NIGEL STONIER – Love And Work (Shameless SHAME017)

Love And WorkNigel Stonier is probably best known as a producer and a man who writes songs with and for other people so it came as a surprise to discover that Love And Work is his sixth solo album but not that it’s a work of great class.

I suppose that you would describe Nigel’s music as sophisticated pop-rock but don’t be put off if you think that sounds a bit MOR. It isn’t. Nigel is a multi-instrumentalist and a witty songwriter and his wit extends to his arrangements. Take the single ‘You Need Love’. Nigel says that he didn’t want it to sound too sweet so asked James Hallawell to impersonate Al Kooper’s Hammond style – and then topped it off with as fine a Dylan harmonica impersonation as you could wish to hear. It only lasts a few seconds but it’s just perfect.

It is inevitable that Nigel is a bit of a musical magpie given that he’s worked alongside Thea Gilmore, Robert Plant, Gretchen Peters and Fairport Convention among others – things are bound to rub off. He’s no mere copyist, though, and everything undergoes a transformative process. You might say that the opener, ‘Ready To Begin’, is Byrds-like but it’s not really; it just embodies the spirit of Roger McGuinn’s guitar. ‘You Breathe New Life Into Me’ features a pulsing mellotron which Nigel describes as “Strawberry Fields” and it is but it gives the feeling of bellows on a pump organ, breathing life into the song.

Other top tracks are ‘Turnaround Town’ – lots of clever words that I haven’t figured out yet – and ‘Work In Progress’ and I really like the last track. ‘The Extra Song’ is just that and Nigel ropes in his children, Asher and Egan on percussion, fiddle and vocals. The cover doesn’t tell you that they are aged five and ten and you wouldn’t know it to listen There’s a lot of talent in that family. The icing on the cake of that particular song is Nigel’s wife Thea Gilmore playing whistle on the coda. Love And Work is a brilliant, clever album.

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 NIGEL STONIER – Love And Work 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: http://www.nigelstonier.com/

Videos of Nigel are about as rare as rocking horse droppings but we couldn’t resist this one:

Thea Gilmore announces new album and single

Thea Gilmore

Thea Gilmore has announced the release of her new album The Counterweight, which will be released June 2nd through Cooking Vinyl. The first single to be taken from the album, the rallying anthem ‘Sounds Good To Me’, is out now.

“I like to think of it as a bit of an anarchist’s polka…” says Thea of the single. “Calling the dispossessed, the downtrodden, the weary to arms. Lighting a fire… remembering there’s more than one way to live and who wants to walk when you can dance!”

It’s been 13 years and eight albums since Thea released Avalanche, her critically acclaimed fifth release and the album deemed to be her breakthrough record. The then 23-year-old was writing with a fire inside her post 9/11 about global anxiety and the increasingly vacuous celebrity culture.

Calling upon the spirit of this predecessor, Thea is back with the album she feels follows it. Having never entirely lost her voice of protest, on subsequent albums Thea was looking inward more, singing songs about the depression she had been diagnosed with, love songs in uncertain times and songs about parenthood.

Now though, she is back with The Counterweight, an album full of passion and fire inside to protest, and an album that echoes the rapid change in our social and political landscape that 2016 brought with it.

When finishing the album in September, Thea was forced to look back at the spring and summer recording period and the tumultuous times that happened throughout the year including working on ‘Reconcile’ as Britain voted to leave the EU, and recording ‘Johnny Gets A Gun’ three days after the Orlando shooting.

That day was also most harrowingly of all, the day when the world was watching the tragedy of Jo Cox’s murder unfold and at the very eleventh hour became the inspiration for the final track ‘The War’, with the first and last verses directly referencing her.

Thea quotes “I was throwing a cautionary message in a bottle into the shifting tide, but also singing a reminder that acts of kindness and humanity are never in vain: ‘You can cut that stem, but wild flowers grow again, all you can do is just tend to them and know that you tried’”

“I’d finished the album pretty much. All the shit that had gone down in 2016, the world changing moments… everything had shifted and this song fell out of me on one of the last mix days. The first and last verses directly reference Jo Cox and in between. I like to think it shines a light on these dark days, but also offers hope.”

The track is also possibly the mission statement of the album, going to war on the negativity and bleakness of the current world mesmerized by fake news and futility.

The Counterweight tries to be exactly that. A redressing of the balance, a tool of pressure, an exertion of opposite force and as such, a flag of hope.

Thea Gilmore will be heading out on a UK headline tour to support the album, with full details to be announced soon.

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 Thea Gilmore – The Counterweight 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://theagilmore.net/

THEA GILMORE – Ghosts & Graffiti (FullFill Records FCCD 165)

THEA GILMORE Ghosts&GraffitiA mixed bag, jam packed with 20 tracks from the talented Miss Thea Gilmore. Some older tracks and some brand new tracks to encounter. The songs are often woven around intelligent, inventive and sometimes just plain strange lyrics; as in the case of “Razor Valentine”.

Not all the tracks hit the mark in my opinion, but there is such a rich selection that a small wobble here and there is no big deal. There are an array of guest artists on the album, such as Joan Baez, King Creosote and The Waterboys, adding variety and counterbalance to the songs. From upbeat rocking style to mournful ballad (and even, dare I say it, folk) [yes, you dare – Editor], this album covers the ground in style.

It’s incredible to think that some of the tracks on this album stretch back some 17 years and yet still come over as relevant. Age has not dated them.

Stand out tracks, for me? The opener ‘Copper’, ‘Start as We Mean to Go On’, ‘Coming Back to You’ ‘Razor Valentine’, ‘Sol Invictus’ and ‘Wrong with You’. Plenty of other goodies in the bag, but these are the tracks that pressed my buttons on the first play.

So if you acquire this CD you are getting a potted history of Thea Gilmore’s musical work, with the added bonus of new tracks. Plus a glossy booklet which has an introduction by the author Neil Gaiman, who became a fan of Thea Gilmore in the early years.

So, a thumbs up for Ghosts & Graffiti. Well worth the money in your pocket or adding to your birthday list.

Ron D Bowes

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 on the banner link 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.theagilmore.net

‘Coming Back To You’ – the official video:

SOLD OUT 49th CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL HAILED AS HUGE SUCCESS

Cam Stage FoxThe 49th Cambridge Folk Festival ended in rousing style on Sunday night in what organisers Cambridge City Council have hailed as a ‘bumper year’.

The Festival was a complete sell out (14,000 total attendees) and included performances from The Mavericks, KT Tunstall, Levellers, The Waterboys, Amadou and Mariam, Steeleye Span, Martin Simpson and Capercaillie plus a range of folk, americana, blues and world music performances across the Festival’s four stages.

Performance highlights included: Bellowhead joining Levellers on stage for a run through the “Levs” The Recruiting Sgt; KT Tunstall performing versions of The White Stripe’s Seven Nation Army performed on a kazoo and a stirring version of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer; the eccentric and electric Bombay Royale performing on stage with a large inflatable elephant; a hilarious kids concert from UK comedic-poet John Hegley; landmark sets from Hertfordshire sisters The Staves who graduated to Stage 1 on their third appearance at the Festival; singer/songwriter Lucy Rose who headlined Thursday’s Stage 2 and US sisters Larkin Poe who’s two sets wowed the Festival audience over the weekend.

Continue reading SOLD OUT 49th CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL HAILED AS HUGE SUCCESS

Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 3

wb3_300Those following this blog will know that it would not be complete without an early morning campsite folking shower report – although those on-site would have had a deluge of their own later in the day when KT “rain goddess” Tunstall took to the stage and opened the heavens – but more on that later. My first shower was at 5.00am, an hour earlier than the day before! Perhaps it was the excitement of the previous 2 days, or perhaps it was just the the showers but Cambridge was not awarding me much sleep.

Breabach danceAs I was finishing the day 2 blog We Banjo 3 took to the main stage, a quintet from Galway playing Irish, bluegrass and American old time music. From what I saw on the #CFF13 @CamFolkFest twitter feed they were definitely making many instant fans and got Saturday stage 1 off to a rousing start. Next up were the mighty Breabach, a tour de force in the Scottish music scene. They had a great array of weaponry on hand including: highland bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, double bass, mandolin, bazouki and even included a set dance by fiddle payer, Megan Henderson.

Saturday Cambs FF CrowdBoth SOC (Son of Clicker – the folking photographer) and I knew that getting to see everything today was going to be tough with all 3 stages in full swing. In fact panic set in and we ran around like headless chickens for a bit until coming to our senses and catching the end of the Festival Session, hosted by Battlefield Band and Feast of Fiddles academic legend Brian McNeil. This was a one off line-up featuring: The Chair, Frigg, The Rambling Boys of Pleasure, Radio 2 young folk award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, Martin Simpson, Le Vent du Nord and We Banjo 3 again.

Hop and a skip back to the Stage 1 to see Martin Simpson performing a guitar master class wrapped up in his usual exemplary solo set kind of way which included favourites like the you were never any good with money gem Prodigal Son and Jackie and Murphy, a story song of an epic true tale of bravery, donkeys and Gallipoli.

Thea Gilmore CFFManaged to then catch the end of the talented and velvet voiced Heidi Talbot on stage 2 as she left us all going up and down her music tree, Korrontzi from Northern Spain were next up and made you feel part of a Basque hill town knees up for a short while (it was great to see Thea Gilmore dancing along to them back stage). It wasn’t long until Thea took center stage with her full band line up which included producer, husband and multi-instrumentalist Nigel Stonier. Thea definitely showed off her folk credentials by giving us a faultless performance of Pity the Poor Immigrant. Thea then belted out the Radio 2 A listed song Start As We Mean To Go On, before ending with what for me was the highlight of the day, a perfect rendition to the stunning London with her little lad taking center stage on the fiddle. Sandy Denny who wrote the lyrics to this song is my folk heroine and Thea is equally addictive.

There was only one way to come down and that was to head over to the club tent and catch State Of The Union, aka Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams. In the grand tradition of ‘The Special Relationship’, State Of The Union combines the talents of America and England, producing an end result that delighted the club tent crowd with hook-laden songs, fiery and emotional guitar playing and soulful vocals. By this time I had a few jars of Ringwood’s finest Boon Doggle ale and was amusing myself by keeping the girls at the bar on their toes and coming up with different names for it. The firm favourite was Moon Poodle!

Fully Protected & The Moon PoodleThe Moon Poodle was listening as the heavens opened and the poodle piddled down on us as KT Tunstall hit the stage. A great set followed, my favourite being Other Side of the World or dark side of the poodle moon by the Black horse and a cherry tree, no that one actually came later… but don’t blame it on the Sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, blame it on the Boggle. I was past caring as I was now focused on keeping the umbrella in the right place for KT’s Mexican “brella” wave!

I caught a bit of the Mavericks but it was definitely time to head back to Coldham’s before I did myself mischief…

The folkmaster

Introducing… Tracey Browne

Everyone is Ordinary, an album invoking comparison to a host of singer-songwriters including…A British Joan Osborne perhaps, a 21st century Kirsty MacColl, a folkier Sarah McLachlan, a poppier Sheryl Crow…we invite you to judge for yourself… Continue reading Introducing… Tracey Browne