Gem Andrews – North

Gem Andrews’ powerful new album ‘North’ is an intimate and stirring collection of songs which tackles themes of mental illness, poverty, community and destitution. In this dark country album, Andrews opens up the murkiest corners of her mind, and tells stories which are in turn despairing, hopeful and furious.

Running through every song is Gem’s spiritual home; the North East of England, sometimes as subject and sometimes as backdrop. The album is infused with the warmth and energy of the region, and pays tribute to local legends, including the late, great poet Julia Darling.

Gem’s songs capture the rage of the North, railing against a political class that have destroyed the livelihood and pride of the people and left them to waste.

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 helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

The Band
Gem Andrews – Vocals, Guitar, Banjo
Nicky Rushton – Piano, Accordion, Electric Guitar, Harmony Vocals
Sarah Van Jellie – Double Bass, Harmony Vocals
Bernard Wright – Violin, Mandolin, Harmony Vocals
Susanne Lambert – Drums, Percussion, Harmony Vocals

Here is “Calling”, an old gem from Gem.

Artist’s website:


Legacy Recordings to Release Johnny Cash: Forever Words, an Album of Cash’s Unknown Poems & Other Writings Transformed into New Songs by Contemporary Artists

Album Features New Performances by Chris Cornell, Ruston Kelly & Kacey Musgraves, Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Kris Kristofferson & Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, John Mellencamp, Carlene Carter, Elvis Costello, The Jayhawks, and More

When Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash passed, they left behind what John Carter Cash, their son and Johnny Cash: Forever Words co-producer, describes as a “monstrous amassment” of things, including a treasure trove of undiscovered material that includes Johnny Cash’s handwritten letters, poems and documents, penned across the entirety of his life.

Over the past two years, album producers John Carter Cash and Steve Berkowitz invited a stellar cast of musicians to create new music to accompany these newly discovered Cash writings.

Recorded primarily at The Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, Johnny Cash: Forever Words is also the musical companion to the best-selling “Forever Words: The Unknown Poems,” a volume of Cash’s unpublished writing edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon and curated by John Carter Cash and Steve Berkowitz.

Many of the songs on Johnny Cash: Forever Words were directly inspired by material in the book while others are drawn from different sources of Cash’s unpublished writings. The tone of the album is established with the opening track “Forever/I Still Miss Someone” featuring Kris Kristofferson reciting the last poem Cash ever wrote alongside guitar accompaniment from Willie Nelson, both lifelong friends of Johnny. Continuing the close-to-home theme, the music then transitions to the deeply personal “To June This Morning,” a letter Johnny wrote to his wife, June Carter Cash, now interpreted by real-life couple Ruston Kelly and Kacey Musgraves.

Twenty-one years after Johnny Cash recorded his cover of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” for his Grammy Award winning album, Unchained, Chris Cornell continues this special relationship with “You Never Knew My Mind,” setting some of Cash’s own poignant and introspective words to original music on one of Cornell’s last solo recordings.

The album also showcases Rosanne Cash, Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter, who interpreted her father’s “The Walking Wounded,” marking just the second time that she has collaborated on a record with her half-brother John Carter Cash.

John Carter Cash also collaborated here with his half-sister Carlene, his mother June’s first daughter, on “June’s Sundown.” Carlene Carter was just twelve years old when her mother June Carter married Johnny Cash, but bonded immediately with her stepfather who she referred to as “Big John.”

The Grammy Award winning bluegrass super-group Alison Krauss & Union Station made a rare recording together on “The Captain’s Daughter,” the group’s first new studio recording in six years.

“Determining the artist for each song was truly a matter of the heart,” said John Carter Cash. “I picked the artists who are most connected with my father, who had a personal story that was connected with Dad. It became an exciting endeavor to go through these works, to put them together and present them to different people who could finish them in a way that I believed that Dad would have wanted.”

When making the Johnny Cash: Forever Words album, producers John Carter Cash and Steve Berkowitz tapped into a spirit of musical collaboration between the musicians and the words of Johnny Cash. The goal of Johnny Cash: Forever Words was not to create a “lost” Johnny Cash album, but rather for musicians to connect with these poems and allow them to flourish in a new musical world.

Johnny Cash: Forever Words
1. Forever/I Still Miss Someone – Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson
2. To June This Morning – Ruston Kelly and Kacey Musgraves
3. Gold All Over the Ground – Brad Paisley
4. You Never Knew My Mind – Chris Cornell
5. The Captain’s Daughter – Alison Krauss and Union Station
6. Jellico Coal Man – T. Bone Burnett
7. The Walking Wounded – Rosanne Cash
8. Them Double Blues – John Mellencamp
9. Body on Body – Jewel
10. I’ll Still Love You – Elvis Costello
11. June’s Sundown – Carlene Carter
12. He Bore It All – Daily and Vincent
13. Chinky Pin Hill – I’m With Her
14. Goin’, Goin’, Gone – Robert Glasper featuring Ro James, and Anu Sun
15. What Would I Dreamer Do? – The Jayhawks
16. Spirit Rider – Jamey Johnson

Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release Johnny Cash: Forever Words – a collaborative album consisting of songs created from Johnny Cash’s unknown poetry, lyrics, and letters set to music by an astounding array of contemporary artists on Friday 6th April.

Johnny Cash: Forever Words will be available on CD, 2LP Vinyl and Digital formats.

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 helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Web links:

GARY MILLER – Mad Martins (Whippet WPTCDB24)

Mad MartinsI shouldn’t need to explain about Gary Miller but for our younger readers: Gary was lead songwriter with The Whisky Priests, a very fine (and rather tough looking) post-punk folk-rock band from the north-east. After a while away from the front line he returned in 2010 with the excellent album, Reflections On War. The first of two projects emerging this year, Mad Martins is a three-CD box set housed in a lavish hard-back book and will later be a stage presentation

I didn’t know much about the three Martin brothers, although I have seen at least one of John’s paintings – an enormous apocalyptic Biblical scene, probably The Day Of His Wrath. More of John later. Each of the three CDs is dedicated to one of the brothers and will be one act of the stage play, so we begin with William, the eldest brother. He aspired to be a renaissance man, sorry THE Renaissance Man, and if you want evidence of his madness, just listen to ‘William Martin’s Dream’. He had been a soldier and a ropemaker, became an inventor and pamphleteer and the world’s greatest natural philosopher – at least in his own mind.

Now you might think that this is an odd subject for a major project but Gary’s skill as a songwriter and his construction of the piece is sufficient to draw you in from the start. His style is earthy and robust and his borrowing of traditional tunes adds an extra authenticity. He handles most of the lead vocals and about half of the instruments, most of the rest being played by producer Iain Petrie. Keith Armstrong leads the important spoken word sections – Gary’s accent is perhaps a little too strong – with an ensemble including Richard Doran, Mick Tyas, Ann Sessoms and Gary’s brother Glenn. There is a separate album, Fair Flowers Among Them All, featuring these instrumental sections.

Next we come to Jonathan Martin: now he was mad! A strange child, by all accounts, he was first a shepherd, then press-ganged into the navy. His naval adventures are quite remarkable if his own accounts are to be believed but it allows Gary to compose a shanty and a hornpipe. Next he became a tanner and then a preacher with a remarkably anti-authoritarian take on religion. He was committed for plotting to assassinate the Bishop of Oxford. ‘Shoot The Bishop’ recounts the circumstances that brought this about. Remarkably, he escaped the asylum twice and his next plan was to burn down York Minster. He set the fire and escaped but was captured and committed to Bedlam where he died.

Again, Gary blends original songs with Jonathan’s own words with two extracts from writings by Charles Dickens and traditional tunes. The whole disc rocks along and you almost feel some sympathy for Jonathan by the end.

John Martin probably wasn’t mad but he heard the Word of God. He’s probably the most famous and the most enduring of the Martin brothers as his monumental biblical paintings attest. Like William, John was something of a polymath; one of his projects was a sewage system for London, related in earthy relish in ‘Drainage Scheme’. His ideas inspired John Bazalgette who designed the system that is still in use. On this final disc, Gary looks to Keith Armstrong for many of the spoken word sections.

As a painter, John was a friend to royalty and Gary’s music has an appropriately bombastic tone which is where the orchestration of The Albert Ness Ensemble and The Lick Spittals’ horns come into their own. Despite his success, John fell into poverty and the later songs have rather simpler accompaniments but he fought back beginning with The Coronation Of Queen Victoria before died peacefully in1855.

Mad Martins is a magnificent piece of work, transcending both the traditional ideas of folk-rock as represented by The Whisky Priests and the established view of what a singer-songwriter should be. It isn’t inexpensive, as you might imagine, but it’s worth every penny that you spend on it.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

Buy Mad Martins from:

Promo video:

WILLOW SPRINGS – Urban Ghosts (S’quare Records SQR1)

Urban GhostsBased in Belfast, Willow Springs is essentially a vehicle for singer-songwriter Mark Crockard, Urban Ghosts supported by an assortment of fellow Irish musicians, being his debut album. An emerald-coloured Americana cocktail that shakes together Tex-Mex, Western swing and country, it’s an easy on the ear, fairly middle-of-the road affair, but that’s not intended as a criticism. Sometimes, it’s good to be able to just sit back and let an album flow over you without having to work at it. He wears his influences openly, the first number, the moody, twangsome guitar ‘I’m All Over You’, finding him sounding like Roy Orbison in his vocal tone and delivery, while on several occasions, he comes across like an Irish Willie Nelson, notably so on the waltzing piano ballad ‘It Still Hurts’, ‘Tender Lovin’ Feelin’’ and the jazzy roll of ‘Gone Southbound’ with Chris Haigh on fiddle.

Blending balladry with more uptempo numbers, with fine guitar work variously complemented with dobro, mandolin and melodic, Crockard touches on gospel notes the piano-led ‘You Saved A Drowning Man’, blows harmonica on the driving train rhythm shuffle of ‘The End Of The Pier Show’, croons Texicana pop with ‘Heart and Soul’, shades the cowboy ballad ‘Autumn Blues’ with Gaelic fiddle colours and channels Van Morrison for ‘Together We’ll Walk In Beauty’. It might not get him invited to play the trendy Americana joints, but it should ensure a warm welcome in the UK’s many Country Music clubs.

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 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:

Video trailer:

AURI – introducing a remarkable new trio


Everything begins with a vision. A virtuoso imagination hovering auspiciously in the air, composed of multi-faceted fragments and ideas that gradually become more concrete, slowly taking shape and then finally forming out of the minds of their makers as a new project. Completely unexpected, it’s just a natural, flowing process. This is just what happened with these three outstanding, internationally successful musicians who have created a musical gem in the form of AURI, which shines even brighter than the glittering Polar Star in the night sky. Johanna Kurkela, Tuomas Holopainen and Troy Donockley – the charismatic protagonists behind AURI – take their eponymous debut on a fairytale journey through time and space, far from here and now reminding us of the fantastic adventures of Alice In Wonderland.

Comprehensive sound cascades full of magical and surreal moments that touch all senses await us; sometimes yearning and dreamy, then again rousing and intense. AURI celebrate a kind of epic-romantic ethno pop that seems to float in quaint spheres, which are intangible yet unleash multi-faceted soundscapes filled with powerful imagery. These sound cascades are based on Celtic traditional sounds, atmospheric-cinematic dream sequences, melancholic melodies and a touch of transfigured mysticism; beautiful instrumentation yielding an unfathomable depth.

Let’s start from the very beginning:

“The original idea to call this project AURI came from the Patrick Rothfuss books”, explains Nightwish mastermind Tuomas Holopainen – an exceptional composer, founder of the world’s most successful symphonic metal band of our time and innovative pioneer for an entire genre. “There is this female character called AURI, who is a very impressive character. The narrative of the books is one of my eternally favourite novels, but it is not just this character – AURI; the symbol of this word just goes perfectly with the kind of music we do. Something is inherent in the concept that lets you know immediately what we are all about. It symbolises the project very well. It’s the perfect match in every way.”

And he is right. AURI is also a Finnish maiden name and derives from the Latin term Aurora, which means dawn. A word that could not have been more significant for this project, because as enigmatic and mysterious as the moment in which the sun rises, saying goodbye to the nocturnal sky and slowly awakening the world out there to life, also appears that particular formation. “A magic dwells in each beginning”, the poet Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962) once said. And what could be more magical than the magic of the first dawn, which marks the beginning of a new day – maybe even a new life?

AURI made its way to life through the faith of three passionate artists who felt the need for music to exist which they could not describe, formed simply by a harmonious symbiosis. In 2011 the band came up with the idea of creating something in common for the first time.

“We have known each other for a long time and we are really good friends in our free time as well. We see each other constantly and realised early on that we share a preference for similar musical landscapes. We think the same about music, we enjoy the same music and love to create music. So it was an obvious thing for us to start a joint project to find out what we can do together. We were just curious. By that time Troy had already written a song called ‘Aphrodite Rising’. We made a demo of that song and were totally enthusiastic, as we knew immediately that this would work and that we should definitely record a full length album.”

Unfortunately, there was no time then so the project had to wait for some years.

“The band was busy with Nightwish and also Johanna was hooked up with her solo albums, the time just wasn’t right but the idea never let go of us”, recalls Tuomas. “But when we decided to take this year off of Nightwish in 2017, it was clear that the time was right to put it all together and see what we came up with. We wrote new songs, flew to Cornwall for the photo shoot and recorded the album over the summer at my place in Finland. Troy played his parts in England. We also had some selected guest musicians from the Netherlands and the UK on board. Everybody did a great job and we mixed the whole thing in September.”

What characterises AURI and what is always apparent is the beautiful connection which unites the talented trio.

“One of my favourite quotes comes from British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958), who once remarked in an interview: `It never seems to occur to people that a man just wants to write a piece of music´”, quotes the Finnish sound artist. “That was his philosophy for writing music and that is pretty much the thing with AURI as well! There is no hidden meaning; we just enjoy creating music together. What you hear is what you get. It happens by itself. Basically it’s the same process with Nightwish. I do not see a big difference in that, except one thing; Nightwish have just grown into a giant behemoth, it’s a completely different dynamic. And then you have AURI – a whole new project with just three people, who are starting from scratch.”

The main reason for Tuomas to let Nightwish pause for a year was that he felt he had reached the absolute creative peak as a songwriter and composer with the current masterpiece Endless Forms Most Beautiful,

“especially with the last track ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’”, he sighs. “I could not feel anything songwriting wise and tried to write some tracks during the break, but got stuck. It seemed that nothing could help me out. I felt like I had no more stories to tell, it was weird. I didn’t feel like working on music at all during that time, I didn’t feel like working on Nightwish at all. But with AURI I found focus again. And the moment we held the final master in our hands, all the dams seemed to break and for the next two months I was doing pretty much nothing except Nightwish and working on a lot of new songs. A whole new world opened up for me. I cannot even say what exactly happened but working with AURI has given me a lot and I feel inspired again.”

AURI is the result of a shared passion. Everyone was involved in everything. However, Tuomas Holopainen does not want to reveal too much about the songs and their stories, “since the listener should bring their own story to the songs – after all, that’s what makes the album so beautiful.

“It lives from the imagination of every single person!” says the composer. “But what I can tell you is that some of the content and the song lyrics are inspired by the Patrick Rothfuss books. Maybe people who know those books and those stories will recognise some parallels and certain scenarios, but believe me; the album equates to so much more.”

If Tuomas describes ‘Auri’ in his own words, he cannot help but smile.

“Just a few days ago, we had this conversation within the band and we thought about the best way to describe it. Two terms came to our minds; Rabbit Hole Music and Celestial Metal. Obviously you can hear influences from folk music, Celtic music, soundtracks – all that music that we love and adore, but categorising the style is really impossible. I’ll leave that to the listeners.” A tour is currently not planned but one thing is already certain: “This is definitely not just a one album thing!”

So sit back, close your eyes and let yourself fall into the depths. A world of wonder and miracles awaits you behind the mirrors. Are you ready?

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 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:

‘Night 13’ – official video:

Jon Boden’s intimate bonfire

Jon Boden
Photograph by Tim James

Jon Boden will be performing tracks from his recent album Afterglow round a campfire at a secret location in London (press only event) on 22 March in preparation for the main tour (dates featured below).

Off the back of curating last year’s Cambridge Folk Festival, Afterglow is Boden’s first solo release since disbanding his hugely successful crossover folk outfit Bellowhead (over quarter of a million records sold, with sellout shows including the Royal Albert Hall). This special performance comes in anticipation of Jon’s headline UK tour throughout April and May.

Featuring other former members of Bellowhead amongst his own Remnant Kings band, Jon drew various inspiration for Afterglow from the writings of the likes of Margaret Atwood and Richard Jeffries, Lewes’ notorious coastal Bonfire Night celebrations, and The Dark Mountain Project (a creative collective who’ve also recently influenced the work of Susanne Sundfør).

Jon Boden solo dates:
April 2018:
Tues 17th | Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon / 01874 611 622 /
Weds 18th | Pontio, Bangor / 01248 38 28 28 /
Thurs 19t | Canolfan y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth Arts Centre / 01970 62 32 32 /
Fri 20th | Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea / 01792 602 060 /
Sat 21st | The Brewhouse, Taunton / 01823 283 244 /
Sun 22nd | The Stables, Milton Keynes / 01908 280 800 /
Mon 23rd | New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme / 01782 717 962 /
Tues 24th | Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham / 01476 406 158 /
Weds 25th | The Apex, Bury St. Edmunds / 01284 758 000 /

Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings dates:
April 2018:
Fri 27th | Victoria Hall, Saltaire / 01274 588 614 /
Sat 28th | The Winding Wheel, Chesterfield / 01246 345 222 / Ticket Hotline 01773 853428 /
Sun 29th | Vivacity Key Theatre, Peterborough / 01733 207 239 /
Mon 30th | Civic Theatre, Chelmsford / 01245 606 505 /

May 2018:
Tues 1st | The Brook, Southampton / 02380 555 366 /
Weds 2nd | Cheltenham Town Hall / 0844 576 2210 /
Thurs 3rd | Hall for Cornwall, Truro / 01872 262 466 /
Fri 4th | Colston Hall, Bristol / 0117 203 4040 /
Sat 5th | Exeter Phoenix / 01392 667 080 /
Sun 6th | Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury / 01743 281281 /

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 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:

Read Jean Camp’s review of Afterglow here: