QUILES & CLOUD – Shake Me Now (Compass)

Shake Me NowAlthough 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, it’s moodily overcast folk that dominates the opening track, ‘Black Sky Lightning’ with its fingerpicked tracery and pulsing bass, getting slightly airier with the strummed love song ‘On My Way Tonight’ before the title track brings it back to calmer, more reflective ground.

The traditional roots are evidenced with covers of both ‘Deep Ellum Blues’, the first on which Cloud’s vocals have equal prominence, and ‘Worried Man Blues’, a folk chestnut popularised by Woody Guthrie. Along with these there’s also a cover of relatively more recent origin, Cloud taking wearied lead on a slow paced interpretation of Dylan’s ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’.

Everything else is original material, ranging in style from the fiddle-backed American roots folksiness of ‘By The Rio Grande’ and the stripped and slow waltzing ‘Hero’s Crown’ to the crooning harmonies of ‘Mississippi River’ and the itchier, swampier blues that drive ‘Feelin’ Good’.

Quiles has a gentle, soothingly engaging voice, and it’s heard to good effect on the a capella harmonising opening to the five minute ‘Faded Flower’ before a lonesome acoustic campfire guitar picks up the spare melody. Closing with a one mic bonus recap of ‘Black Sky Lightning’ that ups the tempo, this is one for the hours as evening draws in and you sit there staring at the vastness of the skies. Front porch optional.

Mike Davies

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 Quiles & Cloud 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]

Artists’ website: www.quilesandcloud.com

‘By The Rio Grande’ – live session:

Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors reveal new album

Drew Holcombe
Photograph by Ashtin Paige

Souvenirs. Drew Holcomb has collected many of them. A road warrior for more than a decade, he’s spent his adulthood onstage and on the road, traveling from place to place with a catalogue of vibrant, honest songs that explore the full range of American roots music. He turns a new corner with 2017’s Souvenir, a highly-collaborative album that finds Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors focusing on the things that truly stick with you, including family and friends, music and memories, people and places, in a fast-moving world. Continue reading Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors reveal new album

BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMAS – Copenhagen (LOUVAIO L00005)

CopenhagenBenjamin 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 not surprisingly,  to be introspective and personal. His style and voice are similar to Martyn Joseph and, like Joseph, he is a supreme storyteller.  His stories encompass large issues but at the individual, human level so this is not necessarily an album to be put on in the car whilst driving.  To get the most from it you need take the time to sit down and listen to every word and you will be well rewarded for your effort.

The title track, ‘Copenhagen 30/6’, is a good example of his work as a storyteller.  There are seven verses and no chorus, which is fairly typical.  It’s a song about needing somebody in order for life to make sense and have purpose and yet not until the very end of song are we given any hope there might be a happy ending.  There may also be an element of autobiography in it

“I missed you tonight when I was up on stage,
I couldn’t find my focus I was unable to engage,
The sound was bad not enough tickets sold,
I wish I was with you tonight.

‘Finn’ is another story set to music, rather than a song, and it is a terrific story about the passing of time; how things change but how they also stay the same.  It chiefly concerns two men who have come into Benjamin’s life and the song is so convincing I believe they are real people.  We are first introduced to Abbas, a Palestinian and doctor but trying to make ends meet working in a supermarket having left his wife and children behind.  Next we are introduced to Benjamin’s grandfather, the Finn of the title, who also ended up as a refugee from the Nazis and lost his brother to them.  Two men separated by time and yet neither are able to live the life they wanted because of forces they cannot control which separate them from loved ones.

If there is a theme to this album it is that search for love and stability yet worrying that finding what you want may not be the answer.  As he sings in ‘Safe and Secure’

They say that love is liberating
But I don’t understand
How can anyone in love ever feel
Safe and secure

Musically the influence is Blues with a bit of Rock but the strength is the words.  In a different persona Benjamin could be described as a poet, rather than singer, and he would be equally good.  Copenhagen is an incredibly good album of contemporary music from a performer who has a lot to give and is not afraid to give all.  It is highly recommended.

The album was released on the 3rd March and is available through the artist’s website as well as the usual platforms.

Tony Birch

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 Benjamin Folke Thomas 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]

Artist’s website: https://www.benfolkethomas.com/

‘Copenhagen’ – official video:

Ron Sexsmith announces new album

Ron Sexsmith

Three-time Juno award winner Ron Sexsmith has revealed details about his new album, The Last Rider. Ron’s thirteenth studio recording was co-produced at The Bathouse Studios in Kingston, Ontario by longtime drummer and collaborator Don Kerr and Sexsmith. The album is his first to include Ron’s touring band.

Since making his major-label debut in 1995, Ron Sexsmith has become recognized worldwide as one of Canada’s most reknowned songwriters.  He counts among his fans no less than Elvis Costello, Elton John and Paul McCartney and has amassed no less than eight Juno Award nominations as Songwriter of the Year.

“At this point, it’s just second nature for me to write short, melodic songs that say everything I want to say,” says Sexsmith. “But having my band totally involved on this album maybe brought out more in the songs than on other recent albums. It felt special, anyway.”

On the album’s most poignant moments, such as ‘Man At The Gate (1913)’, there certainly is a sense—as with all of Sexsmith’s best songs—that life is often richer than we make it out be, and we should embrace that. In this case, the point is made through a photograph taken a century ago in front of Toronto’s Trinity-Bellwoods park, conveying the message that although styles and attitudes change, we all remain connected through our shared humanity. It all sprang from Sexsmith simply buying a postcard at a shop near his house one day.

“In the photograph, there’s a man walking by the gates of the park, and you can barely see him, but that’s the kind of thing I easily get obsessed about,” he says. “I couldn’t stop thinking that that guy could be me 100 years later, and really could be all of us. We’re here for a certain period of time, and we leave behind these traces of who we were that have the potential to inspire people who come along after we’re gone. To me, that’s really beautiful.”

Although Ron Sexsmith has more music to come that is sure to inspire us, for now The Last Rider is the latest addition to a body of work as impressive as any produced in the past quarter-century. Through truth and simplicity, Sexsmith’s songs help us get closer to the things that make us better people, meaning that an album like The Last Rider is as necessary now as anything he has ever done.

The Last Rider will be released April 21st, 2017 on Compass Records.

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 Ron Sexsmith 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]

Artist’s website: http://www.ronsexsmith.com/

Songs from The Last Rider:

DAVE BURLAND AND THE AWKWARD SQUAD – Okkard (Fat Cat FATCD037)

OkkardDave 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 Bryan Ledgard and their first album, Okkard, is a perfect example of having fun with the music they love.

The big noise here is Fisher on keyboards and steel guitars and I’m guessing that he takes the lead on ‘Lay Down Your Weary Tune’ which is built on piano with three voices on the chorus. The Awkward Squad take it a little faster than is usual with odd little twists in the phrasing that makes it much brighter than the dirge it can become. It’s electric piano that introduces the opening track, ‘Reynardine’ with solid guitar and drums from Ledgard. Burland’s distinctive laid-back delivery adds to the gentle rolling feel of the arrangement. He switches to mandolin for Terry Allen’s ‘New Delhi Freight Train’ over Fisher working the left hand end of the keyboard.

What they do to ‘Country Life’ is quite amazing. A not-quite honky-tonk piano is matched with a sort-of syncopated vocal line and Willie Nelson’s ‘Crazy’ is given a full-blown nightclub feeling with backing vocals courtesy of Chris While and Julie Matthews. It’s not all fun, though. ‘Kitchener’s Finger’, written by Burland, is paired with ‘The Bloody Fields Of Flanders’ and ‘Lamkin’ is as dark a version as you could wish to hear, fleshing out the “mason” storyline.

‘Long Distance Love’ and Steve Goodman’s wonderful ‘City Of New Orleans’ are more familiar territory – this is possibly the best version of the latter that I’ve heard – and I was convinced that the final track, ‘Spencer The Rover’, appeared on Dave’s first album, but of course it doesn’t. As far as I can tell this is the first time he’s recorded it. No matter; it’s a perfect Dave Burland song to bring Okkard to a close.

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 DAVE BURLAND AND THE AWKWARD SQUAD – Okkard 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]

Label website: www.circuitmusic.co.uk

‘Kitchener’s Finger’ – Dave Burland live:

Ida Wenøe announces debut album and tour dates

Ida Wenøe

Danish Music Award nominee Ida Wenøe (pronounced EE-da ven-O) is excited to announce the UK release of her impressive debut solo album Time Of Ghosts on April 7th 2017 (Shellshock Distribution). Ida will be returning to the UK in April for a full UK tour, performing at Camden’s Green Note in London on April 18th.

Amongst a digital mountain range littered with accomplished folk–ish bands and singer songwriters, it is a rare miracle to come across a cave so rich in jewels as the one beneath Ida Wenøe’s ribcage.

When touring the UK last year Ida found support from BBC 6 Music’s Tom Ravescroft and Gideon Coe, whilst Clash Magazine described her sound as being “bewitching acid folk with a deeply personal edge…” and Paul Lester’s comments in The Guardian that she “sounds like the young narrator of her own magical-malevolent fantasies…” line the tape heads up nicely.

While she has an obvious appreciation of Americana, her sound is very definitely laced with more English undertones: the kind of sound Edward Woodward might have heard downstairs in the local inn had The Wicker Man been filmed in a remote Danish village, while Sarah Lund scoured for clues in her jumper. Like the best of the Nordic Noir leaving the Danish mainland, the recordings are at once both sonically pure and grimy; there’s a shared loneliness that makes you feel that you’re not at all; and all the while there is an honesty to the songwriting that tugs at your sleeve.

While still fronting the much-feted Boho Dancer, 2014 brought a successful collaboration with Dangers of The Sea, a series of sold out supports in Denmark with Teitur, and a spate of tremendously well received shows both in London and at The Great Escape in Brighton.

Now, with a deep breath in her crystal lungs those two brilliant, oxidised copper green eyes are flickering across the mixing desk once more as she records her debut solo record Time Of Ghosts, reunited with producer Jonas Tranberg who recorded Boho’s first EP.

The music from her debut album has just been picked for Danish TV documentary De Smukke Piger and is the latest nomination for the Danish Music Awards in the ‘Songwriter Of The Year’ category.

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 Ida Wenøe 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]

Artist’s website: http://idawenoe.com/

A Boho Dancer track, ‘I Am On Your Side’:

Tour Dates

Thursday 6th April – The Soundlounge, Tooting

Friday 7th April – The Bank Eye, Suffolk

Saturday 8th April – The Old Cinema Launderette – Durham

Sunday 9th April – The Eagle, Salford

Monday 10th April – Oporto, Leeds

Wednesday 12th April – The Canteen, Bristol

Thursday 13th April – B-Bar, Plymouth

Friday 14th April – Acorn Theatre, Penzance

Sunday 16th April – Small World Theatre, Cardigan

Monday 17th April – Ten Feet Tall, Cardiff

Tuesday 18th April – Green Note, London

Wednesday 19th April – What’s Cookin’, Leytonstone