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.

STEVE LOGAN – Backstreets Of Eden (Moondragon Records SLOG 025)

Steve Logan is a welsh songwriter and musician now living in and working from Cambridge, UK, who is, as his website puts it, “working across the borderline between acoustic folk and hard-edged, high-octane rock. A song-poet, he focuses on the point where music and poetry meet”. His new album, Backstreets ...
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KYLE CAREY – The Art Of Forgetting (Riverboat Records TUG 1109)

The Art Of Forgetting is Kyle Carey’s third album. Carey describes her style as ‘Gaelic Americana’. ‘Gaelic Americana’ is a fusion of Celtic and Appalachian musical traditions – and if that sounds odd, it’s worth understanding the depth of Carey’s musical knowledge: a Fulbright Fellowship to begin her study of ...
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CORRIE SHELLEY – The Leaf And The Cane (Own Label CSSSMCD002)

You know how it is, you spend 30 years busy doing other life stuff away from music, then seemingly effortlessly drop two self-composed albums within the space of a year. Corrie Shelley certainly knows how that goes, since her second album The Leaf And The Cane hit the shops late ...
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DAN HARTLAND – Great Novels (own label DH004)

In many ways Great Novels is a companion piece to the Amit Dattani solo debut, both of them hailing from Birmingham and sharing a love of folk, blues and country, indeed opening number ‘Leaving Sodom’, a song about learning to let go (“If you hang on to what you have ...
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LUCIA COMNES – Held In The Arms (Delfina DR386-LC09)

Her fifth album and only the second to feature all original material, Held In The Arms, Comnes’ follow-up to 2015’s Love, Hope & Tyranny, again produced in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and sometime co-writer Gawain Mathews, is another Americana package of folk, blues and country, this time with songs centred around ...
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The Grahams – New limited 7 inch and UK Tour Dates

Vibrant Nashville-based Americana duo The Grahams (pronounced Grams) announce extensive February-March 2018 UK tour previewing material from two eagerly anticipated projects due later this year – their new studio album produced by Richard Swift (Black Keys, Arcs, Shins), and continuing their adventurous exploration of the USA - this time around ...
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MIRIAM COOKE – Freefalling (First Night)

A former fashion model turned archaeologist, actress, broadcaster, folk singer and, er baboon stylist, raised in an Irish farming community, Cooke trades in a very British acoustic folk pop with a voice that’s earned her comparisons to the young Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, Kate Bush and Sandy Denny, her songs ...
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MIKE REINSTEIN – Acts Of Love (Irregular Records IRR110)

Mike Reinstein is a singer-songwriter-guitarist from Sussex and his songs are usually literate, thoughtful and, indeed, thought-provoking. I’m pleased to say that Acts Of Love is no exception. The album title itself is cleverly open to interpretation but the opening track leaves us in no doubt as to Mike’s message ...
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AMIT DATTANI – Santiago (own label AD001)

One half of the Mellow Peaches, Amit Dattani, will release his debut solo Long-Player on March 4th. While much of the Peaches’ output is somewhere in the country-blues vein, it is not too surprising that Santiago, Dattani’s solo offering, is not too different. Eight out of the album’s ten tracks ...
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GERI VAN ESSEN – A New Hiding Place (own label)

Coming to folk music by way of children’s choirs in the Netherlands, now based in East London, van Essen is gifted with a gentle, pure at times slightly quivering vocal that, on occasion, reminds me of Kate McGarrigle. A New Hiding Place, her debut album (she released a single recording ...
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ÚNA MONAGHAN – For (own label)

Belfast’s Úna Monaghan is a harper, a composer and an exponent of electronic soundscapes – her description – and she combines those talents on her debut solo album, For. The title incidentally comes from the fact that most of the tracks are written for someone. Needless to say this is ...
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FALSE LIGHTS – Harmonograph (Wreckord Label FL003)

The second crop of fruit from the joint project between Sam Carter and Jim Moray brings in Stuart Provan on drums and adds Archie Churchill-Moss’s melodeon to Tom Moore’s violin with Barnaby Stradling on bass. As with their Salvor debut, it’s rooted in traditional folk songs given a contemporary and ...
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KEITH KENDRICK & SYLVIA NEEDHAM – Shine On (WildGoose WGS 423 CD)

If you like your folk music robust and uncluttered, you probably have, in your collection, at least one album by Keith Kendrick and his partner Sylvia Needham. Shine On is very much a reflection of their live act; a mixture of traditional and written songs by friends old and new, ...
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MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT – Like A Radio (MIG MIG02023)

Matthews Southern Comfort – that’s a name we haven’t heard for a while and, to be honest, I’m not sure why we’re hearing it now. If you remember the MSC that had their greatest hit with ‘Woodstock’ featuring Gordon Huntley’s pedal steel – this isn’t them. If you remember Iain’s ...
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THE LYNNeS – Heartbreak Song For The Radio (The LYNNEs Records TLR 2018-01)

Although they’ve shared a stage several times and written songs together over the past ten years, fellow Canadians Lynne Miles and Lynne Hanson haven’t actually recorded together. That oversight’s rectified with this debut album, Heartbreak Song For The Radio, one that plays to their shared strengths in, as the title ...
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JOSIE DUNCAN & PABLO LAFUENTE – The Morning Tempest (Own Label JDP2018CD)

The Morning Tempest, the debut album from Josie Duncan and Pablo Lafuente follows on from their 2016 EP, Half Of What You See. Arising, as is increasingly the case these days, from out of a successful crowdfunding campaign, it serves to illustrate the enormous amount of interest in this duo ...
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REG MEUROSS – Songs About A Train (Hatsongs HAT012)

A companion piece of sorts to 2011’s The Dreamed And The Drowned in that it’s another limited edition (1000) collection of previously unreleased material, the tracks here spanning 2013-2017 and, as with its predecessor, Songs About A Train while not conceived as a unified album, the quality of the writing ...
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JOHN OATES with the Good Road Band – Arkansas (PS Records PSR006CD)

After 46 years of making blue eyed soul, both as half of Hall & Oates and as a solo performer, John Oates has gone Americana, making the record he says he’s always wanted to make. Quite why it’s taken him so long is a matter of conjecture, but now that ...
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RICHARD KNOTT – Long Story Short (Solid Thumb Music STCD1801)

There are times when a record like Long Story Short is just what you need to drive the blues away, which is odd because there a few blues tracks included. Richard Knott is a songwriter, a singer and a bloody good guitarist. In fact, the only thing that might improve ...
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BETH NIELSEN CHAPMAN – Hearts of Glass (BNC BNCCD006)

Her twelfth solo album (she also released Liv On, a collection of healing songs with Olivia Newton-John and Amy Sky in 2016), this is her first new material since The Mighty Sky six years ago and also the first where she’s handed over complete control of production to someone else, ...
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LORI WATSON – Yarrow Acoustic Sessions (Isle Music Scotland ISLE05CD)

If the word you usually associate with the Scots is “dour” ‘I’m afraid this album may reinforce your prejudices. As I understand it Yarrow Acoustic Sessions is the prequel to a full album – working drawings if you will. Lori is supported by Duncan Lyall, who also produced the record, ...
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STICK IN THE WHEEL – Follow Them True (From Here)

Let me start by confessing that I never quite took to their hugely acclaimed 2015 debut, but the arrival of their English Folk Field Recordings collaborative project prompted a reassessment and, with the arrival of their own second album, I’ve become a decided convert. I won’t bother going over the ...
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JOHN FORRESTER – Restless (Irregular Records IRR109)

John Forrester is a singer, a songwriter, an ace double bass player and the sort of chap that everybody in the business knows. Restless is his fourth solo album but his first working with a producer, Roy Dodds. With a small group of supporting musicians, Dodds has constructed a rich, ...
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CAITLIN KING – Flower Crown (SoSlam)

Musicians, like policemen, are looking younger and there is a new young musician on the beat.  Southend-on-Sea based Caitlin King has only just turned 16 and has released a début EP Flower Crown which shows a lot of promise. Caitlin has been writing since she was 12 and it's encouraging ...
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RED PINE TIMBER CO. – Sorry For The Good Times (GOLDCD016)

On January 26th Red Pine Timber Company released their second album Sorry For The Good Times. The band are based in Perth (the Scottish one) and play a vibrant Americana. They were formed in 2009 by Gavin Munro, originally as a loose collection of musicians and songwriters. They have evolved ...
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MAEVE MACKINNON – Strì (Own Label, MM003)

Launched this weekend as part of Celtic Connections 2018, comes Maeve Mackinnon’s third studio album, Strì (meaning “strive”). After a couple of years of touring with Stepcrew and others, Mackinnon returns to home turf with an album of songs with a distinctly female perspective. Inspired by Mackinnon’s love of waulking ...
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SALT HOUSE – Undersong (Make Believe MBR7CD)

There have been changes in the Salt House with Jenny Sturgeon joining Ewan MacPherson and Lauren MacColl and having a big impact as songwriter and lead vocalist alongside Ewan. What hasn’t changed is their use of literature as well as traditional sources to inspire their music. Undersong is only their ...
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WHITE ROOKS – I See Fairisies (Chalk Horse Music)

First up, some history. Back in 1999, singer Liz Overs and future husband producer Darren Pearson, who first performed together as Eastbourne-based outfit The Hit Troop, were a poppy house music duo who, signed to Atlantic as Pocket Size, released the 100% Human album from which ‘Walking’ became #1 on ...
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BRONA McVITTIE – Live at the Tea House Theatre, Vauxhall, London

London is a city divided by the Thames, so “heading south of The River” always adds a little something to an occasion.  In this case it was only just south, to the Tea House Theatre based in an old Victorian public house that opened in 1886 on the site of ...
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Sarah McQuaid CD launch tour – 25th January 2018

While I've been living in West Cornwall for nearly two years now, and have checked out some local open mics and even a folk club or two, I hadn't managed to get to a Proper Concert until now, when Sarah McQuaid launched her new album , If We Dig Any ...
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HC McENTIRE –Lionheart (Merge MERG602)

While still fronting Mount Moriah, Heather McEntire has taken time out to record a solo album, Lionheart, recorded in the living room of her house and featuring guitarist Phil Cook and Mount Moriah bassist Casey Toll, but otherwise predominantly female musicians, among them Amy Ray, Tift Merritt and Angel Olsen, ...
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MIKE TURNBULL – Circlet Of Gold (own label)

I started to listen to Circlet Of Gold and got so wrapped up in the opening track that I had do some research and by the time I’d done that I had to start listening again. No bad thing, actually. Mike Turnbull is a singer-songwriter from the Lake District whose ...
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DOUGIE MacLEAN – New Tomorrow (Dunkeld Records DUNCD039)

There they are: the familiar ringing guitar, the unmistakeable melodic cadences. The last Dougie MacLean album I got was his 40th anniversary concert set, Till Tomorrow, and I wonder if that day has arrived in the form of his latest CD. Perhaps not: the songs are a mixture of great ...
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WINTER WILSON – Far Off On The Horizon (own label, WWCD009)

Winter Wilson’s eighth album, Far Off On The Horizon, does not do showy or flashy. It just calmly and confidently insinuates its way into the "it’s a keeper!" section of the CD collection, song by well-crafted song. And each song is most artfully put together with thoughtful lyrics and fully-formed ...
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MARY GAUTHIER – Rifles & Rosary Beads (Proper PRCD145)

Founded by Darden Smith some five years ago, SongwritingWith: Soldiers is a charitable organisation that brings together musicians and often wounded (physically, spiritually and mentally) veterans, those still in active service and their families in a short retreat to write songs of an Americana persuasion together in an attempt to ...
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YVONNE LYON – Metanoia (own label)

Metanoia is Yvonne Lyon’s eighth album and is a mixture old tracks revisited and brand new tracks. The collection opens with an Americana track laced with a helping of bluegrass: ‘Where The Poor Find Gold’. It is a good opener with a moderately lively tempo, and my pick of the ...
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TRENT MILLER – Time Between Us (Bucketfull Of Brains BOB801)

Trent Miller's new CD Time Between Us, due for release on 16th March 2018, as yet has no mention that I could find on his own web site or that of his record company, so I guess it's very hot off the press. However, it appears that he originally hails ...
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ERIC ANDERSEN – Silent Angel: Fire and Ashes of Heinrich Böll (Meyer Records no. 221)

Since The Cologne Concert LP in 2011, Eric Andersen’s output on the Meyer label has been prolific to say the least; and only months since releasing an album dedicated to the works of Lord Byron, here he is again with Silent Angel: Fire and Ashes of Heinrich Böll. As the ...
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BRICKWORK LIZARDS – Haneen (Lazima Records)

You probably couldn’t invent the way this band came about - but the results are very impressive and the beginning is entirely in keeping with the eclecticism of the music. Ten years ago, Egyptian vocalist and oud-player Tarik Beshir met Oxford rap scene stalwart Tom O’Hawk after a chance encounter ...
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THE SILVER DARLINGS – Something Of The Sound (Anklebreka Records AR0017)

Something Of The Sound is the second album released by The Silver Darlings, following the Souls in 2011. The band are from Sheffield and have undergone various changes (having originally been more of a loose co-operative). At its heart, and the band’s songwriter, is Andy Whitehouse. Since 2016 The Silver ...
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WILDE ROSES – Wilde Roses (Blood & Desire BNDR02CD)

The Wilde Roses CD, by the duo of the same name and due for release on January 26th 2018, is a two-dimensional snapshot of the work of two multi-dimensional performers: multi-instrumentalists, singers, composers and dancers Anna Tam and Emily Alice Ovenden. Many of the songs actually folkier than the archaic ...
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NAOMI BEDFORD & PAUL SIMMONDS – Songs My Ruiner Gave To Me (Dusty Willow DWR004)

“Concerning Love, Madness & Obsession” is what is says.  I’m never sure what to expect from Naomi Bedford but I’m not sure that this was it. Songs My Ruiner Gave To Me sort of picks up on Tales From The Weeping Willow except that it’s more Americana, verging on C&W ...
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ASH GRAY – Chicken Wire (Labelship Records – LC24628)

Despite being something of a veteran on various indie circuits – on two continents, no less – Chicken Wire is only the second solo album by Ash Gray. As a native of Austin, Texas and a resident of Sheffield, England, Gray manages to bring both surroundings together on this Long ...
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ZOE MULFORD – Small Brown Birds (Azalea City ACCD 1701)

Originally from Philadelphia, singer, songwriter, guitarist and much-praised clawhammer banjo-player Zoe Mulford now lives (sometimes) in Manchester. She is currently on tour with Tom Kitching whose fiddle plays a major role in the sound of this record. Small Brown Birds is Zoe’s fifth album, mostly original songs with two covers ...
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SARAH McQUAID – If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (Shovel And A Spade Records SAASCD001)

Ian Semple, whose radio programme on CoastFM specializes in promoting artists with a connection to Cornwall, describes Sarah McQuaid's new CD If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (due for release on February 2nd 2018) as 'pure brilliance' and 'without doubt one of her finest…'. As this is ...
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ALICE DIMICELE – One With The Tide (Alice Otter Music AO114)

Born in New Jersey, but a long time resident of South Oregon, DiMicele has fourteen albums to her name, all released via her own independent label, and plays what she terms an Organic Acoustic Groove. Roughly translated, that takes Folk-Americana and wraps it in a heady cocktail of jazz and ...
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BENYARO – One Step Ahead Of Your Past (own label)

Benyaro is the musical vehicle of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ben Musser from the mountain resort town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He is partnered by Leif Routman on double bass and Brian Geltner on drums and percussion – ostensibly an acoustic trio but sounding much bigger. One Step Ahead Of Your ...
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NO THEE NO ESS – California (Folkwit Records)

No Thee No Ess are a unique Cardiff duo comprising Andy Fung and Paul Battenbough who just so happened to have released their most recent Long Player at the tail-end of last year. California draws from a range of influences from the American West Coast; including the folk-rock/ singer songwriter ...
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KEEGAN McINROE – A Good Old Fashioned Protest (own label)

Last year saw a welcome return of the protest album and it’s good to see the momentum hasn’t slowed, Texas-based McInroe getting 2018 off to a suitably barbed start with this sparsely arranged nine-track collection of observations and commentary on the state of the world. Recalling both the satirical bent ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Transports – A Tale Of Exile And Migration (Hudson Records HUD007LP/CD)

Tom Paxton once remarked about one of his songs that it originally sounded as if it had been written a century ago, but that he no longer considered that a virtue. Fortunately, Peter Bellamy had no problem with "telling it like it was". His ballad opera The Transports was, in ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James (Sylvan Songs Records)

Taking its name in part from a James song, Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James reworks thirteen well- and lesser-known James songs in homage to his lasting influence on not just the blues, but far beyond. To do justice to the roll-call of first-rate musicians appearing on this album ...
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CIRCUMNAVIGATE – When Worlds Collide (Own Label)

The members of Circumnavigate are from Sandvika, Norway and from London, so it’s not unnatural that this band has a particular interest in making music about the meeting of cultures, communities and people. When Worlds Collide, a twelve-track Kickstarter-funded project, is the band’s debut outing, although they have been a ...
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ALASH – Achai (Smithsonian Folkways SWF 40578)

For the geographically challenged – and I include myself – the Tuvan Republic is an independent area of Siberia bordering Mongolian and Kazakhstan. It’s traditional music is based around throat singing with stringed or blown instruments and percussion and Alash are a trio of musicians: Ayan Shirizhik, and Bady-Dorzhu Ondar ...
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MUIREANN NIC AMHLAOIBH – Foxglove & Fuchsia (own label MUNA 002)

Foxglove & Fuchsia is actually the third solo album by former Danú lead singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh. The first, Fainne an Lae, was released in 2006 and the second, Ar Uair Bhig an Lae, reached us in 2012. Muireann comes from the Dingle peninsula where she still lives and describes ...
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ZETOR IN THE KAILYARD – Collateral (own label ZITK001)

Zetor In The Kailyard are a multi-instrumental duo – Kate Babcock and Roddy Johnston – and when I say “multi” I really do mean multi. Collateral is their debut album and the subject of the title and the music here is the fallout of conflict: refugees and immigration and, from ...
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THE PHIL LANGRAN BAND – The Distance (Folkwit Records f0145)

The Phil Langran Band have released The Distance, their fourth album. The music is based around Langran’s acoustic guitar and (predominantly) self-penned songs but brings in both a range of other acoustic instruments and some gentle electric guitar on occasion. The songs reflect Langran’s knowledge of poetic tradition and seem ...
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BETH WIMMER – Bookmark (own label)

Raised on America’s east coast with her poet mother and folk-singing grandfather before moving to Los Angeles, Wimmer’s been based in Switzerland for several years, although Bookmark, her fourth album and the first in six years, was primarily recorded in Lichtenstein and Austria, co produced by Billy Watts from the ...
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JACK BRETT – Plays The Blues And Other Melodic Misfortunes (JBR Records)

When I lived in South Shropshire I saw and heard quite a lot of Jack Brett, and knew him to be a seriously talented practitioner of the guitar (especially slide guitar), much in demand locally as a soloist, as an accompanist and with the bands Red Madog and Blue Moon ...
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CHRIS STOUT & CATRIONA McKAY – Bare Knuckle (own label)

It’s been seven years since Fiddler’s Bid duo Chris Stout and Catriona McKay released White Nights. They haven’t wasted the time of course: two albums with other collaborators and lots of touring have brought them to this point and Bare Knuckle takes up pretty much where they left off in ...
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SOPHIA JOHNSON – One Year (own label)

When I reviewed Hannah Johnson’s solo debut a few months back, I was unaware that her sister, Sophia, had also released her debut back in 2016, with One Year getting an international release in 2017. Both were, of course, two thirds of Birmingham-based bluegrass outfit The Toy Hearts along with ...
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