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JEZ LOWE & THE BAD PENNIES – WOTCHEOR! (Tantobie Records TTRCD111)

Whatever I’m doing…everything grinds to a halt whenever I receive a disk featuring Jez Lowe. The reason for this is that I know, even before I’ve had a chance to get the shrink-wrap off the CD box I’m in for another musical treat. With an eye to catch the mind of anyone who enjoyed the antics of Arthur Askey (“Wakey! Wakey!”) or more regionally that of the debt ridden Bobby ‘The Little Waster’ Thompson, Lowe has managed, utilising the services of designer Bryan Ledgard and photographer Penelope Page to convey the image of a bygone era Radio Show. Even the introduction with it’s crackling signal tuning in to the first song “Barnstorming” and a delightful rendition of Billy Pigg’s “Biddlestone Hornpipe” performed by The Bad Pennies Northumbrian piper Andy May ably assisted by Kate Bramley (fiddle), David De La Haye (Bass), Jez on guitar/cittern and Hinny Pawsey (fiddle) the track is up-beat in that very North-Eastern way. Jez is rightly proud of his North-East roots and it couldn’t be more apparent than this homage to an institution that is sadly no longer with us. Still, we have this recording to remind us as he introduces us to the indigenous ‘characters’ through a vivid eye to detail in “Watter’s Coming Annie” (an analogy to a modern day Noah) and the laughter inducing “It’s A Champion Life” with it’s comical references to the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Of course, no Jez Lowe album would be complete without a stand-out track and for me, it’s the story of “Darling’s Other Daugther” a song that conveys, perhaps not through bitterness, but more rightly the sadness of living in the shadow of an icon. As is the tradition, the last word goes to the continuity announcer (Bert Draycott) complimenting the musicians and contributions of special guests Benny Graham, Louisa Jo Killen, The Young ‘Uns and The Tyneside Maritime Chorus. I could go on extolling the virtues of this wonderfully creative album but, as ever, the best way to conclude is to suggest that you buy the CD and find out for yourselves just how good it is. For more information check out Jez’s website at www.jezlowe.com

PETE FYFE

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SECRETS, STORIES and SONGS – Dave Cousins (Witchwood Media Limited)

For those of us lucky enough to have experienced the late 60’s and early 70’s music circuit, we probably enjoyed the most fruitful period of British ‘folk’ music. Personally speaking those days were peppered with the delights of my first foray into the art of the folk-rock genre including bands such as the traditionally rooted Fairport Convention/Steeleye Span and the occasional banner waving contemporary excursions of The Strawbs. At the time, I may have been more enamoured by the buoyant, flashy instrumental dexterity of Steeleye and the JSD Band but it was Cousins lyrics that made me aware that words were every bit (if not more) important to the construction of the finished product. Following a career spanning some forty plus years and twenty-seven albums to his credit Dave produced some of the best lyrics (at least in my opinion) to enter ‘folk’ legend and far beyond. Heathen that I am, I suppose I’m the kind of bloke that appreciates his lyrics to scan in four lines followed by a good chorus but in the case of Cousins (and Cat Stevens) I’ll make an exception. For me, it all started with the “Dragonfly” album and the decidedly weird but wonderful track “Poor Jimmy Wilson”… a song of bullying that leaves the listener guessing the fate of this tragic character. Perhaps, on reflection, the story is an uncomfortable read but at least it makes you think. The book itself is an attractively packaged tome housing two hundred and twenty one songs taking the reader on a chronological tour through Dave’s career to date. By re-treading his steps with sound bites and anecdotes from the early days of Sandy Denny’s involvement with the band (The Strawbs) through to the current day, the content proves a fascinating and (at times) grin-inducing read. Of course, the nice thing about putting cathartic pen to paper is that you can reveal as much…or as little… as you want in the full-on glare of a public who were originally only privy to your inner most thoughts by way of aural rendition. So, here we have Dave’s words, eloquently displayed with lyrics and stories side by side in an easy to read presentation with helpful notes on the guitar tunings he employed and the bonus of a ‘spoken word’ CD featuring the well-rounded vowels of the man himself. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’ve got a lot of reminiscing to catch up on.

PETE FYFE

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Katzenjammer – The "A Bar In Amsterdam" video

Those crazy Norwegian girls Katzenjammer have made the 6 Music playlist with their single A Bar In Amsterdam.

A Bar In Amsterdam will be released digitally on September 20th, ahead of the release of debut album Le Pop on 18th October.

However, if you can’t wait until then, and need some Nordic mayhem in your life then you can watch Katzenjammer performing A Bar In Amsterdam in their video below.

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.

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 links: http://www.katzenjammer.com/

Catherine MacLellan – Water in the Ground

Matching pure and ethereal vocals with poetic lyrics and her uncompromising song writing craft, there is no doubt as to why Catherine MacLellan has become one of the most celebrated new singer-songwriters in Canada, and around the world, by her contemporaries and media alike. Voted ‘Critics Favourite New Discovery’ by Penguin Eggs Magazine in 2008,

Catherine has quickly built up a loyal fan base and has been a hit with critics worldwide. Her last album Church Bell Blues hit #1 on the iTunes Canada Roots charts, received critical acclaim and comparisons to Joni Mitchell from international magazines such as Q, Maverick, fRoots, the Austin Chronicle, and Boston Globe. Catherine toured with Bruce Cockburn in the USA and with Steve Forbert in the UK, showcased in Paris, Cannes, Berlin, New York, London, and Memphis. Water in the Ground is the highly-anticipated third release from Catherine MacLellan—a stunning collection that features some of the most prominent roots musicians in Canada, including Treasa Levasseur, Justin Rutledge and David Baxter. A lighter and more cheerful mood is prominent throughout the CD. From the first track the catchy “Take A Break” to the finale “Flowers on Your Grave”, Catherine manages to help the listener get lost in the songs and musical conversations. It is like passing time with an old friend.

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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Doghouse Roses – THIS BROKEN KEY

Artist – Doghouse Roses… Title – THIS BROKEN KEY… Label – Yellowroom Records… Distribution– Proper Distribution… Release Date – October 18th 2010

Paul Tasker and Iona Macdonald started playing music together soon after meeting in late 2005. Both have been composing and playing music for many years, Paul began playing the guitar after hearing legendary guitarist Bert Jansch in a Glasgow working mens club in the early 1990’s and Iona has built an acclaimed reputation as a singer and songwriter, often compared to the late, great Sandy Denny, her career leading up to her performing with Howe Gelb and the Pilgrim Road Orchestra on the Willard Grant Conspiracy Pilgrim Road tour of 2008. Paul and Iona had already formed Doghouse Roses in 2006, after one too many nights drinking red wine and listening to Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Gillian Welch records. They had started their own label, Yellowmoon Music, successfully releasing a single, two EPs and their critically acclaimed debut album HOW’VE YOU BEEN (ALL THIS TIME). Offering tales of redemption, desperation and hell-raising, Doghouse Roses inhabit the hinterland where blues, folk and Americana meet and this is shown to stunning effect on their new full length release. THIS BROKEN KEY was recorded in Glasgow in January 2010, the core Doghouse Roses duo of Paul Tasker and Iona Macdonald augmenting their take on folk/roots music with Craig Strain on bass, Skerryvore’s Fraser West on drums and Alan Scobie on piano and Hammond organ, also handling production duties.

From the ‘caravan-folk’ of album opener Atonement,  THIS BROKEN KEY pours a cool shower of guitar riffs onto matured songwriting about people and places carried along a road from Woodstock to the Highlands.  The album title is inspired by a broken key found on the streets of Cork during the Irish section of a European tour in September and October 2009, where most of the songs were written.

Constantly touring, the Doghouse Roses live show moves through the stark, poetic minimalism of Paul Tasker’s finger picked guitar combined with the potency of acoustic rock arrangements, the undulating landscapes are drawn together in the intensity and expression of Iona Macdonald’s voice.

THIS BROKEN KEY is a masterpiece in the making and when these songs are performed live the result is breathtaking.

“Tasker’s soundtrack mines the best of Scottish and American musical influences. Like the great Joni Mitchell they leave the listener simultaneously sated and devastated” Rock & Reel

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.

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.

For more information and the latest tour news please visit www.doghouseroses.org

Rory Ellis – Perfectly Damaged

It’s been multiple years now since hearing Australian troubadour Rory Ellis for the first time. I was in a car listening to the latest batch of CD’s through for review when suddenly this tornado of a voice ripped through the stereo speakers and exploded in my face. Since then – every single release I’ve anticipated with huge excitement. This new one then was no exception.Ellis’s productivity over the last few years has been both blistering and brilliant. Slowly but surely carving a name for himself on the UK roots scene, the hard work is paying off, and it’s with consistently quality records like this that keeps people coming back to his shows.

With a voice like a freight train one minute and soothing lullaby the next, along with great acoustic guitar accompaniment and decorative lap steel flurries throughout, you can hear the quality in the record right from the start. It is however after a few listens when the album really starts to reward you. A slow burner usually turns in to a brilliant piece of work, and slow burners are something Ellis has a habit of producing.

Stand-out tracks on this record include the brilliantly infectious ‘Jesus Lane’, and the almost rag-time sound on ‘Street Angel House Devil’ – however as usual with this man’s work I’m finding new favourite tracks on every listen, which again is something Rory’s songs just have an uncanny knack of doing.

The standard of songwriting is first class, both witty and poignant – and something else that stands out on this record is the fact the artist has taken the time in the sleeve notes to comment on each song, and the reason behind writing it. It gives each song that bit more depth of understanding, which is something lost in the digital age.

This guy truly is the real deal as far as musicians go. It goes without saying this record comes recommended, but then so does his entire back catalogue. Do yourself a favour and go and buy the album @ http://www.roryellis.com/ Phil Daniels