DOGHOUSE ROSES – Lost Is Not Losing (Yellowroom Music YLLWRM-010)

Lost Is Not LosingLost Is Not Losing came to me for review – I think you might like this, was the suggestion. For the past week it has been on continual play in my car.

Doghouse Roses are from Glasgow, a duo comprising Iona Macdonald and Paul Tasker who have written the songs on the album. Macdonald has a gloriously clear voice. Lost Is Not Losing is the duo’s third album but if, like me, you’ve not previously come across Doghouse Roses, then Macdonald’s voice has been likened to Sandy Denny. The album opens with ‘Pour’ “Pour me another, that’s what he said / For I’d rather be drunk or I’d rather be dead” and you are taken straight into a tangled tale of love and alcoholism. Tasker’s finger picking is equally a delight and the second track ‘To Decide’ gives you half a minute of Tasker playing alone in the introduction.

By now I was hooked. ‘Feed the Monster’, ‘New Year Rag’ and ‘After Sun’ are overtly political “Build an ivory tower for the worship of the few/ Trust them with your life like they’d do the same for you/Wasn’t it easier just to lose/Feed the monster, make it stronger”. Macdonald has said that politics isn’t about detached politicians. It’s about how we choose to live our lives every day and how we choose to treat the people and the world around us and these songs have a subtlety sometimes missing in protest songs.

On a number of tracks the duo are supported by Craig Laurie on drums and Stephen McGourty on bass and the album moves easily between the acoustic duo and the wider band songs: ‘Diesel Engine’ – where there is a guest co-lead vocal from Biff Smith of New International and lead guitar from Slovenian virtuoso Dejan Lapanja, ‘Weather the Storm’ and ‘Crooked Life’.

If you want an introduction to the duo, though, have a listen to ‘Fairground’, the ballad of a former prostitute told through the complex emotions of the lyric set against a lively melody and Jez Hellard’s harmonica.

Mike Wistow

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Artist’s website: www.doghouseroses.net

Doghouse Roses talk about themselves and Lost Is Not Losing:

The Unthanks announce Diversions Vol. 4

Diversions Vol. 4
The Unthanks – How Wild The Wind Blows
Performing the Songs and Poems of Molly Drake

Unthanks

A wistful mother in the 1950s makes some simple home recordings in her family sitting room. Little could she have known that decades later, her son would become one of the most poetic and influential songwriters ever, or that more than sixty years later, the dust would be blown off her own songs. On the surface, the 2013 release of Molly Drake’s work could easily have been perceived as just a curious footnote and jigsaw piece in explaining the enormous talent of Nick Drake. In the eyes of The Unthanks however, and increasingly amongst others, Molly’s work is extraordinary enough to rank alongside and independently of her brilliant son.

With encouragement from the Drake musical estate and the full blessing and enthusiasm of celebrated actress Gabrielle Drake (Molly’s daughter and Nick’s sister) The Unthanks are relishing the opportunity and will treat the challenge with the same love and diligence for their subject as they did when reinterpreting the work of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnson’s on Diversions Vol 1.

Never intended for public release, Molly Drake’s recordings, made by her husband, were made at home and are of the time. In a climate where films, stories and music are being rehashed for spurious repeat exploitation, if ever a body of work actually merited reappraisal and fresh presentation, surely the work of Molly Drake is it. Her songs share plenty of common ground with her son’s – charming and bittersweet, yet dark and pensive.

A tour of Molly Drake’s work, reimagined by The Unthanks, will be accompanied by the release of Diversions Vol 4. – The Unthanks Perform The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake.

Artists’ website: http://www.the-unthanks.com/

STEVE DAGLEISH – Yours For Eternity (own label DAG CD 05)

Yours For EternitySteve Dagleish is originally from Hull and, via Saltburn-on-Sea, now resident in London. Yours For Eternity is his second album. Like many others, Steve tried his luck with an acoustic guitar in the 70s but abandoned that idea for a steady job and family life. Thirty years later he picked up a guitar again and this is the latest result – an entirely solo album with an unexpected warmth.

As a songwriter Steve is also fond of an unexpected twist. Frequently the title of a song is entirely accurate but doesn’t really reveal the essence of the piece. So the opener, ‘Hello Son’, is about a mother writing to her son with family news but is really about her feelings and emotions about her life with a husband who is capable of falling of his moped and her family which is moving away from here. ‘Governor Of Sombrero’, based on a true story and sung a capella in the style of a traditional ballad, tells of a young Cornish boy press-ganged on board what seems to be a somewhat disreputable ship. After rebelling against unjust treatment he is finally marooned on the island of Sombrero but there is a happy ending as he is rescued and his captain drummed out of the navy.

Steve continues the historical theme with ‘Emily Stands Strong’, a song about Emily Hobhouse who protested about conditions in the Boer War concentration camps and the title track is a not-unfamiliar story from Great War but with a rather bitter hook – “try to tell me that love is not greater than war”.

Steve is pretty good finger-style guitar player – ‘Miss Sweeny’ and the instrumental set, ‘Marriage St./Road To Mary’ are testament to that – and a fine songwriter. There was a time when I’d say that a big label should snap him up but in the current climate I’d say he was doing well enough by himself.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: http://www.stevedagleish.com/

Steve’s Showreel:

Siobhan Miller – single, album and tour dates

Siobhan Miller

As a taster for the forthcoming album Strata, Siobhan Miller’s lovely, new single ‘One Too Many Mornings’ is released today.

