CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS – Infinite Sky Fat Cat FATCD027

CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS Infinite SkyChris While and Julie Matthews have been making music together for twenty years now, first with The Albion Band and currently with St Agnes Fountain as well as solo and as a duo. They make classy records and this, their eighth studio album together, is no exception.

The album opens with the up-tempo, vibrant ‘This Beautiful Life’, a song which could open or close a live set with equal impact. Here it sets the tone of a record which is full of optimism even when the subject might suggest otherwise. Better perhaps to say defiance in the face of catastrophe: Christchurch after the earthquake and 9/11; or stoicism when times are less than perfect. The new Radio Ballads song, ‘Nie Wieder’, about German Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann, is the epitome of Julie’s song-writing. There is no triumphalism in her belated honours in her homeland but the statement that ‘nothing cleans the memory’ leaves a deep sense of sadness.

The core band of Howard Lees (some nicely understated lead guitar), Neil Fairclough on bass and drummer Bryan Hargreaves are again in residence with brief guest appearances from Kellie While, Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson and Andy Cutting. With Chris and Julie on acoustic guitars and keyboards the sound is big but never fussy. It can be gentle as on ‘Hope Springs’ or rock like a good ’un as on ‘Broken Crash Barrier’. Infinite Sky is another fine album from Chris and Julie. Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist web link: www.whileandmatthews.co.uk

RICHARD TRETHEWEY – DIG WHERE YOU STAND

Richard’s superb debut album is making a noise in the right places! Recently released and already having extremely positive comments.

As Richard explains in his cover notes, this album is his exploration of Cornish culture starting from where he stands.  He is fiercely proud of his Cornish heritage.  His family history contains ancestors who ranged from a blacksmith, a clay worker, a stone mason and even a Cornish wrestler!  The area he grew up in is steeped in industrial history being deep in the heart of the mining area.  5 tracks on the album are his own self-penned.

There are tales of shipwrecks off the Isle of Scilly with lovely fiddle arrangements, haymaking, women connected to the mine working, The clay makers strike in 1913, the chimneys coming alive again at Carn Brea, celebrating Tom Bawcock and his catch of fish, emigration and much more.  To find out you will have to buy the album!

This album is really story-telling at its best and a fine debut album from a young Cornishman, who has studied and gained his Folk degree at Newcastle University and clearly learnt the right way to do things.

The album notes are finished in a recycled paper with old fashioned pictures from old albums, nicely presented.

Richard is a gifted and talented vocalist and musician playing various fiddles, triangle, anvil, bellows and percussion, with various guest musicians including 4 from the Camborne Youth Band, Steve Hunt, Jim Causley, Phil Innes, Jowdy Davey, and Heather Trethewey.

Richard is also one half of the Cornish duo Leski where his music partner is Dulcimer player Kerensa, who have toured and appeared at various festivals.  In March he has a trio organised for a gig in West Looe.

Richard is proud of this album and rightly so.  Order your copy from the folking store link below…

I am proud to have it in my collection. Jean Camp

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.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Folk Awards 2013 (Proper Music Properfolk14)

Folk Awards 2013Glorious…there’s no other word to describe it. Opening with every folk fans favourite band of ragamuffins Bellowhead and “Roll The Woodpile Down” this 3 CD compilation of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards positively blasts forth heralding the achievements of all concerned. We in the folk world have a lot to be grateful for and the inclusion of (amongst others) Hannah James & Sam Sweeney, Gilmore & Roberts and Kathryn Tickell show how they can ‘acoustically’ kick butt along with ‘rock’ music’s finest. It brings a beaming smile to my face to feel privileged as I do that my enjoyment of this much maligned genre really can give every other form of music a run for its money and that recording’s like this will hopefully inspire the next generation to pick up the baton and run with it. Mind you…before I sign off (heartily recommending that you purchase a copy of the album) I’d like to credit Smooth Operations Jon Lewis on whose shoulders rest the unenviable task of selecting this compilation as it must have been an agonising decision choosing only one track from each of the featured artists plus the bonus ten track CD of the Young Folk Award contenders. Finally, Proper Music and the production team led by the legendary Brian Ledgard have to be congratulated for their support each year in allowing ‘our’ music such a fantastic shop window (and not a hint of Mary Portas in sight) in which to showcase such astonishing talent.

PETE FYFE

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.

IAIN MORRISON – To The Horizon, Sir (Peatfire Records peatfire005)

Iain Morrison To the Horizon SirNot since the first time I heard the distinctive vocal of October Project’s Mary Fahl singing “Return To Me” have I come across a vocalist with such unique character. That’s not to say Iain Morrison sounds like a girl it’s just meant as a pointer to how such a distinctive sounding voice can lodge itself in your memory…for all the right reasons. This is a tremendously enigmatic recording performed by an artist who, although bleak in outlook creates pictures that are as stunning as his birth place on the Isle of Lewis. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve never visited the Isle of Lewis but in my own personal opinion I consider Morrison conveys bringing his feelings to the surface having been at one with nature and soaked up the culture of an island rich in mysticism and allowing the space for individual thought. When you’re sitting in a flat in Croydon looking at all the activity surrounding you escapism is a word I look forward to (particularly at 3:29am) and trust me when I say that Iain’s writing will put you in a different place altogether with sparse but well mapped arrangements featuring guest musicians Michael Chorney (guitar), Robinson Morse (double bass), Geza Carr (drums) and cellist Pete Harvey. If you’re looking for something different although by no means outlandish you’ll find it here. A subjectively stunning masterpiece!

Pete Fyfe

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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 web link: www.iainmorrisonmusic.com

PAUL CARRACK – Good Feeling (Carrack-UK PCARCD21)

Paul Carrack - Good feelingAs Foghorn Leghorn might say…”How long, n-n-now I said how long has this been going on?” Well, about forty years according to his illustrious recording career and as Mr Carrack just happens to possess one of the most soulful voices we as a nation have come to embrace over that time it can be safely assumed he’s hardly put a foot wrong musically speaking. With a catalogue of some fourteen solo albums to his credit this unassuming Sheffield born singer songwriter has produced a CD studded with gems. Keeping the interest of your audience with soul tinged delights such as “I Can Hear Ray” to the bright and breezy, radio friendly “When My Little Girl Is Smiling” here’s an artist who certainly knows how to cast his net as wide as possible securing a good catch without pigeon-holing his music as some kind of elitist ‘art’. On “Make It Right” he is happy to share the stage with brothers Alex & Rolf Tinlin whose use of mandolin and guitar creates a disconcertingly chorded yet aesthetically pleasing ‘folk’ sound whilst the title track “Good Feelin’ About It” should attract any listeners who enjoy a bit of blues harmonica for good measure. It’s rare to find an artist happy to encompass as wide a demographic as possible safe in the knowledge that he has done so with aplomb and a longevity that many other performers could only dream of.

PETE FYFE

Artist web link: www.paulcarrack.net

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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DAISY CHAPMAN – Shameless Winter – Songs And Whispers SW17/Folkwit Records f0090

ShamelessWinterSometimes I really don’t know where to start, other than to advise you to listen to this album as soon as you can. Shameless Winter is Daisy’s second album, on top of two EPs, all original material except for Billy Corgan’s ‘Disarm’, with a small group of musicians in support.

Two things stand out: Daisy’s powerful voice and her equally powerful songwriting. Written on tour, the songs embody the dilemma of doing what you want to do – need to do – while wanting to be back home with equal fervour. The closing song, ‘The Girl In Hannover’, with just solo piano exemplifies it best – ‘one man’s triumph is another man’s trial’, she sings. Much earlier comes ‘Better Me’, a title that leads to certain preconceptions until you realise that better is used as a verb not an adjective. That’s very different. Next is ‘The Gentleman In 13B’, a long song describing a flight from Moscow to London. In fact, Daisy has a facility for narrative songs, narratives in which not a lot happens but a great deal is learned.

On paper, the arrangements seem to be rather mainstream: strings, bass, a little brass and some mighty drums from Tim Smith with Daisy’s piano well to the fore. The reality is different. The gypsy violin on ‘Better Me’, for example, suggests the life of a wanderer which is the focus of the record and the pizzicato passage in ‘The Gentleman In 13B’ suddenly breaks the pattern of the song before you get too relaxed. Recorded by Ali Chant, the sound is big and rich and all the instruments have room to work – a remarkable balance. To provide a comparison by which to judge Daisy I want to say Sandy Denny – she’s there in the piano, the songwriting style and the voice. I hope that neither of them will object.

Dai Jeffries

Artist web link: www.daisychapman.com

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.