PAUL McCLURE – Songs For Anyone (Clubhouse CRUK0035CD)

Songs For AnyoneLess than two years on from the release of Smiling From The Floor Up, the warm-voiced Rutland troubadour (formerly frontman for The Hi and Lo) returns with an album he freely admits is not the one he set out to make. By this he means that he handed over the reins to Joe Bennett of The Dreaming Spires who both produces and contributes keyboards, lap steel, bass, violin, banjo, trumpet and vocals.

The result is much more of a band affair, albeit a band limited to Joe, drummer Mike Monaghan and himself on guitars, mandolin, ukulele and harmonica. Not to forget Hannah Elton-Wall from The Redlands Palomino Company on vocals (her hubbie Alex and Lola-Rose McClure also adding their voices to the mix). It’s also a more directly roots-country album, opening up with the brisk and breezy, pedal steel underpinned ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ setting the blueprint for songs “about love, trying to get it, trying to keep it, trying to understand it, and just getting on with it.”

Harmonica wails its way into ‘Unremarkable Me’, an up-tempo stomp that conjures thoughts of Guy Clark (and mentions doing the shopping) while, sounding like it was improvised in the studio, especially its line about Joe on banjo, ‘I Could Be A Happy Man’ (one of three songs revisited in slightly different shapes from the Hi and Lo album) as a drunken sway walking rhythm that reminded me of a slower ‘Battleship Chains’. A melancholic, fingerpicked acoustic ‘Don’t Take Me Under’ is the first ballad, designed for a honky tonk with the beers lined up in a row, the mood carried over into the raggedly reflective ‘Everyday Is Mine To Spend’, Hannah’s harmonies adding an extra layer of hurt.

Harmonica picks the pace up for the shuffling break up number ‘Holding A Ten Ton Load’, then it’s into waltz time for more goodbyes with Hannah duetting on ‘So Long’, following by the Dylanesque bustling ‘My Big Head Hat Of Dreams’ with its mariachi trumpets and a (unfortunately radio unfriendly) lyric about building walls against those who’d bring you down.

It’s finger-picking ballad time again with the vulnerable, catch me when I fall ‘Yesterday’s Lies’, the album hitting the final stretch with ‘My Little Ray Of Sunshine’ that surely tips the hat to the jug band side of The Lovin’ Spoonful and the slow, organ-backed six-minute ‘A Song For Anyone’ hymn to the power of song to bring friendship, comfort and healing, the melody of which, unlikely as it may seem, actually recalls Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’. I did say this was more roots-country, but, as with ‘Lola-Rose’ on ‘Smiling’, for the last track he drops in a whimsical vaudeville-esque ukulele retro pop number, tip-toeing through the tulips with Lady Flossington. McClure says these are songs for anyone, go ahead and help yourself.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below 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.

‘Holding A Ten Ton Load’ – live:

Robert Lane – new album

Robert Lane
Photograph by David Jones

Robert Lane is a guitarist, songwriter and singer based in Birmingham. His new album, Ends And Starts is released very soon.

Robert was chosen by the LG Arena to perform in the Forum Live area of the arena before concerts by Eric Clapton, Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler, BBC Sound of 2010 winner Ellie Goulding and international superstar singer/songwriter John Mayer. In July 2015 he once again performed at the newly re-branded Genting Arena before a concert by Fleetwood Mac.

In August 2013 he was selected to attend a song writing retreat/course with Kinks front man Ray Davies.

He has supported a wide range of performers including Nell Bryden, O’Hooley and Tidow, Steve Tilston, Polly Paulusma, Caddy Cooper, Gary Nock, Lotte Mullan, Paul Liddell, Alice Gold, Cattle and Cane, Jazz Morley, Edwina Hayes, Dan Wilde, Jess Morgan, Steve Gibbons, Jay Leighton, Dan Whitehouse and Steve Ajao.

Robert has appeared at Beverley Folk Festival, Cornwall Folk Festival, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Fishguard Folk Festival, Birmingham Artsfest and The Tenby Blues Festival as well as venues including Birmingham’s Glee Club and Jools Holland’s famous venue The Jam House. He has performed at Folk and acoustic Clubs across the UK including Leith Folk Club, Edinburgh Folk Club, Royston Folk Club, Ely Folk Club, Lymington Folk Club, Downed Folk Club, Doncaster Roots and Folking Live in Bracknell.

Artist’s website: robertlanemusic.co.uk

‘You Want It Both Ways’ – official video:

SUNJAY – Black & Blues (own label SLCD01501)

Black & BluesIt’s a testament to the appeal of these songs that a young man such as Sunjay Brayne finds his spiritual, or at least musical, home amongst them.

Black & Blues is Sunjay’s fourth album, this one recorded completely solo in one day by Eddy Morton. Much of the material will be familiar although the energetic opener, ‘Drop Down Mama’, was new to me and I haven’t heard ‘You Don’t Learn That In School’ that often despite its history with Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. The familiarity is part of the charm, of course. ‘Duncan & Brady’ is a classic tale of murder that never tires and ‘Pallet On The Floor’ is one of those easy-going blues songs in which the singer seems oddly content with his lot.

‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ is another old song that enjoys periodic revivals. Big Joe Williams first laid claim to it and since then it has been recorded by everyone from The Orioles to Them and AC/DC. Sunjay takes it back to basics but he can’t resist adding a second guitar part which echoes the song’s later incarnation as a rock classic.

Sunjay is a young man with a young man’s voice yet to acquire the gruffness and world-weariness of someone who has been there, done that but could never afford the T-shirt. His dynamism and enthusiasm for the music together with his technical skill as a guitarist more than compensates.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below 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.

Artist’s website: www.sunjay.tv

Sunjay’s Introducing session:

Eleanor McEvoy – Naked Music album and exhibition

Naked Music

Released on Friday, 5th February 2016, Naked Music is the title of Irish star Eleanor McEvoy’s new album, recorded alone in the studio to create an intimate collection of her music at its most raw – one instrument, one voice, performed live.

Best known for her songs Sophie and the Irish standard ‘Only A Woman’s Heart’, Eleanor’s new album features exclusive artwork by the famed painter Chris Gollon. The album will be first heard at the sold-out opening of Chris’s Exhibition in Gallery Different in London on the 28th January, 2016.

The seeds for Eleanor and Chris’ artist collaboration were sown after Eleanor bought Chris’ painting ‘Champagne Sheila’ after spotting it in a London gallery. Before leaving, Eleanor left some of her music for Chris and his agent to listen to.

Cut to Norwich in February 2015 and Chris Gollon’s national touring exhibition “Incarnation, Mary and Women from the Bible” in the beautiful Norman Cathedral has just opened with the artist in attendance. Eleanor visits the exhibition, lunches with Chris and David and squeezes them both into her sold-out ‘Alone’ club show at the city’s The Bicycle Shop venue. The outcome: heaps of chat, mutual respect and admiration and a wish to find some way of working together.

Eleanor was, at the time, finishing some recording where she was “studio-performing”, playing hers and others’ songs as she might at her solo shows. The recordings have a very exposed intimacy, so it seemed a possibility that Chris should be asked to do a painting for the cover in this solitary context.

As a body of work, Eleanor’s recordings acquired the name Naked Music, which would give a better focus to the two artists’ desire for mutual expression. Being offered this title, and with some song suggestions, Chris was so taken with the songs he completed four paintings in response –  two on the ‘Naked’ theme, and two others related to song titles and lyrics. The first ‘Dreaming of Leaving’ was written by Eleanor and Lloyd Cole. The other ‘Lubbock Woman’, a downtrodden cameo, is a song by West Texan legend Terry Allen. The paintings were such a hit, that all four talked their way into the Naked Music CD artwork.

The images, the CD artwork, sat in pride of place in the Metropolis Studio and exerted some influence on the mastering and final track order.

Now there is going to be a full Chris Gollon exhibition on the theme of  Naked Music, with his latest series of paintings inspired by all the new album tracks by Eleanor McEvoy, some co-written with Dave Rotheray (from The Beautiful South), Lloyd Cole and Nat Johnson. Visitors can come and experience the new Eleanor McEvoy album and the new Chris Gollon imagery side-by-side.

The exhibition at Gallery Different (in association with IAP Fine Art) will run for three weeks from 25th January, 2016. Having performed at the opening, Eleanor will be touring England and Wales.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below 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.

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

Ahoy Hoy – Boreas release debut album

Ahoy Hoy
Photograph by Louise Bichan

AHOY HOY is the eagerly awaited debut album from Boreas, shaped by spanning the expanses of the North Sea. In this recording the band have created something both warm and sparse, shadowy and glistening, simple and intricate, it is indeed a glorious debut.

An enchanting musical union between Scotland and Norway, Boreas began as a collaboration between Lori Watson from the Scottish Borders and Britt Pernille Frøholm from Hornindal in Sogn og Fjordane. Lori and Britt are joined by award winning accordionist Irene Tillung from Voss and Rachel Newton from Edinburgh. Together, Boreas have a passion for new and experimental forms of traditional music creating a unique expression based on Norwegian and Scottish folk music. Boreas seek to emphasize old traditions and shared musical aspects, while exploring the spaces between their different yet connected cultures.

Britt Pernille Frøholm (Hardanger/fiddle) has released several albums and frequently works across genres including solo traditional music on Hardanger fiddle (National Champion 2014), folk bands, electroacoustic compositions, collaboration with contemporary composers and free-improvising big band.

Lori Watson (fiddle, voice) is the first doctor of Artistic Research in Scottish Music having completed her PhD in contemporary Traditional music practice. She has released several critically acclaimed albums under her own name and with trio Rule of Three. Her songwriting and compositions explore tradition and innovation, and she is in demand as an educator in Higher Education, and youth music.

Irene Tillung (accordion) is a versatile musician with a background in both classical/contemporary and traditional music. She has released several award winning albums with her groups Tindra, Maar and Frøholm/Tillung. Collaborating with Polish trio Kroke, she has toured widely following the release of a live album in 2010. Irene has composed several commissioned works, one of them for Førde Folk Music Festival in 2009.

Rachel Newton (Scottish harp, voice, electroharp) is a singer and harpist, regularly touring with her own trio, The Shee, The Furrow Collective and the Emily Portman Trio. Rachel has also performed with Karine Polwart, Blue Rose Code and The Elizabethan Session among many others. Her solo albums The Shadowside (2012) and Changeling (2014) earned her much critical acclaim including nominations for Album of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards.

Artists’ website: http://www.boreasband.com/

Breabach’s new album is on the way

Breabach's new album is on the way

Release Date Friday, 11th March, 2016

Voted ‘Best Live Act 2013’ & ’Best Folk Band 2012‘ at the Scots Trad Music Awards and twice nominated ‘Best Band’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards; Scottish five-piece Breabach deliver a thrilling and unique brand of contemporary folk music that has earned them international recognition on the world and roots music scene as one of the UK’s most dynamic and exciting bands.

After a whirlwind five years traversing the globe, touring Australia, New Zealand, Asia, North America, Scandinavia and the middle East, Breabach are delighted to announce their fifth studio album Astar (translating from Scottish Gaelic as distance or journey). The music on the album takes inspiration from the beauty of both the places and people the band have visited and the wonderful musicians and cultures encountered along the way. Working with producer Greg Lawson (Moishes Bagel, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, GRIT Orchestra) the band have taken melodic, rhythmic and harmonic ideas from each of the countries they have visited. Some of this is woven into the arrangement, some of this is achieved through self-penned works. Through it all however, it’s their Scottish roots that remain at the core of the recording with work from Burns, Dick Gaughan and Donald Macleod finding it’s way into the mix. Augmenting the album will be some special guests including Yidaki player Mark Atkins (AUS), extraordinary Aborigine artist Yirrmal of Black Arm Band (AUS) Maori tradition bearer Scott Morrison (NZ), Quebecois violinist Olivier Demers of Le Vent Du Nord (Quebec) and Hardanger virtuoso Olav Luksengård Mjelva of Nordic Fiddlers Bloc (NO).

Breabach unite the talent of Calum MacCrimmon (pipes/whistles/bouzouki/vocals), Ewan Robertson (guitar/ vocals), James Mackenzie (pipes/flute/whistles), Megan Henderson (fiddle/vocals/stepdance) and James Lindsay (double bass). Since launching their career as winners of the Open Stage Award at Celtic Connections in 2005 the band have steadily moved from strength to strength, picking up accolades and performing at esteemed events along the way. The 2016 release of Astar sees them reaching new levels of their musical ambition and maturity.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below 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.

Artists’ website: www.breabach.com