As well as Siobhan’s wonderful vocals, the single features Aaron Jones and Kris Drever (guitar), Tom Gibbs (piano), Euan Burton (bass) and Jack Smedley (viola) This interpretation of Bob Dylan’s classic song also features vocals and drums, from Admiral Fallow frontman Louis Abbott.

A two-time winner of Scots Singer of the Year, Siobhan Miller is widely regarded as one of the foremost vocalists in Scotland. Daughter of folk musician Brian Miller and from a musical household her new album Strata sees her looking back to the songs she grew up around and that influenced her musical life. Refreshing these songs and recording them for the first time, she is joined by some of Scotland’s finest musicians including Kris Drever and Aidan O’Rourke, from Lau, and Phil Cunningham.

In support of the forthcoming album, (Due out in February, 2017) Siobhan will be touring the UK during February and March, preceded by a launch date at Celtic Connections.

Artist’s website: https://www.siobhanmiller.com/

Listen to the song:

ROBYN STAPLETON – Songs Of Robert Burns (Laverock Records LAVE002CD)

songs of robert burnsI was delighted to receive a copy to review of Songs Of Robert Burns, the latest album by Robyn Stapleton. Quite simply, this is a fabulous recording by the young Scottish female singer. She has carefully selected a top-notch group of musicians to support her. Most of the songs she has chosen will be familiar to the followers of Robert Burns.

For anybody who is not aware of the songs of Robert Burns or who has previously stated that they were not keen on Burns then I suggest you go out and buy this CD now! I would find it hard to find fault in any track. The arrangements are superb and extremely complementary to Robyn’s voice. The clarity of her voice and her excellent diction is a bonus which not all current artistes offer.

‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose ‘, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’,’ John Anderson My Jo’ and ‘Ca’ the Ewes’ are only some of the beautiful songs she sings and Robyn’s version of ‘Parcel O’ Rogues’ is exceptional. Her musicians include Patsy Reid, Aaron Jones, Innes White , Alistair Paterson and several more who are becoming well known in their own rights on the scene.

The album cover and quality of the actual recordings can put me off of purchasing a CD. No problem with that on this disc. The cover is excellent and there is a separate booklet with all the words, just in case you missed any when listening. For non-Scots this is most beneficial. The studio work is also very good with a high quality production by Robyn at Castlesound Studios.

Altogether a very, very good album which should find itself into many people’s collections. For those who prefer the older classical singing of Burns songs in preference to the more ‘folkie’ style , this CD crosses those barriers . This is for all lovers of Robert Burns.

Fraser Bruce

Artist’s website: www.robynstapleton.com

Teaser video:

JOHNNY COPPIN – All On A Winter’s Night (Red Sky Records RSKCD121)

all on a winter's nightChristmas is nearly upon us, and acclaimed Gloucestershire singer/ songwriter and Radio Gloucester presenter, Johnny Coppin is currently on his annual tour taking the All On A Winter’s Night Christmas concert to various place in the country. Johnny has been doing a run of Christmas concerts in December for a number of years, with various musicians in his band such as Paul Burgess, Dik Cadbury, Karen Tweed, and Geoff March. Sadly missing is the guitar playing of Mick Dolan, who died in 2014, and who had played in bands with Johnny for a number of years, going back to his Decameron days.

Johnny decided to put some of the lovely songs which are played at these concerts on an album, and it has now just been released.  All of the above artists play on the new album with the addition of Steve Trigg on flugelhorn and trumpet and percussionist David Pickering-Pick.

This album is a real treat to listen to, a selection of songs that warm you for the Festive season and midwinter.  Johnny has a lovely melodic voice that brings out the best in all these tunes, whilst playing his haunting keyboard in his own inimitable way.  I’m not a big fan of Christmas, but love this album, as it takes us back to the true value and meaning of Christmas.  Not about rushing out to feed retail outlets and less meaningful things.  It’s about the true tradition and anticipation of Christmas, of family and reunions, of loved ones not present, The Nativity and all things of midwinter including warm fires!

The tracks included on the album are ‘All On A Winter’s Night’ – a lovely intro, that conveys the joy of anticipation of Christmas, ‘Counting The Hours To Christmas’ – a song of reunion, ‘The Christmas Star’ ( by Kimmie Rhodes) which is one of my favourite tracks, ‘Halsway Carol’ (by Nigel Eaton) named so after Halsway Manor – the National Centre for Folk Arts based in Somerset, ‘Welcome In Another Year’ (by Zoe Mulford), ‘A Connemara Christmas’ written by the late Mick Dolan, especially for the Christmas shows, ‘Snow In The Street’ (from a poem by William Morris), and classics like ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’, the traditional carol ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ (to Gustav Holst’s tune ‘Cranham’) which we all know and which is a fabulous version on this album, ‘Gabriel’s Message’ (A Basque carol with English words by the Reverend Sabine Baring Gould from Devon), and ‘O Holy Night’ – which you may not know – is a 19th century carol.

All the photos on the album are by Martin Fry, who does the amazing pictures for the Christmas shows and the album is on sale at the Christmas concerts in December 2016. Alternatively purchase through Johnny’s website where you can also find out where Johnny is out on tour.

Jean Camp

Artist’s website: https://johnnycoppin.wordpress.com