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.

SAOIRSE MHÓR – Ghosts Of Tomorrow (own label)

Saoirse Mhór is an Irish singer-songwriter living and working in Germany. British and Irish folk is big there but Saoirse is barely known in England except as the frontman of Fleadh. Ghosts Of Tomorrow is his third solo studio album and he is supported by, among others, Andy Horn and ...
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MELROSE QUARTET – Dominion (own label MQCD03)

Dominion is the long-awaited second album from Melrose Quartet: Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Jess and Richard Arrowsmith. If you haven’t heard them you should remedy that oversight as soon as possible: four voices and four instrumentalists, equally gifted with unaccompanied harmony and instrumental dexterity. And that’s before we begin ...
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SAID THE MAIDEN – Here’s A Health (own label)

Following on from last years EP, ‘Of Maids And Mariners’, Hertfordshire folk trio Jess Distill, Hannah Elizabeth and Kathy Pilkinton return with their much anticipated second album, Here's A Health, another fine collection of traditional, self-penned and cover material that again spotlights their immaculate harmonies. Variously playing violin, piano accordion, ...
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THE WINTERLINGS – American Son (own label)

American Son is the fourth album release from Washington -based duo, The Winterlings, alias Wolff Bowden and Amanda Birdsall. A meeting of minds at a Buddhist fire ritual (where else?) led to the formation of this tightly self-contained musical unit. Videos show that they occasionally perform with an additional vocalist/guitarist, ...
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REBECCA PRONSKY – Witness: Hillary’s Song Cycle (own label)

Well, here’s an unusual one. Written in response to last year’s Presidential Election upset in America, Pronsky has, joined by all-female musicians, devised an eight track concept album based around Hillary Clinton’s mindset in the days following her defeat and taking a journey from   disbelief to depression, rage to ...
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PETER KNIGHT’S GIGSPANNER – Live at Farnham Maltings

I’ve heard Peter Knight’s Gigspanner three times this year and it never gets old. Admittedly the first occasion was with Gary Hammond on percussion and the second was the Big Band but this was the turbo-charged F1 trio and they flew. They began, as Peter explained: “Roger and I will ...
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MARTIN STEPHENSON & THE DAINTEES – Bayswater Road (Barbaraville Records)

Believe it or not, Bayswater Road is Martin Stephenson’s 35th album in as many years. He emerged as one of the rising stars of the eighties with the album Boat To Bolivia. The Daintees broke up in 1993 and Martin continued as a soloist but later reformed the band. The ...
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KIRSTY MERRYN – She & I (own label)

Kirsty Merryn hails originally from the New Forest but is now, inevitably, based in London where the action is. She & I is her debut album; an ambitious work but also accomplished and confident. The songs are about or dedicated to influential women except the opener, ‘The Pit And Pugilist’ ...
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BOB FOX – A Garland For Joey (Fledg’ling FLED 3107)

I’m guessing that A Garland For Joey is an album that Bob Fox has wanted to make for a long time. Many fine musicians have taken on the role of Songman but Bob has the gravitas to take the part from that of the provider of incidental music to the ...
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O’HOOLEY & TIDOW – Winterfolk Vol 1 (No Masters NMCD51)

My first Christmas review of the year, it seems to have become de rigueur now that at some point the great and good of the contemporary British folk scene should release an album of festive material. Kate Rusby’s third is due shortly, last year it was Cara Dillon’s turn and ...
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JON BODEN – Afterglow – Hudson Records HUD004

Folk royalty Jon Boden’s latest album, Afterglow, is an excellent follow on from Songs From The Floodplain, which was released in 2009, and was Jon’s second solo album. Jon is a twelve time BBC Folk Award Winner who partnered celebrated concertina player John ‘Squeezy’ Spiers in Spiers and Boden, fronted ...
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THE STRANGE BLUE DREAMS – The Strange Blue Dreams (Holy Smokes Records, HSR006)

At first glance, the front cover of the debut and self-titled album by The Strange Blue Dreams, might seem to hint at sci-fi or electronica. The back is emblazoned with an embroidered shirt Elvis would have been proud of. Just what is this band about? On the CD player, a ...
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ASSEMBLY LANE – Northbound (own label ALCD01)

The Newcastle-based band Assembly Lane are Tom Kimber (mandolin, harmony vocal), Niles Krieger (fiddle, harmony and lead vocals), Bevan Morris (double bass), and Matthew Ord (guitar, lead and harmony vocals). While their CD Northbound – due for release on November 10th 2017 – draws on both British and North American ...
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GABRIEL MORENO & THE QUIVERING POETS – Farewell Belief (Amber Records AMBERCD007)

Gabriel Moreno is a poet and singer-songwriter originally from Gibraltar but now an integral part of the London scene. Farewell Belief was recorded in Vilafant, Catalonia with a multi-national band and follows his debut, Love And Decadence. The intriguing thing about Farewell Belief is that I can hear Leonard Cohen ...
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LEE ANN WOMACK – The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone (ATO)

Over the years, I’ve reviewed several albums on which Womack’s appeared, but somehow never managed to actually review one of her own. And she’s now made nine. So, let’s put that to rights with the East Texan’s new label debut, The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone, that, produced by ...
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LAURA SMYTH & TED KEMP – The Poacher’s Fate (Broken Token Records TOKEN 002)

I get to listen to a great deal of wonderful music in this “job” but nothing pleases me more than traditional songs from the British Isles and that is just what we have here. The Poacher’s Fate is the first full length recording by Laura Smyth and Ted Kemp following ...
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FINDLAY NAPIER – Glasgow (Cheerygroove Records, Cheery006)

A sense of place is a wondrous, nebulous thing; it’s very personal and can be tricky to evoke meaningfully. Findlay Napier’s homage to his own Glasgow (there must be a clue in the name…) succeeds in bringing alive a sense of the diverse aspects of the city. Snippets of on-location ...
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YE VAGABONDS – Ye Vagabonds (Inglenook Records YVB01)

I heard Ye Vagabonds supporting Roy Harper at the Festival Hall last year, and that is a hell of a gig for a duo who hadn’t yet released an album. They took it in their stride, however, and I was impressed with the way they sounded. Ye Vagabonds are brothers ...
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GHALIA & MAMA’S BOYS – Let The Demons Out (Ruf Records RUF 1250)

Ghalia & Mama's Boys are, to all intents and purposes, the New Orleans band Johnny Mastro & Mama's Boys acting as the studio band for Belgian singer/guitarist/songwriter Ghalia Vauthier. The resulting CD, Let The Demons Out is released on the 20th October 2017. It's a 21st-century take on the sort ...
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ROBBIE CAVANAGH – To Leave / To Be Left (At The Helm ATH 99021)

Originally from Portland, Maine and now based in Manchester, Cavanagh’s second album, To Leave / To Be Left, explores, as the title succinctly puts it, the end of relationships and what’s taken away and what remains behind. As such, it opens with ‘Get Out Alive’, a full-bloodied slice of guitar-driven ...
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DAVY GRAHAM – Large As Life And Twice As Natural (Bread And Wine BRINECD-2)

If you want to know why Davy Graham was such a unique and influential artist just listen to the first track on Large As Life And Twice As Natural, his third studio album. Actually, listen to the whole record but the first track will tell you all you need to ...
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JEREMY TUPLIN – I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut (Folkwit Records f0141)

Jeremy Tuplin released his debut album, I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut, on September 29th and it will be launched at Paper Dress Vintage in London on October 26th. The album has been described as part of a new genre, “space-folk”, because of its “retro-futuristic feel” and blend of “electronic ...
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ADRIAN NATION – Anarchy And Love (Laburnum Ridge LABAN040)

Adrian’s fourth solo album (one of them is live), Anarchy And Love, began with the death of his father some four years ago. In a brief sleeve note he says that his father left many things behind and on the record are “some of the songs he left in me” ...
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MARK T. – From Blues To Rembetika (Circle Of Sound COS330CD)

From Blues To Rembetika neatly encapsulates the two strands of Mark T’s music and his love for both the resonator guitar and the bouzouki although there is rather more of the former than the latter here. Rembetika is an urban music from Greece and Turkey which spawned the bouzouki music ...
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SHANKARA ANDY BOLE – Rainbow Crow (Left Leg Records LL2017)

Rainbow Crow is a new CD from Shankara Andy Bole, featuring what are described as seven "spontaneous compositions" recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios. Bole is best known, perhaps, for his work (especially on guitar) with the late Daevid Allen's Glissando Guitar Orchestra and the folkier Bonfire Radicals, as ...
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ONE BLOKE ONE MANDOLIN – Fair Travels & Fine Times (Mind If I Play Records MI-IPR-2148)

One Bloke One Mandolin is better known to his friends as Stevie Simpson. He’s a much-travelled veteran who exists under the radar as far as too many people are concerned and he’s still paying his dues. That can’t be right. Fair Travels & Fine Times is something like his sixth ...
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CARA DILLON – Wanderer (Charcoal CHARCD009)

Following last year’s release of her first Christmas album, Upon A Winter’s Night, Dillon returns to secular form with a predominantly traditional collection, again produced by and featuring husband Sam Lakeman. Pivoting around an underlying theme of transition and departure, whether that be through emigration or the search for love, ...
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BIERE DE LUXE – Into The Thicket (own label)

Biere de Luxe are five guys from Falmouth who don’t say much about who they are except to describe themselves as rural gypsy-punks. They do live up to the punk ethos in some ways. Into The Thicket is very much a collaborative effort in a sleeve that carries minimal information ...
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JAMES FREDHOLM – Love Is The Answer (Honeybee Records GmbH)

James Fredholm releases the singles ‘Oars’ on October 27th. It is taken from his album Love Is The Answer. The album includes not only this single but also Uncaged, a book of Fredholm’s poetry. Fredholm grew up in Austin, Texas in the 70’s, played in local bands, recorded jingles for ...
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DAVY GRAHAM – Folk, Blues & Beyond (Bread & Wine BRINECD1)

Davy (or Davey) Graham's Folk, Blues & Beyond is a reissue of his 1965 Decca album on licence to Bread and Wine Records/East Central One, due for release on October 27th 2017. It retains the same tracks and running order as the original vinyl release and the Topic reissue CD ...
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CIARA SIDINE – Unbroken Line (own label)

It’s been six years since the Irish singer-songwriter and book editor released her debut, but she’s finally got round to a second, one drawing an Americana and country blues, filtered through her Gaelic heritage and featuring the stunning guitar work of Conor Brady. Thematically, it balances with the pointedly and ...
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EDGELARKS – Edgelarks (Dragonfly DRCD004)

Having previously traded under their own names, Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin have decided to save space on the album sleeves (well, after this one anyway) by reinventing themselves as Edgelarks. Fans will be pleased to know, however, that, musically, the duo haven’t rung too many changes. Featuring contributions from ...
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SAM KELLY & THE LOST BOYS – Pretty Peggy (Navigator NAVIGATOR 102)

Based in Bristol, but born in Norfolk, Kelly stakes a claim for a Best Album nomination in next year’s Radio 2 Folk Awards to add to this year’s Horizon win. Backed by his six-piece live band, comprising Jamie Francis on banjo, fiddler/guitarist Ciaran Algar, percussionist Evan Carson, Graham Coe on ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Hobgoblin Music – 40 Years (Hobgoblin HOBCD040)

It’s forty years since the founders of Hobgoblin Music set out to make, and I quote “what was then almost impossible – finding good quality folk instruments – possible”. As the sleeve notes acknowledge, that seems almost ordinary now and you can buy just about anything from a Hobgoblin shop ...
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JEREMY PINNELL – Ties of Blood and Affection (Sofaburn SBR2-032)

Opening your album with the line “laid up in the house full of hookers and wine” is a pretty good way to get the listener’s attention, but you still have to keep it. And, on this, his second release, the Kentucky country singer-songwriter does that effortlessly, both on that opening ...
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THE MINING CO. – Mountain Fires (own label)

As is increasingly fashionable these days, The Mining Co. is a one man band, although I believe he was once a trio, and that man is Michael Gallagher. Mountain Fires is his second album. The record’s packaging is pretty minimal so I have no idea who else is playing but ...
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THE EAST POINTERS – What We Leave Behind (East Pointers Music EPCD17)

A trio from Canada’s East Coast, fiddler and nasally-voiced singer Tim Chaisson, banjo player Koady Chaisson and guitarist Jake Charron serve up bluegrassy songs and instrumentals in equal measure, the former getting What We Leave Behind rolling with a medley of the moodily atmospheric banjo-led ‘Tanglewood’ and the more spirited ...
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THE RAILS – There Are Other People In This World Not Just You (The Orchard PSYCHED CD010)

Their debut album Fair Warning, being one of the finest folk albums of 2014, expectations were high for a follow-up from Kami Thompson and James Walbourne. They have been matched and, in some cases, exceeded. As you’ll be well aware Thompson is the daughter of Richard and Linda and, as ...
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JOOST DE LANGE’S ROCK BLUES EXPERIENCE – Live In Antwerp (own label)

Joost de Lange, though well known as guitarist with Zeeland band Yes You Did (among others), has fairly recently emerged as a vocalist/guitarist with his own band Joost de Lange's Rock/Blues Experience, also featuring Mitchell Goor on bass and Ramses Donvil on drums. The band's latest CD is Live In ...
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Edgelarks – Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin – New Album and Remaining Tour Dates

We were recently treated to the hatching of Edgelarks (the new name for duo Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin) at the Southdowns Folk Festival in Bognor Regis last Sunday evening. The name change also spearheads the launch of the new album by the same name that is released 6.10.17. The ...
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SHAKE THE CHAINS – Shake The Chains (Quercus Records QRCD003)

Even supposing you knew nothing about this album, a quick glance down the track listing would instantly identify Shake The Chains as a politically conscious project. A new generation of protest songs sit comfortably alongside some old standards. Despite Edwyn Collins’ complaint in ‘A Girl Like You’ about “too many ...
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DARREN BLACK – Wisperau (own label DBCD005)

Darren Black is not a man to repeat himself. His previous album was inspired by his boyhood in industrial south Wales but Wisperau is a meditation on the seasons in rural Hampshire where he now lives. I suppose that every songwriter feels compelled to do something of the sort at ...
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TOMMY GUIHEN – The Torn Jacket (Cló lar-Chonnacht ClCD 204)

Tommy Guihen has been making music since players in ceilidh bands wore ties and he is an acknowledged master of the North Connaught flute style – the same region that brought forth Matt Molloy. Tommy won the senior all-Ireland flute title in 1978 but for all his experience The Torn ...
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THE EVERYDAY SINNERS – Shakedown (Coll 051)

The lead singer is called Jack Cade, after the man who led a rebellion to end government corruption in 1450, and it’s no surprise that some of the songs on Shakedown, the new album by The Everyday Sinners, have a strong political message. The style is vibrant, by turn driving ...
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BLUE ROSE CODE – The Water Of Leith (Navigator NAVIGATOR103)

Blue Rose Code, aka Ross Wilson, has a deservedly growing reputation, with luminaries as diverse as Edith Bowman, Ewan McGregor and Ian Rankin among his fans. Time Out described the music as “Imagine John Martyn meeting a young Van Morrison and being shipwrecked with bundle of Chet Baker records." The ...
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PILGRIMS’ WAY – Stand & Deliver (Talking Cat Records TCCD1748)

There has been a change along the Pilgrims' Way. Lead vocalist Lucy Wright has moved on and in her place has come singer and maestro of reeds and wind, Jude Rees, formerly known as The Littlest Oboe during her time with Isambarde. Jude brings the band’s complement of instruments to ...
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JOLIE HOLLAND & SAMANTHA PARTON – Wildflower Blues (Cinquefoil Records CINQ-CD-017)

If you’re struggling to remember, Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton are former members of the wonderful Be Good Tanyas, the exact status of whom is currently uncertain. Jolie actually left the band before their debut album was released but she is now reunited with Samantha for Wildflower Blues, their debut ...
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HEAD FOR THE HILLS – Potions And Poisons (Head For The Hills)

Despite a slightly altered line up (with original mandolinist, Mike Chappell departing to pursue other endeavours) the Colorado-based quartet, Head For The Hills, are back with another album, in the form of the self-produced and self-released, Potions And Poisons, which will be available from November 1st. While its predecessor, Blue ...
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SATUO – Earned (Lindo LINDO 044)

Satuo is an Austrian folk-rock quintet although you wouldn’t pick out their nationality until about half-way through when they switch from English. And maybe the hint of lead vocalist Laura Maria Korhonen’s accent. And perhaps the way that they mix styles in a way that a British or US band ...
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ELLIOTT BROOD – Ghost Gardens (Paper Bag Paper114)

Not an individual artist, but the collective name of an Ontario trio who play fizzed up roots Americana with a poppy edge, Ghost Gardens is their sixth album but the songs themselves come from a stash of lost demos recorded some fifteen years ago, now revisited with a new lick ...
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MARRY WATERSON & DAVID A. JAYCOCK – Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love (One Little Indian Records TPLP1419CDP)

Marry Waterson and David A. Jaycock release their second album as a duo, Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love, on the 29th of September 2017. Sadly, the promotional copy of the CD I received didn't include information on who else played what, but I understand from Marry's web site that ...
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GARETH DAVIES-JONES – The Beauty & The Trouble (own label HWM013)

Although probably better known in the Christian music circle, the Tyneside-based singer-songwriter’s music is not bounded by its religious backdrop. His first full album in three years, this is an easy rolling collection of gently strummed or fingerpicked acoustic folksiness and thoughtful, reflective songs about the world in which we ...
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MIKE BROOKFIELD – Brookfield (Golden Rule Records GRCD003)

Mike Brookfield has followed up his debut album Love Breaks The Fall with a blues-soaked CD simply and eponymously titled Brookfield, due for release on September 22nd. Mike's own web site describes the CD as "11 tracks of burnin' blues rock", which is not a bad description: he clearly knows ...
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WILLIE WATSON – Folksinger Vol.2 (Acony ACNY1714)

Formerly part of the Old Crow Medicine Show and currently a member of the David Rawlings Machine, the grainy-voiced LA-based folkie follows up his solo debut, Folksinger Vol.1 with an appropriately sequentially titled sequel. Produced by Rawlings, again he digs deep into American folk music for his material, some of ...
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BRUCE COCKBURN – Bone On Bone (True North TND 678)

Having released twenty-four studio albums, starting with his self-titled 1970 debut, at almost yearly intervals, the acclaimed Canadian singers-songwriter found himself hitting a creative block following 2011’s Small Source of Comfort, partly from the distraction of becoming a father again and partly because he’d poured all his energy into penning ...
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GALLERY 47 – Adversity Breeds (Bad Production Records)

Gallery 47 might sound like a high street card shop, but is the working name adopted by prolific singer-songwriter, Jack Peachey. Originally Nottingham-based, he relocated to London, has already released three well-received albums and toured with the likes of Paul Weller and Ian McCulloch (to name but two). Adversity Breeds ...
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PETE McCLELLAND – Carolina Sky (Hobgoblin Records HOBCD1016)

Although a co-founder of Hobgoblin Music and a member of several different folk bands, Pete McClelland has only just released an album in his own right. Inspired by nearly forty years of Stateside road trips soundtracked by country music, McClelland describes Carolina Sky as a “real and imagined journey across ...
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THE BARA BARA BAND – The Seeds Inside (The Grapes Upon The Vine) (Singaround Records Sing06)

From the opening rolling guitar of ‘Mists Of Time’, The Bara Bara Band’s second album, The Seeds Inside (The Grapes Upon The Vine), makes itself comfortably at home. The album’s (rather lengthy) title derives from this first song with its Appalachian-influenced jaunty fiddle/banjo interplay and its celebration of heritage and ...
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MARK OLSON – Spokeswoman Of The Bright Sun (Glitterhouse GRCD918)

Co-founder of seminal alt-country pioneers The Jayhawks and subsequently the Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers, you would naturally expect Mark Olson’s new project with wife Ingunn Ringvold, who did the string arrangements as well as playing chamberlin, mellotron and qanon, to plough a similar Americana furrow. However, Spokeswoman of the ...
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HEATHER LYNNE HORTON – Don’t Mess With Mrs. Murphy (At The Helm)

One half of The Westies alongside husband Michael McDermott, like him Horton also has a solo career, one which, aided and abetted by multi-instrumentalist Lex Price, she resumes here with her strongly feminist fuelled second album about women addressing the struggle of reconciling their multiple roles with the search for ...
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