Rock legend Steve Hackett announces new album

Steve Hackett
Photograph by Tina Korhornen

Guitar virtuoso and rock legend, Steve Hackett (formerly of Genesis), releases his latest album The Night Siren on 24th March 2017 through InsideOut Music (Sony).  As implied in the title, The Night Siren is a wake-up call… the warning of a siren sounding in this era of strife and division.

The Night Siren showcases Steve’s incredible guitar playing as strongly as ever, along with regular Hackett collaborators and also musicians from several different countries who Steve invited to join him in celebrating multicultural diversity and unity. This includes singers from Israel and Palestine, who both actively campaign to bring Jewish and Arabic people together. There are also instrumentals from the USA and Iraq and a multiplicity of sounds, including the exotic strains of Indian sitar and Middle Eastern tar and oud, the ethnic beauty of the Peruvian charango and the haunting Celtic Uilleann pipes.

Steve is widely travelled, making friends everywhere he goes and has always embraced multicultural diversity.  In these times of unrest, he has been inspired to express his belief that the world needs more empathy and unity. His wish to involve a range of musical sounds, instruments, musicians and singers from different parts of the world is both a development of his eclectic approach to music and shows how people can be brought together, even from war torn regions.

Talking about his latest work, Steve says, “This latest waxing represents a bird’s eye view of the world of a musical migrant ignoring borders and celebrating our common ancestry with a unity of spirit, featuring musicians, singers and instruments from all over the world.  From territorial frontiers to walled-up gateways, boundaries often hold back the tide.  But while the night siren wails, music breaches all defences. To quote Plato, ‘When the music changes, the walls of the city shake’.”

The musical journey takes us from ‘Behind the Smoke’, focusing on the plight of refugees throughout the ages, to the penultimate track ‘West to East’ which reflects on the damage of war and the hope for a better world. From personal to universal, the themes celebrate the life force, breaking free from chains of repression.

The album features: Steve Hackett (guitar & vocals), Roger King (keyboards & programming), Nad Sylvan (vocals on Inca Terra), Rob Townsend (all things wind), Amanda Lehmann (vocals), Gary O’Toole (drums), and Benedict Fenner (additional keyboards & programming). Also featured are singers Kobi and Mira (Israeli and Palestinian), Nick D’Virgilio (drums) from the USA, Malik Mansurov (Tar) from Azerbaijan & Gulli Breim (drums & percussion) from Iceland. Additional musicians who add to the rich flavour of the album are Christine Townsend (violin & viola), Dick Driver (double bass), Troy Donockley (Celtic Uilleann) and Leslie Bennett (keyboards on ‘The Gift’).

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.

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Artist’s website:

‘In The Skeleton Gallery’:


A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar 17Having released their latest album, Good Times Will Come Again last year, MEGSON now lift the lead track, ‘Generation Rent’ (EDJ), as a single. A punchy protest against how today’s young generation find it impossible to get on to the property ladder, it comes as both album version and radio mix. Sandwiched in-between, there’s Morning Mist, a traditional-flavoured ballad that spotlights Debbie Hanna’s vocals, Stu providing harmony, set to a minimal acoustic guitar, and a live recording of Stu’s near six minute The Longshot, a football-themed song that celebrates striving against the odds rather than giving up, because when. there’s no hope, “ a longshot is better than none”.

Barbara DicksonAs a prelude to her spring tour with Troy Donockley BARBARA DICKSON releases an EP of Five Songs. The opening track is the traditional ‘Palace Grand’ – although it goes by several titles – accompanied initially by piano and acoustic guitar until the strings sweep in. Next is ‘Farewell To Fiunary’ starts with bodhran and drone building via multi-tracked vocals to a magnificent finish in which you can almost hear the creaking of oars on the Sound Of Mull. ‘The Hill’ is a Dickson/Donockley original with another lush arrangement while ‘The Laird Of The Dainty Dounby’ is an all-too familiar tale of the villainy of the aristocracy. Finally we have Robin Williamson’s ‘October Song’, a nicely thoughtful setting that honours the original and boasts a pipe solo from Donockley.

Singles Bar 17Born in Hampshire but based in East London, THOM ASHWORTH deals in the British folk tradition, his a stripped down approach played on bass. His self-released debut EP, Everyone’s Gone To The Rapture (available as a download from his website or as a limited edition CD) offers four examples of his work. Two traditional numbers load the front end with a sonorous reading of ‘Tyne Of Harrow’ and a moody drone-like treatment of familiar folk chestnut ‘Lord Bateman’. Not strictly traditional, the EP ends in striking style with a dark, minimal and spooked version of Sidney Carter’s ominous anti-war protest song ‘Crow On The Cradle’, the percussive heavy self-penned title track initially striking a kindred note, Named after a computer game apparently, it started out with a left over verse from a track on Interregum, the Marillion-like swansong album by Ashworth’s former band, Our Lost Infantry, and grew into a comment on how technology is taking away today’s livelihoods, as it did the weavers and miners before. A name to watch.

Whitney RoseWHITNEY ROSE may come from Canada, but her South Texas Suite (Six Shooter) EP celebrates her recent two month residency at Austin’s Continental Club with six songs of a Lone Star persuasion. It opens south of the border with the gorgeous Three Minute Love Affair, the sort of timeless Texicana ballad you could imagine either Marty Robbins or the Mavericks (Raul Malo produced 2016’s Heartbreak Of The Year album) doing. Four of the other tracks are also self-penned, ‘My Boots’ a playful twangy guitar Loretta Lynn-like tribute to her footwear, the steel-streaked ‘Bluebonnets For My Baby’ harking more to 60s doowop balladry, the reflective mid-tempo swayer ‘Looking Back On Luckenbach’ sounding pretty much as you might imagine from the title (Waylon’s spirit presumably hovering over the recording session) and the brief – and a touch pointless – guitars, steel, fiddle and honky tonk piano instrumental closer ‘How ‘Bout A Hand For The Band’,. The remaining number finds her in a laid back swing mood for a cover of Brennen Leigh’s ode to good old retro technology, ‘Analog’. She’s touring here in May and, on the evidence here, will be well worth catching.

Runaway HorseAnd while we’re musically in Austin, RUNAWAY HORSE are a trio from the same fronted by the breathily voiced Mari Tirsa, accompanied by guitarist Daniel Barrett with Rick Richards on drums. Their self-released five-track EP, Beautiful Blue, harks to cosmic Americana with songs rooted in the landscape her New Mexico raising. It’s all fairly sedate and dreamy (though closer ‘Arrive’ has a persistent percussive one foot marching beat underpinning its tinkling starry skies feel), with both opener Holy Water and the title having a gentle, hymnal quality. They’re a little bluesier on the five minute plus ‘The Well’ (the Fleetwood Mac to the Cowboy Junkies elsewhere) while the ticking rhythm of the slowly swelling ‘Once’ sees Tirsa stretching her keyboard wings to fine effect.

VARIOUS GUISES are the duo of Blanche Ellis and Maya McCourt and Tide Take Him marks their recording debut. They mix acapella vocals with guitar and cello and a little assistance from Tom Hyatt’s piano and vocalist Dana Immanuel. The title track is a reworking of ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor’ so that it’s no longer a shanty and instead is sung with a syncopated rhythm or slowed to a funereal pace. Tackling a song as hackneyed as this is always a risk but Various Guises really do something with it. With one more exception the songs are original ending with ‘The Sound And The Fury’ and the traditional ‘Bedlam Boys’ both of which are nicely nuts.

Barbara Dickson – new EP

Barbara Dickson

Barbara Dickson’s career spans 50 years and she is now recording some of her most interesting material, a fusion of old and new.

I started in folk clubs of the 1960s’, says Dickson, ‘and there I learned songs I’ve never forgotten.’ That material, paired with soaking up the ‘new’ songs of the time has given her a prodigious knowledge of music. Since 2004, she has been recording many of those songs with Troy Donockley, her collaborator and musical soulmate.

Five Songs is a taster of music they are playing on Barbara’s UK-wide concert tour, taking place in February and March, where they appear from Yeovil to Perth! The songs on the EP are a cross section of her favourites of now; 3 traditional songs, ‘Farewell to Fiunary’, ‘The Palace Grand’ and ‘The Laird of the Dainty Dounby’. The remaining two tracks are ‘October Song’ by Robin Williamson of The Incredible String Band and an original song by Barbara called ‘The Hill’.

Artist’s website:

Listen to ‘The Hill’ here:

Adrian Edmondson announces return of The Bad Shepherds

Adrian Edmondson and The Bad ShepherdsADE EDMONDSON

The Bad Shepherds announce new album and  UK Tour, “Mud, Blood & Beer”

After an extended hiatus during 2012, ADRIAN EDMONDSON’S celebrated folk-punk outfit THE BAD SHEPHERDS, have announced details of their return with a album and major 24-date UK tour. Both will be entitled ‘Mud, Blood and Beer.’

Ade tells the story in his own words… Continue reading Adrian Edmondson announces return of The Bad Shepherds

THE BAD SHEPHERDS – By Hook Or By Crook (Monsoon Music)

At first the idea of ‘folk’ with a punk attitude didn’t appeal to me more than likely due to my ‘traditional’ prejudices but when I heard that multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley was on board I thought perhaps I shouldn’t be too dismissive. And so it’s proved. Of course, having a front-man as famous as Ade Edmondson spitting out the words helps and third member All-Ireland champion Andy Dinan holds his own.  Continue reading THE BAD SHEPHERDS – By Hook Or By Crook (Monsoon Music)

BARBARA DICKSON – Words Unspoken (Greentrax Records CDTRAX353)

Having travelled musically from her recognised commercial sound back to traditional roots, Barbara Dickson has now become…more or less…a duo working with her collaborator of many years multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley. This album nails its ‘folk’ colours firmly to the mast by starting with “The Magical West” (co-written by the protagonists) featuring a technically nuanced display of low whistle provided by the former You Slosh member and serves as the appetizer before the main course. I would like to point out that those expecting ‘commercial’ styled arrangements won’t find it on this recording as this is a far subtler project reflected in Dickson’s choice of songs. From established ballads including “Jamie Raeburn” and “King Orfeo” to Robert Burns “Ca’ The Yowes” it would appear that Ms Dickson relishes the challenge in the re-birth of her musical direction and with arrangements that are sparse but effective she seamlessly appears to have crossed back with no difficulty. As stated before, this is predominantly a traditional recording with the only other concession being Paul Simon’sBridge Over Troubled Water” that finishes the album simply backed by Donockley’s finger picked guitar. Of course, Dickson’s retrospective career, having plied her trade in folk clubs now stands her in good stead for a return to the fold and it’s pleasing to note that she has already been booked by several ‘folk’ festivals throughout 2011. PETE FYFE