UK folk and Americana latest news from

Emily Maguire – new album and live dates

Emily Maguire

Emily Maguire, the beguiling British-born singer-songwriter whose remarkable personal journey fast-tracked her from the Australian bush to the Albert Hall, will release her first album in more than three years this Friday (February 24) – A Bit Of Blue.

A sold out launch gig for A Bit Of Blue will take place at St Pancras Old Church in London on album release day at 8pm.

With her earlier album Believer hailed as a ‘masterpiece’ (Maverick Magazine), anticipation is building around this, her fifth release, recorded at opposite ends of the globe, in Queensland and Ross-on-Wye.

The eleven-track album is more stripped back and raw than her last release, Bird Inside A Cage. By turns haunting and elegiac, hopeful and reflective it always retains her trademarks – emotive, imagery-rich songs, elegant instrumentation and crystalline vocals. The poetic original songs range from the understated to the unflinching, all underpinned with producer Nigel Butler’s sparse, exquisite piano and guitar arrangements.

But bringing the album to fruition has been something of a rollercoaster ride for London-born Emily, who now lives in Bath.

The classically trained musician who has bipolar disorder was out of action for two years, suffering chronic tendonitis in her arms which left her unable to play her instruments and triggering a lengthy depressive episode. Says Emily: “This record came out of a dark time in my life. But as so often happens something good came out of something bad.”

Recorded in Australia by Pix Vane Mason, the original engineer on Emily’s first two albums, A Bit Of Blue is produced by Nigel Butler who also produced Emily’s last album ‘Bird Inside A Cage’. The X Factor producer has worked with artists ranging from k.d.lang and Tom Jones to Will Young and Robbie Williams and many other top pop acts.

Putting his stamp on the album from his Herefordshire studio, Butler has transformed Emily’s soulful songs into ethereal landscapes of skilfully crafted sound which emphasise her thought-provoking ‘laid bare’ lyrics and expressive vocals.

Says Emily: “We knew we wanted to call this record A Bit Of Blue and we knew we wanted it stripped bare, haunting and as beautiful as it could possibly be.”

The CD release coincides with the publication of Emily’s second book Notes From The North Pole, a fascinating collection of poetry, prose and songs – a window on a private journal.

“Rich emotive songs, elegant instrumentation and crystal pure vocals. Don’t miss listening to this lady” – Welsh Country Magazine

Artist’s website:

Gig List

Friday 24 February         St Pancras Old Church, Pancras Road, London  ALBUM LAUNCH

Friday 3 March                Farnham Maltings, Bridge Square, Farnham, Surrey

Saturday 18 March            Junction 2, Clifton Road, Cambridge

Saturday 1 April                  Artrix Arts Centre, Slideshow Drive, Bromsgrove

Friday 28 April                 Chapel Arts Centre, Lower Borough Walls, Bath

Saturday 13 May                Helmsley Arts Centre, Meeting House Court, Helmsley, York

Saturday 27 May                The Acorn Penzance, Parade Street, Penzance, Cornwall

Saturday 10 June              The Stables, Stage 2, Wavendon, Milton Keynes

Saturday 24 June              The Cluny, 36 Lime Street, Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne

Friday 28 July                 Norden Farm Centre For The Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead

Saturday 29 July               Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Totton, Southampton

THE HYDES – Green & Blue (Hyde Music Productions – HYDECD1)

Green & BlueThis recently released debut album from Denver sibling duo – Joanna and Iain Hyde – who have mastered the art of Irish music, and entwined it with a dash of Americana and bluegrass, is a fabulous album! They have already won 2 accolades this year – Best New Group 2017 from Liveireland and Best New Group from Chicago Irish American News! Iain is a multi-instrumentalist in his own right and extremely versatile. Joanna was selected from 10 pupils across the US to receive the prestigious Jack Kent Foundation’s Graduate Arts Award in 2011 whereupon she moved to Ireland to study Irish traditional music and achieved a MA in Irish Trad Music Performance. Not a bad start. After travelling around Colorado and Ireland, they have brought together an interesting fusion of various roots music and crafted it into Green & Blue.

Ten tracks for your delectation kicks off with a fiddle led Irish tune – ‘Along The Saint Vrain’ which sets the scene slowly then bursts into different tempos from mid track. Lovely guitar and rhythm. Very nice.

The title track – ‘Green and Blue’ – features the lovely melodic vocals of Joanne with Iain harmonising and was written as a collaboration between them. ‘Lands End’ is a traditional arrangement and back to fiddle and bodhran. Catchy little number! ‘Sweet Bride’ originally by Kate Rusby, gives beautiful harmonies and incorporates a lovely melodic haunting tune from the piano to compliment the voices.

Karine Polwart’s ‘Rivers Run’ – comprises of all strings and Joanne’s melodic voice. Next up ‘The Milky Way’ – a traditional collection of five tunes flowing into each other and incorporating all strings, piano accordion and bodhran. ‘Muddy Water’ – a creation of fine singer/songwriter – Boo Hewerdine, features Joanne on lead vocals with Iain harmonising. Nice mandolin on this track too.

‘Finn, On a Lark’ featuring fiddle, mandolin and bass is a lovely, rich mournful tune, with superb mandolin and fiddle. The penultimate track – ‘Coopers’ – is uptempo, catchy and uplifting. I felt myself tapping my feet with gusto!

The album ends with Sam Cooke’s ‘Nothing Can Change This Love’ which features Joanne on vocals and is a very bluesy/jazzy arrangement. Very different from the rest of the album, but nevertheless, a beautiful arrangement.

I really like this album, a cracking debut album, and one that deserves to be listened to as they have studied hard with their music, and it shows.

Jean Camp

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the THE HYDES – Green & Blue link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on 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:

‘Rivers Run’ – official video:

RATTLE ON THE STOVEPIPE – Poor Ellen Smith (WildGoose Records WGS419CD)

Poor Ellen SmithRattle On The Stovepipe are Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart who play American old-timey music with the classic guitar, fiddle and banjo set-up, added harmonica and mandolin and a couple of excursions on melodeon. Poor Ellen Smith is their sixth album for Doug Bailey’s label.

Most of the material here is traditional, or as traditional as it can be having knocked around America for anything up to a century and a half and the band squeeze seventeen tracks into the set. Only one, ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’ can be counted as a vignette so Rattle On The Stovepipe combine the pace of square dance tunes with a laid-back feel particularly in the songs. The set opens with ‘Dead-Heads And Suckers’, somewhat adapted to make sense of the text and put it the context of the early twentieth century. It’s still traditional, though, that’s just the folk process.

The title track is a classic murder ballad from Winston-Salem – a sort of American equivalent of Midsomer where Omie Wise also came to a bad end. ‘Stackolee’ came from further north in St.Louis, committing his crime on a particularly blood-soaked Christmas Day. More modern, and certainly less violent, is Bob McDill’s ‘Rodeo Man’, a pure country song with a touch of melodeon to remind us that we’re close to the Mexican border. I think I’d like to have heard Dave Arthur’s melodeon fills higher up in the mix but it’s a fine line with such a romantic song.

Arthur wrote two songs here. The first is ‘Southern Soldier’ which sounds very English and that’s the point being made. At the time of the American Civil War the country was full of immigrants, few of whom were ideologues but were fighting for their own patch of ground. The second is ‘Blood Red Roses’, not the familiar shanty but inspired by Bert Lloyd’s version from Moby Dick.

The top instrumentals include the well-known ‘Waiting For The Federals’, the twin fiddle attack of ‘Walk Along John To Kansas’ and the bouncy ‘Little Billy Wilson’. The harmonica player front and centre of the cover picture, by the way, is the celebrated painter Jackson Pollock, pupil and band-mate of the artist, Thomas Hart Benton.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Little Billy Wilson’ live:

Jeremy Tuplin announces new single and debut album

Jeremy Tuplin

London-via-Somerset newcomer Jeremy Tuplin will release his debut LP I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut in the summer of 2017.   Following on from his two independent released EPs (2016’s Open Letters and 2014’s Carry The Fire EP), his music was described in The Telegraph Culture section as ‘Stunningly candid… A distinctive deep vocal that has hints of Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan.’

The album was recorded with long-time collaborator Mark Estall, mostly in his new Marketstall Studio in South Bermondsey (with extra recording taking place in both Tuplin’s and Estall’s living rooms). Musically the new songs take a different direction to the earlier released EPs, combining electronic and synthesised sounds with more acoustic and organic instruments for a ‘retro-futuristic feel’ to branch into a genre which could, possibly, be described as ‘space-folk’.

The first taster from the new album comes in the shape of ‘Where The Light Ends’ which you can hears below.

This song is split into two halves – one a journey into space, and the other describing the closure of a flawed relationship. Both connected in certain ways and by the refrain “Where the light ends, and the darkness begins”, before coming to an instrumental, spacey resolution.

“Stunningly candid… A distinctive deep vocal that has hints of Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan” The Telegraph Culture
“Cohenesque… A dexterous lyricist with an ear for gentle melody.” Whisperin and Hollerin
“A gorgeous, swooning, romantic EP… A tight, careful, ornate beauty over 5 tracks. It sounds effortless, which is a grand achievement.” Independent Clauses

Artist’s website:

KATE DIMBLEBY – Songbirds (Folkstock FSR44)

SongbirdsFor the past 25 years Kate Dimbleby, the daughter of legendary broadcaster David and opera loving cookery writer Josceline, has been plying her musical trade in live performance, most notably in her one woman shows and albums based around Peggy Lee and Dory Previn. However, Songbirds, her sixth studio album and accompanying show, is the first on which she’s written all the material and the first she’s performed (almost entirely) a capella, layering her voice using techniques learned studying under Bobby McFerrin.

An experiment in polyphonics, she describes it as charting her own journey to find her true voice and it ranges stylistically across jazz, blues, folk and even reggae while the songs themselves span many years. Indeed, the opening track, the bluesy spiritual styled, scat-accompanied, fingerclicking ‘Limbo’, was the first song she ever wrote (and originally featured in its late night jazz arrangement on 2006’s Things As They Are), the outcome of her first real heartbreak while the lyrically upbeat 20s jazz and doo wop shades of ‘Whatever’ emerged from the first song she wrote after the family’s move to Bristol five years ago.

The dreamy 50sish ‘Love Can Be Easy’, born of and reflecting a peaceful day camping by the sea is of more recent origin, as is ‘Happy’, a follow on from her work with McFerrin that involves vocal looping, scat vocal backing and some playful warbling was the spontaneous result of task set by online group the Society for Spontaneous Singing. Another group exercise was also responsible for the brief ‘Harder Than You Think’, a sort of vocally multilayered work song about the difficulty in writing a song about walking. Equally brief is the 66 second ‘At Our Best’, a minstrel-like song you could imagine having been penned by Stephen Foster.

The newest though is ‘Life Is’, completed just before going into the studio, a straightforward soaring pop song for her husband and father about telling people you appreciate them while they’re still around to listen.

There’s a hint of the McGarrigles and some discrete beatboxing – to be heard on ‘Musical Boxes’, an idea that formed the basis for her live show in that, as she puts it, “we’re all musical boxes with our own themes and resonances but we just don’t listen enough to really appreciate each other. I liken it to the dawn chorus… every bird is offering up something totally unique.”

The remaining three songs have their roots in specific locations. The bass hummed, gospel infused ‘These Things, They Will Come’, a how long/be patient number, stems from time spent on Vancouver Island back in 2003 where at the time suffering from severe back pain, she retreated to a more simple life and found healing, both physically and mentally, in nature.

A hill in Sussex spawned the wordless vocal line in album closer, ‘Song For A Hill’, the only non a capella number, employing percussion, bells, electronic sounds and field recordings made in London, and the penultimate track, my personal favourite, the simple and quite lovely and poignant ‘Walk Away’. An uncluttered, simply sung number, her lone voice and self-harmonising again reminiscent of the McGarrigles, it’s about finding intimacy and beauty, both in the world around and within yourself. She says the album is about the voices we keep locked up inside and about the need for connection. Do yourself a favour, open the cage and build a bridge.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website:

‘These Things They Will Come’ live: