CIARAN ALGAR – The Final Waltz (Fellside FECD270)

CIARAN ALGAR The Final WaltzThe Final Waltz is Ciaran Algar’s debut solo album – something to do in his gap year, allegedly – and it’s sort of what you’d expect but, then again, not really. We know Ciaran as a particularly fine multi-instrumentalist and he has added to his band another in shape of Toby Shaer with Eden Longson on drums, Giles Deacon on keyboards and Sam Kelly, who shares the vocal duties with Kitty Macfarlane. There are four songs in the set, three of them written by Ciaran but he sings only one. Quite why he decided this I can’t tell –he has a very characterful voice, albeit not as polished as Sam’s, but well suited to the material.

The songs give Ciaran a chance to stretch his arranging talents – and those of his band – away from the traditional tunes for which he is better known. All the subtlety of which he is capable comes out in ‘The Final Waltz’ and the downbeat sentiment of ‘Our Home Now’ but then we are immediately whisked away into the gaiety of a set like ‘The Luck Penny’ before ‘Until We Meet Again’ takes the mood down again.

Having set an emotional pattern on the album, Ciaran reverses it with a relatively upbeat song, ‘Locks’, followed by the desolate beauty of ‘The Wild Geese’. I like everything on this album and I’ve spent time thinking about how I would sequence it to balance the highs and lows – and of course, I couldn’t do any better. You just have to climb aboard and go with it.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.ciaranalgar.co.uk

‘Our Home Now’:

SAM KELLY The Lost Boys

SAM KELLY The Lost BoysThis is the album that the folk world has been awaiting for months, given Sam Kelly’s unique musical history and his seemingly putting his solo career on hold to work with The Changing Room.

The Lost Boys are an expanded Sam Kelly Trio with Ciaran Algar and Graham Coe joining Jamie Francis and Evan Carson and further contributions from fellow Stark Josh Franklin, who also co-produced the album, plus Lukas Drinkwater and Kitty Macfarlane.

The album opens with ‘Jolly Waggoners’, one of the chorus songs we used to roar out in the sixties. Sam takes a more considered approach to it, tweaking the tune a little here and there and revealing that the words are still relevant – “the folks in power pay no heed to the likes of me and you”.

Jamie Francis’ alt-blues affiliations come to the fore in the arrangements of ‘Little Sadie’, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and ‘The King’s Shilling’, which is traditional but makes you think it isn’t. His banjo is the dominant instrument on several tracks and, with Carson’s drums going flat out the final track, ‘Dullahan’, is pure folk-rock. At the other end of the spectrum ‘Down By The Salley Gardens’ enjoys a quite conventional pastoral arrangement. Kelly and Francis share the writing and arranging, with Francis contributing ‘Six Miners’ (despite the cover credit I don’t believe he wrote ‘Banish Misfortune’) and Kelly writing ‘Spokes’ while they share the credit for ‘Eyes Of Men’ and ‘Dullahan’.

This is a really good album from start to finish, well programmed with its first peak at ‘Little Sadie’, a “false” climax at ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and a big finish at the very end. The arrangements are inventive without detracting from the essence of the songs. Their setting of ‘The Golden Vanity’ seems much too jaunty at first but just like everything else here it works. The Lost Boys is going to be huge.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.samkelly.org

Sam and Jamie perform ‘Eyes Of Men’ – Songs From The Shed:

Sam Kelly introduces The Lost Boys

Sam Kelly introduces The Lost Boys

The widely anticipated debut full-length album, The Lost Boys, from folk singer and multi-instrumentalist Sam Kelly is due for release on 19th November 2015. The album promises to take the listener to all corners of the British Isles, across the Atlantic, and back again on a musical journey led by Sam’s expert vocals, tasteful arrangements, and high-class instrumental performances. Tender, heart-breaking ballads rub shoulders with dynamic, riff-based folk rock in an exciting mix of traditional and original material.

Touring as The Sam Kelly Trio for the past three years Sam is omnipresent amongst the folk music scene. The trio includes Jamie Francis on banjo and Evan Carson on percussion. Two new band members, Ciaran Algar on fiddle and Graham Coe on cello join the fold to create a full, authentic roots vibe for the album.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the amazing folk scene we have in this country for the past three years. Huge festival bands, young musicians like myself, and people singing floor spots in tiny folk clubs have all inspired me in equal measure, and this album is a musical montage of all my favourite memories and experiences so far,” explains Sam.

Sam has also honed his skills as a producer under the watchful eyes of Sam and Sean Lakeman, and this album is produced and recorded by himself, Joshua Franklin, and Jamie Francis. It also also features the mixing and mastering talents of Stu Hanna (Megson), and guest musicians Lukas Drinkwater and Kitty Macfarlane.

The Lost Boys has been widely anticipated by both his peers and a dedicated fan base and is the culmination of what has been an incredibly successful year for Sam. Nominated Best Singer 2015 Spiral Earth Awards, numerous plays on Radio 2 and 3 including a live session and interview on the Mark Radcliffe show, features in R2, fRoots, Living Tradition and Fatea magazines, and much more. It’s easy to see why he has already been tipped for greatness by the likes of Mike Harding and Cara Dillon.

Billed as Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, the five piece will be taking the album on tour in 2016 and cementing Sam’s place as one of the most exciting young prospects on the British folk scene.

Artist’s website: www.samkelly.org

‘Jolly Waggoners/Banish Misfortune’ – Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys:

PETE MORTON – The Land Of Time (Fellside FECD269)

PETE MORTON The Land Of Time I may have asked this question before but why isn’t Pete Morton a huge star? He’s a fine singer with an engaging stage presence and, more importantly, he’s a writer of superb songs, ten of which are to be found within this rather unassuming sleeve. So why isn’t his name on everyone’s lips?

The opening track, ‘The Herefordshire Pilgrim’ takes the style of William Langland’s Piers Ploughman to a logical, if rather over the top, conclusion. It reminds me also of Belloc’s The Four Men and, oddly, Bob Dylan’s ‘Dignity’. It’s a complex song, full of words and ideas and I really feel the need of the lyrics which aren’t included. There are a couple of fraps here. The first is ‘Poverty Frap’ which uses the chorus of ‘Poverty Knock’ to link thoughts on sweatshop workers in Bangladesh and the original Lancashire mill workers. The second employs the chorus of ‘The Rigs Of London Town’ to consider the plight of trafficked sex-workers in ‘Slave To The Game’.

‘One Hundred Years Ago’ is the story of Pete’s grandfather who was wounded and captured in the Great War before eventually being repatriated. It’s a rather jolly song but the point being made is that without the enemy the wounded soldier would have died and Pete wouldn’t be around to tell the story to his children. I think that’s a cause for celebration, don’t you? Another standout track, mixing history and modern concerns is ‘Old Boston Town’, an attack on the arms trade and, finally, ‘Oh What Little Lives We Lead’ puts everything into perspective.

Pete is supported by his regular cohorts plus Ciaran Algar who adds some gorgeously simple fiddle to ‘The Herefordshire Pilgrim’. Jon Brindley plays (presumably) the clever guitar bits while Pete is singing and Chris Parkinson provides various free reeds and piano. On paper it seems very simple but it works so well.

The Land Of Time is another superb album from Pete Morton – now get out there and make him the star he should be.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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: http://www.petemorton.com/

There’s nothing from this album on video yet, so here’s an old concert/interview sequence:

GREG RUSSELL and CIARAN ALGAR – The Queen’s Lover (Fellside Recordings FECD251)

Our admiration and respect should go to Paul Adams at Fellside Recordings for yet another coup. Not only did he manage to promote and nurture a certain Spiers & Boden burgeoning recording career but it now looks like he might have hit bulls-eye again with young whippersnappers Russell & Algar. Opening with the ever popular tale of “The Two Magicians” with its shape-shifting (remember Disney’s Mad Madam Mim & Merlin in “Sword In The Stone”) miscreants the duo inject good humour and a swinging style that comes across in a rippling tsunami performance that I haven’t heard since the days of Fox & Luckley. From an instrumental point of view I hope that Ciaran’s dynamic fiddle showcase of established chestnuts including “The Clumsy Lover Set” will inspire a new generation to engage with the ‘tradition’ and not totally rely on clever but ultimately anodyne self-compositions. Having said that, its Russell’s well researched choice of contemporary songs including “Love Is Life”, “The Dancing” and his own not inconsiderable title track that shows a maturity beyond his years. There’s plenty here to keep those of us of a certain age entertained (“Ashokan Farewell”, “Icarus” and “On Raglan Road” etc) with a knowing, affectionate smile whilst Greg and Ciaran have a certain instinctive edge that will engage a younger audience. Not to harp on too much about ‘youth’ being on their side but if this intuitive, personable duo can maintain their up-beat attitude as much as they have displayed on this album it will perhaps come as no so surprise that our antiquated ‘scene’ is in safe hands.

PETE FYFE

Release date – 20th August 2012

 “I have to admit that I was astounded at the power of Greg’s voice coming from someone of such slight stature, coupled with clear diction and the emotion that the song deserved.” Topic Folk Club

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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: www.russellalgar.co.uk