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.

PURCELL’S POLYPHONIC PARTY – An Invitation To Dance (WetFootMusic WFM170901)

A musician once commented on social media that the word he hated seeing in a review was “interesting”. I was as guilty as anyone and resolved to stop using it but have to say that An Invitation To Dance is a very interesting concept. Purcell’s Polyphonic Party combines the instrumental ...
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ANGE HARDY – Bring Back Home (Story Records STREC 1701)

Ange Hardy’s new album Bring Back Home was released on November 28th. For the past few years, she has had nominations and awards a-plenty, both for her music and most recently her radio programme, Folk Findings. If you’ve not come across Ange Hardy before (I was surprised recently to find ...
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PETER FERGUS McCLELLAND – The Turn Of The Tide (Hobgoblin HOBCD1017)

Pete McClelland, if I may be so familiar to address him thus, has had a busy year. This is his second solo album of 2017 to sit alongside his contributions to Hobgoblin’s 40th anniversary collection. The Turn Of The Tide began as a stage show performed at Cornwall Folk Festival ...
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ROB CORCORAN & THE NECESSARY EVILS – Inverse Alchemy (Sullen Link)

There is something instantly appealing about Rob Corcoran & The Necessary Evils' debut album, Inverse Alchemy. Its songs are honest, relatable, lived, and the musicianship is almost without fault, making for a fantastically constructed piece of art. From the fiddle-laden, opener ‘Downtime Waltz’ to closing ballad ‘Pub On The Hill’, ...
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DAVID BOTTING – Heart Beat (Haven Records)

Heart Beat is the debut album from singer songwriter David Botting. Hard times in life can be the inspiration for many great songs, as David certainly knows. David has been playing guitar for as long as he can remember, but started writing songs while he became unwell with heart failure ...
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LUKE DANIELS – Singing Ways To Feel More Junior (Gael Records GAEL017)

Singing Ways To Feel More Junior by Luke Daniels, is a wonderfully eclectic collection of a dozen songs, most of which are Daniels’ originals. It goes in many different directions (occasionally at the same time) and presents shades of folk, funk, blues, jazz and Americana, and while some of the ...
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ROSS AINSLIE – Sanctuary (Great White Records, GWR005CD)

If there’s a more intensely personal album release this year than Ross Ainslie’s third album, Sanctuary, it would be hard to find. It’s a conceptual piece, a celebration of five sober years - no mean feat in the musician’s world, where it’s always pub o’clock somewhere. Ainslie’s well-known as a ...
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MATTHEW ROBB – Spirit In The Form (Wabisabi Music WAB 30)

Matthew Robb is a UK singer-songwriter based in Cologne in Germany. His latest release is Spirit In The Form with nine self-composed songs. He is accompanied by James Bragg, on electric guitar and harp, and Dave Murrell on bass, with other guest musicians on individual tracks. The album has the ...
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INDIA ELECTRIC CO. – Seven Sisters (Shoelay Music SHMU32)

The only thing wrong with this record is that there isn’t enough of it; only six tracks even though one of them is long. Many readers will be familiar with India Electric Co but for those who haven’t yet had that good fortune let me fill you in. They are ...
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THE NOVEL IDEAS – The Novel Ideas (own label)

Take a quartet of friends from Massachusetts, a clutch of guitars and a pedal steel, set them to work on their four-part harmonies, simmer gently for around 5 years and, voilà, it’s The Novel Ideas. Although this new, self-titled album is not their first, it does seem to represent a ...
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Show of Hands at Wells Cathedral – Friday 3rd November 2017

Almost exactly seven years have passed since Show of Hands last appeared before an audience at Wells Cathedral; an interval of time that many would conclude has seen the world become an ever-more uncertain and unpredictable place. In these days when the news amounts to a cavalcade of increasingly unsettling ...
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THE DEPORTEES – The Birth Of Industry (own label DEP-001)

The Deportees are a five piece band from the Aberdeen area and The Birth Of Industry is their debut album. They make a big, powerful sound full of pounding drums, crashing piano chords, organ, electric guitar and four-part harmonies. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure this record ...
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PEATBOG FAERIES – Live@25 (Peatbog Records CDBOG008)

The Peatbog Faeries new album, Live@25 is only their second foray into live recording in their long career, the other being 2009’s Live. As the title indicates, this return to the live format is a celebration of the band’s quarter-century anniversary - an impressive longevity by any standards. Recorded at ...
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SINGLES BAR 25

A round-up of recent EPs and singles with compliments of the season WOLFNOTE are a new trio from Berkshire making their debut with an EP, Frightened Of Your Own F#. The three female members, Bex, Gill and Ceri, have strong voices and harmonise well and between them play guitar, violin, ...
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THE WAILIN’ JENNYS – Fifteen (True North Records TND 683)

On January 5th 2018, The Wailin’ Jennys release their first new recording for six years. The album, Fifteen, is a celebration of a musical partnership lasting fifteen years. The trio – Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse – have brought together nine of their favourite songs and the result ...
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THE LOST NOTES – Run Free Right Now (own label TLN01)

A self-deprecating acoustic folk roots five piece from Moseley in Birmingham, guitarists Ben Mills and Oli Jobes and Charlize Theron lookalike Lucy Mills provide the vocals with Silas Wood on double bass duties and Jamie Human behind the drums, they’ve been going for a couple of years and Run Free ...
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CHRISTY MOORE – On The Road (Sony Music/Frontline)

Neither a greatest hits collection nor a conventional concert album, On The Road sits somewhere between the two. Here are two dozen of Christy best and most popular songs recorded at seventeen venues in Ireland and the UK over the past three years. The double-CD set opens with a mighty ...
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DAVID NEWEY – Unfold (own label)

David Newey releases Unfold on December 18th with a solo launch event in Camden followed by a full band launch in Newcastle on December 22nd. Newey is …er… new to me but it’s easy to see why previous releases in 2009 and 2012 were well-received. Unfold follows in the same ...
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BELLA HARDY – Hey Sammy (Noe NOE10)

Her ninth solo outing, this is very much Hardy’s ‘pop’ album, a dramatic change in sound an style resulting from a brief relocation to Nashville and a seven-week residency in Kumming in Southwest China (which itself gave rise to Eternal Spring earlier this year, a live collection of song and ...
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KATE RUSBY – Angels & Men (Pure PRCD44)

Bringing the 25th anniversary of her music career to date to a sparkling finale, Kate Rusby sees the year out with Angels & Men, her fourth Christmas album, again featuring a collection of predominantly South Yorkshire carols, but, this time, produced by husband Damien O’Kane with what she calls “an ...
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THE COMPANY OF PLAYERS – Shakespeare Songs (own label)

The Company of Players is an assemblage of young musicians brought together at the behest of Jess Distill of Said The Maiden, in order to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 2016 by putting together some songs related to his life and work. And one of the fruits ...
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KARINE POLWART – A Pocket of Wind Resistance (Hudson HUDOO5)

Originally conceived as the musical accompaniment to her theatrical debut production of the same name in collaboration with sound designer Pippa Murphy, this now takes on independent life as an album in its own right. Inspired by watching the migration of some two thousand geese to Fara Flow, a peat ...
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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 grief, ...
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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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