JENN & LAURA-BETH – Bound (JBLB Records JBLB01)

BoundJenn Butterworth and Laura-Beth Salter have worked as a duo for eight years but Bound is their first album as a duo. The reason for this is simple; they have been far too busy. Jenn has worked with Anna Massie and the Rachel Hair Trio and most recently as a member of the collective that produced Songs Of Separation. Laura-Beth is a founding member of The Shee and has played alongside Frigg and Shooglenifty.

Bound is a mixture of Jenn’s Scottish roots and Laura-Beth’s fondness for Americana. With just two voices, guitar and mandolin, the album was recorded as live and the dynamism of their playing leaps off the plastic.  I don’t believe that ‘If I Had A Lover’ sounds anything like the way Bert Jansch envisaged it now it’s mixed with Jenn’s tune ‘The Belle Of The Ball’ but it’s great. Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Wings On My Heels’ was taken up by Eddi Reader and it wasn’t one of my favourites. Jenn and Laura-Beth make it much more country with their harmonies and I feel rather better about this reading of it. ‘The Great Divide’ by the late Kate Wolf is a lovely song by a relatively unknown writer.

Laura-Beth’s song, ‘The Braver One’, should be widely heard. Its theme is that it takes a brave person to go against the tide of popular opinion and not join the rabble even though you might sort-of agree with their viewpoint. It’s a complex idea and Laura-Beth expresses it so much better than I could. Then we have the instrumental sets. Their pairing of two originals, ‘1,2,3,4’ and ‘Joseph Salter’s’ sees them trade lead and accompaniment between guitar and mandolin, a trick they use quite often although ‘Apple At The Crossroads/Elzwick’s Farewell’ is really Laura-Beth’s chance to show off.

As a debut, Bound has been a long time coming; let’s hope we don’t have to wait so long for the follow-up.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.jennandlb.com/

‘The Great Divide’ live:

Jenn & Laura-Beth announce debut album, Bound

Jenn & Laura-Beth

Jenn Butterworth (guitar and voice) and Laura-Beth Salter (mandolin and voice) have each been a presence on the UK folk scene for a number of years. They were brought together by the close-knit and progressive Glasgow folk music community, spending lots of their time jamming an eclectic mix of folk music from across the globe, particularly the UK, Scandinavia and America. The years of playing together brought a deep affinity between the two artists; their rhythms lock tightly, their voices blend so closely that it’s often hard to tell them apart. They have developed a natural telepathy: two musicians bound together.

Their debut release Bound is a celebration of the last eight years of the duo. It contains some old favourites, such as ‘Come To Jesus’ and ‘Elzwick’s’, and newer arrangements created for the album such as ‘The Braver One’ and ‘Let the Sun Shine Down On Me’. Arranged entirely by the duo, the album contains some self-penned work, some re-invention of older tunes and songs, and some more recent covers, such as Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Wings On My Heels’. When Jenn and Laura-Beth set out to record this album, they felt it was important to keep things simple. They wanted capture the raw energy of their live gigs and wanted the recording to feel natural. The way they play on the album is the way they play live; for the most part the tracks were recorded either live in the same room, or facing each other through a glass door. The album was recorded at Carrier Waves Studios in Glasgow, engineered by Keir Long and mastered at Castlesound Studios in Pencaitland.

“Our brand new debut album, Bound, is a representation of the last eight fantastic years of playing together. A snapshot of where we have come from and where we are now. We hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we have enjoyed playing and recording it.” Jenn & Laura-Beth

Laura-Beth is a founding member of renowned folk band, The Shee, and has also toured extensively with bands such as Frigg, Shooglenifty and Dougie MacLean’s The MacLean Project. In 2013 she was nominated for the MG Alba Scots Trad Awards Composer of the Year award after the success of her Celtic Connections commission and debut album, Breathe.

Jenn Butterworth is one of the UK’s foremost folk guitarists. She began her career touring worldwide with award winning Anna Massie Band, and has gone on to perform with well regarded acts such as Fiddlers’ Bid, Phil Cunningham and the highly acclaimed Songs of Separation.

Artists’ website: www.jennandlb.com

‘The Scottish Situation’:

Doghouse Roses announce new album

doghouse roses

Glasgow’s Doghouse Roses once more present their unique take on contemporary folk and reaffirm that they are “Something a little bit special” (The List) with the release of their long-awaited third studio album Lost Is Not Losing.

In 2014, an invitation to open for Television brought the pairing back to the stage for the first time in almost two years. Inevitably, this lead to the realisation that both had been unintentionally writing songs destined for the duo. Once seasoned with the progressive fingerpicking of Paul Tasker’s guitar and the impelling vocal delivery of Iona Macdonald, recording became the next step. Whilst the almost constant comparisons to Sandy Denny and Bert Jansch might leave some to expect yet another attempt at reviving the folk revival of the 1960’s, the colours on display here are contemporary reflections.

‘Pour’, is a defiant and quirky opening track, telling a tangled tale of love and alcoholism, brought to life by Craig Laurie on drums and Stephen McGourty on bass. ‘Feed the Monster’, ‘New Year Rag’ and ‘After Sun’ are overtly political, but without the oft dictatorial edge of protest songs. “Life is political”, according to Iona. “Politics isn’t about detached politicians. It’s about how we choose to live our lives every day and how we choose to treat the people and the world around us. It’s about the questions we ask.”

The band shifts into classic country territory for the leaving song, ‘Diesel Engine’ complete with guest co-lead vocal from Biff Smith of A New International and stinging lead guitar from Slovenian virtuoso Dejan Lapanja. Backing vocals are provided by Jo Shaw and Katie Macarthur, who also perfectly complements Iona Macdonald’s voice by providing harmonies on the ballad of a former prostitute, ‘Fairground’. John Alexander adds acoustic guitar to ‘ To Decide’ and ‘Days of Grass and Sun’, and the album is fully realised by Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin and Jez Hellard on harmonica.

There is often dark humour and a rich seam of inspiration to be found when life leads you off the beaten track, through the dark cities and scattered bars of ‘Lost Is Not Losing’. For an album that is borne from tales of the road, it is only fitting that Tasker and Macdonald take the songs back to their breeding ground as they embark on a German tour in the winter, with UK dates to follow in April 2017

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 Doghouse Roses 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.

Artists’ website: http://doghouseroses.net/

‘I’m Gonna Drink’ – official video:

THE SHEE – Continuum (Shee Records SHEE4)

ContinuumThe concept behind Continuum, supported by Celtic Connections, was to celebrate their tenth anniversary by having each of them commission a musician of their choice to write a piece of music for the album. That’s only half the story, of course, for the band had then to arrange the music for six players and write some pieces to bind the whole thing together.

The opening song is ‘From The Shadows’ by Laura-Beth Salter. It’s a powerful call to arms to … ah, well. It could be a feminist piece, the logical first thought, but it could be a warning to the rich and powerful that the poor and oppressed aren’t going to take it any more. Next come two atmospheric pieces by Kathryn Tickell; one evoking the borders and the other with a Scandinavian feel. The playing, needless to say, is exquisite.

Rachel Newton commissioned Karine Polwart and the result is ‘Song For Mary’. The Mary in question is Mary Brooksbank, composer of ‘The Jute Mill Song’ and an archive recording of one verse forms the introduction. We’re not told that it’s Mary herself but I’d like to think it is. Amy Thatcher naturally turned to a box-player and who better than Andy Cutting? Olivia Ross’ choice was Chris Wood who shares the credit for ‘Cradle Song’ with lyricist Hugh Lupton. The Shee turns what could be a pretty little song into something quite strange so you’re not sure whether this a mother singing to her baby from the safety of a warm fireside or struggling home from the storm outside.

Laura-Beth, Amy and Shona Mooney provide the next two tune sets with Shona responsible for the wonderfully titled ‘The Vampire Rabbit Of Newcastle’. Olivia wrote ‘Precious Tears’, a song for children – possibly the band members’ own – and Brian Finnegan wrote a trio of tunes with Lillias- Kinsman-Blake’s flute and a journey through India in mind. Finally, we have Martin Simpson’s song for his mother. ‘Dance With Me’ might be seen as the companion-piece to ‘Never Any Good’. Laura-Beth sings it and plays mandolin where Martin would use guitar and the band play what is almost an orchestral accompaniment.

Continuum is a monument to musical collaboration and the exchange of ideas but more than that, it is a tribute to six exceptionally talented musicians.

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 SHEE – Continuum 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.

Artists’ website: https://theshee.com/

‘Ower Late For The Lasses/Sheepolska’ and more with Kathryn Tickell live at Celtic Connections 2016: