THE BARKER BAND – The Land We Hold Dear (BB Records BAR008)

TLWHDI have to confess that I hadn’t heard of The Barker Band before this album turned up…and it’s their sixth. They come from west London and the founding Barkers are twins Sam and Jake and their father Lenny who, sadly, died before the record was completed. The twins wrote ‘Don’t Fear The End’ in his memory.

I find it sad and surprising that a band this good has been around so long without coming to wider attention. That said, they have played Glastonbury and this record is already in The Daily Telegraph’s list of top folk music albums of the year so maybe it’s just here in the sticks that the word hasn’t got out. Their style is classic folk-rock blended with bluegrass thanks to Sam Barker’s banjo and Simon Cohen’s fiddle – up-tempo and energetic with the Barkers’ strong harmonies supporting lead vocalist Nella Johnson. I bet they’re a storming live act.

There are some cracking songs here, notably ‘The Fishing Song’ – The Barkers do have a thing about seafaring songs – which comes in two parts, the first of which is gorgeous and stately and is followed by what sounds like barely controlled rage at the loss of a boat and her crew. Then there is ‘Holy Word’, a sort of anti-gospel song and a really clever idea. ‘Polly’ epitomises the bluegrass elements of the band’s music; a rolling banjo murder ballad and that’s followed by ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ which is pretty much a Cajun two-step. It all sounds so very natural, whatever they do.

The Land We Hold Dear is a record I enjoyed instinctively when I first heard it – I really didn’t want to subject it to analysis but “this is good, go out and listen” doesn’t actually constitute a review.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artists’ website: www.barkerband.com

‘You Took The Best Of Me’ live:

Good Lovelies – new single and album

Good Lovelies

Canadian folk trio, Good Lovelies, are excited to release double A-side single ‘In The Morning’ / ‘Waiting For You’ taken from their eagerly anticipated new album, Burn The Plan set for release on June 15 on Six Shooter Records.

With Burn The Plan, Good Lovelies are both fulfilling and defying their so-called musical destiny as a ‘folk trio’. There is a new spirit of adventurousness that gives Burn The Plan an extra spark; the album is permeated with textures and tones from musical worlds away.

2011’s Juno-nominated Let The Rain Fall was the last time the Good Lovelies released a full-length studio album; a follow up to their self titled album released in 2009 which won them New Emerging Artist at the Canadian Folk Music Awards and a Juno for Roots / Traditional Album of the Year.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.
Watch the official video of ‘In The Morning’:

Artists’ website: http://goodlovelies.com/

THE POOZIES – Into The Well (Schmooz SchmoozCD002)

IntoTheWellThe Poozies isn’t so much a band as an academy for female musicians. Stars who have passed through its ranks include Patsy Seddon, Kate Rusby, Karen Tweed and Sally Barker, who has how returned to the fold. A constant presence has been harpist Mary Macmaster and the electro-harp is the band’s defining sound. Into The Well is their seventh studio album in a career stretching back over twenty years with the current members recording five times that number of records as soloists or in other partnerships.

The album opens with ‘Percy’s’, a sprightly set of four tunes: one traditional, one Poozie original and two borrowed as is the fashion these days. That’s followed by ‘Southern Cross’, a song by Andrew Peter Griffiths who doesn’t seem to have recorded or written anything else. It’s a song about modern piracy in the southern oceans and I’d venture to suggest that The Poozies did well to find it before Fairport Convention did – I can imagine them giving it the full folk-rock treatment.

Next is a puirt-à-beul called ‘Churinn’ paired with another tune by Mairearad Green. I’m having trouble with this because it sounds like Eildih Shaw and/or Mairearad and Mary are singing “fucking yeah” repeatedly. There are two sets of lyrics associated with this title and, although I’m no Gaelic speaker, I can’t match what they’re singing to either of them. Still, we need something to make us laugh today.

There is one slightly jarring note and that is Sally Barker’s ‘Ghost Girl’. It’s a pop song – a superior one, no doubt and with rather more words than the average top 10 hit – but a pop song nonetheless. It contains a superb instrumental break but one which sounds as though it belongs somewhere else. The song itself is beginning to grow on me but it still feels out of place. The other pop song is ‘Three Chords And The Truth’ but that seems to fit better. Finally I should mention ‘Small Things In The Cupboards’, a poem by Julia Darling with music by Tim Dalling. Some might find it amusing but I think it’s very clever and insightful.

With one ever-decreasing reservation, I declare Into The Well a very fine album and commend The Poozies on more than holding their own in the crowded world of innovative music from Scotland. You might even say that Mary and Patsy helped to start it all off with Delighted With Harps.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.poozies.co.uk

OK, so it’s not on this album but it’s a great song. ‘Another Train’:

Barrule announce second album

Barrule

Two years ago, exciting new trio Barrule were men on a mission – to bring Manx music to the wider world. Their refreshingly different, self-titled debut album won instant acclaim and resonated through the Celtic music world, culminating in a Best Debut win at the 2014 Spiral Awards run by popular music website Spiral Earth.

Named after the famous Manx summit, where legend says the ancient Celtic God Manannan Mac Lir stalked his mighty fortress, Barrule fuses three distinct musical forces – Mabon frontman and accordion wizard Jamie Smith, gifted young fiddler Tomás Callister and bouzouki master Adam Rhodes. Together this compact but versatile acoustic unit pull off a powerful and wholly distinctive sound putting the small island in the Irish Sea firmly on the map.

Since the band’s formation, Barrule’s “three legs” have hit the ground running with major festival appearances including Celtic Connections, WOMAD, Sidmouth, Festival Interceltique de Lorient and Melbourne’s National Celtic Festival, to name just a few.

ManannanNow they return with the arresting, atmospheric and mysterious Manannan’s Cloak released May 11.This is a rich collection of traditional and contemporary Manx material from rousing marches, jigs and reels, to sorrowful slow airs and beautiful songs sung in both English and the Manx Gaelic language and executed with class musicianship from Smith and his cohorts.

Says Jamie: “With this new material we’ve explored the links between some of the basic Manx melodies and the music of our Celtic cousins either side of us across the Irish Sea, whilst retaining the inherent Manxness of the music. These songs and tunes reflect the unique culture of the island, steeped in the history and mythology of its Celtic and Viking ancestry and self-governed for over a thousand years. They embrace a language and music so nearly lost and so important to nurture.”

With bold but sensitive arrangements, Barrule’s music is a breath of fresh air elevating the Isle of Man’s largely untapped native music to a new level of performance and musicianship.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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://www.barruletrio.com/

‘Mylecharaine’s March’:

BEAU – Shoeless in the Desert (Cherry Red BEAUSITD1)

BeauCDThe second album of new material from Trevor Midgley since he resurfaced last year with Fly The Bluebird and the subsequent reissue of his 1971 Creation album, this too is a download only release and again features just Beau (who, should I need to remind you, launched John Peel’s Dandelion label; back in 1969) and his 12-string acoustic guitar. As with all his work, it’s very much troubadour folk, rooted in the same 70s soil as the early works of Roy Harper, Dylan, Harvey Andrews (whom his voice sometimes recalls) and Country Joe McDonald, his songs offering political observation and commentary as well as more personal concerns.

Immigration and the response to it is the theme of the powerful album opener ‘Storm in The Eye of God’ while, on a vaguely connected note, ‘America For Sale’ (which has a definite air of Jake Thackray) addresses the notion of both selling your heritage and consumer capitalism and ‘The Oyster & The Pearl’ (from whence comes the album title) is a fable about unequal relationships, exploitation, who does the heavy lifting and who gets the rewards.

Religion looms large too, ‘Guardians of Their Own Truth’ speaking of the deep-rooted self-interest of those who preach it, album closer ‘The Atheist Hymn’ is about the right not to believe while, taking a more storytelling bent, ‘The Deacon’s Revenge’ is a good old Gothic yarn.

Elsewhere, subjects embrace faltering relationships (‘Theatre Song’), the instinct to move on (‘Behind The Eye of the Mind’), the nature and purpose of dreams (a delicate fingerpicked ‘This Is Your Dream’), taking credit for just being lucky (the folk-country strum Uncle Joe) and, based on the theme from Sibelius’ ‘Finlandia’, ‘The Tree Of Life’ is a meditation on the frightening image of kids with guns and a hope for a brighter tomorrow. ‘Don’t Let Them Take You Away’ is even an ode to duodenal ulcers, hypertension and heart attacks, and a reminder to slow down and take it easy. Some forty-six years after his debut, although he’s never dropped out of making music, Beau remains very much a cult figure and it’s highly unlikely things are going to much change. Even so, it’s really about time you got his sand between your toes.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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.trevormidgley.com/

It’s almost impossible to find current videos of Beau but here’s his 1969 recording, ‘1917 Revolution’: