hwch, Pentre Uchaf on the Llŷn Peninsula.  Edwin Humphreys, who also plays the sax, bombard, cornet, trumpet and organ in the band, recorded and produced the recording sessions at Pant yr Hwch.  Legendary Welsh producer Gorwel Owen (Super Furry Animals, Gorkys, Pondman, Brave Captain, Kentucky AFC etc) also produced two tracks on the album – his relationship with the band dates back to the early recordings and was influential in creating the band’s sound.

Over the summer Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion played at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Bodedern, Anglesey and were also invited to perform at Festival No. 6 – the festival held at the stunning setting of Portmeirion village not far from where the album was recorded. The band will next meet for a concert to celebrate the release of Dal i ‘Redig Dipyn Bach as part of the Cabaret Pontio series held at Pontio, Bangor on Friday, September 29th.

Tickets are now on sale from the box office – 01248 382828.

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artists’ website: https://myspace.com/bobdelynarebillion

Not the best start to a video we’ve ever seen but stay with it – it gets better:

Kings Of The South Seas – new single and launch tour dates – new album next year

South Seas
Photograph by Dai Jeffries

The lead track from the album Lady Franklin is a broadside from the 1850s. After the disappearance of her husband, Lady Jane Franklin sponsored several expeditions to discover his fate and worked hard to keep the search going for decades. When explorer John Rae returned with Inuit stories of cannibalism, she refused to believe them, but they’ve subsequently been proven largely accurate. In fact the recent discovery of the two Franklin ships is mainly thanks to Inuit oral histories, which were mocked by the British Navy at the time of the ships disappearance

Following their acclaimed debut Kings Of The South Seas (DWink Records 2014) this second release by Kings Of The South Seas vividly brings to life the music left by these events and their cultural fallout. Lady Franklin features Canadian Voyageur paddling songs, English folk ballads and songs composed onboard ice-bound wintering ships to Victorian parlour pieces – all delivered in powerful, foreboding and effecting style by this unique band.

The British expeditions in search of the NW Passage through the North of Canada and in particular the loss of Franklin’s expedition to the ice during the 19th Century affected many. The Navy and families who waited at home, the Inuit encountered and the British public who looked on from afar and seemed to signal the beginning of the end of British Empire. These losses and failures left a large wealth of musical, theatrical and literary material as the nation tried to make sense of events. The material was also derived from printing presses and musicals created on board some of the icebound ships during those long, brutal winters.

Lady Franklin was recorded in St Andrews Mission Church in Gravesend under the glow of stained glass windows dedicated by Lady Franklin (wife of John Franklin) to the sailors who lost their lives on his last voyage.

Kings of The South Seas are:

Ben Nicholls – vocal, concertina, organ, banjo (The Full English, Seth Lakeman Band, Nadine Shah Band)

Richard Warren – guitar (Spiritualized, Mark Lanegan Soulsavers)

Evan Jenkins – drums (Neil Cowley Trio)

Artists’ website: www.kingsofthesouthseas.net

‘Lady Franklin’ – official video:

UK LAUNCH DATES OCTOBER 2017
(further details to be announced for January 2018!)

4th October – Cecil Sharp House
2 Regents Park Road, London NW1 7AY
Tickets £14/£10 under 26s
Doors 7:30pm
www.cecilsharphouse.org
Tel. 0207 485 2206

5th October –  Loders Village Hall
Loders, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 4LZ
Tickets £8
Doors 7pm
http://www.seetickets.com/tour/kings-of-the-south-seas-with-peter-wilson
www.kingsofthesouthseas.net
Tel. 01308 485375

6th October – St Andrews, Gravesham Arts
19 Royal Pier Road, Gravesend, Kent DA12 2BD
Tickets £10
Doors 7:30pm
https://www.wegottickets.com/event/411419
www.thebowerhouse.info
Tel. 07585 662395

21st October Folk Expo
Home-Theatre 2, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, M15 4FN
Tickets £17
Doors 8pm
https://www.englishfolkexpo.com/news/the-delegates-programme/
Tel. 0161 200 1500

HEAD FOR THE HILLS – Potions And Poisons (Head For The Hills)

Potions And PoisonsDespite a slightly altered line up (with original mandolinist, Mike Chappell departing to pursue other endeavours) the Colorado-based quartet, Head For The Hills, are back with another album, in the form of the self-produced and self-released, Potions And Poisons, which will be available from November 1st.

While its predecessor, Blue Ruin, was an exploration of numerous genres, this recording is far more grounded in the sounds of straight up Americana. That said, we do get a hint of ‘…Hills’ wonderfully eclectic tastes halfway through the opening track, ‘Afraid Of The Dark’, through an unusual and almost Eastern European sounding break down. This is followed by the quirky fiddle-led ‘Suit And Tie’, which continues the more apparent Americana approach, as it flows into ‘Give Me A Reason’; a song with a melody reminiscent of traditional ballad ‘Diamond Joe’, but with lyrics which feel a bit rushed and lack the same conviction of the previous tracks.

‘Floodgates’ is one of two entirely instrumental numbers, and its intricate bluegrass mandolin runs really demonstrate the musical talent of Sam Parks, the band’s newest recruit. Title track, ‘Potions And Poisons’ is possibly the best song on the album and is an ode to life’s vices, including “Candy, coffee, cocaine and coitus”. While the alliteration in the song’s lyrics, prove rather effective, one must not overlook the quality of its free-flowing fiddle, played on this track by Joe Lessard. Perhaps the biggest departure from the album’s Americana vibe comes in the form of the five minute ‘Tell Me Lies’; with its revisited dashes of Eastern Europe, nuances of gypsy jazz and hints of skiffle; with washboard percussion provided by Bonnie Pain, of fellow Colorado group, Elephant Revival. The album bows out strongly, with the beautifully written ‘Kings And Cowards’ and ‘Bucker’, another toe-tapping instrumental delight.

With the boast of having won the locally reputable Northwest String Summit (in 2007), appearances on noted radio programmes and at well-known festivals (including SXSW) over the last decade, November’s Potions and Poisons will surely be yet another worthy addition to the band’s already impressive résumé.

Christopher James Sheridan

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the HEAD FOR THE HILLS – Potions And Poisons link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artist’s website: www.headforthehillsmusic.com

‘Bitter Black Coffee’ – official video:

SAM KELLY talks to Folking’s Su O’Brien

Sam Kelly

Pretty Peggy, the much-anticipated second album from Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys is released on 6th October, so Folking.com caught up with Sam, freshly arrived back at home in Cornwall, to find out more.

“I’ve not been back for about two months”, Sam admits, as The Lost Boys have busy been cementing their award-winning position as a firm festival crowd favourite, gigging every weekend over the summer.

“We’re having loads of fun doing it and having a great time and I think that comes across in the live shows”, says Sam, conceding that it’s not necessarily the healthiest of lifestyles and he’s “always one of the last to quit and go to bed”.

Still, it must be nice to get home and recharge, sit around in your pants, catch a bit of rubbish tv, maybe read a book or play a video game? Well, yes. Except that what was meant to be a brief respite before the album launch will, for Sam, revolve around moving house instead. So much for relaxing. Fortunately, though, Sam sounds as though he’s taking this, and everything else, pretty much in his stride.

Remarkably, it’s already two years since The Lost Boys’ debut album was released. Although an acclaimed album, in retrospect it seems that the band was still finding its feet.

“With the first album it was obvious that we were going to call it The Lost Boys as an introduction to the band.

“I always wanted to get a band together. I always heard songs with a full band arrangement in my head. At first we couldn’t afford to do other than a trio: we could all go in one car – nice and easy! There was always going to be a full band when I could afford it – and when I met the right musicians. I wanted it to be collaborative, not a ‘backing band’”.

Looking back, Sam reflects on the less-than-ideal recording conditions. A piecemeal affair, fitting around the band members’ day jobs and wherever they could set up their equipment, it involved such unglamorous distractions as having to wait for Gatwick planes to pass overhead between takes.

“With the first album, there was no other way of doing it. We were all working full-time. It broke the immersion in the process.

“I was pleased [with the album], but it felt quite rushed compared to this album, and the EP we did at around that same time, Spokes. Listening back, Spokes better represented the band’s sound. I would change lots in terms of the nitty gritty – mixes – and, also, some of the songs didn’t quite reach their potential, as they’d been in my head. It’s all part of the learning process”.

Additionally, as the album was effectively a calling card to attract bookings, it tried to capture something like the band’s live sound, leaving little room for studio ingenuity.

When it came to recording Pretty Peggy, however, the band opted for a dedicated period of studio time, staying there full-time so that they could all concentrate fully on it and be more experimental. Not that getting all seven band members together was a simple business.

“We only had two rehearsals with everyone together, it’s so difficult to get time. It was at Jamie’s parents’ in Cumbria – which is a hefty drive from Cornwall – so there was not much chance to get together and write. We worked on a few of the tracks while chilling at festivals. Stuff happens organically like that, but it can’t always, because you can’t always find the time”.

Just as well, then, that they have an established habit of recording demos as they go along, working on songs, thrashing out the basics of tempo and arrangement. It helps speed up the recording process, which is useful considering the expense of studio time.

“This was all recorded in Cornwall in two weeks. We all had the time booked off and knew most of the songs anyway. We sat down and allowed ourselves to be creative for a couple of weeks. The tracks are presented in a way that suits each track more. We had more time to step back and listen to what each song needed.

“Everyone has been involved in the creative process, in recording, instrumentation-wise, orchestration-wise. We lost our inhibitions of trying to do only what we can do live.

“All my favourite albums are the ones that treated the recorded format as a separate art form. On the folk scene this is perhaps done less often, but that’s ok, too: people want to capture particular kinds of sound. But if the album’s treated as a separate thing, it’s different and exciting when you see it live: it’s a different show, wondering how they are going to do that live”.

From squeaky chairs, reverse voices and a fire extinguisher, to grand piano strings plucked with a plectrum, everyone has had a hand in offering up ideas and suggestions for the final mix. The Lost Boys are keen to emphasise their collaborative efforts and have clearly had fun exploring the studio’s possibilities for “headphone moments”.

“My favourite album is Grace by Jeff Buckley. I still listen to it through studio monitors and notice little things I never noticed before. There are little “Easter eggs” buried in the mix”.

Sam, Graham Coe and Jamie Francis also produced the album, allowing them full control over their sound and their treasure hunt of Easter eggs. Sam says he would prefer an external producer – Gerry Diver’s name comes up – but opted to self-produce this time rather than risk hiring someone who wasn’t quite right, given the short timescales involved. Sam enjoys producing, though, and is proud of his production duties for The Company Of Players, whose album is due for release next year.

Working with The Changing Room’s Tanya Brittain gave Sam the inspiration and confidence to ask for musical contributions from guest artists, including Mike McGoldrick, who, following a spectacularly late-night Costa Del Folk jam session, set his fee at “50p and a can of Red Stripe”. Cara Dillon added beautiful harmonies and vocals to ‘Bonnie Lass Of Fyvie’ (the source of the album’s title) and Damien O’Kane provided hot guitar on ‘If I Were A Blackbird’. Geoff Lakeman, dropping by to hang out as the studio was close to home, ended up supplying virtuoso spoons on ‘Angeline The Baker’.

“I didn’t realise then how willing people are to play on things. I forget that these people are all in it for the love of the music. All the people I’ve met on the folk scene are so supportive of young people and of the next generation coming through. It’s very inspiring. It’s the opposite of ‘never meet your heroes’”.

All these factors lend Pretty Peggy an added richness and depth of sound. It’s a heavier, altogether meatier album than the first one, but it’s evident that ‘Chasing Shadows’, the lead single, is quite different in tone. Consciously attempting to make something with greater mainstream appeal, the band then found that the 4-and-a-half-minute track couldn’t easily be edited for airplay. But with some radio play already, it still stands every chance of opening-up The Lost Boys to a wider audience.

Rooted in personal experience, ‘Chasing Shadows’ steps away from traditional third-person storytelling songs, evoking instead a contemporary, emotional mood.

“I’m not a prolific writer, I have lots of ideas that don’t materialise into full-blooded songs. But that one just came out. I didn’t think ‘I’ll write a song for a friend’. I was just moved by what happened and wrote it. If it helps someone stop doing something silly…” Only after he said this, did we realise it was World Suicide Prevention Day, adding a topicality to Sam’s words.”

It’s that ability to combine personal, contemporary songs with traditional material and have them sit seamlessly together that Sam most admires in his favourite songwriters, such as Chris Wood, Chris Drever and Karine Polwart.

For now, as the band prepares to tour the album in November and December, with a second leg to follow early in 2018, The Lost Boys are already beginning to think ahead to the next album. They know it will take time to come to fruition and they fully intend it to be another step forward in working together as a unit.

“We have big plans for next year to get together and write a whole new album with everyone involved in that process, to see what we come up with”.

So, the band continues to evolve and, despite his protestations that he is bad at planning ahead, there are clearly plenty of longer-term ambitions bubbling in the mind of Sam Kelly. He has the confidence and assurance of one who has come a very long way in a few short, hectic years. This is a young man determined to savour every moment and treat everything as a learning opportunity.

Sam Kelly

“I’m conscious of not looking too far ahead, and enjoying the present. When I first started, I was always looking forward to the next thing, but then I realised that gigs and things were going past too fast.

“I think back to when we first started playing 20-30 minute sets at our first festivals. We were keen to prove ourselves and worked on creating dynamic sets, hoping to blow the crowds away and win the audience onto our side. Now we like to have lots of fun and play up-tempo things to get people dancing. But we’re not really trying to please anyone but ourselves.

“We have more creative freedom because we’re not trying to please anyone. We’re known in the folk scene now and are more comfortable with where we are and what we’re doing. We’ve got a licence to be more experimental and creative with the music. It has been a kind of growth and realisation process.

“There’s always going to be something else I want to do, some other goal: wanting to be the best musician you can be.

“I’ve learned to trust my own ideas more. Even if I make a mistake, it’s my mistake. I would rather make things that are maybe not as successful or popular, but I can be proud of it because it’s mine”.

Having proved his credentials in the folk world, he has nurtured the band he always wanted and achieved goals he once considered unimaginable, let alone attainable. And it feels like he’s only just getting started.

Su O’Brien

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys – Pretty Peggy link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

Artist website: http://www.samkelly.org

‘Chasing Shadows’ – official video:

Neil Brophy Joins Ducking Punches And We Bless This Mess for UK Tour

New single ‘The One Man Folk Band’ To Be Released 17th November

Neil Brophy

Neil Brophy returns to the UK this November for a solo tour supporting UK acoustic punks Ducking Punches for 6 dates and some further shows with Blackbeard’s Tea Party.

Neil will be following up on his two recent UK tours sharing stages with Mad Dog Mcrea and Blackbeard’s Tea Party promoting the recent politically charged release ‘Fear Of Fear’ and upbeat uke/banjo driven ‘Where The Bears Go Fishing’.

’The One Man Folk Band’ is heart a felt four minute autobiography about traveling the world appearing on hundreds of stages where Neil feeds from his experiences of travel and performing.  Neil says that he will “Stand & Deliver every Song I’m Gonna Sing Ya, because I’m a One Man Folk Band in a Strange Land”.

Neil’s craft of storytelling never fails to paint a vivid picture.  He is living the dream again in this one, backed by a lifting acoustic guitar, mandolin & Dylan-esque harmonica.

One of Neil’s previous singles ‘The Record Collector’, released on Record Store Day, was championed by Steve Lamacq, receiving substantial airplay on BBC 6 Music.

The band has toured extensively in Northern Europe and Scandinavia becoming firm favourites on the festival circuit including multiple festival appearances in Germany, Holland and Belgium. UK festivals include Beautiful Days with The Levellers, Big Session and Middlewich Festival.

‘One Man Folk Band’:

Artist’s website: http://www.neilbrophy.co.uk/

Tour Dates

27th October  Dublin                        Academy 2
(supporting Scoops)
28th October  Carlow                        Tully’s
(supporting Scoops)
29th October  Waterford                 Central Arts
(supporting Scoops)
15th November Bristol                       Exchange
(supporting Ducking Punches & We Bless This Mess)
16th November Exeter                         Cavern
(supporting Ducking Punches & We Bless This Mess)
17th November London                     Surya
(supporting Ducking Punches & We Bless This Mess)
18th November  Birmingham             Sunflower
(supporting Ducking Punches & We Bless This Mess)
19th November Manchester             Gullivers
(supporting Ducking Punches & We Bless This Mess)
20th November York                           Fibbers
(supporting Ducking Punches & We Bless This Mess)
26th November London                     Borderline
(supporting Blackbeard’s Tea Party)
28th November Manchester                Band on the Wall
(supporting Blackbeard’s Tea Party)