Sean’s debut album contains six solo acoustic guitar compositions in a very English style. The opener, ‘Sam’s Brewery’, is satisfyingly chunky as is ‘Compelled’. Both employ strong bass lines with occasional forays onto the thin strings. Even though ‘Passionate Rag’ opens with two exploratory descending runs it too settles into a similar pattern and is a really nice track.

His training is film music is evident and your mind’s eye can’t help putting pictures to the sounds. My one criticism is that many of the tracks are too short. ‘Ashill’, for example, is the longest and is developing a new direction when it finishes. Sean has packed a lot of musical ideas into this album and one might say that his self restraint is commendable but I’d like to hear him tackle a major piece.

Backwoods is available as a download – you can play it all on-line too – and as a regular CD. There’s lots of footage of Sean on You Tube, as well, including covers of music by his inspirations Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Dave Evans.

Dai Jeffries

IARLA O’ LIONAIRD – Foxlight (Real World Records)

Ignorant peasant that I am, I hold my hands up and declare that I have never understood the Gaelic language or, more than likely never will do. Still, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it as an aural texture and in fact find it quite soothing in many of my more relaxed ‘mood’ moments. If you’re looking for a serious bit of ‘chill-out’ then this album will more than likely appeal to you as it did me. Many of the ‘folk’ world will know Iarla O’Lionaird having been the vocalist in the Afro Celt Sound System but here, accompanied by Leafcutter John, Simon Edwards and Neil McColl amongst others this recording is a far more relaxed affair. Utilising the main framework of Leo Abrahams electric guitar, piano, effects and programming the project might appear at first to be an indulgence by O’lionaird but repeated listening will be justly rewarded by those who enjoy their ‘folk’ music with a bit of class. PETE FYFE
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HILARY JAMES – English Sketches – Acoustics Records CDACS 059

“Pastoral” is the word that first comes to mind when discussing Hilary James’ new album. In fact, ‘A Song & Jig For Good Measure’ which appears in three versions, could provide the soundtrack for a Shakespeare play were the RSC not currently using Elvis hits. The fact that Hilary and Simon Mayor wrote the music and the words came from Sabine Baring-Gould in no way invalidates this.

The record isn’t all shepherds and milkmaids, however. ‘The Two Ravens’, with music by Hilary and Simon marries grisly subject matter with a pretty tune and the beautiful ‘Bredon Hill’ hides a dark secret, for death was never far away from A E Housman’s mind. ‘Young Benjie’ doesn’t even try to hide its gruesome truth.

Continue reading HILARY JAMES – English Sketches – Acoustics Records CDACS 059

RICHARD DIGANCE – Letter From Afghanistan (Own Label)

Along with John Foreman and Dave Sealey, Richard Digance is one of the folk music scenes few masters in the art of the Music Hall tradition. His interpretations of this style of music have kept me buoyed over many hours slaving over a hot computer and personally I can’t get enough of it. Of course, Richard isn’t a true Music Hall artist in the strictest sense but his songs and poems have that familiar style of celebrating ‘everyman’ as he speaks his mind from the heart. This couldn’t be more apparent than on the title track where he takes the role of a soldier writing home to his loved ones about the England football losers and the irony of “…Cheering For England” and perhaps the football ‘legends’ (?) might like a spell in the soldier’s place instead. Continue reading RICHARD DIGANCE – Letter From Afghanistan (Own Label)

BATTLEFIELD BAND – Line-Up (Temple Records COMD2104)

The drama of an opening chord sequence to grab the listener’s attention was never an issue with the Battlefield Band. Starting with the driving rhythm of double stopped fiddle the momentum of the opening track “Raigmore” is regulated by the introduction of Highland Pipes painting a picture of say a battlefield scene from the movies Braveheart or Rob Roy. The following piece, a cover of Otis Redding’s  “That’s How Strong My Love Is” couldn’t be more different providing the band with their now established quirky ‘commercial’ song and will undoubtedly prove a sure-fire hit amongst the ‘folk’ fraternity. Continue reading BATTLEFIELD BAND – Line-Up (Temple Records COMD2104)


Paul Liddell is a tireless working musician/singer/songwriter/recording artist hailing from North East of England. He tours continually around the UK and I was reminded of his brilliance recently when he headlined one of our series of folking live concerts in Bracknell, Berkshire, UK.

Liddell’s forthcoming album ‘Milestones  And Motorways’, (due to be released on June 27) is a fiercely independent release in the troubadour style.

Milestones  And Motorways builds on the standard laid down on his previous release ‘Help Yourself Float’ from which the track ‘Ghost Car’ shown in the video below was taken.

The new album Milestones And Motorways takes in themes of self doubt, anger, conflict and resolution. Personal politics aren’t shied away from, but the overriding feeling isn’t that of a rant, but more of a personal exploration. Flavours of Neil Young and Jeff Buckley can be heard with some tracks reminded me vocally of a Seth Lakeman style of delivery.

Paul is an experienced live performer with an unstoppable work ethic, clocking up on average 20 gigs a month both solo and with his band ‘Delphians’ . Live, his singularly unique voice and unpretentious delivery combine with the use of live sampling, acoustic guitar percussion and layered vocal harmonies to provide a great platform for his wonderful songs to shine. Paul has also toured in Europe andAmerica.

Other artists Paul has shared billing with include Beth Rowley, Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), Karine Polwart, Polly Paulusma, Kathryn Tickell, Nick Harper, Nerina Pallot, Billy Bragg and Florence And The Machine.

Other notable achievements include making it through to the final 10 of Q Magazine’s Glastonbury competition, being named as the hardest working, most gigging songwriter of 2010 by the PRS, and selling over 3000 albums and EPs solely at live performances.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

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Go and discover Paul Liddell further at and experience an artist in the bloom of their creativity. Darren Beech