Oak, Ash And Thorn – Various Artists 24-01-2011 Folk Police Recordings

John Peel was a fan of Peter Bellamy’s album of Kipling songs Oak, Ash And Thorn. ‘I hope Oak, Ash and Thorn will not be the sole venture of this kind you undertake and I look forward to featuring more of Kipling’s poetry and your music on the radio,’ he was supposed to have said. Of course, he wasn’t the only fan of this curious record, which first came out forty years ago on the Argo label, followed by a sister album, the equally strange and beguiling Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye. It is fitting that the first contributor to this present-day homage is none other than Jon Boden: a leading light on the current scene and a musician and singer who has always been eager to cite his admiration for Bellamy. The other fifteen tracks have been put forward by a range of different musicians, emphasising Bellamy’s influence on a whole new generation.  From traditional singers, (Fay Hield, Sam Lee), to alt.folk innovators, (Trembling Bells, The Owl Service), this celebration of Bellamy’s Puck settings will undoubtedly cast a new light on his classic interpretations. There are names from the current young British folk scene that you will undoubtedly recognise – from The Unthanks to Emily Portman to the award winning Jackie Oates – to newer artists you may well not, like Rapunzel and Sedayne, Elle Osborne and Olivia Chaney. Peter Bellamy was a maverick, a musician that refused to follow fashion. Though famously referring to himself as a ‘boring, bleating old traddy’, he was as happy listening to the latest offering from Frank Zappa as he was extolling the virtues of traditional singers such as Walter Pardon. In tribute, there are artists here that perhaps wouldn’t always be neatly slotted into genre pigeonholes. And their take on these now-canonical songs will need room to breathe and grow before they intrigue and enchant, just like Bellamy did all those years ago.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) 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.

Steve Knightley Solo Tour 2011 plus Live In Somerset album

KNIGHTLEY TO RECORD DEBUT LIVE SOLO ALBUM… Show of Hands’ inspired frontman Steve Knightley, hailed as one of England’s finest songwriters, recorded his debut live solo album on Thursday, December 9 2010. Live in Somerset was recorded at The David Hall in the village of South Petherton – a former 19th century Congregational church where the Exeter-based singer songwriter performed a sell-out solo show in May. Says Knightley: “The David Hall is the perfect acoustic space in which to capture the live sound needed for an album with audience participation. It should be a great evening.” A mix of stand-out Knightley originals and his unique take on some traditional folk songs will form the mix of material to be recorded in front of a capacity audience, all tickets having been sold some months ago. Says Pete Wheeler of Petherton Arts Trust:  “What a tremendous coup for the Hall! We always look forward to Steve’s performances and for him to choose to record his debut live album in our company is a great compliment.” Knightley won the Best Original Song accolade at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for the topical title track of Show of Hands’ last studio album, Arrogance Ignorance and Greed, a heartfelt tirade against bankers and bonuses, MPs and expenses, which not surprisingly resonated with a lot of the population!  Together with his long-term musical partner and dazzling multi instrumentalist Phil Beer, Knightley also won the Best Duo title. Knightley writes most of the material for the increasingly popular Show of Hands including classics like Country Life and Roots, both also nominated for Best Original Song at previous BBC Folk Awards. A skilled musician, he also plays numerous instruments from guitar to mandocello and South American cuatro. Live in Somerset, due to be released in February, follows on from his stunningly sparse solo album Cruel River (2007) and Track of Words Retraced (2009) which revisited  his first solo album of a decade earlier. Steve, whose “Songbook 4” was recently published, will take to the road on a 26-date solo tour early in 2011, starting in Rugby on January 27 and ending in his home town of Exeter on February 27. His special guest will be fellow Devon musician Jim Causley (left), the rich-voiced former frontman of Mawkin:Causley. 

 Artist Links: http://www.showofhands.co.uk/ – http://www.jimcausley.co.uk/

“One of England’s greatest singer songwriters” – Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2

“Knightley dares to tackle subjects other songwriters leave well alone – his best songs are bleak, witty and finely observed”The Guardian

“A folk legend” – BBC Music

“Touching emotional literacy” – Daily Telegraph

Dala win 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group Of The Year!

Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine of Dala have come a long way in a short time. The two best friends, who met in their high school music class and wrote their first song together in 2002, have since performed at Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall a total of seven times. Darlings of the Canadian music scene, Dala are now poised to bring their fresh brand of neo-folk music to the world.  Dala have toured across Canada six times, opening for artists such as Jann Arden, Tom Cochrane, Matthew Good, Stuart McLean of the CBC’s Vinyl Café and most recently, Chantal Kreviazuk. They have also performed at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, The Edmonton Folk Festival, Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Festival, The Strawberry Festival in California and the Rhythm Festival in England. In 2009, they were the only Canadian act invited to play the 50th Anniversary of the famed Newport Folk Festival. Dala’s album “Everyone Is Someone” was released in June of 2009 to critical acclaim. It earned them their fifth and sixth Canadian Folk Music Award nomination, a Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Folk Group, and it was touted by The Irish Post as the Album of the Year. The song “Horses” was nominated by National Public Radio in the US as one of the Top Ten Folk Songs of 2009. In the summer of 2010, Dala’s live CD/DVD/PBS special “Girls From The North Country” was broadcast on over 400 stations across North America. Weaving their original songs around classics by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, The Band and Gordon Lightfoot, Dala captures the beauty and the harmony of the Canadian landscape. Dala continue to tour, and will have played over 150 shows in the US alone this past year, as well as a full Canadian tour and a flying visit to the UK.

Artist links: http://www.dalagirls.com/

The Be Good Tanyas’ Frazey Ford Returns With Her Debut Album Obadiah

Frazey Ford, lead singer with acclaimed Canadian trio The Be Good Tanyas released her debut solo album Obadiah on July 19th on Nettwerk records. Obadiah combines Frazey’s gorgeous sultry vocals, which helped define the Tanyas’ sound, with her ever growing love for soul music, adding a rich fullness to the 13 tracks on her debut. UK Tour planned for October. “There was so much change in the air—all the things that people get really excited about in the ’60s. My parents were on the run from the Vietnam War and had escaped into communes in Canada where my sister and I were born. It was a crazy, adventurous time for everybody.” Frazey Ford describes that era as “a time that had no definition,” yet its effect on her family defined so much of who she became, both as an artist and a person. Whether it was her family’s emigration to Canada in the ’70s (where Frazey was born) or exploring Asia with her mother and sister in the ’80s, Ford is a soul well traveled. Best known throughout the last 10 years as a member of the critically acclaimed Vancouver trio The Be Good Tanyas, Ford is now ready to tell her own story with a solo album she describes as being “moved by motherhood, earth and land.” Obadiah is a collection of songs hand-carved by the hardships and exaltations of life, and stained with the rich colors of soul and folk music that fueled artists like Joni Mitchell, Ann Peebles, Neil Young, and Donny Hathaway. After a period of stillness, it’s the sound of Ford finding herself once again. “I began to write just for the joy of it,” says Ford, reflecting on the past few years. “I realized that I was just me, and for the first time I understood that was enough. A lot of this album is coming out of healing that I’ve done. The knowledge that in all grief there is joy, and in all joy there is grief.”

Recorded during a blissful Vancouver summer at the studio of co-producer and multi-instrumentalist John Raham, Obadiah came to life with the help of an intimate assembly of guests. Trish Klein of The Be Good Tanyas lay down yards of velvety smooth electric guitar, while next-door neighbor Caroline Ballhorn, contributed vocals to “Gospel Song” and “Hey Little Mama.” Ford’s landlord even dropped in to play keyboards, as Cuban style chords go back and forth with warm Wurlitzer licks on the playful “Like You Better.” By putting her faith in an assortment of capable companions, Ford let the songs unfold naturally, embracing the little experiments and happy accidents that give the album so much character. “Not being in a band allowed me to feel less worried about things working out in a certain way,” she admits. “I felt a lot of trust with the direction people were going in, and they added a lot of their own feel.” In that way, Obadiah plays out like a fireside conversation with an old friend; rich with stories about love, loss and life that unravel at their own colorful pace. The gospel influence of Al Green and the soulful testifying of Otis Redding bleed through on the opening “If You Gonna Go,” while Ford’s vocals are delicately stacked like teacups over handclaps and kalimbas on the joyous “Bird Of Paradise.” On “Lay Down With You,” the reverb tails of Klein’s guitar hang in the air like fireflies while Ford asks her lover to “take me out to the slowpoke, buy me a rum and a Coke and help me forget myself.” Sweet and smoky like blackstrap molasses, “Blue Streak Mama” pours out slow with a mix of new soul and blues. If you listen closely, you can hear Ford call out the shifts between verse and chorus. It’s a subtlety that speaks volumes about the breezy, uncomplicated way in which Obadiah came together. No laborious pre-production and no spit-shined overdubs. Just good friends, good instruments, and reels of two-inch tape on which to capture it all. “That’s the only way I know how to record,” says Ford of the sessions. “To me it’s easier. You have fewer decisions to make if you know you just have to get it right in that moment. I like that pressure and that immediacy.” A true storyteller with a voice that defies comparison, Ford’s greatest talent is her ability to inhabit completely the mind of her song’s protagonists. On “Firecracker,” she’s a hard-drinking, deal making son-of-a-gun that talks to angels with a wry smile. On “Gospel Song,” she looks back on her family life through the eyes of country preacher. It’s a gift she attributes to her journey through motherhood. “As soon as you’re caring for another human being, you’re outside of yourself,” says Ford. “You think about things in the long term. You perceive yourself as a foundation for someone else’s existence. That experience affected my songwriting to the point where it just felt like I had removed myself from being myself. I suddenly felt this ability to zoom out and feel people’s lives and then sing that story. I hadn’t done that before.” Perhaps the most stunning and heartfelt example of this can be found on “Lost Together,” a song that speaks to the heart of the baby boom generation. Its cathartic poetry is written from the perspective of a mother looking back on her life, and features Ford’s mother’s harmonies right alongside her own: “Oh were we lost together, you know we were side by side losing everything. We were just a pair of kids. Oh, the stupid things we did. In the madness they were callin’ the revolution.” Though in many ways Ford’s journey is just beginning, Obadiah is a lasting testament to a life fully lived, whether it be her own or that of a character from her songbook. “What are the words I want to give people?” asks Ford. “What are the messages I want to leave about the story of my life? About recovery and healing?” She pauses for a moment, as if to reflect on each of the 13 songs, then continues with a smile “I feel good about the messages that came through.”

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) 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.

Artist links: www.facebook.com/frazeyford –  www.twitter.com/frazeyford


Artist – Alexander Wolfe – Title – MORNING BRINGS A FLOOD – Label – Dharma Records


‘With songs full of sadness, regret and longing, this newbie sounds like a husky, bluesy Chris Martin.’ The Guardian

“a beautiful album with echoes of Nick Drake.” The Sunday Times

Alexander Wolfe is a New Cross based singer/songwriter. He started his musical career in the band ‘Taxi’ with none other than Jamie Cullum, who he is still friends with today. The band supported Paul Weller in 2002, ably backing him with their take on northern soul. Since the demise of Taxi, Alexander has gone on to perform solo and won the Emerngenza singer/songwriter award in 2008. Born Alexander Gordon de Menthon in December 1981 in Cambridge, he moved with his parents to South East London at the age of two where he spent his formative years growing up in Woolwich.  His mother, Anne de Menthon, was the lovechild of a French Count and a Canadian cabaret singer. Alexander’s family got word from the French side of the family that Count de Menthon had passed away and unexpectedly in his last will and testament acknowledged Anne and left her gifts of extravagant French artefacts, antique furniture and money. To her son, Alexander he left an original Rembrandt print.

Alexander had been experimenting with music, bands and writing songs for a few years and was becoming more and more serious. He was in love with music and soaked up as much as possible, inspired by everyone from Captain Beefheart to Joni Mitchell, Velvet Underground to Curtis Mayfield. He became convinced that he had found something he could offer, something unique to be remembered for. Around this time his beloved Nan passed away leaving Alexander devastated. From that moment, he took on her maiden name, ‘Wolfe’ and spent the next few years writing, and sculpting his sound and future as an artist. Alexander decided to record an album. He sold the only thing of value that he owned, the Rembrandt print, to fund buying a home studio set up. He managed to beg, steal & borrow some studio time to put down the drums with a friend called Steve Pilgrim, now playing with ex-La John Power and Paul Weller. All the other instruments (except the strings) were played and recorded by Alexander in various places, from attics in New Cross, to basements in Brick Lane. Everybody who worked on the record did it for the love of the music, from the string players to the engineers.

The songs are an eclectic mix, from the twisted waltz opener Prague Song, through the white knuckle ride of Movement to the hushed heartbreaking title track Stuck Under September. It’s clear that this is something special, more in common with Nick Drake, Tom Waits and Neil Young than any of today’s crop of singer songwriters.  Song For The Dead is to be the theme of the new BBC comedy series ‘Whites’, starring Alan Davies as a lazy chef. The series began on Tuesday 28th September on BBC 2 and should be a surefire hit.  The premier of the wonderful short film based on the song and entitled ‘Stuck Under September’ at the National Portrait Gallery was followed by an intimate live performance of songs from the album with a string quartet. The film is essentially the story of a broken love affair between the sun and the moon and the wonderful Emilia Fox stars in the film. The video for this is available free with the album download at iTunes. MORNING BRINGS A FLOOD truly is a singer songwriter album for the 21st century.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) 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.

Artist linkshttp://www.alexanderwolfe.co.uk/

DAVE SWARBRICK – Raison D’etre (Shirty Records Shirty 1)

We are all, one way or another influenced by our heroes and much like Dave Swarbrick is one of mine, he is quite happy to share his with us. Unlike the heathen that I am ‘Swarb’ knows where each tune in this glorious set of merry melodies comes from gaining knowledge from what I can only assume is a vast collection of manuscripts in Swarbrick Towers. Surrounding himself with an array of musical talent including Simon Mayor, Maartin Allcock, Kevin Dempsey and the much missed sparring partner of many years Beryl Marriott the energy and exuberance in the performance are still there in that ‘cheeky chappie’ style we have all become accustomed too. As well as two self-penned compositions “Andy’s Waltz” and “Sweet Alban” in a sort of travels through time Dave has been influenced by the likes of triple hornpipe pioneer John Ravenscroft (a larger than life character in more ways than one) providing us with “Ravenscroft’s Fancy” and Thomas Augustine Arne’s Thomas And Sally” (he also wrote “Rule Britannia” don’t you know)? This is an album that continues in the tradition of Swarbrick’s earlier ‘solo’ recordings and will prove a ‘must have’ addition to collectors of fiddle music everywhere. Available from Talking Elephant Records at www.talkingelephant.co.uk PETE FYFE