DEMPSEY BROUGHTON – Off By Heart (own label SAECD14)

Off By HeartKevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton have been in the business for so many years and in so many line-ups that it seems impossible to count. You can mention The Albion Band, the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, the Urban Folk Quartet, Dando Shaft, Whippersnapper and Lazarus before you have to stop and think. Kevin and Joe have worked together for almost two decades and Off By Heart is their fourth album as a duo.

The record opens in a rather unexpected way. You might have thought that two such celebrated instrumentalists would kick off with something to get the feet moving but instead they begin with Kevin singing ‘Resurrection Jack’, an anti-racist poem by Evangeline Paterson which Kevin has set to a simple and deliberately un-sensational tune. The story itself is a moving one but also told in very unemotional terms. That is followed by ‘Wheels Of The World’, a traditional Irish song explaining why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Who says folk music isn’t relevant?

Of course there are instrumental fireworks and they begin with ‘The Post Truth Reel’ a tune that Joe describes as having “some slightly bits, some positive bits and a bit of reflection”. Next are two linked tunes. ‘Just Before The News’ and ‘De Pascale’ were written around the death of their friend, renaissance man Ernesto De Pascale’ and into them is poured all the emotion they can find. Fittingly, they sit at the heart of the album.

The album closes with two more instrumentals and two traditional songs. ‘Wicked Polly’ comes from the Ozarks and Paloma Trigás adds massed violins and ‘Two Constant Lovers’ is from Sussex with all sorts of things going on behind Kevin’s voice. ‘La Moreau’ is a two-part tune, or rather one tune played in two very different ways, and the final tune is ‘The Recovery Shuffle’ – a bluesy guitar riff over which Joe has written a jig. There is a great deal to enjoy here.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the DEMPSEY BROUGHTON – Off By Heart link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artists’ website: https://www.joebroughton.com/dempsey-broughton

‘Wicked Polly’ live – an old video but none the worse for that:

 

Carla Bruni releases Rolling Stones cover as single and announces new album

Carla Bruni

Internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Carla Bruni has released a new song and captivating video directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino (Madonna, Bjork, Sting, Vanessa Paradis) for her cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Miss You’, the latest release from her forthcoming fifth studio album French Touch, which is available for pre-order now.

Produced by legendary musician, producer and composer David Foster, French Touch will be released on October 6th by Decca. ‘Miss You’ is available now via all digital and streaming services, along with the album’s first single, an intimate stripped-down rendition of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’.

French Touch brings together a delightful trove of sentimental pop favourites; all reimagined in Carla’s intimate and moving acoustic style and chosen for their personal significance – in her own words, songs that inspire the French term for love at first sight – “a coup de foudre.”  Coup de foudre more or less also describes what happened when Bruni met Grammy award winning producer, composer, and musician David Foster after an L.A. performance in 2014. Foster volunteered to produce Carla’s next record on the spot, and the two began a transatlantic sharing of songs, which was then shaped during twin recording sessions in Paris and L.A.

French Touch is warm and familiar, and inimitably Carla.  Richly melodic, warm yet minimal, and often slyly playful – all the arrangements in this collection have been given that “French Touch”, and still have all the universal appeal as their originals, albeit with a sultry flavour all their own.

Carla Bruni has been writing and performing music since 1997, with her first album, Quelqu’un m’a dit (Someone Told Me), being released in 2002. Since then she has had three more critically acclaimed releases, selling over three million albums worldwide, including 2007’s, No Promises, which set English poems to music, 2008’s Comme si de rien n’était (As If Nothing Happened), and 2013’s Little French Songs.

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Carla Bruni – French Touch link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

ORDER – [VINYL]

‘Miss You’ – official video:

COAST – Windmills In The Sky (Ruabhal Records SAM04)

WindmillsCoast is a folk-rock band, with the emphasis on the rock, formed by Paul Eastham and Chris Barnes back in 2009. Windmills In The Sky is their third album and I hope it will be the one that propels them to greatness. They spent their childhoods on Benbecula in the western islands and their music reflects that edge-of-the-world wildness. If I tell you that they employ twin drums/percussion with mighty electric guitar from Finlay Wells you’ll immediately know where they are coming from. These are big, anthemic songs centred around the keyboards and orchestral programming of Eastham.

The album opens with ‘Is Sinn Na Tuinn Air Bhàrr A’ Chuain’, a delicate acoustic piece – for about forty seconds until the band kicks in to give us a sort of overture to what is awaiting. Three songs are firmly rooted in Western Scotland. The first, ‘River’, is a song of pure nostalgia for a Hebridean childhood while ‘Thundersnow’ and the title track give contrasting views of west coast life. The former is essentially the opinion of a fisherman wishing that he was somewhere warmer and drier while ‘Windmills In The Sky’ tells of the welcoming sights of home after a long voyage. The windmills are, of course, the turbines that I suppose are the first things that fishermen can see as they return to harbour.

Coast are no one-trick ponies, however, and other songs take a wider view. ‘No More Heroes’ looks back on 2016 and reflects the line from David Bowie’s song – he is one of the heroes who are no more – but it’s also about regaining control when those leaders are gone. ‘1884’ is the true story of murder and cannibalism that set a precedent in common law and ‘That Old Atlantic Sky’ is the extraordinary – but also true – of a German fighter pilot and the crew of an American bomber in 1943. ‘Let It Rain’ and ‘This Whole World’ are philosophical songs reflecting on the modern world.

The band makes a really big sound but also finds room for traditional instruments: Charlie McKerron’s fiddle, Lorne MacDougall’s pipes and whistles and the accordion of Sileas Sinclair. These are not over-used but serve to anchor Coast’s roots firmly in the Western Isles.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the COAST – Windmills In The Sky link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artists’ website: www.coast.band

‘River’ – official video:

JOE BROUGHTON’S CONSERVATOIRE FOLK ENSEMBLE – Painted (own label SAE16CD)

PaintedI’ve seen Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble on stage just once and it was an exciting experience. It was a small theatre and I reckon there were more people on stage than there were in the audience – what a sound – and Joe says that they might have turned it up a bit on Painted, their first studio venture, recorded to celebrate their twentieth anniversary. The CFE is an international band and its composition is dependent on which students study the module that leads to its formation for the annual summer tour. There are fifty-six musicians on this album drawn from all over Europe and the far east; that’s a full orchestra of strings, woodwinds and brass plus the guitars, basses and percussion drawn from the modern folk scene.

So, what’s good? Pretty much everything, really. The set begins with two traditional Irish tunes, ‘Banish Misfortune/Poll Ha’Penny’ followed by Sal Broughton’s ‘The Graduate’, a piece that embodies the ethos of the Ensemble – there are no auditions, just a commitment to hard work. ‘Cant De Batre’ and ‘Pimentons Torrats Amb Oli I Sal’ are both Spanish, the latter written by and both arranged by Daniel Blanco Albert. Then it’s back to the Irish and ‘Fairy Dance’ and all I can say is that these are bloody powerful fairies.

Rosie Tunley sings ‘Rain And Snow’, the song from the USA that has so many titles and compasses so many floating verses and now the record is reaching its peak. ‘The Butterfly/Kodo’, the latter written by Yoshida Kenichi, is magnificent and I love the way that ‘Tek Bir Güneşin Altinada Yürüyoruz’ is handed over to the brass section to do with as they will. Julie Claire takes lead vocal on Kevin Dempsey’s version of ‘William Taylor’ before the set closes with the jazzy ‘Две ръченици/Lattinmore’.

In a live show the CFE would just be warming up for the second set but they know to leave us wanting more. They will be on tour through until August and I urge you to seek them out.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the JOE BROUGHTON’S CONSERVATOIRE FOLK ENSEMBLE – Painted link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artists’ website: https://www.joebroughton.com/the-folk-ensemble

There are no videos of this year’s ensemble yet but here are last year’s team playing ‘Fairy Dance’ at their final performance:

THE DRYSTONES – We Happy Few (own label)

We Happy FewThe Drystones are two young chaps from Somerset: Alex Garden and Ford Collier; singers and multi-instrumentalists who made their debut album at age 16. Remarkably, this is already their third outing. On the surface, We Happy Few seems typical of albums of our age. Three songs and eight instrumental sets and, seemingly, I have dozens like it.

What singles The Drystones out is the imagination that has gone into the selection and arrangement of their material, aided by producer and percussionist Will Lang. They open with a pair of original tunes, ‘Green Room Strathspey’ and ‘Arc Reel’, together entitled ‘Treekend’. The second tune, written by Alex, has some rather odd progressions that immediately grab the attention. They then switch to a set of three Irish tunes featuring Ford’s whistles and that isn’t entirely expected. Admit it, you’re interested now.

The first song is ‘My Son John’. This is Martin Carthy’s version as rewritten for The Imagined Village and gives the duo the opportunity for some multi-tracking and Ford the chance to strap on his electric guitar and unpack every percussion instrument he owns. After this comes ‘The Cheshire Set’, rather more stately, and another original tune before ‘Man Of Words (And Not Of Deeds) a nursery rhyme from the 17th century. The words may have originated earlier or may be a satire on Charles II but we may speculate all we want. Again, this isn’t quite what we might expect.

‘Katy Cruel’ was originally heard from Fay Hield and The Drystones have tried to make an essentially American song sound English. Later we get as English as you like with ‘Hole In The Wall’, a hornpipe that may have been written by Henry Purcell, before a set of Irish and Irish-influenced tunes called ‘More Nyah’ and I’m going to wince at that.

This is a good album from two young performers but I could wish for more songs.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the THE DRYSTONES – We Happy Few link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artists’ website: http://www.thedrystones.co.uk/

‘My Son John’ – live in the shed:

MARTHA TILSTON – Nomad (Squiggly Records)

NomadThis recently released album is a pure joy to listen to. Martha is the daughter of highly acclaimed singer/songwriter – Steve Tilston, but Martha is a fabulous singer/songwriter on her own merit. She has various critically acclaimed albums already under her belt and this latest album looks like being another one!

There are ten glorious tracks on the album. Ranging from easy tempo/easy listening through to blues and jazz with a little bit of Latino thrown into the mix on ‘Fish Tank’. Some very unusual names for song titles, but all of the tracks tell a superb story, which is what Martha is good at. The album wasn’t planned, but started as a session in Cornwall, and it evolved itself into the beautiful album it is now.

Nomad is an album that has a variety of tempos; the opening track is ‘Nomad Blood’, introducing the listener to Martha’s fabulous voice and fabulous guitar playing. Superbly atmospheric story telling at its best. A song of coming home to rest and see the family, and then having to journey off into touring again.

‘Green Moon’ is about survival of relationships, and band member Matt Kelly leads the way with his fabulous musician’s skill into a really atmospheric and haunting track.

‘Little Arrow’ is about the loss of a special person, and I guess this would be her Mum – Maggie – who was taken far too soon, and was a special person to a huge amount of people, as well as the family. Slightly bluesy with a tempo with drums and electric guitar.

‘Stories’ is an easy listening track that brings memories of childhood and how different memories become in different circumstances.

‘Ribbons For John’ has a rather Americana feel, about a young lady meeting what sounds like a tornado of a man.

‘Taxi Light’ is about being available and not being available. Co-written by Luke Parker some time ago, while waiting for a relationship, but then deciding to head home. A catchy little number.

‘Fish Tank’ was very new when recorded, is about finding confidence in yourself and then going for it! Rather jazzy and a little bit of Latino thrown in!

‘Climbing Gates’ is about Martha thinking about her decision to be a touring musician.

‘Scribbled Fever’ – Easy catchy tempo with superb guitar work, about a sad young lady and her love breakup, and wanting to stay in her dreams.

‘Blue Pearl’. A huge message to the world, questioning what are we doing with it – where is everything going as attitudes are shocking. The Blue Pearl being our beautiful planet in space. A gentle, but haunting track, and a far reaching message to finish on.

I really love this album, and would urge anyone to purchase it. It is available on Squiggly Records and can be purchased from the links below, where you can also find Martha’s tour dates.

Looking forward to seeing her live in June on her last tour date of the Nomad album tour.

Jean Camp

If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the MARTHA TILSTON – Nomad link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

ORDER – [CD]

ORDER – [VINYL]

Artist’s website: www.marthatilston.co.uk

‘Nomad Blood’ – the single: