WEST OF EDEN – Safe Crossing (West Of Music WOMCD7)

A welcome return of the Swedish based sextuplet West Of Eden for this, their seventh album. On hearing the first bars of the opening track “Haul Away” you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d just walked into a session with Fisherman’s Friends such is the force of the multi-layered wall of sound. The lead vocals of Martin & Jenny Schaub and the texturally sublime instrumentation including fiddle, guitars, accordion, bass and percussion bring vividly to life reflections of a life based at sea. And that, of course is the whole point of this project… Continue reading WEST OF EDEN – Safe Crossing (West Of Music WOMCD7)

OONAGH DERBY – Harmony Street (KTM Records KTM001)

In a way Oonah Derby’s story reflects Irish chanteuse Mary Black’s transformation as singer for General Humbert to her more elevated position as a conveyer of contemporary songs. Having come via a traditional music grounding in the band ‘Nua’ Derby has slipped effortlessly into the mantle of singer-songwriter in collaboration with guitarist Gerard Thompson. From what I’m sure was a pretty safe environment propelling oneself into the glare of the contemporary music genre is quite a step but one that I’m sure will pay dividends as soon as everyone has become aware of her and in this technological day and age who’s not to say that isn’t possible? Continue reading OONAGH DERBY – Harmony Street (KTM Records KTM001)

HANNAH JAMES & SAM SWEENEY – State And Ancientry – ROOTBEAT RECORDS RBRCD13

So much has happened to Hannah and Sam since they released Catches & Glees that I’m almost surprised to find them still working together. Sam has joined Bellowhead and Jon Boden’s Remnant Kings while Hannah has formed Lady Maisery and has joined Hell Said The Duchess with Karen Tweed while continuing to work with The Demon Barbers Roadshow.

Nevertheless, here they are with a new album proving that the experience of the past three years has not been wasted. They have not succumbed to the temptation of adding a guest here and there although there are some new instruments, notably Sam’s Hardanger fiddle. Continue reading HANNAH JAMES & SAM SWEENEY – State And Ancientry – ROOTBEAT RECORDS RBRCD13

KAREN TWEED – Essentially Invisible To The Eye – MAY MORNING ADVENTURES MMA6327002

“A novel, an autobiography, a casserole and as close to a self portrait as I am able to create”: Karen Tweed’s own words on the cover of this remarkable solo album. Traditional tunes, original compositions and music from all over the world come together in five long sets.

For the autobiography we must start with ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘Que Sera Sera’, part of ‘Karine’ – all the tracks are named after people, a homage to The Enigma Variations, perhaps – which we can imagine as part of Karen’s childhood. In fact, Karine might really be Karen and Aidan O’Rouke’s ‘Mattie And Karine’s’ from which the set takes its name might just be a happy coincidence. Continue reading KAREN TWEED – Essentially Invisible To The Eye – MAY MORNING ADVENTURES MMA6327002

IONA – Another Realm (Open Sky Records OPENSKY 16)

I’ll only mention it once (and believe me, it’s a compliment) that when Clannad released their album “Robin Of Sherwood” in 1984 they were to prove inspirational not only to me but they also opened the door to a far wider demographic than ‘folk music’ could ever achieve on its own. The reason I mention this is that for lovers of this genre of music Iona have now accepted the baton of stylish folk-rock that I did not expect to see revived. Since the band formed in 1989 I have for some reason only enjoyed peripheral knowledge of their CD releases…but, from now on… Continue reading IONA – Another Realm (Open Sky Records OPENSKY 16)

A new Albion Band album… The Vice of The People

Alongside Steeleye Span and Fairport ConventionThe Albion Band are one of the “Big Three” of English Folk Rock, fusing traditional British songs and tunes with contemporary instruments and sounds. All three were formed by legendary band leader Ashley Hutchings. Generally considered one of the most important groupings in the genre, The Albion Band has contained or been associated with a large proportion of major English folk performers from Richard Thompson to Martin Carthy in its long and fluid history.

Until 2011, the one constant has been Albion Band leader and bass player Ashley Hutchings but, on the fortieth anniversary Continue reading A new Albion Band album… The Vice of The People