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Coty Hogue – When We Get to Shore

It’s exceedingly difficult to create a great live album, but with When We Get to Shore, Northwest US songwriter and folk singer Coty Hogue seems to have succeeded at just that. When recording live music, there’s no safety net. There’s no autotune to adjust the singing, or do-overs to cover up mistakes, but Coty Hogue clearly needs none of that. Her live album crackles with electricity and showcases her distinctly beautiful voice. It’s the kind of voice that’s equally at home singing a subtle, acoustic version of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” as it is singing songs from her own pen, or a mournful Appalachian ballad. Few singers today can claim that kind of diversity, but Coty Hogue walks these lines easily.

All these influences come from a life well-lived. Raised in Montana, Coty Hogue grew up with the awe-inspiring wide open skies and rugged mountains of her hometown embedded in her music. She left at a young age to move to Bellingham, WA, a small arts-based city nestled into the waters of the Puget Sound about an hour and a half North of Seattle. She nurtured her songwriting talent there, collaborating with other artists, including fellow songwriter Sarah Fulford (whose song “Jonah” opens the album, and whose songs have featured on all of Coty’s albums). In 2009, Coty moved across the country to Boone, North Carolina to work for a Masters in Appalachian Studies. She studied the old songs and ballads of Southern old-time music, immersing herself in their sparse, haunted landscapes. Returning to Bellingham, where she now lives, Coty’s carved out a space for herself in the national folk scene as a uniquely versatile singer, an artist whose music resonates with knowledge of our past history and hope for a bright future.

When We Get To Shore was recorded live before a joyous audience at Seattle’s renowned Empty Sea Studios. Recording engineer Michael Connolly has perfected the art of live recording, and it really shows on this album. Joined by fellow Bellingham musicians Aaron Guest (vocals/guitar) and Kat Bula (fiddle/vocals), Coty’s sound is rich and warm, but also intimately alone, unbuffered by studio trickery. The songs run the gamut of her influences, from a Fleetwood Mac cover (“Second Hand News”) to beautiful, thoughtful renditions of traditional songs like “Wedding Dress” and “Handsome Molly.” Coty’s songs feature prominently, like the graceful mourning of “Cannot Deliver,” and the bitter taste of “Fire and Ashes.” The album closes with a song from Bill Monroe and a song from Hazel Dickens, cementing Coty’s love for American roots music. Each song is treated with careful reverence, as Coty draws out its inner essence.

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folking takes a look at Talking To The Operator by Mad Staring Eyes

Mad Staring Eyes are a 6-piece band from North London. Their line up includes pedal steel and flute and revolves around a core that has played together for 20 years. In 2006 Mad Staring Eyes self-titled debut EP won the John Peel ‘Best New Band’ award and they were chosen by Michael Eavis to play the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury Festival.

The band released their third album, Talking To The Operator, on October 1st. The album, recorded live onto tape using all vintage gear (including The Pogues’ 1962 Ludwig drumkit), displays a rich tapestry of folk and Americana styling drawn from a love of The Band, early Fairport, Van Morrison and Springsteen.  Led by the rogue ‘cockneyish’ charm of lead singer Alex Simler, Mad Staring Eyes offer a distinctly different slant on the conventional roots repertoire coming across like a cockney Carter Family. There are times on the infectious opener, “Waiting For The Doctor,” where you would swear you were in the presence of early Fairport whilst the brilliant ‘Don’t Lead Me On’ echo’s the lyrical genius of Pulp in all their glory.  This is an album that grabs you by the throat from the off and thereby throwing you headfirst into a vibrant, earthy, wonderfully conceived folkster world.  The exceptional musicianship and deft, thoughtful arrangements mark out Mad Satring Eyes as a band with the world at their feet.

The band have toured in the USA, UK, Canada, Russia and Germany (touring with Memphis Industries’ Dutch Uncles), playing international festivals such as South By South West (Austin, Texas), and North By North East (Toronto), playing with acts as diverse as Supergrass, The Subways, The Magic Numbers and Pete Doherty.

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.

MCGOLDRICK MCCUSKER DOYLE – Live (Vertical Records)

MCGOLDRICK MCCUSKER DOYLELike your draw dropping open when you first saw Mo Farah or Usane Bolt at the Olympics you know you are witnessing something special given the combined talents of Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker & John Doyle taking to the stage and this CD magnificently captures that moment for posterity. Make no mistake, when this personable three-piece start playing they intend to take no
prisoners and in spreading their Celtic passion and passing it amongst their audience like a sprinkling of fairy dust the end result is ‘magic’. Doyle injects a funky, rhythmic style in his guitar playing that would ignite the Olympic cauldron (Danny Boyle missed an opportunity there) whilst the fiddle/flute/pipes interplay from McGoldrick and McCusker assail your audio pleasure with exclamations of disbelief at the mastery of their chosen weapons. Like a shot of adrenaline individually and collectively the trio invigorate the listener with their mixture of traditional and self composed melodies and coupled with John’s assured vocals (joined by guest Heidi Talbot on Nic Jones “Boys Of Bedlam”) the lads combine in a musical camaraderie that just has to be experienced once in your lifetime. With the album coming in at a total of 1 hour 10 minutes I still (selfishly) want more.

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.

SHARON SHANNON and THE RTE CONCERT ORCHESTRA – Flying Circus (CACD2415)

Following her own yellow brick road (judging by her choice of footwear) Sharon Shannon has chosen yet another…how shall we say ‘obscure’ bedfellow in utilising the services of the RTE Concert Orchestra. This possibly may not seem so odd if any of you have heard either of the two 1980’s James Last In Ireland recordings or Vladimir Cosma’s “Kidnapped” (my favourite record of all time!) where combining traditional instrumentation such as accordion with the lush sounds of a full orchestra projects the much maligned squeeze box to be the star attraction. Of course, in the hands of one as dextrous as Ms Shannon it goes without saying that she makes the recording come to life with sparkling arrangements wringing every last drop of ‘soul’ from those much used reeds. The passion and enjoyment of performing with such august company i s obvious and whether it’s the effervescent opening track “Top Dog Gaffo” or the sumptuous “April Magnolia” (composed by long time guitarist and collaborator Jim Murray) you cannot help but be impressed by a ‘folk’ musician conquering the ‘classical’ market without the likes of Bryn Terfel or Leslie Garrett to muck everything up. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to listen to Wallace & Gromit at the Proms!

PETE FYFE

Artist web link: www.sharonshannon.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.

SESSION A9 – Session A9 (RAJ Records 005)

Featuring four world class fiddle players; Charlie McKerron, Gordon Gunn, Adam Sutherland and Kevin Henderson plus, for good measure Marc Clement (guitar), Brian McAlpine (piano and accordion) and percussionist David “Chimp” Robertson there’s no monkey-ing around with Session A9. The first track, McKerron’s “The Surfing Bride” is an attractive set-up with gentle piano introduction followed by solo fiddle before unleashing a glorious orchestra of fiddles washing over the listener like a musical spa before shifting up a gear into the key-alternating “Ruffus And Molly’s Wedding Polka” and the grand finale “One For Oliver”. For a bunch of musicians the other nice thing about the band is that they cover some excellent songs including Jackson Brown’s “These Days” featuring some country styled mandolin licks and the good -time “One For The Road” by the much missed John Martyn. In Clement (well, they can weather it) the group have a gifted lead vocalist and with all the members taking a stab at backing vocals they make an impressive wall of sound. This is the kind of recording where it sounds like all the members are having a blast playing together so be prepared to have your dancing shoes ready for some serious ceilidh swinging with a good time guaranteed . Nice one lads!

PETE FYFE

Artist web link: www.sessiona9.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.

Mystic Pinball – JOHN HIATT

JOHN HIATT, one of America’s foremost singer-songwriters, has made a swift return to the recording fray by way of a brand new album, entitled MYSTIC PINBALL

MYSTIC PINBALL comprises twelve new Hiatt originals, and maintains the high standards that Hiatt achieved with last year’s excellent Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns. In fact, the success of that album infused Hiatt with a real sense of urgency, and in Mystic Pinball has came up with yet more corroborative evidence that the man is at a new creative peak. Hiatt, accompanied by his backing crew The Combo – and let’s name-check ‘em here: Doug Lancio (electric guitar, mandolin, Dobro), Kenneth Blevins (drums and percussion) and Patrick O’Hearn (bass) – attacks the even dozen songs with a relish and energetic zeal that will not be denied – ranging from the Gospel-tinged Rock Action of the opener, We’re Alright Now, through to the most tender of ballads in the shape of No Wicked Grin, across an ever-impressive stylistic range – truly, the Man and Band are on fire.

Hiatt returned to the great producer Kevin ‘Caveman’ Shirley for the production seat – the man is one of America’s hottest sound talents, having graced recordings by the likes of Aerosmith and Joe Bonamassa, but here Shirley shows the same deft touch that he applied to Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns, crafting backing tracks that frame Hiatt’s superb songs with a flair and dynamic intensity that enhances the potency of the songs without needless clutter. Shirley adds subtle tonal colour and imaginative shadings to tracks such as the brittle, bluesy, Wood Chipper that lifts a great song into something spooky and otherworldly. My Business may just be the toughest-rocking cut that Hiatt’s ever recorded, with its Howlin’ Wolf vocal hollers and gutbucket stomp, yet his thoughtful, ruminative side shines through on I Just Don’t Know What To Say, the very next track, a piano ballad of plangent majesty. MYSTIC PINBALL is an album of dazzling changes of mood and tone informed by the drive and ambition of a singer-songwriter at the very Top of his game.

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.