Reviews

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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.

THE HYDES – Green & Blue (Hyde Music Productions – HYDECD1)

This recently released debut album from Denver sibling duo – Joanna and Iain Hyde – who have mastered the art of Irish music, and entwined it with a dash of Americana and bluegrass, is a fabulous album! They have already won 2 accolades this year – Best New Group 2017 ...
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RATTLE ON THE STOVEPIPE – Poor Ellen Smith (WildGoose Records WGS419CD)

Rattle On The Stovepipe are Dave Arthur, Pete Cooper and Dan Stewart who play American old-timey music with the classic guitar, fiddle and banjo set-up, added harmonica and mandolin and a couple of excursions on melodeon. Poor Ellen Smith is their sixth album for Doug Bailey’s label. Most of the ...
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KATE DIMBLEBY – Songbirds (Folkstock FSR44)

For the past 25 years Kate Dimbleby, the daughter of legendary broadcaster David and opera loving cookery writer Josceline, has been plying her musical trade in live performance, most notably in her one woman shows and albums based around Peggy Lee and Dory Previn. However, Songbirds, her sixth studio album ...
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SALLY BARKER – Ghost Girl (Old Dog Records 017)

The title track is a new recording of the song she wrote for 2015 Poozies album, Into The Well, featuring real rather than electric piano, given a softer feel and with Tom Bull on double bass, Sally Barker’s follow-up to Maid In England, the 2014 album on the back of ...
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SINGLES BAR 18

A round-up of recent EPs and singles Having released their Death and Other Animals album to wide acclaim last year, FAUSTUS return to the well to lift ‘Slaves’ (Westpark Music 87333) to head up their new 5-track EP, their first for the Germany-based label. You should, of course, be familiar ...
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GARY INNES – Era (own label GH101)

Oh boy, do I like this CD? Yes, I do! Era is only the second ‘solo’ album released by Gary Innes who is part of the award-winning group, Mànran and it has such a variety of material that it grasps you from start to finish. All of the tunes and ...
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TOP FLOOR TAIVERS – A Delicate Game (TFT Records TFTR001)

The first thing I had to do was discover the meaning of taiver. Apparently it means a rag and, by extension, low or abject. Top Floor Taivers is a good name for a band but there is nothing abject or low about Claire Hastings, Gráinne Brady, Heather Downie and Tina ...
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AMY WADGE AND LUKE JACKSON live at Cambridge Junction

Cambridge City Roots Festival, 7 February 2017 What comes across so strikingly from an evening with Amy Wadge and Luke Jackson is their natural rapport. Both are hugely talented songwriters, singers and musicians with a constant drive to create new music. They work effortlessly well together and although they like ...
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STEVE PLEDGER live at Dunster Castle Hotel

Friday 9th February 2017 A very chilly evening in Dunster, North Somerset was made glowingly warm by a lovely gig, courtesy of award winning singer songwriter Steve Pledger. I had been looking forward to this event immensely, after attending his album launch at Dunster Castle itself in November, and was ...
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CAMBRIDGE CITY ROOTS FESTIVAL – Various artists and venues, 3-11 February 2017

The 2017 inaugural City Roots Festival is kind of like an expansion pack for the Cambridge Folk Festival: a winter top-up with lots of bonus features. Aiming to expand the relationship between folk/roots music and the city, the Folk Festival organisers lined up a diverse roster of artists over one ...
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POLICE DOG HOGAN – Wild By The Side Of The Road

Formed in 2009 and currently an eight-piece, Wild By The Side Of The Road is Police Dog Hogan’s fourth album and firmly consolidates their growing reputation for infectiously punchy folk rock shaded with elements of country and bluegrass. Fronted by lyricist James Studholme and with banjo and mandolin provided by ...
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THE AMPLIFIED ACOUSTIC BAND – Now. Here. This. (100Promotion 100P038)

I was approached by acclaimed Czech and London based singer songwriter Jamie Marshall to do a review of 'Now. Here. This.' - the debut album by The Amplified Acoustic Band, who have been wowing live audiences in Prague and surrounding areas for some time. I had heard a taster of ...
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CARREG LAFAR – Aur (Sain SCD2754)

Carreg Lafar are a five-piece band from Wales and Aur is their fourth album in a career that has spanned 20 years.  From the front cover picture, with its carefully arranged Victoriana it's clear that this is going to be an album of traditional music and a glance at the ...
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THE HUT PEOPLE – Routes (Fellside FECD280)

The Hut People are an English instrumental duo, Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond. Routes is their fourth studio album on the Fellside label. Both are experienced musicians with and the list of artists they have worked with would grace any music festival - it includes Kathryn Tickell, The Dubliners, Sharon ...
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FAIRPORT CONVENTION – 50:50@50 (Matty Grooves MGCD054)

Opportunities for celebration come round with increasing frequency when you’ve been in the business as long as Fairport Convention has. The current line-up has been together for almost twenty years and before that they have a back catalogue so large that they can never hope to play it all. This ...
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STEVEN JAMES ADAMS AND THE FRENCH DROPS – live

The Portland Arms (Cambridge City Roots Festival, 3 February 2017) Singer-songwriter Steven James Adams returns to home turf in Cambridge to play the packed, intimate venue at The Portland Arms, with support provided by the intriguingly angular sounds of indie trio Mammoth Penguins. This evening’s gig also kicks off the ...
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BENJAMIN WILLIAM PIKE – A Burdensome Year (Gin House Records)

When I first heard of Benjamin William Pike's latest CD A Burdensome Year (released on January 27th 2017), my interest was piqued by a suggested comparison to Michael Chapman. (That's the folky/bluesy/jazzy singer and guitarist, not the Chinnichap chap who wrote and produced hits for the likes of Sweet, Suzi ...
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SHEILA K CAMERON – Alone On The Road (Glalell SKC1703CD)

It’s a truth universally acknowledged (pace Jane Austen) that to really sing the blues you have to feel the blues, have to live the blues. As amply demonstrated in Alone On The Road, one of a trilogy of reissues, Sheila K Cameron is most definitely the real thing. Somewhat enigmatic, ...
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BRENDAN HENDRY & JONNY TOMAN – Living Roots (own label LR001)

Living Roots is a traditional and modern tunes album that sets the scene from the first track – ‘The Boyne Hunt’. Hornpipe and fiddle at its best! I was already hooked! Track two – ‘The Crosses Of Annagh/Cousin Sally Brown’ is a melodic and haunting track to begin with – then ...
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KEITH JAMES – The Songs Of Leonard Cohen – live at Farnham Maltings

No-one can accuse Keith James of opportunism. He has been touring The Songs Of Leonard Cohen for six years now. The set has changed sometimes and one iteration even included a documentary film but this was the show’s 305th performance. In the immediate aftermath of Cohen’s death one quote emerged ...
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ÉILÍS KENNEDY – Westward (own label)

Éilís Kennedy  comes from and still lives in Dingle in the far west of Ireland. She is half of Lumiere with Pauline Scanlon and Westward is her third solo album. Éilís is a much travelled artist and the album mixes music from both sides of the Atlantic in both English ...
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ELIZA CARTHY & THE WAYWARD BAND – Big Machine (Topic TSCD592P)

From her debut solo album back in 1996, Carthy has never been predictable in her constant determination to both celebrate and reinvent the folk tradition and, while that may not have always endeared her to purists, it has produced a remarkable - and sometimes challenging - back catalogue. Her latest ...
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THE RACHEL HAMER BAND – Hard Ground (own label RHB01)

Hard Ground is the debut album from The Rachel Hamer Band: Rachel, Graeme Armstrong, Grace Smith and Sam Partridge. The Newcastle based quartet are the current recipients of the English Folk Dance And Song Society’s Graeme Miles Bursary which helped to fund the project. Appropriately, then, they open with one ...
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KRIS WOODBIRD – Monsters Of Heart (Mess Productions MESS116)

Known to friends and family as Krister Svensson, Woodbird hails from southern Sweden and is currently based out of Stockholm, arriving at his indie folk singer-songwriter incarnation by way of punk and electronica. His Facebook page talks about him as a mix of Bonnie Prince Billy, Jason Molina and Bon ...
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MIKE GROGAN – Too Many Ghosts (Poacher Records PRCD105 & PRLP106)

Mike Grogan’s musical background spans many genres - rock, punk and indie among them. He became a solo artist in 2011 and released his first album in 2012. Too Many Ghosts is released on 10th February 2017 and will be his third solo release. Mike has written all the songs ...
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ALICE MARRA – Chain Up The Swings (Inner City Sound Records ICS002)

Those of you who are paying attention will have spotted the name and wondered what was going on. Yes, Alice Marra is a Hazey Jane and daughter of the late, totally wonderful Michael Marra and Chain Up The Swings is a tribute to her father featuring twelve of his songs ...
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DÓNAL CLANCY – On The Lonesome Plain (own label DCLPCD16)

Dónal is a scion of the Clancy dynasty and really had no choice but to embrace their musical  heritage but spent his early life in his native Canada and the USA before finally settling in Waterford where he records in his father’s Liam Clancy Studios. He says that On The ...
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SIOBHAN MILLER – Strata (Songprint Records SPR003CD)

Scotland is currently blessed with a crop of superb young female singers and Siobhan Miller is right up there in the top section of that list. Although still a young lady, she has been prominent on the folk scene for many years, appearing at clubs, concerts, festivals and regularly on ...
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THE GRAHAMS – The Grahams and Friends (Live in Studio) (Three Sirens Music Group)

Alyssa and Doug Graham have spent nearly their entire lives exploring music together. Friends since she was seven and he was nine, they became a couple in their teens, then husband and wife. Along the way, they also became The Grahams, a dynamic Americana duo. Their 2013 debut, Riverman's Daughter, ...
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MÀNRAN – An Dà Là – The Two Days (Mànran Records MAN04)

It is now so easy to create your own CD that most artistes of any calibre have at least one to boast of. Regretfully, this does not always produce a product of a suitable quality worthy of review. As such, I was delighted to receive An Dà Là the latest ...
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SINGLES BAR 17

A round-up of recent EPs and singles Having released their latest album, Good Times Will Come Again last year, MEGSON now lift the lead track, ‘Generation Rent’ (EDJ), as a single. A punchy protest against how today’s young generation find it impossible to get on to the property ladder, it ...
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RAYNA GELLERT – Workin’s Too Hard (Storysound 161-019)

Fiddle player with Uncle Earl, Gellert follows up her 2013 solo debut with the seven track Workin’s Too Hard, which, at under 25 minutes, may be a little on the sort side but does further underscore her development as a songwriter in the American folk tradition as well as providing ...
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JUDE JOHNSTONE – A Woman’s Work (BoJack BJR2221960-2)

Although A Woman’s Work is her seventh album, there’s a very good chance you’ve never heard of the piano-playing New England singer-songwriter. It is, however, very likely you’ll have heard one of her songs. She’s and had her songs covered by such superstar names as Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Trisha ...
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RED TAIL RING – Fall Away Blues (Earthwork Music EW8504)

So you’ve seen the title, Fall Away Blues, and noted that Red Tail Ring are a guitar/fiddle/banjo duo so you know what their album sounds like, right? I thought that, too, but we were both wrong. Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo are from Michigan but their love of old-time music ...
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FLEETWOOD CAVE – People Like Us (Rhythm Records FCPLU2016))

Marion Fleetwood and Gregg Cave met with the formation of TRADarrr and things went from there. Unlike their parent band, Fleetwood Cave’s debut album, People Like Us, consists of original material plus one cover version. Supporting Marion and Gregg are Tali Trow and Paul Johnston on double bass and drums ...
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JOHN CEE STANNARD & BLUES HORIZON – To The River (Cast Iron CIRCD 028)

It might be blues but it’s happy music. Sometimes my wife’s initial reactions to an album are perfectly insightful and To The River, the latest waxing by John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon, certainly has more in common with the string bands of the 1930s than the urban howl of ...
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JOHN RENBOURN & WIZZ JONES – Joint Control (Riverboat Records TUGCD1095)

This CD review is something of a special case, in that it actually comes from my own collection, and wasn't bought specifically to review (and has been available since September 2016). However, it includes the last recorded work of John Renbourn, in a rare recorded collaboration with the almost equally ...
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SON OF THE VELVET RAT – Dorado (Fluff and Gravy FnG037/Mint 400)

Dorado is released on February 17th, the sixth album of husband and wife duo Georg Altzeibler and his wife Heiki Binder who left Austria to make their home in Joshua Tree, California in 2013. They had an impressive career with five albums to their credit and the description "best Austrian ...
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SOPHIE RAMSAY – The Seas Between Us (own label SRAM003)

The collection of Scots and Gaelic songs that form The Seas Between Us are largely taken from Burns (either by attribution or orgin), together with Hector Macneil’s ‘My Love’s In Germanie’ and a handful of traditional airs. From the opener, ’Ae Fond Kiss’, we are on well-trodden and familiar ground ...
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DIPPER MALKIN – Tricks Of The Trade (own label DM001)

If you wish for an exemplar of the adage that less is more look no further than Tricks Of The Trade, the debut album from the duo of John Dipper and Dave Malkin. John is a maker and restorer of concertinas which may surprise those who know him only as ...
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SINGLES BAR 16

A round-up of recent EPs and singles We’re a bit late with this one but we can’t let the year turn without a mention of ANGE HARDY’s Christmas single. There are two tracks, both original compositions and both sung acapella. ‘The Quantock Carol’ should immediately go into every seasonal repertoire ...
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JAMES McARTHUR AND THE HEAD GARDENERS – Burnt Moth (Moorland MLAND003)

James McArthur’s third album, Burnt Moth, is every bit as enigmatic as its predecessor, Strange Readings From The Weather Station. The line-up remains the same with Head Gardeners Jim Willis and John O’Sullivan and guests Samantha Wates, Joel McGill and Colin Somervell. It’s very smooth with lots of strings and ...
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PIPPA REID-FOSTER – Driftwood Harp (own label PRF2016CD)

There’s a meditative quality to the sound of the harp, something at once hypnotic and calming. It can be a pleasure to put on the Driftwood Harp CD and simply allow the sounds to wash dreamily away, as a soothing backdrop. But, delightful as that idea is, it would be ...
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RAB NOAKES – The Treatment Tapes EP (Neon Records NEONCD018)

I haven't heard much of singer/songwriter Rab Noakes since the early 1970s, when he was associated with Lindisfarne, Gerry Rafferty and others, as well as working as a highly-rated soloist. So I jumped at the chance of reviewing The Treatment Tapes EP – due for release on January 20th 2017 ...
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GEOFF LAKEMAN – After All These Years (own label GLAK-01)

Geoff Lakeman isn't quite as famous as his sons but he is a much regarded singer and songwriter, particularly in the West Country. At 69 Geoff has finally succumbed to the temptation to record an album, After All These Years, produced by son Sean. Geoff usually performs solo with concertina ...
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CHRIS WOOD – So Much To Defend (RUF RUFCD014)

Chris Wood’s fifth solo album comes across as a model of restraint on first hearing but first hearings can be deceptive. So Much To Defend is an album made up in part of little lives – people who are not even just about managing. There are bigger stories, too, but ...
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DARIA KULESH – Long Lost Home (own label)

I sometimes feel that I’ve lived with this album for almost as long as Daria has. I heard all the songs as they were released in their various ways; I talked to Daria about the background to the project and some of the stories and even got a sneak preview ...
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LOUISE BICHAN – Out Of My Own Light (Swanbister Records SWAN001CD)

If you’re the sort of person who reads the small print on CD covers, you’ll be familiar with the name of Louise Bichan. She is widely known as a photographer, particularly of Scottish artists but has been playing the fiddle for even longer. Out Of My Own Light is subtitled ...
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ALISTAIR ANDERSON & NORTHLANDS – Alistair Anderson & Northlands (White Meadow WMR0031)

Not that he’s been away or anything but Alistair seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance, reinvigorating himself by looking to the next generation. First there was his stunning duo with Dan Walsh and now his new band, Alistair Anderson & Northlands, making their debut with this fine album ...
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RAPSQUILLION – Earthly Joys (Own Label)

Rapsquillion is a harmony group known to "stalk the Welsh Marches with their eclectic mix of songs" though these days they seem to be stalking well beyond the border country. However, their CD Earthly Joys certainly lives up to the eclectic label, covering a wider range of material than I'd ...
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NICK BURBRIDGE & TIM COTTERELL – Resolved (On The Fiddle OTFCD032)

Nick Burbridge is one of music’s renaissance men: poet, singer, songwriter, novelist and playwright; generally held to be one of the finest songwriters that the world, for the most part, hasn’t heard of yet. Multi-instrumentalist Tim Cotterell also works alongside Nick in McDermott’s Two Hours and plays all the melody ...
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COOPE BOYES & SIMPSON – Coda (No Masters NMCD48)

Subtitled A Concluding Event, Coda marks the beginning of the end for Coope Boyes & Simpson. They’ll be playing some gigs next year to say farewell and individually and collectively they are involved in numerous projects so I doubt we’ve seen the last of them. It’s hard to credit but ...
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THE FLYING TOADS – Warts ‘N All (Own Label)

Warts 'N All is the second CD by the Flying Toads to come my way. I reviewed the older CD In Stitches a couple of years ago, and it was reviewed by the late Pete Fyfe for this site (and we both liked it a lot). And I can clear ...
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DOGHOUSE ROSES – Lost Is Not Losing (Yellowroom Music YLLWRM-010)

Lost Is Not Losing came to me for review – I think you might like this, was the suggestion. For the past week it has been on continual play in my car. Doghouse Roses are from Glasgow, a duo comprising Iona Macdonald and Paul Tasker who have written the songs ...
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STEVE DAGLEISH – Yours For Eternity (own label DAG CD 05)

Steve Dagleish is originally from Hull and, via Saltburn-on-Sea, now resident in London. Yours For Eternity is his second album. Like many others, Steve tried his luck with an acoustic guitar in the 70s but abandoned that idea for a steady job and family life. Thirty years later he picked ...
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ROBYN STAPLETON – Songs Of Robert Burns (Laverock Records LAVE002CD)

I was delighted to receive a copy to review of Songs Of Robert Burns, the latest album by Robyn Stapleton. Quite simply, this is a fabulous recording by the young Scottish female singer. She has carefully selected a top-notch group of musicians to support her. Most of the songs she has ...
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JOHNNY COPPIN – All On A Winter’s Night (Red Sky Records RSKCD121)

Christmas is nearly upon us, and acclaimed Gloucestershire singer/ songwriter and Radio Gloucester presenter, Johnny Coppin is currently on his annual tour taking the All On A Winter's Night Christmas concert to various place in the country. Johnny has been doing a run of Christmas concerts in December for a ...
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JIMMY ALDRIDGE & SID GOLDSMITH – Night Hours (Fellside FECD278)

Night Hours is the second album from Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith and I must confess that I have been shockingly remiss in catching up with them. This is a remarkably powerful record, solid in the sense of being unmoving in the face of opposition which, sadly, is something that ...
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EDDIE AND LUC – Tirade (Brig Records EDLUC2CD)

Tirade comes out the speakers at you like a cavalry charge as Eddie Seaman winds up his Highland bagpipes and Iain Copeland hits the drums. The tune is ‘Angry Piper’s Tirade’ by Hazen Metro and it is described as pushing the boundaries – I really don’t think bagpipes were ever ...
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ANDREW JOHN & LISSA – Aren’t We Lucky (Last Resort Records LRCD011)

Aren't We Lucky is the second set by Andrew John & Lissa to come my way this year. Whereas At Home was very much an (almost literally) home-brewed production with just a little help from a couple of musical friends on a few tracks, Aren't We Lucky was recorded in ...
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