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Mariel Vandersteel’s Debut Fiddle album Hickory…

For roots music to work, it needs to well up from a deep sense of love for the tradition. On the debut album, Hickory, from Boston fiddler Mariel Vandersteel, you can sense this love of the music in every beat. Each tune, drawn from old-time and Norwegian fiddle styles, has the mark of a musical memory. Perhaps a night of music among friends, or a fiddle lesson in Norway, or even a moment alone under a pine tree with her fiddle. You can hear the joy she takes in her music, and it helps that she’s a deft and subtle fiddler, able to draw the kind of emotion out of instrumental music that you’d expect from a song. She’s also a master at finding common ground between two traditions. Inspired by the beautiful harmonies of the Norwegian hardanger fiddle, she found a connection to the drone-heavy syncopations of Southern old-time fiddling. On Hickory, she effortlessly blends the two traditions together, reveling in the rich, acoustic tones of true folk music. Her fiddling lies somewhere between the old fjords of Norway and the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains.

Hickory is a product of Boston’s vibrant roots music scene, and it shows both in the music and in the friends that Mariel brings along with her. Respected guitarist Jordan Tice anchors the accompaniment on the album, while noted instrumentalists like Scottish harpist Maeve Gilchrist, mandolinist Dominick Leslie and bassist Sam Grisman of the Deadly Gentlemen, fiddler Tristan Clarridge of the Bee Eaters and Crooked Still, and guest fiddler Duncan Wickel contribute to the lush arrangements of the album. Throughout, Mariel’s fiddling shines like a polished gem, at turns racing through an old-time tune like the title track “Hickory,” or spinning gently along, as in the tune she wrote called “Sitting on the Ridge.” Mysterious old Norwegian tunes rub shoulders here with new compositions from Keith Murphy and Dirk Powell, compositions from Mariel herself, and old-time tunes inspired by sources like John Hartford and Foghorn Stringband.

Hickory is an inspiring testament to the power of the old tunes, and the new tunes that we continue to write. This is proof positive that traditional fiddling holds the same power today that it did hundreds of years ago. Hickory is an album of music with its roots deep in the past and its branches reaching into a new century.

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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Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo Announce New Single and Video

We got word of this last month but with the current volume of requests, we have only just got to this gorgeous new single from Emily Barker.   I’m told it will be backed with a new version of the Bafta Award winning track ‘Nostalgia’ (used by the BBC as the theme for Wallander), ‘The Rains’ is a brand new track, which we have featured for you  in the video below…

‘The Rains’ was written to accompany a beautiful super-8 short film by Patti Gaal-Holmes, inspired by Robert Creeley’s poem ‘The Rain’, in which small, perceived moments such as a walk in the forest, a bird in flight, rushing water, or a painterly sky inform a remembering of the self: “What am I to myself that must now remain?”.

‘Nostalgia’ first appeared on the band’s second album ‘Despite the Snow’, and was later adapted for BBC crime series ‘Wallander’ starring Kenneth Brannagh, picking up a Royal Television Gala Award and a BAFTA for Best TV Theme. This new version is based on the television edit, released to coincide with the much-anticipated third series of Wallander.

Both tracks were recorded in January at Gorbals Sound in Glasgow with revered Scottish producer Calum Malcolm (The Blue Nile, Capercaillie, Lau to name but a few), having been introduced to him by Linn Records.

Emily says “It was an absolute joy and honour to have the opportunity to work with a producer of Calum’s calibre, and we’re delighted with the results.

The band are now planning to record a full album with Calum, with support from Linn.

For more information see: http://www.emily-barker.com & http://www.facebook.com/emilybarkerhalo

STEVE TILSTON and THE DURBERVILLES – The Oxenhope EP (Splid Records CD009)

OK, so I nearly consigned this 5-track CD to the “don’t bother” pile. Perhaps I should explain…I hate half-cocked albums with only a few tracks and, for some reason becoming ever more popular with ‘folk’ artists. A lot of my mates, myself included feel cheated and after all, if you’ve only got half an album then why bother? Still, now that I’ve got that off my chest I’m pleased to report that this is a really nice recording. The reason I played it in the first place was to hear the dulcet tones and technically flawless guitar from the always excellent Steve Tilston. That he is joined by the equally impressive ‘country-ish’ sound of The Durbervilles; Lee Walker (12-string guitar), David Crickmore (banjo, mandolin & electric guitar), Mark Boyce (drums), Gus Taylor (accordion) and Ruth Wilde (double bass and bass guitar) with nearly all members contributing vocals really create an impressive wall of sound. From the subtle groove of the opening track “Oil And Water” to the up-beat Big Geraniums (remember them?) sounding “There She Blows” between them the ‘band’ manage to make every track count so perhaps I shouldn’t have been so dismissive in the first place but please, next time make it the full Monty! By the way, is it me or does anyone else hear a young Dave Burland (without the burr) in Steve’s voice or perhaps maybe I’m being a tad obsequious?

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.

Wayward Daughter – The official biography of Eliza Carthy…

Since appearing at the Vancouver Folk Festival aged just thirteen, Eliza has sung and played across the globe, recording critically acclaimed albums – including Red Rice and Anglicana, which were both nominated for the Mercury Music Prize – and collaborating with a whole host of movers and shakers including Paul Weller, Cerys Matthews, Richard and Teddy Thompson, Billy Bragg, Stewart Lee and Patrick Wolf, amongst many, many others.

She is the Wayward Daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, giants of the British folk scene. In this official biography, released on May 9 courtesy of Soundcheck Books, Sophie Parkes discovers how Eliza came to inherit the family talent and continue the family trade: reinterpreting, reimagining and renovating English traditional music, and grounding it very much in a modern day experience.

If you would like to order a copy of the book 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.

A new mini-site providing more details about the book, including photos, podcasts and Q&As, in the run up to the release date can be found at http://www.elizacarthybook.co.uk/

JED GRIMES – Heart And Hand EP (Blue Guitar Music BGEPCD 0022)

Most of you will know that I don’t generally review EP CDs but in Jed’s case I’ll make an exception. I’m just watching Saturday Kitchen (with the sound turned down) whilst listening to this fine appetiser from a man of great taste. Opening with the laid-back ‘Country’ feel of “Farewell To Bon County” (from the Samuel P Bayard Collection) Jed certainly knows how to express lyrics in an unrushed but achingly honest way much like Fox & Luckley used to do with “Shores Of Old Blighty”. On top of that, the skilfully judged re-working (to Grimes own melody) of the classic “Byker Hill” where the gently driving percussion along with Uilleann pipes courtesy of Mick Doonan and crowned by a glorious ‘choir’ is just asking for National Radio play. Then there’s “The Bold Fishermen” with its 5/4 time signature which has been visited by Jed before (in a previous incarnation as a member of Hedgehog Pie) and the inclusion of “Rain And Snow” with its passionate lyrics of a man wronged by his woman. Complete with brooding sustained Hammond organ chords this track provides a slice of mature audio pleasure. With Grimes’s take on long-established songs, giving them his own twist, he certainly knows his way around reinterpretation with a respectful nod to the tradition. This 4-track recording is available from Amazon as a download or from Jed himself at gigs but as a starter I personally can’t wait for the full banquet.

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.

Kim Lowings, Drifting Point (EP)

Hailing from the West Midlands, Kim Lowings evokes the bohemian spirit reminiscent of the singer-songwriter movement that flourished so colourfully during the late 60s and early 70s. Lowings is however anything but a pastiche, resolutely stamping her own identity on her work. Singing with a voice that boasts a warm femininity, and avoiding the weary, self-indulgent cliches worn by many songwriters, it’s a hard heart who wouldn’t be smitten with Lowings’ engaging and often breezy disposition.

Lowings’ dulcimer features heavily throughout this EP, lending a distinct sound, and adding much to the carefree spirit that blossoms so radiantly. Opening track, “Did You Ever,” transports the listener to a sanguine dreamscape, contrasting the playful innocence of childhood with the more troubled aspects of adult life. Lowings demonstrates a restless character and possibly a good deal of ambition on “Sapphire,” where she seems to eschew the familiarity of her hometown in search of fresh life experiences that carry her to distant shores.

On occasion Lowings’ writing borrows subtly from the language of traditional ballads, instilling her contemporary freshness with an unmistakeable essence of the tradition, particularly noticeable in the poetic grace with which she weaves the natural world in to her lyrics. Closing track, “The Flounder,” portrays this aspect most prominently, sounding to all intents and purposes as if it might well be an age-old traditional ballad.

This five-track EP serves as a lovely introduction to Kim Lowings, and is packed with promise aplenty that will all but ensure she commands a prominent future amongst the folk scene.

Oh, and… I think I’ve just fallen in love with the dulcimer.

http://www.reverbnation.com/kimlowings

Mike Wilson