Levellers – new acoustic album and tour

Levellers

Celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2018, Brighton folk-punk band Levellers will be releasing We The Collective on March 9th via the band’s own label, On The Fiddle Recordings.

Emerging victorious through the ups and downs of label deals, spats with the music press and the wear and tear of touring, the Levellers have long been, and still are, one of the best live bands around but their impressive back catalogue of recorded music is often overlooked.

The band had more platinum, gold, and silver albums in the UK in the 1990s than any other British act. They’ve had seven Top 40 albums, including the number 1 album Zeitgeist and their platinum-selling 1991 album Levelling The Land, along with a string of Top 40 singles including ‘This Garden’, ‘Hope St’, ‘One Way Of Life’ and ‘What A Beautiful Day’.

Wanting to do something a bit different with their back catalogue, they brought in a string section and enlisted legendary producer John Leckie (Radiohead, Stone Roses) to help develop new acoustic arrangements for eight of their previous singles including ‘Liberty’, ‘Hope Street’ and ‘One Way’ which they recorded straight to tape at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios.

They also recorded two brand new songs ‘Shame’ and ‘Drug Bust McGee’ and the result is the ten track album We The Collective. Lead singer Mark Chadwick says “The different musicians, producer and the studio combined to make something really special”.

As part of the celebrations, Levellers will head out on a full Acoustic Tour in the Spring where they will be playing the new arrangements with guest musicians, starting at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival. They will play at the Roundhouse in London as part of the In The Round festival as well as a number of theatres and concert halls around the country. Support on the tour comes from Ginger Wildheart on all dates except Glasgow and London.

Despite only just being announced, the tickets for Preston, Milton Keynes and Winchester have already sold out.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below 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.

Artists’ website: www.levellers.co.uk

Tour Dates

FEBRUARY

Thursday 1st – Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow (Celtic Connections)
Friday 2nd – Wrexham, William Aston Hall
Saturday 3rd – Preston, Charter Theatre SOLD OUT
Sunday 4th – London, Roundhouse (In The Round Festival)

MARCH

Tuesday 13th – Buxton, Opera House
Wednesday 14th – Cheltenham, Town Hall
Thursday 15th – Yeovil, Westlands
Friday 16th – York, Barbican
Saturday 17th – Milton Keynes, The Stables SOLD OUT
Sunday 18th – Liverpool, Philharmonic
Tuesday 20th – Basingstoke, The Anvil
Wednesday 21st – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
Thursday 22nd – Leicester, De Montfort Hall
Friday 23rd – Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion
Saturday 24th – Winchester, Cathedral SOLD OUT

The “Making Of” video:

DAVID BOTTING – Heart Beat (Haven Records)

Heart BeatHeart 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 after a virus and was awaiting a heart transplant. He has documented his journey through a series of eleven songs, which acted as therapy during his treatment and kept him sane. Songwriter and producer Boo Hewerdine heard David perform, and wanted to collaborate on the album project. David wants to raise public awareness about organ donation and all the proceeds of the album will be donated to the Harefield Hospitals Charity.

The whole album is simply guitar and vocal and I really like the guitar playing. David’s influences are John Martyn and Kelly Joe Phelps. The feeling of the album is mellow and the arrangements are impeccable. It’s percussive and bluesy on some tracks and melodic in others with the sound of alternate tunings.

I particularly like the first track ‘Almenalp’, about a lovely place in Switzerland.
If I said there’s another world, another place above the clouds, would you come there and walk with me?
In sun blessed higher meadows high above the crowd, come there and walk with me.”
And track ten, ‘Camino De Le Luce’.
“We were lost and we were found on the camino, only ringing bells to guide us, only footsteps there beside us.”
Both songs are about real places but everybody has their own camino and place above the clouds so these songs have a universal appeal.

David’s voice is mellow with a breathy tone and a little bit gravely. For me the vocal feels a little bit sparse next to the guitar and I would have liked to hear some female backing vocals on it to bring out the lyrics a little more and balance the intricate guitar arrangements.

Gillian McCoy

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below 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.

Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/david.botting

‘Taking The Pulse’:

LUKE DANIELS – Singing Ways To Feel More Junior (Gael Records GAEL017)

Singing WaysSinging 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 tracks have slightly more edge than others, there is a definite sense of sweetness and brightness contained throughout.

The album opens with ‘Penny In The Slot’; it’s catchy, it’s fun and it bizarrely borrows from the 2003 ‘Fast Food Song’; incorporating the less-than-immortal line “McDonalds, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut” into its lyric. Just as bizarrely, however, it works. While This Americana vibe is continued into the album’s second track (‘Only Love I’ll Leave To You’), it is the steady, danceable rhythms of ‘The House That Jack Built’ which introduce us to the album’s funkier elements. These grooves are very enjoyable, and are followed up by the beautifully delivered, (if comparatively melancholic) title track.

Following this number we are once again guided down the well-travelled Americana route through the quirkiness of the uplifting mandolin-led ‘Let’s Not Waste Another Day’ and ‘Strange Power’, before we get to the bluesy Presidential piss-take; ‘Elizabeth Trump And Sons’, one of two topically tinged numbers on the disc; with ‘Better The Devil You Know’ featuring on the album’s last quarter. Indeed, even at this late stage, we continue to hear new approaches and new experiments; the eerie but engaging soundbites which introduce ‘What Becomes Of Gilgamesh’ or the closing number, (Stevie Wonder cover) ‘Don’t You Worry About A Thing’, which boasts another tremendous vocal take, and proves the perfect conclusion to an interesting, enjoyable, if at times off the wall journey through this collection of “new songs for grown-ups.”

Christopher James Sheridan

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below 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.

Artist’s website: www.lukedanielsmusic.com

‘The House That Jack Built’ – official video:

Mary Gauthier – Rifles and Rosary Beads

Mary Gauthier - Rifles and Rosary Beads

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier will release her most important work to date with Rifles & Rosary Beads on January 26th, 2018 via Proper Records. Co-written with U.S. veterans and their families, the eleven deeply personal songs on this album reveal the untold stories, and powerful struggles that these veterans and their spouses deal with abroad and after returning home.

Each year it is estimated that over 7400 current and former members of the United States Armed Services take their own lives. While these songs were written with US Veterans, Soldiers in the UK are dealing with the exact same problems. The songs featured on Rifles & Rosary Beads were all co-written as part of Songwriting With Soldiers, a non-profit programme that facilitates retreats bringing professional songwriters together with wounded veterans and active duty military. Participants have shared that the experience of songwriting was life-changing for them, some even said life-saving.

No stranger to pain or demons herself, Gauthier has used songwriting to work through addiction and childhood abandonment as an orphan. This is the first album where she has focused solely on experiences other than her own. The songs on Rifles & Rosary Beads tackle a variety of viewpoints. “The War After The War” deals with the strain put on a relationship while living with someone who has returned from serving, while “Iraq” depicts the helpless horror of a female military mechanic being dehumanized and sexually harassed by fellow soldiers. The gorgeous album highlight “Bullet Holes In The Sky” is a bittersweet reflection on the mixed emotions of being a veteran.

Mary Gauthier is helping veterans share experiences that only they can understand, in a way that we as listeners can relate to. This process not only has the power to touch others but also to help soldiers take a step towards healing, while at the same time creating beautiful art.

Mary Gauthier has received countless critical accolades over the last decade and a half for her seven studio albums and captivating live performances. Her previous album Trouble & Love was praised by the press, including glowing coverage from outlets including Mojo, Uncut, Financial Times, Sun, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, NPR Music, Huffington Post, American Songwriter and many more.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below 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.

Artist Web Link: http://www.marygauthier.com/

ROSS AINSLIE – Sanctuary (Great White Records, GWR005CD)

SanctuaryIf 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 champion of the broader context of Scottish instruments and for his work with musicians of an international background, such as India Alba, amongst very many others. So, it’s no surprise that the musical influences here are equally wide-ranging, with its eastern palette of sounds embracing a distinctly Scottish heart.

He’s also keen on Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, apparently, and aimed to produce in ‘Sanctuary’ a similar kind of conceptual soundscape. So, don’t put it on shuffle. Listen to the complex, layered sounds as a continual flow, as intended, and it will repay in spades.

The titles of the twelve tracks on the album (and surely this number is no coincidence?) indicate key milestones, signposts along a determined route, with the calming, beautiful opener ‘Inner Sanctuary’ perhaps the heart and soul of the album. A gently shushing shoreline is overlaid with a tender, swooping elegiac fiddle (a stunning performance by Greg Lawson throughout) with Ainslie managing to extract the inner Scot from the bamboo tones of the Indian bansuri.

Finding a personal retreat has been essential for Ainslie, and he’s found it in his music: his mastery of his instruments is simply outstanding. Whistles brightly dance in ‘Protect Yourself’ and ‘Cloud Surfing’, then are overlaid by frenetic piping in ‘Road To Recovery’, which races along over a choppy guitar and tabla zing. On ‘Surroundings’, his breathing just audible beneath the seamless phrasing of this complex theme, is a reminder of Ainslie’s skilled control – and not just of his flying fingers.

Each musician makes a vital contribution to the flow of the overall sound, each layer builds up into a cohesive whole. There are so many wonderful and talented musicians playing here, but Damien O’Kane’s fierce banjo deserves mention, as a perfect foil for the complex celtic knot of whistles on ‘Happy Place’ and the exuberant highland pipes of ‘Let The Wild Ones Roam’. Tabla player Zakir Hussain and Soumik Datta on sarod lend Indian overtones to the juddering, descending motif of ‘Home In Another Dimension’, a surprisingly rocky track coming after the delicate eastern influences of ‘Beautiful Mysteries’.

The final piece, ‘Escaping Gravity’ an atmospheric poem with a vaguely oriental feel, expresses the conscious choice of sobriety. Its final phrase “Escaping gravity in my inner sanctuary” loops us right back to the album’s beginning, and reminds us that this is a set of mantras to be repeated every day. It’s what “one day at a time” means.

This album’s genesis is as inspiring as its form is delightful. It has a maturity, mellowness and a sense of peace, but it’s also a testament to some real personal grit. Learning to be with yourself and accepting yourself, flaws and all, is no mean feat. Turning such a challenging experience into a warm, accessible piece of music is altogether another level of amazing.

Su O’Brien

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below 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.

Artist website: www.rossainslie.com

Album sampler:

INDIA ELECTRIC CO. – Seven Sisters (Shoelay Music SHMU32)

Seven SIstersThe 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 Cole Stacey, lead vocalist and percussionist and Joseph O’Keefe who plays all sorts of instruments but here confines himself to violin, piano, guitar, accordion and percussion. Seven Sisters is either their second album after The Girl I Left Behind Me or their second EP after EC1M – I’ll go for the latter – and the title comes from one of the tunes in that long track I mentioned.

The material all started out as traditional and the instrumental stayed that way but the others have been heavily adapted. I had to do some research into the opening track, ‘The Gulley’. It turns out to be a blend of a nineteenth century poem, Alice Gray (much reworked), and a hornpipe, ‘Rusty Gulley’. It’s a remarkably big sound for two musicians to produce with O’Keefe’s violin dancing over the song. ‘Take The Buckles’ is a take on ‘The Shearing’s Not For You’ with some great lines that were never in the original and ‘Chaos’ again left me puzzled. The thrust of it is that we are responsible for screwing up our planet but I’ve no idea how it started life.

‘The Cuckoo’s Nest (My Generous Lover)’ mixes the familiar tune of the former with a version of the latter probably from A L Lloyd originally but which has developed and changed over the last fifty years. The instrumental set follows and the record ends with a version ‘Flash Company’. This is often sung as a chorus but India Electric Co slow it right down to bring out the melancholy of the lyrics which, again, have been adapted to the band’s needs.

Musically, India Electric Co do some remarkable things with these songs and what they do may not be to everyone’s taste but there is no doubt that they can play and that they have some great ideas.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below 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.

Artists’ website: www.indiaelectricco.com

‘The Gulley’ – official video: