A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar - PostcardsFRAN WYBURN AND THE INDIGOS are a Yorkshire-based trio whose second EP, Postcards, is out now. Here are five tracks of acoustic folk characterised by complex arrangements with lots of instrumental textures, rich harmonies from Rosie Evans and George Birkett, melodically strong songs and good lyrics. The opener, ‘Blue Sky’ is happily upbeat after a pensive start but the top track is probably ‘Snakes And Ladders’, nicely miserable with a heavenly choir and what? – accordion? harmonium? synthesiser? Not sure. George is a very fine classical style guitarist and it’s his virtuosity that makes the group’s sound – listen to that delicious little break on ‘Spend Our Days’.

Foreign WatersForeign Waters is the first commercial release from EMILY MAE WINTERS whose songs are as much influenced by her love of poetry as of music. The fine opening track, ‘Anchor’ is a step beyond the familiar verse-chorus-bridge format and is an award-winner as is the second song, ‘Miles To Go’, but the title track and ‘Until The Light’ are the ones that really show off Emily’s powerful and flexible voice. The EP was produced by Ben Walker who also plays steel guitar and mandolin, while Emily plays both guitar and piano.

WolfKAT HEALY is a singer-songwriter from Edinburgh who really should be much better known notwithstanding her victory at this year’s CalMac Music Awards. Her latest EP, Wolf, comes out of the death of her father and it’s stripped down and raw, built on cello, harmonium and piano. There’s a perfect moment at the end of ‘Beautiful Peace’ with just her voice and a few notes at the top end of the keyboard as the song fades away. Kat has a gift for melody which isn’t always found in outpourings of deeply-felt emotion and that is reflected in the choice of the traditional ‘Highland Lullaby’ as the final track.

YCHWYL‘You Can’t Help Who You Love’ is the first single from Cactacus, the fourth album by RUTH THEODORE. Ruth is an artist who does things her way; originally a violinist she taught herself guitar while busking and still uses odd tunings. Her music is characterised by rich instrumentation spanning the rock band and the orchestra. This song is built on a chunky rhythm with lots of voices on the choruses and a lyric that tumbles over itself in its explanation of the vagaries of love. This bodes well for the album.

Candi's DogWe’re a little late with this one but CANDI’S DOG are always on the road; ‘I Couldn’t Ask For More’ is their current single and they’ll certainly sell it to you if you ask nicely. Candi’s Dog are an acoustic trio from Newcastle-upon-Tyne with a solid basis of fretless bass and drums and featuring guitar, banjo, melodica and kazoo if ‘Crossing The Line’ is any guide. Their songs are up-tempo and upbeat even when the lyrics concentrate on the heartbreak of lost love.

Not Her OwnNot Her Own is the new EP from YVONNE MCDONNELL. It leads with ‘I’m Not This Layer Of Skin’, a protest about the objectification of women delivered without a trace of anger. It’s a statement of principle as is ‘My Own Advice’. The title track turns Yvonne’s attention outwards to a woman who is finally able to break out from the restraints of society. ‘Not Her Own’ refers to the choices she’s heretofore been forced to make and the theme is again internalised in ‘The Savages’. Maria Kroon features on violin alongside Yvonne and there is cello and possibly synthesiser adding more textures.

Emily Mae Winters – video preview of debut EP

Emily Mae Winters

Born in England, raised in and around the rugged coasts of southern Ireland, Emily Mae Winters’ haunting folk songs are quickly permeating the folk and song writing scene. Her formative years were spent living in Clonakilty, Co. Cork where she immersed herself in a local music scene. Influenced by the sounds of folk, Celtic and Americana music, she learned to play the guitar and piano and began playing local music festivals .

Emily Mae moved to London in 2009 to pursue a History degree. Whilst at university, she began writing her own songs and in 2010 was a finalist in the UK Live and Unsigned competition. In 2012, she was offered a place to study music and theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. After graduating she performed in numerous theatre productions whilst continuing to enter song writing competitions – at the same time, gigging in and around the heart of the acoustic / roots scene in London, quickly establishing herself as a writer and performer to be reckoned with.

A poetry enthusiast, Winters worked at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden and at Keats House Museum, Hampstead Heath where she ran ‘Playing Poetry’ events for fellow poets and musicians. She also ran poetry and music workshops for children at libraries and schools. As she became more involved in the London folk scene and began performing her own headline shows, she met Radio 2 Folk award winner and musical partner to Josienne Clark, Ben Walker.

Influenced by the likes of Nancy Kerr, The Unthanks, The Staves Kate Rusby and Sarah Jarosz, Emily teamed up with Ben Walker to produce her first commercial release, Foreign Waters. Walker plays steel guitar and mandolin on the EP. Of the four songs on the EP, two are already award winning with ‘Miles To Go’ in the UK Song writing contest Folk Category and ‘Anchor’ winning the folk category in the Guardian Song writing Competition.

Artist’s website:

‘Anchor’ – a first look: