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.

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

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

England's premier folk duo Show of Hands, once described as “the most famous unknown band in Britain”, brought the house down at the Royal Albert Hall on Easter Sunday with a ‘pull all the stops out’ show marking their milestone 25th year. Singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi instrumental wizard ...
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PETE COE – The Man In The Red Van (Backshift BASH CD 63)

Pete Coe is one of the old guard, one of the last. He’s been in this business for more than forty-five years and still has all the moves. I expected The Man In The Red Van to be something of a political work, akin to It’s A Mean Old Scene ...
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TRADARRR – Further Tales Of Love! Death! And Treachery! (Hedge Of Sound HOS25)

Between their first and second albums Mark Jolley left has Tradarrr to be replaced by Tim Harries (more serious folk-rock credentials) and Phil Bond has moved on with his place taken by singer, fiddler and pianist Gemma Shirley. Thus Further Tales Of Love! Death! And Treachery! sees a seven-piece band ...
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NIGEL STONIER – Love And Work (Shameless SHAME017)

Nigel Stonier is probably best known as a producer and a man who writes songs with and for other people so it came as a surprise to discover that Love And Work is his sixth solo album but not that it’s a work of great class. I suppose that you ...
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BOO HEWERDINE – Swimming in Mercury (REVEAL072CDX)

Boo Hewerdine’s new album Swimming In Mercury will be released on April 28th and the single ‘Satellite Town’ on April 21st. He has a pedigree which stretches back more than thirty years and is acclaimed as one of the UK’s best songwriters: ‘Patience Of Angels’ was nominated for an Ivor ...
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ELEPHANT SESSIONS – All We Have Is Now (Elephant Sessions CDTES02)

This CD, All We Have Is Now, recently released by Elephant Sessions has nine exceptional tracks. Each one is a masterpiece of arrangements and instrumental skills. Many of the tracks are over five minutes long and should be described as ‘productions’. However, I find it difficult to place their music ...
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JON PALMER ACOUSTIC BAND – The Silences In Between (own label)

Will someone please explain why Otley’s finest folk-rock band are not huge stars. The Silences In Between is their third studio album – there’s also a rocking live set – and is as good as anything they’ve done. There’s plenty to enjoy here. ‘I Don’t Know’ is about love as ...
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BEAU –When Butterflies Scream (Cherry Red BEAUWBS1)

What with the likes of Steve Pledger and Will Varley the last couple of years have seen quite a resurgence in the protest song album on the UK’s contemporary folk/Americana circuit, but some have been doing this for years. I’ve written about Trevor Midgley aka Beau on these pages before ...
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EMILY MAE WINTERS – Siren Serenade (own label EMW 02)

Co-produced by Josienne Clarke’s musical other half, Ben Walker, and Laura Marling knob-twiddler Lauren Deakin-Davies, following on from her Foreign Waters EP (which Walker also produced and which earned her a Folking Awards Rising Star nomination), Siren Serenade is the debut album from Cambridge-based singer-songwriter, poetry enthusiast and sometime theatre ...
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ROVING CROWS – Bury Me Naked (own label RC008)

Based around Worcestershire and Gloucestershire they may be, but with fiddle player Caitlin Barrett and guitarist Paul O’Neil sharing vocals, Loz Shaw on bass, keys vocals guitars, clarinet and banjolina and Tim Downes-Hall on a variety of ethnic hand percussion, Roving Crows are very much of a Celtic folk rock ...
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CALAN – Solomon (Sain Records SCD2749)

I was a little nervous about reviewing the CD Solomon by the Welsh band Calan, released on 14th April. After all, it's been more decades than I care to think about since, as a student in North Wales, I picked up a few words of Cymraeg, and those few words ...
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MARK NEVIN – My Unfashionable Opinion (Raresongs Recordings MARKNCD005)

Some of you might be asking ‘What’s Mark Nevin got to do with folk music? Folk music should be traditional or nothing’. Others might say ‘No. Folk music should be expressing new ideas and challenging the establishment view’. And that, in microcosm, is the point of the title track of ...
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CHRISTY SCOTT – Amaranthine (Christy Scott Music CSMO1EP)

Amaranthine is a terrific five track EP released by Christy Scott. She has written all five of the songs and selected a well-respected group of musicians to support her. Christy has a great voice and had created a really enjoyable EP. However, I am having difficulty categorising it. Neither the ...
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BATTLEFIELD BAND – The Producer’s Choice (Temple COMD2108)

In late 2016 Battlefield Band was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall Of Fame which gave their long-time producer Robin Morton the excuse, if excuse were needed, to celebrate. Hence The Producer’s Choice, nineteen tracks featuring nineteen members of the band plus guest percussionists Donald Hay and Morton himself ...
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JOAN BAEZ – The Complete Gold Castle Masters (Proper PROPCD141)

Without a label and not having not made a studio album since 1979’s Honest Lullaby, in 1987 Joan Baez got back into the ring, signing with Danny Goldberg’s new Gold Castle with whom, over the next two years, she would release three albums (along with the Brothers In Arms compilation) ...
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ROGER KNOTT – Echoes In Time (Leg Room Records LEGCD116)

Echoes In Time is a slightly curious but very enjoyable blend of Englishness and Americana. All the instruments on Roger Knott’s ninth album (or possibly his thirteenth) were recorded by producer Thomm Jutz in Nashville while the vocals were recorded by Roger in England, which is where he lives. He ...
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THE FAR FLUNG COLLECTIVE – Far Flung Corners (Anna-Wendy Music FFC001)

Originally a schools-based music education project by the University of the Highlands and Islands in collaboration with Soundstorm Music Education Agency exploring the similarities and differences, past and present, between the cultural and physical landscapes of South West England and the Scottish Outer Hebrides, this evolved into Far Flung Corners, ...
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MIDSUMMER – The Stories You Tell (own label)

A new Birmingham acoustic folk outfit, Lizzy Daniel-Sam and Chris Taylor (who also plays guitar and mandolin ) are the Midsummer vocal and writing core, the line-up augmented by Ben Kyte (bass), Jenny Chen (violin), J Clay (trumpet) and Andy Gordon (accordion, uke, guitars, percussion) They’ve only been going a ...
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TUNEBOOK – Melody Lab (SHEEM02)

Melody Lab is a CD created by a group of fabulous Scottish musicians, Ross Ainslie, Simon Bradley and Mairearad Green joined by Mhairi Hall on piano, Matheu Watson on guitar and James Macintosh on percussion to “present an exploration of contemporary tune writing in the Scottish traditional context”. There are ...
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BEATRIX PLAYERS – Magnified (own label)

Lining up as Amanda Alvarez (cello), Jess Kennedy (piano, flute) and Amy Birks (vocals), Beatrix Players are an London-based Anglo-Spanish trio who, taking their name from from the Latin "viatrix" (meaning traveller, though Beatrix itself means she who makes happy), combine folk, jazz, classical and progressive. With influences that range ...
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SINGLES BAR 19

A round-up of recent EPs and singles KADIA are a young trio from Dorset who already have one album, East Of Alexandria, to their name. The Outlandish Collection is a five-track EP of traditional songs and tunes. The band comprises Lee Cuff on cello, double bass and piano; Chris Bailey ...
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CORMAC BEGLEY – Cormac Begley (Airt)

Who on earth would want to buy a CD of a solo artiste playing a concertina with no support from other musicians? Probably only somebody who is also a concertina player! That was my initial thought when I was first handed the CD Cormac Begley I was concerned as to ...
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NED ROBERTS – Outside My Mind (Aveline AVREC004)

He may be physically based in London, but Ned Roberts’ spiritual and musical home is clearly late 60s California, Outside My Mind, his second album, a relaxed collection of acoustic melancholic, love songs, the title of the opening track, ‘Drifting Down’, a fair summation of the mellow mood. Reminiscent at ...
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HARRI ENDERSBY – Homes/Lives (own label)

A rising new presence on the contemporary folk scene, Durham-born Harri Endersby has been putting herself about on the live circuit for the past four years, during which time she released her debut EP, Ivy Crown, to good reviews. Now here’s her debut album, Homes/Lives, an eleven track collection of ...
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HAV – Inver (Folkwit f0136)

As albums go Inver is a bit off the wall but you hope for that from the Folkwit label and I really like it. HAV are a multi-talented trio: Alex Ross, who is the band’s writer, Jonathan Bidgood, who plays a very special role, and Ian Paterson who plays bass ...
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CUNNING FOLK – Ritual Land, Uncommon Ground (Dharma)

George Nigel Hoyle is a man of many incarnations. He started out professional musical life as bassist with late 90s outfit Gay Dad, a band briefly hailed as the saviours of British rock, going on to join Crispin Hunt of The Longpigs (of Richard Hawley fame) in a short-lived new ...
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FAY HIELD live at the West End Centre, Aldershot

31st March 2017 Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party started their spring tour at a brisk pace – seventeen songs, including two encores, in a tight ninety minutes. I can imagine there being a bit of tension in this situation particular as Fay announced that ‘Fair Margaret And Sweet William’ ...
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PETER KNIGHT’S GIGSPANNER live at Forest Arts, New Milton

30th March 2017 During Vincent Salzfaas’ enforced absence from this tour, Peter Knight’s Gigspanner have replaced him with not one but two percussionists. On duty tonight was Gary Hammond of The Beautiful South and The Hut People – he’s got quite a track record – but the question remained: how ...
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AMY DUNCAN – Antidote (Filly Records FILLY002)

This CD, Antidote by Amy Duncan, is not generally my type of music but I really like this recording. Regretfully, the cover is somewhat minimal and does not explain the songs or their reasoning. It does tell us that Amy Duncan wrote all of the songs but I have to ...
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TERENCE WINCH, MICHAEL WINCH, AND JESSE WINCH – This Day Too: Music from Irish America (Free Dirt Records CTM-CD-002)

The CD This Day Too: Music From Irish America is very much what it says on the tin. It's a collection of tunes and songs with a pronounced Irish accent, performed and in some cases written by musician and poet Terence Winch, his brother Jesse, and his son Michael, aided ...
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JENN & LAURA-BETH – Bound (JBLB Records JBLB01)

Jenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter have worked as a duo for eight years but Bound is their first album as a duo. The reason for this is simple; they have been far too busy. Jenn has worked with Anna Massie and the Rachel Hair Trio and most recently as a ...
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STEAMCHICKEN – Look Both Ways (Chicken Records STEAM16/3)

Steamchicken began life as a ceilidh band but have expanded their horizons considerably with a brass section and a powerful vocalist in Amy Kakoura. Look Both Ways is something like their fifth album and is possibly the definitive statement of jazz-folk. The album kicks off with the powerful spiritual, ‘Jericho’ ...
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SHORTSTUFF – Big Blue (Blonde On Blonde DCT16BB01)

When I first played this album I assumed that Shortstuff were American and had been playing the blues for years. Big Blue has a confident swing about it that invites you in and settles you down. In fact Dave Thomas and Hugh Gregory met in London and once enjoyed a ...
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VARIOUS – From Here: English Folk Field Recordings (From Here Sitw005)

They may be newcomers to the scene, but Stick In The Wheel are certainly making their mark, not just with their own recordings and associated artifacts, but in their involvement with the folk world in general, and the traditional in particular. Band members Ian Carter and Nicola Kearey serve as ...
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QUILES & CLOUD – Shake Me Now (Compass)

Although conveniently filed under NewGrass, there’s more to San Francisco based duo Maria Quiles and Rory Cloud that bluegrass, Shake Me Now, their third album, produced by label founder Alison Brown, evidencing traces of jazz, classical, blues and folk. With Oscar Westesson on upright bass essentially making them a trio, ...
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BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMAS – Copenhagen (LOUVAIO L00005)

Benjamin Folke Thomas was born on a small island off the coast of Sweden, mainly populated by evangelical Christians, but his third album takes it's title from across the Øresund; Copenhagen. Combining his upbringing with musical influences ranging from Leadbelly to Cohen and Jackson Browne means his work tends, perhaps ...
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DAVE BURLAND AND THE AWKWARD SQUAD – Okkard (Fat Cat FATCD037)

Dave Burland may have recorded one of the definitive folk albums of the seventies but he’s always been a rocker at heart as anyone who has been in the same room as Shagpile will testify. Alongside him in The Awkward Squad are two members of that band, Dave Fisher and ...
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FINTAN McHUGH – Wait Till The Clouds Roll By (own label)

Wait Till The Clouds Roll By is the debut album from young Irish singer Fintan McHugh. It has been available for a while but has only recently come into our possession and we feel compelled to bring it to your attention. Fintan plays guitar and cittern and for his instrumental ...
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MONSTER CEILIDH BAND – Mutation (Haystack Records HAYCD011)

There was a time when I would stand in front of a ceilidh band and when things were going well and you had a hall full of people who were into it it was the most fun you could have with your clothes on. When it comes to recording an ...
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MAD DOG McREA – Live at Cambridge Junction (Cambridge City Roots Festival)

It’s a chilly Wednesday in February, but there’s the heat of a storming party going on from the minute the door opens into the Cambridge Junction. Those delightful friends of blacksmiths, Noble Jacks, opening tonight for Mad Dog Mcrea, are already onstage giving it their all, whipping the audience up ...
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COVEN live at the West End Centre, Aldershot

Coven aren’t so much a group as a collective made up of three elements. On the one hand there is the musical delicacy of Lady Maisery and on the other the homespun Yorkshire charm that O’Hooley & Tidow exploit. In the middle is Grace Petrie, a thorn between two roses, ...
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LORELEY – The Frozen North (own label LRL001)

I specifically asked to review The Frozen North because I was interested in the concept put to me as “a collection of traditional songs by Sheffield based duo Loreley. As a project with the aim of exploring archives of mostly forgotten folk songs in order to breathe new life into ...
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KING’S GAMBIT – From One To Another (own label)

If you take away the rock excesses of folk-rock you’re left with Northampton’s King’s Gambit – a band that rocks acoustically while still capable of musical delicacy. I don’t like to make comparisons but they have something of the style and drive of CC Smugglers. From One To Another is ...
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RODNEY CROWELL – Close Ties (New West Records 6354)

While I've long been aware of Rodney Crowell's talents as a songwriter, going back at least as far as Emmylou Harris's 1975 recording of 'Bluebird Wine', his songs have always reached me as interpreted by other A-listers. So I jumped at the chance to take a closer look at his ...
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OLD BLIND DOGS – Room With A View (own label OBD013)

It has always been my opinion that an album/CD should have a minimum of twelve tracks to offer the purchaser value for money. I equally believe that if you do not have twelve tracks ready to record then you are not yet ready to release an album/CD. Room With A ...
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CHILLI WILLI AND THE RED HOT PEPPERS – Real Sharp (Last LMCD204)

Way back in 1972, Martin Stone and Philip Lithman, reunited as a duo following the former’s stint with blues acts Savoy Brown and Mighty Baby and the latter’s time with The Residents in San Francisco, signed to Revelation Records and recorded Kings Of The Robot Rhythm under their new name ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Food Of Love Project (Autolycus Records AUTO1CD)

Commissioned to mark the Oxford Shakespeare Jubilee 2016, The Food Of Love Project falls into the weird and wonderful category. All the tracks are or were traditional – give or take Dave Moran and Nic Jones’ involvement in ‘Tom O’ Bedlam’ and Kirsty Law’s adaptation of ‘Go From My Window’ ...
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ATLANTIC UNION – Homeward (Blue Island Records BI201601)

Atlantic Union is a long-established acoustic trio from St. John's, Newfoundland. Their third CD Homeward features a new thematic approach as well as a change of personnel since their last album, 2004's The Whole Dance. With the departure of Andrew Lang and the arrival of Jane Ogilvie, Sally Goddard is ...
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MICK RYAN & PAUL DOWNES – The Passing Hour (WildGoose WGS417CD)

This is an album by two veterans; one famous as a songwriter, the other well-known as a sidesman and both fine singers. Many of the songs on The Passing Hour are by Mick Ryan, the others have been collected on their extensive travels and together they make up what might ...
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DARIA KULESH Live at Cecil Sharp House

February 23rd is a date that should be known in history.  On this day in 1944 the entire population of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, those who weren't away at war fighting for the Soviet Union, were told they were being deported for alleged collaboration with the enemy.  Many ...
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NORRIE McCULLOCH – Bare Along The Branches (Black Dust BDR1603)

Based in Glasgow, Ayrshire singer-songwriter Norrie McCulloch clearly doesn’t like to let the grass grow under his feet. Bare Along The Branches is his third album in as many years, following on from last year’s These Mountain Blues. I was much impressed by that, describing him on these pages as ...
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COVEN – Unholy Choir (own label COVENCD01)

In case you haven’t been paying attention, let me explain. Coven combines the prodigious talents of Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, Lady Maisery (Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans) and Grace Petrie. They have worked together, when commitments permit, for about three years having got together for International Women’s ...
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EMILY MAGUIRE – A Bit Of Blue (Shaktu Records, SHK2105)

Emily Maguire's latest album, A Bit Of Blue, pretty much defines the maxim that when you want people to really listen, speak quietly: make them lean in to hear properly. The first time it went on my CD player, I confess I was only half-listening. This is very much the ...
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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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