Reviews

folking_com new 2016 site logo

Welcome to the folking.com review section.

The folking review team is a small, dedicated group of people with a passion and a commitment for the folk, acoustic and Americana music scene. They review the latest releases, each in their own inimitable style…

All our reviewers give their spare time to bring you this resource and we always looking for new people to get involved who share a similar passion for the genre to help lighten the load. If that sounds like you, then please email us here for more information about joining the folking review team.

REG MEUROSS – Faraway People (Hatsongs HAT011)

I enjoyed Reg’s previous album, December, and Faraway People is more of the same and even better than its predecessor. Once again Reg has stripped himself back to the basics of voice and guitar – plus a bit of banjo and harmonica - with only engineer Roy Dodds in the ...
Read More

ANNA COOGAN – The Lonely Cry of Space & Time (AC004)

The Lonely Cry Of Space And Time by Anna Coogan was released on April 28th but I’ve only just had a copy to review. Is there a genre for Indie-Goth-Opera (IGO perhaps?) [I’d prefer IGOR – ed.]. There ought to be because I’ve no idea otherwise how to give a ...
Read More

DEMPSEY BROUGHTON – Off By Heart (own label SAECD14)

Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton have been in the business for so many years and in so many line-ups that it seems impossible to count. You can mention The Albion Band, the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, the Urban Folk Quartet, Dando Shaft, Whippersnapper and Lazarus before you have to stop and ...
Read More

COAST – Windmills In The Sky (Ruabhal Records SAM04)

Coast is a folk-rock band, with the emphasis on the rock, formed by Paul Eastham and Chris Barnes back in 2009. Windmills In The Sky is their third album and I hope it will be the one that propels them to greatness. They spent their childhoods on Benbecula in the ...
Read More

SINGLES BAR 22

A round-up of recent EPs and singles Following four independent releases, Ontario siblings THE ABRAMS BROTHERS mark their major label debut with a self-titled EP (Warner Music 237811), a six tracker collection of country tinted pop that kicks off with ‘Champion’, a number that mixes together American Football’s ‘When The ...
Read More

JOE BROUGHTON’S CONSERVATOIRE FOLK ENSEMBLE – Painted (own label SAE16CD)

I’ve seen Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble on stage just once and it was an exciting experience. It was a small theatre and I reckon there were more people on stage than there were in the audience – what a sound - and Joe says that they might have turned ...
Read More

THE DRYSTONES – We Happy Few (own label)

The Drystones are two young chaps from Somerset: Alex Garden and Ford Collier; singers and multi-instrumentalists who made their debut album at age 16. Remarkably, this is already their third outing. On the surface, We Happy Few seems typical of albums of our age. Three songs and eight instrumental sets ...
Read More

MARTHA TILSTON – Nomad (Squiggly Records)

This recently released album is a pure joy to listen to. Martha is the daughter of highly acclaimed singer/songwriter – Steve Tilston, but Martha is a fabulous singer/songwriter on her own merit. She has various critically acclaimed albums already under her belt and this latest album looks like being another ...
Read More

SHEILA K CAMERON – Kiss Deep And The Missing Beat (Glalell SKC1706CD)

Kiss Deep is sixth and final volume in the first series of Sheila K Cameron reissues. There are nineteen tracks here encompassing all the styles she has essayed over the years beginning and ending with the old blues sound of ‘Universal Energy’. From there she moves to the rich pop ...
Read More

KATE & RAPHAËL – Les Objets Trouvés (own label DECYOU01)

From the first unsettling notes, it’s clear that Les Objets Trouvés isn’t going to sit down quietly and play nice. Opening with the sort of filmic crescendo that normally accompanies the reveal of the serial killer, ‘Caterpillar’ then swoops coolly along with Kate Young’s aerobatic vocalising over Raphaël Decoster’s sashaying ...
Read More

ANNIE GALLUP – Lucy Remembers Her Father (Gallway Bay Music)

In what is, unquestionably, her finest solo work to date, Annie Gallup, one half of Hat Check Girl, has crafted an intimate, conceptual storytelling album about the past, mortality and the power and value of memory. Her musical and personal partner, Peter Gallway, contributes bass and keys, but otherwise this ...
Read More

THE HAWTHORNES – Cut & Run (own label)

The second album from Cheltenham folk outfit The Hawthornes, Cut & Run, sees them with an expanded line-up, Sussex-born singer Louisa Gaylard, bassist Gordy Partridge and Jesse Benns on cajon, mandolin and soundbox percussionist now joined by Gregg Wilson-Copp, formerly of The Roving Crows, on trumpet. The change in their ...
Read More

LE VENT DU NORD live at South Hill Park, Bracknell

Smoke swirled over the darkened stage as four shadowy figures took their places. The sound began with the drone of a hurdy-gurdy, joined by fiddle, jew’s harp and voice and lastly bouzouki. Finally the lights came up to reveal Le Vent Du Nord in all their splendour. It was an ...
Read More

OH SUSANNA – A Girl in Teen City (Continental Song City CSCCD1142)

Whether or not A Girl In Teen City is wholly autobiographical, Suzie Ungerleider’s concept album about growing up a teenager in the 80s in her hometown of Vancouver perfectly capture that adolescent search for identity, love and rebellion. Or, as she puts it on the album sleeve, “Falling in love, ...
Read More

MALCOLM HOLCOMBE – Pretty Little Troubles (Gypsy Eyes Music )

His voice croakier and gummier than ever, sounding as one review put it, like he’s wearing someone else’s teeth, even so Holcombe continues to deliver the goods when it comes to coal dust coated Appalachian blues. Pretty Little Troubles a quick follow-up to last year’s Another Black Hole. Joined by ...
Read More

ROBBIE BANKES – Foothills (own label)

Robbie Bankes hails from Calgary and is currently studying at the University of Telemark. Foothills is his first album although you can get his demo set, Through February Snow, for whatever you want to pay via his website. His music is a mixture of original songs and pure Americana and ...
Read More

ROSIE HOOD – The Beautiful & The Actual (Rootbeat Records RBRCD36)

Rosie Hood’s debut solo album impresses on so many levels. Firstly, there’s her voice – a model of power and clarity; secondly there is the restraint of the accompaniments, even allowing for the presence of a string trio and Emma Smith’s mighty double bass and, finally, the template for the ...
Read More

DARDEN SMITH – Everything (Compass 746812)

After the release of 2013’s Love Calling, his fourteenth album in thirty years, the Austin-based singer-songwriter considered calling it a day, unsure he had anything left worth saying or that anyone was even listening. Instead, he turned to exploring creative avenues outside of the traditional music business, writing an as ...
Read More

OCCIDENTAL GYPSY – 44070 (own label)

Occidental Gypsy is a band that combines the 'Gypsy Swing' feel of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grapelli with a range of material from other sources, notably the compositions of lead guitarist Brett Lee Feldman. Their CD 44070 (due for release in the UK on July 3rd 2017) includes three songs ...
Read More

MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS – Existential Beast (Invisible Hands IHCD74)

A quick follow-up to last year’s Echoes Of The Dreamtime finds the San Franciscan native and erstwhile Brian Jonestown Massacre member in often dreamy cosmic country mood, opening Existential Beast with the pedal steel laced gentleness of ‘Ashes and Seeds’ before getting a little spikier on the urgently flurrying rhythms ...
Read More

DAVID HERSHAW & SANDIE FORBES – Here Comes Tomorrow (own label DHSF001)

Here Comes Tomorrow is the debut album from young Scottish duo David Hershaw and Sandie Forbes. The majority of their material is self-written and on a first blind listening I thought they might be American; there’s a strong country flavour to the first tracks but gradually the Scottishness develops as ...
Read More

BLIND LEMON PLEDGE AND FRIENDS – Backwoods Glance (Ofeh Records)

Whoever told James Byfield that Blind Lemon Pledge was a great stage name probably didn’t do him any favours. Despite the handicap Lemon, if I may be so familiar, became a feted blues player but with his sixth album, Backwoods Glance, his attention has turned to the wider field of ...
Read More

THE AUGUST LIST – Ramshackle Tabernacle (Ubiquity Project Records)

Sifting through a batch of CDs recently, one stood out from the rest as quite different and unexpected. It turned out to be Ramshackle Tabernacle by The August List. Unfamiliar with The August List, I did my usual online trawl to find out more. Their first album, 2014’s O Hinterland, ...
Read More

THEA GILMORE – The Counterweight (Cooking Vinyl COOKCD668)

Thea Gilmore described herself like this “Some people write me off as some waily folky woman……Other people think I'm rock. In terms of an image, if you want to be cold and corporate about it, it's hard to decide who my target market is. There isn't one. There is no ...
Read More

JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – Kids In The Street (New West NW6389)

Ten years into his career, now dry, married and an expectant father, Justin Townes Earle is understandably in energised form on Kids In The Street. With producer Mike Mogis behind the desk (and on baritone guitar), he’s drawing on both classic soul and blues influences, case in point coming from ...
Read More

SINGLES BAR 21

A round-up of recent EPs and singles In the wake of his criminally underrated album Rain Machine, RICK FOOT returns with a six-track EP, Songs Of Idiocy & Expedience. It’s pared down even from the minimalism of the album and Rick says that the songs were arranged with an eye ...
Read More

VAIR – A Place In Time (own label 00001)

I wonder if there will ever be a time when I can’t begin a review along the lines of ‘here’s another fine young band from Scotland’. It’s certainly not happening yet because, well, here’s another fine young band from Scotland, or Shetland to be precise. A Place In Time is ...
Read More

THE UNTHANKS – Diversions Volume 4: The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake / Extras (RabbleRouser Music RRM016/RRM017)

For this, their fourth volume of Diversions, the Unthanks have chosen The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake. Inspired by hearing the limited release 2012 CD of her works (a set of songs, accompanied by a booklet of poetry) and spurred on by a pre-existing love of her son Nick's ...
Read More

THE UNTHANKS Live at Vicar Street, Dublin (25 May 2017)

The dark stage is bedecked with an array of lamps (of the standard and table varieties), interspersed with rattan chairs. The grand piano and elegantly wrought music stands suggest a more genteel era of afternoon tea dances – if you overlook the modern paraphernalia of cables and microphones. The voice ...
Read More

ROSS COUPER + TOM OAKES – Fiddle + Guitar (Haystack Records HAYCD009)

I get to hear a lot of new music from Scotland these days. There are some nice people there who keep sending me records to listen to and I usually enjoy them all. Sometimes, however, I wonder if I really need another album of fiddle music and don’t ever quite ...
Read More

MOIRAI – Here & Now (WildGoose WGS421CD)

Here & Now must be the first album to open with a song collected from that bastion of the tradition, Facebook™. ‘Dust If You Must’ is an anonymous poem set to music, and while there is nothing wrong with it, per se, I’d rather have it as an encore than ...
Read More

Royal Albert Hall to Haslemere Hall – Phil Beer Band Gig Review

The Phil Beer Band rocking Haslemere Hall on 19th May - photo by Darren Beech Phil arrived hot on the heels of the Show of Hands 5th sellout concert at The Albert Hall and the memory of winning the public vote for 'Best musician' in this years folking awards still fresh in his ...
Read More

JIM CAUSLEY AND FRIENDS – I Am The Song (WildGoose Records WGS420CD)

Young Jim Causley returns once more to the writing of his distinguished relative, Charles. I Am The Song, unlike the serious and sometimes mysterious Cyprus Well, is a collection of poetry written for children. As you might suppose many of the songs are quite short and Jim crams twenty-one of ...
Read More

HARROW FAIR – Call To Arms (Roaring Girl RGO14)

Comprising Miranda Mulholland, violinist with Great Lake Swimmers, and Andrew Penner, Harrow Fair are a Canadian duo who first began working together as part of a Toronto theatre company and who take their name from an Ontario county fair. They both sing, while she plays violin and percussion and he ...
Read More

DONALD BLACK – Bho M’ Chridhe (own label DB05CD)

Scottish Celtic harmonica might seem like something of a niche market and that’s what I thought at first – but wait. Bho M’ Chridhe translates as From My Heart and that is exactly where this music comes from. The tunes come from all over Scotland and even further afield and ...
Read More

JANET DOWD – Home (Blue Cow Records)

Although Janet Dowd writes songs, and there are three of her own compositions on Home, her particular forte is in covering other writers. Her subjects are mostly Irish and an album like this will serve to introduce British audiences to some new songs, but she also encompasses Scotland and Australia ...
Read More

THE TWISTED TWENTY – The Twisted Twenty (Penny Fiddle Records)

The Twisted Twenty are a septet of string players whom I suspect to be proper musicians. What makes then unique is their use of baroque instruments and their research in music of the 17th and 18th century. So what? I hear you say. Well, instruments of the period have a ...
Read More

LIANNE HALL – The Caretaker (Market Square MSMCD182)

Lianne Hall used to be a punk. She was a member of Witchknot but I rather think that she was punk in the way that The Stranglers were; embracing the ethos but having rather superior musical skills. She’s originally from Peterborough and lived in Brighton before moving to Berlin. After ...
Read More

GALLEY BEGGAR – Heathen Hymns (Rise Above Records RISECD208)

I have opined before that Galley Beggar’s albums, though excellent in themselves, never quite reflect the live feel of the band. The last album Silence And Tears went some way to redressing this imbalance, but their latest offering, Heathen Hymns, is much more in line with their live performances. The ...
Read More

ALAN REID & RACHEL CONLAN – A Quare Yield (own label)

A Quare Yield is an album of mostly banjo and fiddle duets. I say mostly because Alan Reid also plays bouzouki and mandolin and, on one track, oud while Rachel Conlan occasionally swaps her fiddle for the Hardanger model and Marty Barry adds guitar. The tunes are mostly Irish but, ...
Read More

SKIPINNISH – The Seventh Wave (Skippinish Records SKIPCD26)

The Seventh Wave is the seventh album to be released by Skipinnish and it is possibly one of the most enjoyable albums that I have recently been given the opportunity to review. When I agreed to take on the suicidal responsibility of reviewing new releases I was, unbelievably, excited about ...
Read More

AMY McALLISTER – String On String (own label)

I’ll state now that anyone who sings ‘Matt Hyland’ is all right with me, especially when that anyone sings it as gorgeously as Amy McAllister does, even though she does omit the bribery verse. Amy is a singer, songwriter, harpist and fiddle player from Antrim and, after many years of ...
Read More

BRINDLEY HUNT – Find My Way… (own label)

Staffordshire based singer/songwriters Barry Hunt and Bryan Brindley have formed a duo - namely Brindley-Hunt - and the result of this collaboration has led them to create a fabulous album, entitled Find My Way… Well known for their solo work individually, they have embarked on a little team work, and ...
Read More

CHIP TAYLOR – A Song I Can Live With (Trainwreck TW057)

His fifth album in as many years, and his twenty-first studio recording in total, A Song I Can Live With falls firmly into what Taylor calls his stream-of-consciousness based songwriting, more spoken rather than sung and with rarely more than an acoustic guitar and Goran Grini’s keyboards for backing. I’ve ...
Read More

TRACK DOGS – Serenity Sessions (Monde Green)

For those who don’t know, Track Dogs are an Anglo-Irish-American acoustic quartet based in Madrid comprising Sheffield’s Howard Brown, Ohio’s Robbie K Jones and, respectively from Co. Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire, Dave Mooney and lead vocalist Garrett Wall, their instrumentation taking in cajon, banjo, ukulele, mandolin and trumpet alongside guitar ...
Read More

FRONT COUNTRY – Other Love Songs (Organic Records OR16882)

What I really like about Front Country is the way they take the styles of country music, its bones if you like, and take them off somewhere new. Other Love Songs is only their second album and already they sound like they’ve been doing this for years. Take ‘Storms Are ...
Read More

SINGLES BAR 20

A round-up of recent EPs and singles The first of three self-released themed EPs set for 2017 from Devon duo INDIA ELECTRIC CO., pianist/violinist and accordionist Joseph O’Keefe and Cole Stacey vocals/ percussion, EC1M (Shoelay) offers five tracks variously coloured by influences drawn diversely from Ireland, Eastern Europe, Africa and ...
Read More

SOUND OF THE SIRENS – For All Our Sins (DMF Records)

Sound of the Sirens consist of Exeter-based duo Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood. Their debut album For All Our Sins is released on May 5th and will then be toured around the country. The duo have built up a loyal fanbase with a number of EPs and live performances in ...
Read More

JUPITER OWLS – The Fallow Cry Of The Jupiter Owls (Cupboard Under The Stairs)

Based in Frome, The Jupiter Owls began life as a duo comprising singer-songwriter/ guitarist John Libert and guitarist Ryan Steele but have subsequently added the rhythm section of Kev Jefferies and Kevin Reed to add extra live dimension to their Americana-tinged chilled folk-pop. Drawing their influences from the late 60s/early ...
Read More

PORTER NICKERSON – Bonfire To Ash (Weasel Records WSL-1601)

Porter Nickerson are Willy Porter and Carmen Nickerson. Bonfire To Ash is their new album, released on May 5th. I haven’t stopped playing it since it came for review. Occasionally in life you meet someone that you feel you’ve known forever; listening to Bonfire To Ash was like this – ...
Read More

HAZEYJANE – One (Tu-Kay Records TKHJCD01)

It’s almost impossible to pigeonhole Hazeyjane. At their heart is the songwriting of guitarist Chris Brown accompanied by Ash Tu-Kay, a pseudonym of producer and label boss Ashley Woodward. The line-up has recently been expanded but on One, their debut album, Chris and Ash do everything except for extra vocals ...
Read More

REV HAMMER – Skald (own label)

It is always good when you hear that Rev Hammer has released a long awaited new album! He has done just that in the recently released Skald, featuring acclaimed guitarist and singer/songwriter Nick Harper together with Rev’s son Samuel Ryan, who is establishing himself as a singer/songwriter and about to ...
Read More

LOWRI EVANS & LEE MASON – A Little Bit Of Everything (Shimi Records ShimiCD0011)

I have to confess that when Lowri Evans released her debut English language album I really wasn’t a fan and I wasn’t allowed anywhere near her records again. Things have changed in the decade since. Lowri’s voice has warmed somewhat and her songwriting has certainly matured. Lee Mason was her ...
Read More

Standing ovations for Show Of Hands’ Big Gig

England's premier folk duo Show of Hands, once described as “the most famous unknown band in Britain”, brought the house down at the Royal Albert Hall on Easter Sunday with a ‘pull all the stops out’ show marking their milestone 25th year. Singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi instrumental wizard ...
Read More

PETE COE – The Man In The Red Van (Backshift BASH CD 63)

Pete Coe is one of the old guard, one of the last. He’s been in this business for more than forty-five years and still has all the moves. I expected The Man In The Red Van to be something of a political work, akin to It’s A Mean Old Scene ...
Read More

TRADARRR – Further Tales Of Love! Death! And Treachery! (Hedge Of Sound HOS25)

Between their first and second albums Mark Jolley left has Tradarrr to be replaced by Tim Harries (more serious folk-rock credentials) and Phil Bond has moved on with his place taken by singer, fiddler and pianist Gemma Shirley. Thus Further Tales Of Love! Death! And Treachery! sees a seven-piece band ...
Read More

NIGEL STONIER – Love And Work (Shameless SHAME017)

Nigel Stonier is probably best known as a producer and a man who writes songs with and for other people so it came as a surprise to discover that Love And Work is his sixth solo album but not that it’s a work of great class. I suppose that you ...
Read More

BOO HEWERDINE – Swimming in Mercury (REVEAL072CDX)

Boo Hewerdine’s new album Swimming In Mercury will be released on April 28th and the single ‘Satellite Town’ on April 21st. He has a pedigree which stretches back more than thirty years and is acclaimed as one of the UK’s best songwriters: ‘Patience Of Angels’ was nominated for an Ivor ...
Read More

ELEPHANT SESSIONS – All We Have Is Now (Elephant Sessions CDTES02)

This CD, All We Have Is Now, recently released by Elephant Sessions has nine exceptional tracks. Each one is a masterpiece of arrangements and instrumental skills. Many of the tracks are over five minutes long and should be described as ‘productions’. However, I find it difficult to place their music ...
Read More

JON PALMER ACOUSTIC BAND – The Silences In Between (own label)

Will someone please explain why Otley’s finest folk-rock band are not huge stars. The Silences In Between is their third studio album – there’s also a rocking live set – and is as good as anything they’ve done. There’s plenty to enjoy here. ‘I Don’t Know’ is about love as ...
Read More