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BOO HEWERDINE – Before (Reveal Records REVEAL083CDX)

BeforeBoo Hewerdine never seems to do anything the obvious way and there can hardly be anything less obvious than Before. The basic idea is that the music has been recorded before it has been overthought, hence the title. The packaging is minimalist – an 18th century painting on the outside, plain green on the inside with just enough information to allow you to get started. Boo opens the door a little and lets you peek into the dimly lit space beyond but no more than that.

The fact that the design is minimal doesn’t mean that the music is although, in line with theme, it’s not over-arranged. It began when producer and percussionist Chris Popper acquired a dulcitone and, from that starting point, the record is almost a guitar-free zone. Boo doesn’t play one at all but there is a pedal steel and a “prepared” guitar played by long-time collaborator Gustaf Ljunggren. It turns out that Gustaf has a sizeable collection of instruments and he plays fourteen of them here, if you count the toy piano.

The album contains ten songs each one separated from the next by an instrumental interlude, some very short, so the record plays like a single composition. Except that Boo breaks his own rule so there isn’t an interlude between ‘Wild Honey’ and ‘Old Song’. The first two songs, ‘Last Rays Of Sun’ and ‘Imaginary Friends’ could be played by a conventional band and sound good, as could ‘Reno’ but ‘Before’, for example, wouldn’t be the same with anything other than the piano and woodwinds that give it a thirties vibe.

One song that you might have heard before is ‘Starlight’, co-written with Eddi Reader. Boo builds it on vibes and glockenspiel – a contrast with Reader’s rich arrangement – and it feels so melancholy. Can I say that I prefer this version? Before is an unconventional album but it hangs together so well. I’d like to think that it will be there come prize-giving time.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Last Rays Of Sun’:

Ric Sanders Cropredy 2019 Interview

Ric Sanders Cropredy 2019

Paul Johnson is still suffering from delusions of grandeur and is again banging on about our ‘world renounced’ interviews as if he actually believes it.

Meanwhile… back in the real world, it would be more appropriate to use the term ‘world renounced’ to describe that ‘Pretty Damn Cosmic’, fiddle player extraordinaire, Mr Ric Sanders. So, let’s do that then to introduce this year’s interview with Ric Sanders (interviewed by Darren Beech and Paul Johnson).

In the interview we talk about Ric’s 34th Year with Fairport, the call from Dave Pegg in April in 1985 to join the band to be part of the Gladys’ Leap album. We talk about the ‘Fairport Extension’ set, the New Forest Folk Festival and Maart’s inspirational heroic ‘Metal Matty’ performance last year.

We discuss ‘echo delay pedals’ and Ric’s musical background of Blues, Jazz and Rock. We move on to the new Ric Sanders Trio album Headspace with Vo Fletcher (Guitar and Vocals), Michael Gregory (Drums & Percussion), talk about the previous album Standing on the Corner and Graeme Taylor’s fantastic new studio where the new album was recorded.

The interview closes with a Home Service announcement that totally took us by surprise. Ric talks about his first album for Harvest EMI, when he recorded with Soft Machine and how that led up to working with John Tams on Rise Up Like the Sun.

The interview should start playing automatically, if not click on the play button below to listen.

Artist’s website:

Stylusboy announces his second handmade album

Photograph by Redwood Photography

Stylusboy, Coventry singer-songwriter Steve Jones, creates indie folk music steeped in warm-hearted melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Influenced by cult contemporary songwriters like Damien Rice and Elliot Smith as well as classic performers such as Nick Drake and Neil Young. Stylusboy’s songs have been described as ‘absolutely brilliant’ by BBC Radio 2’s Justine Greene.

On 27th September 2019 Stylusboy’s second album Routes is released through his own label, Tortoise Recordings, on handmade CD and on all major digital platforms through AWAL Distribution. The self produced album is a collection of songs inspired by love, loss, family and pressing on through the difficult times. The musical talents of double bass genius John Parker (Nizlopi, Ben Walker, Will Pound), sort after drummer Tim Bowes (The Destroyers), critically acclaimed singer songwriter Wes Finch on electric guitar and blues starlet Holly Hewitt on harmonies create a warm musical backdrop to Steve’s songwriting. Long time friend and renowned songwriter Jess Morgan has co-written one of the ten songs on Routes.

Since the release of his critically acclaimed debut album Hospitality For Hope in 2015, Stylusboy has continued to drive his songwriting and creativity with the release of several EPs as well as a live album recorded in a manor house deep in the Derbyshire countryside. Steve’s fine art background inspires the fact that all of his releases have unique handmade sleeves lovingly made by Steve himself, all part of the Stylusboy ‘handmade indie folk’ style.

Stylusboy’s sound of ‘arresting melodies and poignant lyrics’ (Right Chord Music) has received praise and accolades from the likes of Acoustic Magazine, R2 Magazine, For Folks Sake, God is in the TV as well as BBC Introducing, 6Music, Xfm and Amazing Radio. Champion of independent music, Tom Robinson from BBC 6 Music, has described Stylusboy as:

“A leading light among today’s new generation of DIY digital troubadours”

Whilst cult website God is in the TV said:

“A sound that continues to explore and advance the relationship between more traditional folk and popular music.”

Performing all over the UK including sell out shows at Green Note in London and Warwick Arts Centre in his home city of Coventry, Stylusboy is an enchanting live performer. He has supported the likes of John Smith, Newton Faulkner, Danny and the Champions of the World, Grant-Lee Philipps, Megson and Lucy Ward. As befitting a modern day troubadour he’s performed one-to-one shows for Emily Barker’s Folk in a Box and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s All the Wrong Music in all the Right Places as well as pioneering online gigs (well before Facebook live was a thing) to audiences all around the world and has played numerous house gigs. Stylusboy has shared his intimate folk music at festivals such as the BBC Introducing Stage at Wychwood Festival, Warwick Folk Festival, Mosley Folk Festival and Greenbelt Festival. The lead track from his second release Whole Picture EP became a number 1 in Indonesia with the EP later becoming ‘EP Of The Year’ on music blog This Is A Popscene. Earlier in 2019 Steve was commissioned by Coventry City of Culture 2021 to create a piece of work by one of the Universal Human Rights.

Routes is released on 27th September 2019 through Stylusboy’s own label Tortoise Recordings and via AWAL digital distribution.

Artist’s website:

A live oldie – ‘Out Upon The Ocean’:

The Salts are on the road again

The Salts

Rockin’ Sea Shanty band The Salts set sail on a UK tour of Venues and Festivals starting this week at the Wokingham Music Festival and including the Great British Folk Festival where they will be performing alongside the likes of Steeleye Span, Eddie Reader, Barbara Dickson, Tom Robinson and many more, as well as the Bude, Banbury & Sedgefield Folk Festival where they will be headlining and with live shows in Theatres and Arts Centres covering most parts of the England from Cornwall to Yorkshire.

The Salts have been described as one of the most exciting and energetic concepts around performing original material alongside their own interpretations of traditional songs we all know and love and their live shows are guaranteed to get the audience clapping and singing along. The band feature five seasoned musicians collectively performing a mixture of instruments as well as great harmonies and their latest album Brave on Braccan Records has received rave reviews and radio plays around the world.

The group seems like it is really enjoying the process of revitalising this often forgotten aspect of folk music, and the performances are suitably impassioned and rousing.

Brave is a fine undaunted second album and should do The Salts’ cause the world of good. – Living Tradition

Artists’ website:

‘Brave’ – official video:

Fifteen Men UK Tour

Sunday 25th Aug – Wokingham Festival, Berkshire
Monday26th Aug– The Plough, Coldharbour, Surrey
Saturday 7th Sept – Sedgefield folk Festival, County Durham
Saturday 14th Sept – Hogsback Brewery, Farnham, Surrey
Saturday 28th Sept- Walton Firs Charity Concert, Chobham, Surrey
Saturday 12th Oct – Banbury Folk Festival , Oxfordshire
Saturday 19th Oct – Swindon Arts Centre, Wiltshire
Thursday 14th Nov – Strode Theatre, Street, Somerset
Friday 15th Nov – Bude Folk, Roots & World Music Festival, Cornwall
Sunday 24th Nov – Herring Festival, Hastings, East Sussex
Friday 29th Nov – Great British Folk Festival, Skegness, Lincolnshire
Saturday 30th Nov – Evron Centre, Filey, North Yorkshire

Finn Collinson launches his debut album in Tufnell Park

Finn Collinson

On Friday 6th September Finn Collinson and band are launching his debut album Call To Mind at Aces & Eights, Tufnell Park.

Call To Mind is the debut album by recorder player and multi-instrumentalist Finn Collinson. Over the last few years, Finn has been gaining a reputation as one of the foremost exponents of the recorder on the English folk scene, performing all over the country at folk clubs, venues and major festivals including The Sidmouth Folk Festival, Broadstairs Folk Week and FolkEast.

Released in September 2019, the album is a diverse and creative exploration of the contemporary folk genre, with exciting and sensitive arrangements of traditional and contemporary tunes and songs. Captivating the listener from the first breath, the album showcases the recorder in new and exciting instrumental contexts, with beautifully reflective airs and vibrant tunes. Add to this the expressive tone of Finn’s vocals, his dynamic guitar style and the energy of a full band, the album takes you on an unexpected journey of musical storytelling.

Finn will be joined on-stage by his full band, featuring the powerful rhythm section of Jonno Gaze (drums, percussion) and Tom Leader (guitar, double bass) alongside strikingly distinctive oboe and vocals from Emma Beach.

With music that will make you both pause for reflection and dance in the aisles, an evening with Finn Collinson is sure to enthral audiences with its energy and diversity.

Advance tickets available via

Read Dai Jeffries’ review of Call To Mind here.

Rachel Taylor-Beales to tour theatrical adaptation of Stone’s Throw, Lament Of The Selkie

Rachel Taylor-Beales

Singer-songwriter Rachel Taylor-Beales is touring a gig-theatre adaptation of her highly acclaimed Stone’s Throw, Lament Of The Selkie album.

Singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist, Rachel Taylor-Beales has teamed up with award winning actor-musician Lucy Rivers and Director Louise Osborn, to create and perform a gig-theatre adaptation of Rachel’s most recent album Stone’s Throw, Lament Of The Selkie. Using song, music, storytelling and large-scale visual projections, Rachel’s personal experiences of injury and trauma after a dramatic accident, are merged alongside contemporary re-imaginings of selkie folklore myth. Having been awarded Arts Council Wales funding, the tour will open on 10th October in Carmarthenshire’s seaside town of Llanelli, before continuing on to arts centres and theatre venues across South Wales.

Describing the show Rachel Taylor-Beales states: “At 24 weeks pregnant, I was sporting a huge bump and on tour in rural Italy… Life was good! And then almost everything in my world came literally crashing to a halt, as the result of a serious accident. And it was during this time when I was housebound due to my injuries, (but fortunately still pregnant), that I began to delve into selkie folklore, and this became the inspiration for my fourth studio album. I was thrilled to receive funding from Arts Council Wales to develop the concepts behind my album into a full length touring show. It is such a privilege to be able to work with my creative team. Louise Osborn our director is innovative and insightful. Her sensitivity to the difficult subject matter that I’m exploring through the traumatic experiences of my own life and daughter’s birth, has enabled me to tackle them with unapologetic confidence. Inviting Lucy Rivers into my collaborative process has been transformative. Lucy plays the character of Selkie, an enigmatic creature and mother with a tortured past and between us we have created a world somewhere on the line where the ocean meets the land, for our stories to merge, entwine, unravel and rebuild”

Director Louise Osborn states: “I love that Rachel is merging elements of her own story with the contemporary version of Selkie mythology. She has managed to create a poetic landscape that is at once funny, mythical, epic and hopeful… I think this honest, raw work, underscored by beautiful songs and music, will have strong resonance for audiences and raise important questions that will linger beyond the evening in the theatre.’

Stone’s Throw, Lament Of The Selkie, tours theatres in Wales throughout October 2019 with additional dates now being added for 2020.

Artist’s website:

Trailer video:

Tour Dates

October 10th 2019, Stwidio Stepni, Ffwrnes, Llanelli
October 11th 2019, Seligman Theatre- Chapter, Cardiff
October 12th 2019, Seligman Theatre- Chapter, Cardiff (AD and touch tour available for this performance)
October 16th Span Arts @- Ysgol Caerelen- Haverford West
February 5th 2020, The Welfare, Ystradgynlais