Acclaimed Californian folk singer-songwriter Rita Hosking releases her new mini-album ‘Little Boat’

RitaLittle Boat is Rita Hosking’s beautiful and insightful collection of seven new, all original songs, in the country-folk, Americana tradition and was recorded in November 2012 over four days in Austin, Texas at the home studio of Rich Brotherton, who also produced Rita’s highly acclaimed Burn (2011) and the award-winning Come Sunrise (2009). In contrast to those, Little Boat takes a somewhat simpler approach, with Rita on guitar and harmonica, husband Sean Feder on dobro and banjo, daughter Kora Federon clawhammer banjo, and Rich Brotherton on guitar, bass and various acoustic instruments.

The record’s title, Little Boat, comes from a lyric in the song ‘Blow Northwest Wind’ – “man and his little boat, thinkin’ bout what he’s got to show.” Says Rita of the title, “I think it appealed to me because when you’re out on the water in your little boat, you are acutely cognizant of your situation in life at the moment – what you have, and what you have not, to survive or make it where you need to go. It’s just you, mother nature, and your little boat.”

The title also points to the smaller size of the CD, seven songs that share the importance of an album’s journey and the handiness (and price) of a smaller vehicle. The first cut, ‘Parting Glass’, is an intimate, loving, but urgent reminder of mortality shared with Rita’s husband Sean on moving dobro and harmonies. Some songs feature Rita and Sean’s eldest daughter, Kora Feder (age 18) on clawhammer banjo and vocals, as well as one co-write with Rita. ‘Where Time is Reigning’ became a mother-daughter project after a visit to Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, and subsequent ponderings of the universe and all-powerful Time. What resulted is a poetic, tender banjo and guitar ballad with lovely harmonies and a touch of organ.

‘Clean’ meanwhile is a look inside the mind of a young housecleaner, and ‘Sierra Bound’, was written for a scientist friend of Rita’s inspired by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and ‘Nothing Left of Me’ is reminiscent of an “old-timey Suzanne Vega song”, at least in the words of producer Rich Brotherton. You’ll also hear the lullaby-like ‘Blow Northwest Wind’ where you can imagine the northern Great Lakes, and on which Brotherton plays the tenor guitar he first played, aged eight. The final song, ‘Five Star Location’, seems to pick up where Rita’s 2011 release, Burn, left off on ‘Ballad for the Gulf of Mexico’, where she asked, “what about the war on the working man?” In Rita’s words, “working to middle class, skilled jobs continue to disappear, and we are left looking at Wal-Mart and putting on parties for the rich.”

 “Her old-timey, keening vocals and simple accompaniments lie between Iris Dement and Gillian Welch, but her stoical tales and poetic touch are her own” Uncut

Burn made the Observer’s “Hidden Gems of 2011” list, received high praise from The Telegraph, “on scorching form,”  and Maverick, “heartfelt country soul set from someone who’s quietly become one of the best.”

“Like Nanci Griffith she has a way of taking tales of hardship, adversity and even death and crafting them into intense and heartfelt masterpieces.” Country Music People

“There’s a grit to her songs and sinewy toughness to her voice that weave their own spell.” Q Magazine

Artist web link: http://www.ritahosking.com/fr_home.cfm

“…the best-kept secret in the country-folk traditionalist movement … it’s high time Hosking got the recognition she deserves.” R2 Magazine

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Topic Records announce The Great Big Digital Archive Project 2013

70-years-of-Topic-150px The Great Big Digital Archive Project – 2013 

“Going Forward With Our Past”

From January 2013, the venerable and redoubtable Topic Records (now 74 years old) will be making available another of its ‘gifts to the nation’, in the form of The Great Big Digital Archive Project. Thereafter, a programme of 6 – 10 additional titles will be released every month throughout the year. With the possible exception of Smithsonian Records in the US, this will probably constitute the largest digital project of its kind undertaken by an independent record company anywhere in the world. Continue reading Topic Records announce The Great Big Digital Archive Project 2013

Birds of Chicago (JT Nero & Allison Russell) debut self-titled album is now released…

Birds of Chicago, a collective based around the collaboration between JT Nero (JT and the Clouds) and Allison Russell (Po’ Girl), released their self-titled debut album on January 28.

Birds of Chicago built a buzz for this album with a summer’s worth of memorable turns at festivals across the US and Canada, including High Sierra, Strawberry Music Festival, Kerrville, Delfest, Hillside (Ontario), American River Music Festival, Thirsty Ear, Joshua Tree, Pickamania, Taste of Chicago and more. They capped their summer with a performance on the influential live radio program, eTown, where they were dubbed the “dynamic duo” by hosts, Nick and Helen Forster. Continue reading Birds of Chicago (JT Nero & Allison Russell) debut self-titled album is now released…

ROBERT VINCENT – Life In Easy Steps – DB Industries DBICD5

ROBERT VINCENT Life In Easy StepsRobert Vincent’s debut album comes lavishly packed in a hardback booklet with a bonus disc if you get in quick. The Merseyside-born singer-songwriter has a mighty voice with hints of Iain Matthews and Roy Orbison in his upper range and a tight, powerful band to support him.

It opens with ‘In The Light Of The Stars’, quietly, acoustically and the first impression is that this is sort of thing you’ve heard a thousand times before. But then it moves up through the gears so when he repeats the pattern later on ‘Demons’ it sounds very different. I’m going to make my major criticism here, because it’s an important one. The lyrics are included but in handwriting that’s even worse than mine and decorated with artistic crossings-out – I’d like to study and think about them but I won’t do that while peering through a magnifying glass. Continue reading ROBERT VINCENT – Life In Easy Steps – DB Industries DBICD5

CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS – Infinite Sky Fat Cat FATCD027

CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS Infinite SkyChris While and Julie Matthews have been making music together for twenty years now, first with The Albion Band and currently with St Agnes Fountain as well as solo and as a duo. They make classy records and this, their eighth studio album together, is no exception.

The album opens with the up-tempo, vibrant ‘This Beautiful Life’, a song which could open or close a live set with equal impact. Here it sets the tone of a record which is full of optimism even when the subject might suggest otherwise. Better perhaps to say defiance in the face of catastrophe: Christchurch after the earthquake and 9/11; or stoicism when times are less than perfect. The new Radio Ballads song, ‘Nie Wieder’, about German Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann, is the epitome of Julie’s song-writing. There is no triumphalism in her belated honours in her homeland but the statement that ‘nothing cleans the memory’ leaves a deep sense of sadness. Continue reading CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS – Infinite Sky Fat Cat FATCD027

Larkin Poe and Thom Hell – THE SOUND OF THE OCEAN SOUND

Larkin Poe & Thom Hell (300dpi)Having toured internationally as The Lovell Sisters between 2005 and 2010, including performances at the Grand Ole Opry, Telluride and numerous other top venues and festivals, Rebecca and Megan relaunched themselves as Larkin Poe in January 2010, following the departure of eldest sister Jessica.

Still only in their early twenties, in just a little over two years as Larkin Poe, Rebecca and Megan have released five EPs and a live DVD and have performed with such luminaries as Elvis Costello, Fairport Convention and The Indigo Girls. During 2012 alone they have played headline shows at festivals across Europe including Beautiful Days, Celtic Connections, the Hebridean Celtic Festival and Fairport’s Cropredy Convention where they broke the festival record for CD sales. Continue reading Larkin Poe and Thom Hell – THE SOUND OF THE OCEAN SOUND