AMY GODDARD – Burn & Glow ( Incantus Media)

Burn&GlowI tend to approach new singer-songwriters warily. After all, it’s quite something to put your deepest thoughts out there for public consumption and I may not want to know about the inner workings of a troubled psyche. Secondly, new singer-songwriters are usually young and I’m more … not. You can argue that human feelings and concerns are universal and you’d be right but the social context is mutable and often the deeper mystery. I know what to expect from Leonard Cohen but I don’t know what I’m going to hear from, say, Amy Goddard.

Fortunately, Amy has wisdom and experience beyond her tender years and is a damn fine songwriter with an ear for a sprightly melody like ‘Morning Train’ decorated by Rob Crocker’s mandolin and a country chorus of backing vocalists. ‘Lonesome Picker’s Last Hurrah’ is Amy’s tribute to John Stewart and it’s followed by one of his songs, ‘Jasmine’. Amy doesn’t really sing country, though, for all the mandolin and slide guitar stylings but I’m sure that she could coarsen her beautifully modulated voice if she so desired to give us a dust and whiskey drawl.

Amy’s guitar playing is a distinctive as her voice: steel strung, simple and clean, it is enough to carry a song on its own and there are a number of exceptional songs here. The proceeds from ‘Don’t Try’, also released as a single, will go to the mental health charity, Sane. Its message is that it is sometimes enough to be there but you can’t mend the universe. ‘Taking The Edge Off The Day’ addresses the dangers of having “just the one” on too regular a basis and ‘Make You Whole’ is its opposite, about the comfort and pleasure to be found in a musical instrument. ‘Lullabies’ could be terribly mimsy except that these are by Brahms and Schubert and provide a contrast to ‘Web Of Lies’ which follows it. Finally ‘One More Song’ is a feeling that every gig-goer will be familiar with.

Burn & Glow is a splendid debut album and it deserves to do well as does Amy herself.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: www.amygoddardmusic.co.uk

Excerpts from the album launch concert:

THE ALBION CHRISTMAS BAND – One For The Road: Live in Concert (Rooksmere RRCD114)

14TheRoadAnd the Christmas collections keep coming, this one courtesy of Santa Ashley Hutchings and his festive troupe’s first live album, neatly coinciding with their annual jollity jaunt. Recorded last December at Kings Place in London as part of their 15th anniversary tour, it features a mix of songs, tunes and reading designed to recall the pleasures of more traditional English Christmases.

With Hutchings joined by Simon Nicol and Kellie While on guitar and vocals and Simon Care on melodeon, the mood’s set with the squeeze-box led ‘Sans Day Carol’, perhaps better known as ‘The Holly and the Ivy’, which, in turn, gives way to another traditional number with While taking lead vocals for ‘The King’ before Hutchings also weighs in midway. While also takes lead on the programme’s three relatively contemporary songs, first up being Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’ with the others being a melancholic reading of Alan Hull’s ‘Winter Song’ and, rather oddly, the Gary Jules arrangement of ‘Mad World’. Though given that it comes after the amusing reading about ‘How The Internet Started’ (about Abraham com and his wife, Dot), perhaps it’s quite appropriate.

Perhaps surprisingly, there’s only one whole instrumental in the whole show, Care’s arrangements of ‘Calling On’ and ‘Hogmanay’, brought together in a melodeon cocktail of the sedate and the thigh-slappingly raucous. There’s also only one band original, as following his explanation of Border Morris teams who tend to dance in the midwinter, comes ‘Mr Trill’s/Gloucester Hornpipe’, the first part penned by Hutchings and Bob Pegg with the words taken verbatim from Trill’s account of the Morris tradition to Cecil Sharp on his visit to Broomfield.

Otherwise, the tunes and songs are either Trad.arr or by those two well known practitioners of seasonal fayre, Sidney Carter and Christina Rosetti, the former represented by two obscure carols, the regional ‘Julian of Norwich’ (complete with historical background introduction) and, tambourine rattling, a robust, lusty ‘Come Love Carolling’, and the latter with a reading from her poem ‘Advent’ followed by a lovely version of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ which set her words to music by Gustav Holst.

George Woodward’s rousing ‘Past Three O’Clock’ takes things up to the interval (the recording’s so complete it has Hutchings announcing the break and that they have a shop the audience can visit) with the second half getting under way with a reading rather than rendition of ‘Herod The Cock’ leading, fittingly enough, into ‘Chanticleer’, a variation of ‘The Chanticleer’s Carol’ by William Austin from the C17th rather than more recent carols of the same name.

After ‘Mad World’, the show winds up with a batch of familiar carols, a ten minute medley of ‘Sweet Chiming Bells’ (named from the tune and chorus interpolated with ‘While Shepherds Watched’), ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘The First Nowell’, taking the farewell bow with a galumphing ‘Seven Joys Of Mary’ designed to send you carousing off into the winter’s evening in search of mince pies and mulled wine. If you can’t make one of the shows, this is pretty much the next best thing.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one 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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Artists’ website: www.albionchristmas.co.uk

‘The Seven Joys Of Mary’:

Matt Woosey – new album, Wildest Dreams

Matt WooseyWildest Dreams is Matt Woosey’s seventh full length release since 2008. This album is similar to his previous material in that it contains a certain number of blues and/or blues influenced songs although the overall spectrum of his song writing is broader and more mature than before. Ranging from ethereal folk to Pink Floyd-esque vibes and from Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac to full-on blues riffage, Wildest Dreams takes Woosey fans and new listeners alike on a journey through the man’s soul and musical heritage. Six of the ten tracks are brand new compositions, one is a reworked band version of a previously released solo recording, two from a previous limited release EP and one a radio edit of the albums’ single ‘Exactly As We Please’, a sun-drenched, chilled-out song calling for people to make time for each other in this frantically busy world of ours.

Wildest Dreams was recorded at Monnow Valley studios in Monmouthshire,  and of the recording Woosey says “It was such a joy to be part of, I think we managed to capture a great atmosphere during those days in the studio, the songs have come to life and it is a record I’m immensely proud of.”

The appeal of Wildest Dreams for music fans is the versatility of the song writing and playing on the album without watering down Woosey’s trademark sound and energy. The band is tight and the songs are performed with a free flowing ease which bridges the cross-genre stylings effortlessly. Today, Matt’s playing is often compared to Jimmy Page’s extraordinary blues-rock style, Rory Gallagher’s improvisational flair and John Martyn’s heavy handed acoustic onslaughts.

Matt Woosey’s refreshing musical song writing and playing style combines acoustic blues, folk and rock conveyed with an accomplished vocal delivery which has been defined as The Woosey Blues. His ability to combine originality with a broad musical knowledge has gained him praise from sources as varied as Paul Jones (BBC2), Tom Robinson (BBC 6 Music) and blues News.de who quote Matt as being “The Best British bluesman since Rory Gallagher“.
During 2012 & 2013 Matt was averaging almost a gig a day! With tours in Europe, South Africa and Australia he has expanded his fan base and so far, in 2014, has appeared on the Paul Jones Blues show on BBC Radio 2 with his EP Hook, Line and Sinker. A simultaneous broadcast of the EP’s title track on 39 BBC local radio stations and numerous media interviews have raised Matt’s profile significantly.

With the release of Wildest Dreams Matt will headline a UK tour in the autumn to promote it and 2015 is being planned to take in larger venues, festivals and a potential North American and European tour.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one 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.

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.mattwoosey.co.uk/

‘Exactly As We Please’ – official video:

The Daydream Club – Spotify Curated Playlist Leads To Mass Demand

Daydream ClubOne Million Plays in Two Weeks – Unsigned, With No Paid Support

Leicester based The Daydream Club are Adam Pickering and Paula Walker: an unsigned, self-releasing, DIY duo who met studying at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.  Until now, they were known for their girl/boy harmonies, and for delivering performances both epic and intimate in equal measure. That was until recently, as they have caused a sensation – by attracting over One Million plays on Spotify in just two weeks.

Their latest single ‘Soundwaves of Gold’ was added to a Spotify curated playlist titled ‘Autumn Acoustics’ – this then led to over 600,000 plays of the song, and over 500,000 of the title track of the EP it is from – Found. Paula Walker:

“We find it hard to wrap our heads around the idea that so many people have listened to our music. In gig terms, the O2 Arena is 20,000 capacity so we like to think of it as if we’ve done a virtual Arena tour”

Given recent news of Taylor Swift departing from Spotify, arguing the popular streaming platform does not pay enough to artists for the tracks it hosts, this could be seen as proof of the importance of Spotify and similar streaming services in helping new bands get noticed – in this case without any extra cash outlays or particular promotion, just good and deserving music. A blog titled ‘How Did An Unsigned Band Achieve One Million Plays In Two Weeks?’ was written about what has happened, itself shared over 350 times in a week and pushing the tracks plays even higher.

The Daydream Club are currently working on a new EP set for release early next year.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one 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.

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: httthedaydreamclub.com

‘Found’ – the official video:

JOHN MARTYN – Remembering John Martyn (Secret SECDDO54)

RememberingJohnMartynIn spite of the title suggesting a tribute by admiring friends, this is a worthy addition to the ever-growing archive releases complementing near two dozen albums solo, with his wife, and famous guests. Usually associated with Island Records, where he was the first white solo artist signed in ’67, he also featured on WEA (for surprisingly his first Top 30 listing), independents for further exploration (even trip-hop textures), and limited editions as one of the first DIYers: Live At Leeds and Philentropy (1983) were sold from his home. With a swathe of BBC releases (several songs were used for their films resulting in a Lifetime Achievement Award), an Island four-CD live/ studio selection in 2008, and even an 18 CD box last year, there are few musical legacies so well served.

Secret Records have added Remembering John Martyn (1948-2009) to their impressive wide catalogue. Two non-chronological CDs from the career-fulcrum Live At Leeds in 1975 to 1993 feature Danny Thompson or full-band alongside Paul Kossoff, Dave Gilmour, Gerry Conway and Phil Collins complementing his raw or plaintive voice, percussive finger-plucking counterpoised by echo drift that transports to a misty isle. Outspoken, uncompromising, unpredictable (mid-career he busked—by choice—in Moscow near Kilmarnock), the troubadour who lived music on a daily basis tells his life across the decades.

Misperceived as Scottish with an accent hard as a Glaswegian rivet, Iain McGeachy was in fact from New Malden, a now rather bleak London suburb split by a fly-over near Hampton Court, just a couple of miles down the road from where Sandy Denny and Mumford were born. After his opera-singer parents split-up he listened to his mother’s Debussy, jazz, and Scottish folk records in Kingston during school holidays from Glasgow, then joined the long line of musicians graduating from art college. Taking up the guitar mid-teens, he was mentored by the protest folk singer Hamish Imlach then influenced by Davey Graham’s east-meets-west style and Clive Palmer of the Incredible String Band who lived nearby in their Scottish retreat (Martyn fondly recalled sharing a shed in Cumbria with Palmer).

Moving south he signed to Island for the mono London Conversations (1967) but soon surprised with the jazz-inflected, Al Stewart-produced The Tumbler (1968), the result of a single afternoon session at 200 quid. By 1970 his acoustic was rigged up to a fuzz-box, phase shifter and echoplex, premiered on Stormbringer! (with The Band’s Levon Helm and Mundi from The Mothers of Invention, written during downtime at Woodstock) and over -produced The Road To Ruin with his then wife Beverley, met when he did a session with the singer. The new sound (“I wanted to imitate Pharoah Sanders’ records”) placed the pioneer in a wider sphere though he retained fondness for traditional folk clubs. A zenith saw 1973’s Solid Air—its title track written for his friend, label-mate and equally haunted Nick Drake who died a year later—recorded with Fairport Convention. In 1999, Q magazine voted it one of the best-ever relaxation (“chill-out”) albums. Martyn’s vocals became an equally distinctive instrument, as electrifying as his wired-up guitar, for folk, blues, jazz, reggae, funk and rock in a unique style.

Hunched as if seeking to defy gravity, the intensity recalls Kevin Coyne, early Medicine Head or even Spacemen Three as well as bluesmen’s tales of woe and fleeting joy. Talk of national treasures, legends and stars is simply lazy misuse of language; reputation and longevity consists of quality writing allied to original delivery, and this one-man band of emotion fits well in that class. His lyrics flow between the sensual and satiric (‘Glorious Fool’ mocked Reagan; ‘John Wayne’ was a dig at an ex-manager) as fluently as from love and joy to pain. An intoxicating transmission of personal demons (drink, drugs, gambling, marital break-up) led to Island blocking Grace And Danger but he won them over because “It’s what I’m about: direct communication of emotion”. Likening his songs to diaries, it was cathartic though whether therapeutic one can only hope.

Disc one kicks off with a jazzy full-band and Gilmour for ‘Big Muff’, ‘Lookin’ On’ (highlighting his vocal range) and ‘Couldn’t Love You More’. An atmospheric ‘Fine Lines’ lilts into a 12-piece band’s ‘Head And Heart’ which would be Cohen if the latter had the range. The classic ‘Johnny Too Bad’ stomps, an echoplex-driven live band version (1986) of the cover he made his own. Soul-drenched ‘The Moment’ is one of two live in his adopted Glasgow, the title-track ‘Bless The Weather’ metaphors hard times reworked with keys in ’93. Live tracks from that decade feature the sole co-write with Pentangle’s Danny Thompson (‘Mad Dog Days’) and the moving ‘Ways To Cry’ during a period revisiting a rich catalogue. What the band format may lose in power compared to the solo trance wig-outs, it adds a varied atmospheric space for vocal and guitar nuance.

Disc two’s dozen are mostly with his brother-like Danny Thompson or as a trio with percussion (and more foot-tap for us) apart from ‘My Baby Girl’, from the Live At Leeds bonus issue featuring Free’s Paul Kossoff, ill-fated to die the next year. A fine cross-section from Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre via Leeds to Germany: ‘One Day Without You’ and astonishing 18-minute ‘Outside In’ is Martyn at his spaciest, smokiest best. Neat taping spins into Skip James’ ‘I’d Rather Be The Devil’; few could stretch this variant to the Solid Air bonus so hypnotically to eight minutes. Absence of solo work is made up for by this storming threesome. Solid Air is revisited (‘Over The Hill’; the jelly-rolling ‘Easy Blues’) while the closing popular traditionals ‘Spencer The Rover’ and ‘Black Man At Your Shoulder’ are a haunting return to his origins. No ‘May You Never’ or appropriately-titled ‘Glistening Glyndebourne’, but they’re often compiled anyway. With detailed track info and timings, this 135 minute visit to the rare and once-lost of one Beth Orton calls the Guv’nor is a must-have for fans as well as an excellent intro for the curious.

Brian R Banks

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one 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.

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.

Label website: http://www.secretrecordslimited.com

John Martyn with Dave Gilmour – ‘One World’:

Geppetto And The Whales – debut album from Belgian band

Geppetto

Geppetto And The Whales are an indie, psychedelic, folk, pop, rock band from Belgium. Something of a big deal over there, they recently released their debut album Heads Of Woe with much acclaim in their native Benelux region after being signed to Warner Music and now they are delighted to release a single to the rest of mainland Europe and the world. This debut single ‘1814’ is a dark though beautiful love song based on a truly fascinating war story and is sure to become a winter felt anthem. Sander Sterkens from the band explains, “We’re very excited to introduce to you our single ‘1814’. This song is based on a 200 year old diary from someone who lived in the same village as we do. He had to fight in a Napoleonic war against his own people, was captured in Russia, escaped and made his way home on a 7000 miles foot journey. The way he describes the feeling of coming home after so many years is what we’ve tried to capture with this song. We hope you feel it too.”

1814The single is backed by the incredible B-side ‘Heads’ which offers a slice of beatnik groove and vocal harmony in a retro yet unique way. Both tracks give a reflective taste of the versatile quality dripping throughout Geppetto And The Whales, and indeed every single track on ‘Heads Of Woe’. A beautifully crafted debut, which sounds mature though full of youthful promise at the same time. It blends beautiful little melodies with overwhelming soundscapes and live the band demonstrate why they are repeatedly flagged as a must-see at some of Europe’s biggest festivals where they’ve shone, like Eurosonic and Pukkelpop.

The album comes two years after they made it to the finals of Humo’s Rock Rally in 2012 (a prestigious platform in Belgium which helped launch bands like dEUS and Balthazar) and a year and a half since releasing debut EP ‘People Of Galicove’ to rave reviews. Of their album their biggest national paper De Morgen describes ‘Heads Of Woe’ as, “a pure, often Beatlesque record on which the songs aren’t stuffed with more than it needs, and on which the beautiful three-part harmony jumps in the eye. Songs such as Jonathan, Heads and 1814 are accompanied by bright and pure melodies, and the music breathes in a wide, rustic atmosphere…”

‘1814’ is complimented by a striking animated video and Geppetto And The Whales will venture onto UK shores for dates across most cities including Hoxton Bar & Grill in London on December 17th. Debut single ‘1814’ is being self-released outside of Benelux on December 1st 2014.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one 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.

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: www.geppettoandthewhales.co

‘1814’ – the official video: