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The folking review team is a small, dedicated group of people with a passion and a commitment for the folk, acoustic and Americana music scene. They review the latest releases, each in their own inimitable style…

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SINGLES BAR 86 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

TIMOTHY JOHNSTON is a PhD student with a remarkable group of folk friends including Fay Hield, Patrick Rimes of Calan, Rob Harbron and Shirley Smart who support him here. Green Grow The Rushes is a collection of Anglo-Welsh traditional songs which pushes the definition by starting with ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ...
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NOLEN SELLWOOD – Otherwise (New Folk Records)

A Minneapolis teenager inspired to get into folk after listening to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, Sellwood’s debut, Otherwise, opens with ‘This Time’, simply strummed acoustic giving way to drums and electric which sustain the lengthy playout, his voice suggesting a softer, less intense Luke Jackson on a reflective love song ...
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PAUL COWLEY – Stroll Out West (Lou B Music LBM007 2023)

It’s been a while since I heard a Paul Cowley album, so it was a real pleasure to receive a copy of Stroll Out West, his new album due for release in February 2023. Paul Cowley is my kind of blues player: respecting his sources but not a slavish copyist, ...
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HARBOTTLE & JONAS – Saving The Good Stuff Vol 1 (Brook View Records BVR003)

In 2019, the Devon duo took to live streaming, performing, under a title inspired by a Richard Thompson song, a series of covers, one a week, either traditional numbers or songs by artists they admired. Then along came lockdown and they upped it to two songs a week. Since the ...
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INGER NORDVIK – Hibernation (own label)

Inger Nordvik is a classically trained musician who, like so many others, isn't tied to just what she was taught. Whilst studying classical singing at the Barratt Due Institute in Oslo she also developed an interest in folk, pop and jazz.  With pinpoint timing she released her début album Time ...
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THE WOOLVERSTONES – Grey Eyed Dandy (Available to stream through Bandcamp)

Woolverstone is a village on Suffolk’s Shotley Peninsula. It’s a small place, but I was able to find out about it – it’s various listed buildings and a marina on the River Orwell – without much searching. The same can’t be said about the band who share its name and ...
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JOHN BLEK – Until The Rivers Run Dry (We Are Rats Recordings)

John Blek’s Until The Rivers Run Dry is a lovely folk album with deep melodies and emotive strings that conjure the late 60’s baroque beauty of the bands like (the great!) Appaloosa, Marmalade (of ‘Reflections Of My Life’ fame!), and The Left Banke’s immortal ‘Walk Away Renee’. By the way, ...
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JOHN McCUSKER – The Best Of (Under One Sky UOSR010)

On January 20th Under One Sky Records release John McCusker – The Best Of to mark his 30 years in the music industry.  Alongside the CD a book will be released, John McCusker: The Collection, showcasing 100 of his compositions. The album is a double CD with space for 30 ...
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ESBE – Blow The Wind Southerly (New Cat Music)

A London-based graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, Esbe follows in the footsteps of Katy Rose Bennett with Blow The Wind Southerly, a wholly a cappella classical folk album featuring her voice treated to layered harmonies, multi-tracked as choral groupings or used as a sampled instrument. Not just vocally ...
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ARCHIE CHURCHILL-MOSS – PH(R)ASE (Slow Worm Records SWR003)

PH(R)ASE might be Archie Churchill-Moss’s first solo album, but there is a good chance you’ll have heard him play before. After all, Archie is regarded as one of Britain’s finest accordion players, and has worked with Eliza Carthy, Cara Dillon, Sam Kelly, Jim Moray and more.  Now five years of ...
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JUNI HABEL – Carvings (Basin Rock)

A Waldorf – or Steiner - teacher as well as a singer-songwriter, Habel lives in rural Southern Norway, sharing an old school house with her husband, brother, grandmother and a friend, where she records her songs. Carvings is her second album, one she says she wanted to write about family ...
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RACHEL WALKER & AARON JONES – Despite The Wind And Rain (ROSCD103)

Despite The Wind And Rain is the debut album, as a duo, for musician Aaron Jones and the Gaelic singer Rachel Walker. The album has ten tracks, each celebrating under-recognised women in Scottish history. Rachel also worked with poet, Marcas Mac an Tuairneir to write the Gaelic songs on the ...
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SU-A LEE – Dialogues (Sky Child Records SCR001CD)

There are a number of cellists plying at least part of their trade in folk music. Some have their name on the front covers of albums, others are more often hidden away in the back. Su-A Lee is one of the latter but she has appeared on more albums in ...
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MIKE VASS – Decemberwell Decade (UR007CD)

Musician, composer, producer - where do you start to describe the work of Mike Vass? How about the first line on his webpage, “Mike Vass is one of the most creative forces on the Scottish music scene” – both concise and accurate and I won’t attempt to beat it. Vass ...
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MARK GWYNNE JONES – Voices From The Peak (Talking Elephant TECD473)

I wasn’t born in the Peak District but I was bought up there and lived there for the best part of twenty years so the landscape holds a special meaning for me. These days I can’t recognise the towns I knew. As Andy White remarked about Belfast, I have the ...
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RITZ & WESSON – Wisdom Of The Heart (Backstage Music)

Before you ask “who are Ritz & Wesson?” I’ll explain. Nigel Wesson was a resident at Bunjies Folk Cellar back in the day which is where he met Bryan Ritz. As is often the case, real life got in the way and they drifted apart reuniting, quite by chance, in ...
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FIRELIGHT TRIO – Firelight Trio (Proper EDFLT01)

There are so many new instrumental albums coming out these days that, if you want to stand out, you have to be different. There is no mileage in banging out a few dance sets interspersed with a couple of slow airs. Firelight Trio are certainly different. They comprise Gavin Marwick ...
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NOËL DASHWOOD – Noël Dashwood (own label)

Noël Dashwood is, of course, one third of Alden Patterson and Dashwood, a trio that has been making waves in recent years. His first, eponymous, solo album affords him the opportunity to demonstrate his talents, notably on Dobro and lap steel as well as a composer and song-writer. He’s joined ...
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ASH GRAY AND THE BURNERS – Live ’55 (LuvRock Records)

Sheffield’s Ash Gray And The Burners’ Live ’55, with its country-psych sound coloured with steel pedal’s “unlimited glissandi and deep vibrati (Thank you, Wikipedia!), will appeal to lovers of the 70’s country-rock vibe of those New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Poco, Mason Proffit, and the Goose Creek Symphony, which ...
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DAVID HARLEY – Introduction To Nashville Tuning For Guitar (Wheal Alice Music)

This book is great. I make the point at the start for a number of reasons To highlight that it’s a book not a CD - though the title would also be a splendid one for an album because it is, I’ve really enjoyed reading it and because I wanted ...
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SINGLES BAR 85 – A round-up of recent EPs, singles and Christmas cheer

Eve is a new digital EP released with Christmas and New Year in mind by DARIA KULESH. The opening track ‘Cossack Lullaby’ sounds very Christmassy with chimes (possibly synths) by Jason Emberton with Stu Hanna’s violin and Tristan Seume’s guitar. The celebration at the centre of the record is actually ...
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CHRIS CLEVERLEY – Broadcast The Secret Verse (Opiate Records 003)

I’ve been an enthusiastic follower of Chris Cleverley’s music since his debut album back in 2015. Musically speaking, Chris isn’t a man who stands still and his development has been startling which brings us to Broadcast The Secret Verse and my particular problem. I listened to it once or twice ...
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PLU -Tri (Sbrigyn Ymborth SY034)

Plu’s new album was released earlier this year so I must first apologise for not getting around to it until now. Tri is the fourth album by Caernarfonshire siblings, Elan, Marged and Gwilym Rhys who are joined here by musicians Carwyn Williams, Dafydd Owain and Edwin Humphreys. No, I don’t ...
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NATIVE HARROW – Old Kind Of Magic (Loose Music)

Native Harrow’s new album, Old Kind Of Magic has the beautiful depth of a gossamer web, and it has the musical width of Emily Dickinson’s poetic insight that, “Much Madness is divinest Sense”. This album glances back at the free range of 70’s folk with psych touches, a love of ...
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EMILY PORTMAN & ROB HARBRON – Time Was Away (Rob Records ROBREC CD04)

I can’t help thinking of them as bright young things but then I remember when it was that I first heard The Devil’s Interval. So, Emily Portman and Rob Harbron are now seasoned professionals and Time Was Away is their first album as a duo with just Pete Judge’s flugel ...
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SINGLES BAR 84 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Having released the title track and ‘Rough Edges’ earlier as singles, JOSHUA BURNSIDE now follows up with the full Late Afternoon In The Meadow (1887) (Attic Things), EP, the title taken from Camille Pissarro’s 1887 impressionist painting. In addition to those two numbers, featuring distant spoken cassette samples of one ...
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ROBERT LANE – Homeworking (own label)

Robert Lane’s Homeworking is yet another example of the Spirit of Humanity finding someone willing to sing its songs. My friend, Kilda Defnut, said of this record, “Fans of my beloved Big Star and Badfinger will love this music”. I simply say, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, because this is a brilliant ...
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ADEEM THE ARTIST – White Trash Revelry (Four Quarters Records)

Born Adem Bingham, and sometimes known as Adeem Maria, Adeem the Artist is a blue-collar, pansexual, non-binary North Carolina-born twangy-voiced singer-songwriter now based in Eastern Tennessee whose influences include the comedian Andy Kaufman alongside the likes of John Prine and Blind Boy Fuller, their songs often addressing what it means ...
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TREVOR BEALES – Fireside Stories (Hebden Bridge circa 1971 – 1974) (Basin Rock)

Back in the 70s, in the then dreary West Yorkshire valley town of Hebden Bridge, Beales was one of the UK’s many aspirant loner folk Nick Drakes and Bert Jansches playing the pubs in their local towns. Unlike so many, however, inspired by the discovery of artists such as Django ...
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FINN COLLINSON – The Threshold (Old School Music OSMCD012)

Finn Collinson’s The Threshold is an album that wears its heart on its sleeve. The title describes where Finn feels his music is currently positioned: on thresholds waiting to be let in. Not an easy concept, but the inspirations are split between London - where Finn lived and studied for ...
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THE ALBION CHRISTMAS BAND – All Are Safely Gathered In (Talking Elephant TECD481)

And so the Christmas releases begin. And what better way to start than with the first seasonal recording in six years from the ACB, lining up as Simon Nicol, Kellie While, Simon Care and Ashley Hutchings along with Blair Dunlop, Holly Brandon and Ruth Angell adding their own tinsel. A ...
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TERENCE BLACKER – Meanwhile… (own label TB005)

Terence Blacker – singer, songwriter, author, columnist – releases Meanwhile..., his fifth album, on December 2nd. Let’s digress to a comment by from Bethany Cagnol, the Chair of the French branch of the TESOL teachers’ association. In 2010, she said, “In France, lyrics are crucial – often more important than ...
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RACHEL TAYLOR-BEALES – Out Of This Frame (Hushland HUSHCH08)

Rachel Taylor-Beales lost her voice, which is pretty devastating for a singer. With her writing and painting to help her she fought back and the result is Out Of This Frame – that’s her self-portrait on the cover. I think she looks a bit like Jamie Leigh Curtis! I should ...
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THE TRIALS OF CATO – Gog Magog (own label)

The Trials Of Cato slipped into Britain from Lebanon with a stunningly good EP and followed that up with a much-praised debut album. Then the world went pants and live music was shelved but I did manage to hear them on stage before Will Addison left and Polly Bolton joined ...
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BILLY STRINGS – Me/And/Dad (Rounder)

Just turned 30 and recently named  Entertainer of the Year at the 2022 Bluegrass Awards for the second consecutive year, Strings fulfils a long-standing ambition by teaming with his stepfather Terry Barber who raised him from when he was two and introduced him to bluegrass. Joined by bassist Mike Bub, ...
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DAVID CARROLL AND FRIENDS – Bold Reynold (Talking Elephant TECD483)

When you see “and friends” in a billing you tend to think of a group of worthy but unknown local musicians. On Bold Reynold, however, the friends include three Gryphons: Dave Oberle, Brian Gulland and Graeme Taylor; two Fairports: Chris Leslie and Dave Pegg plus Lucy Cooper and Tom Spencer ...
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DAN HARTLAND & THE BRINK – Haywire (own label)

Since releasing Great Novels two years ago, Hartland has gained both a beard and a new band: bassist Marko Miletic, percussionist, producer and arranger Sean Lloyd and, from local electro pop outfit Grand Valise, providing synths, keys, guitars and backing vocals, Andy Miles and Becky Pickin introducing non-acoustic instrumentation for ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Sea Song Sessions (Topic TSCD612)

Sea Song Sessions is a self-explanatory title...except that it isn’t quite so simple. The project grew out of a commission to put together a maritime-themed show for Folkestone Festival. It features five well-known names: Jon Boden, Emily Portman, Seth Lakeman, Jack Rutter and the distinctive voice of Ben Nicholls of ...
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ANNIE BALL, BRONWEN DAVIES-JONES, GARETH DAVIES-JONES and KATIE TERTELL – Howay The Lasses Vol 1 (own label)

A thematic companion piece to the new album by Rachel Walker and Aaron Jones, while they celebrate women in Scottish history, Howay The Lasses highlights and honours the contributions made to society by women from the collective’s native (or in the case of ex-pat American Tertell, adopted) North East. An ...
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LADY MAISERY – Tender (own label LMCD05)

With all that happens in their individual careers it must be difficult for Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans to make time to work together as Lady Maisery. In fact, Tender comes six years after its predecessor and that’s a long time in the lives of young musicians. The ...
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THE MAGPIE ARC – Glamour In The Grey (Collective/Perspective CP4FORCD)

A cross-border quintet comprising Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson, Findlay Napier, Alex Hunter and Tom Wright evoking folk rock from the late 1960s and early 1970s, given an at times progrock feel with electronic soundscapes, Glamour In The Grey is their much anticipated full-length debut, and a stridently impressive beast it ...
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KEEPING IT LIVE: KIEFER SUTHERLAND and FINES LINES at Hull Asylum

Kiefer Sutherland’s tour reached Hull Asylum last Thursday. You may know of Sutherland as a famous actor who has gone into music, so let’s clear one thing immediately, Sutherland’s music is no vanity project. He deserves be on this kind of stage as a songwriter, a player and a performer ...
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ROBIN JAMES HURT – And We For One Another (own label)

Robin James Hurt’s And We For One Another is an Irish folk (and beyond!) album of traditional songs, a few covers, and self-penned instrumentals that echoes the idiosyncratic singer-songwriter sound of the very progressive folk scene in the early 70’s. The great John Martyn, with his penchant for lovely songs ...
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PAUL M COX – Sunset Over Stillwater (White Elephant Records WER 029)

It’s fascinating how an artist who has been around for a while heaves to on your horizon even though you’ve been oblivious to their existence. As I recall, Paul M Cox emailed us to ask if we’d like to hear his new album, Sunset Over Stillwater. Naturally we eagerly accepted ...
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ELIZA CARTHY & THE RESTITUTION – Queen Of The Whirl (Hem Hem Records)

Following in Kate Rusby’s footsteps, Carthy has celebrated her 30 years in the business with Queen Of The Whirl, an album of new recordings, featuring her live band (Saul Rose, David Delarre, Phil Alexander, Ben Seal, Willy Molleson), from songs across her illustrious career, initially released as four EPs and ...
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EWAN MACFARLANE – Milk (Royale Stag Records)

Ewan MacFarlane’s Milk is a brilliant soul-roots rock album which showcases EM’s honeyed asteroid vocals and clever songwriting. This record is a long-playing love letter to his wife Jo, and is brimful with (Thank you, John Martyn!) ample “grace and danger”. The title track, ‘Milk’, begins with a gritty guitar ...
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ELIZA DELF – Into The Wilderness (Peace In The Head EJDC001)

A Norwich-based folk-noir singer-songwriter inspired by the subversive folk tales of Angela Carter and whose vocal range has drawn comparisons to Kate Bush, Into The Wilderness, produced by Jon Loomes, is Delf’s debut album, the songs featuring the usual drums, guitar and bass but also more orchestral colours from brass, ...
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THE CARRIVICK SISTERS – Illustrated Short Stories (own label CARRICKSCD10)

It’s been nine years since Devon twin sisters duo Charlotte and Laura released their last studio album. And, with its mix of American bluegrass and English folk influences and featuring only the siblings, Illustrated Short Stories is a fine reminder of what we’ve been missing in the interim. Released with ...
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BROOKS WILLIAMS & DAN WALSH – Fortune By Design (own label BWDW-01)

As they vie for the position of the man who’ll play with anybody (a title previously held by John Kirkpatrick) there has been surprise that Brooks Williams and Dan Walsh haven’t gone head to before now. After all, acoustic guitar and clawhammer banjo are natural bedfellows and the chaps sing ...
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LUKE DANIELS – The Cobhers (Gael GAELCD022)

Luke Daniels is a restless spirit. Each time I see or hear him, he’s doing something almost diametrically opposite to his previous project, and we’re never quite sure where the next dalliance will take him. I remember the embarrassment of his struggle with the clockwork polyphon machine that refused to ...
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RAGGED UNION – Round Feet, Chrome Smile (Shining Castle Music)

Ragged Union released their new album Round Feet, Chrome Smile recently. It has nine tracks, mostly written by Geoff Union. The band are from Boulder County, Colorado, formed about ten years ago.  I need to make this point pedantically for UK readers to highlight that it would otherwise be easy ...
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JANICE BURNS & JON DORAN – No More The Green Hills (own label JBJD002)

She from Glasgow, he from Gloucestershire and both now based in Newcastle, former finalists for the 2019 Young Folk Award, the duo now make their album debut, No More The Green Hills, bringing her mandolin, piano, tenor guitar, piano and his bouzouki, acoustic, and fiddle, the pair both playing harmonium, ...
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SINGLES BAR 83 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

TALMORNEY  is 50ish Forest of Dean folk artist Matthew Macer-Wright who, inspired by the likes of The Unthanks, Vaughan Williams, June Tabor, Tori Amos and Natalie Merchant, has been drawn to compose new music to a collection of anonymous seventeenth century ballads (adapted from David Stell's pamphlet ‘Ballads and Music ...
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CATFISH KEITH – Still I Long To Roam (FTRCD020)

Still I Long To Roam is Catfish Keith’s new album, his 21st album in a long and acclaimed career. He’s still winning awards – in 2022, he’s won the Blues Blast Music Awards for Best Acoustic Blues Album (for Land Of The Sky) and Best Acoustic Guitar. He still deserves ...
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BREABACH – Fàs (Breabach Records BRE007CD)

Breabach’s Fàs is a miorbhuileach (aka wonderful!) Scottish folk album that avoids the commercial big shops on Princes Street. Rather, it strolls down the backstreets of Edinburgh, enjoys a Belhaven pint (or two!), contemplates a walk onto heights of Arthur’s Seat, and then conjures the beauty of the Firth of ...
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SAMUEL JAMES TAYLOR – Wild Tales And Broken Hearts (own label)

Samuel James Taylor released Wild Tales And Broken Hearts on October 21st. You can’t help but look favourably on an album by a man who a) adds Samuel so he doesn’t appear cocky in the folk world b) has been in the music business for twenty years getting support from ...
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WORDS OF A FIDDLER’S DAUGHTER – The Tears Of Jenny Greenteeth (Under The Eaves UTE 006)

Where to start? “This is a tale from a time younger than ours, where love and forgiveness triumphantly overcome fear, sadness and greed”, says Jessie Summerhayes in her sleeve notes. It would be easy to say that The Tears Of Jenny Greenteeth is typical of Words Of A Fiddler’s Daughter ...
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JAMES KEELAGHAN – Second-Hand (Borealis Records BCD276)

James Keelaghan’s Second-Hand is yet another collection of brilliant songs that, somehow, ventures into a folk music fourth dimension where hope, tragedy, psychological insight, literary metaphor, and intense beauty are compressed into a continuous magical melody. For the initiate: Canadian James Keelaghan is a Juno Award winner. Not only that, ...
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PAULINE VALLANCE – The World’s A Gift (own label PV002)

A singer/songwriter and clarsach (Gaelic harp) player from Ayrshire, The World’s A Gift, her third album, produced by and featuring James Grant, explores the theme of legacy, sparked by the loss of both parents within a year of each other and having to go through the stuff left behind. That ...
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CORACLE – Murmuration (Tam Records)

As Murmuration is Coracle’s first album, I didn’t know what to expect from it. All I knew was what the accompanying publicity told me, and that suggested it was going to be a bit different. To start, Coracle consists of three very different musicians who came together remotely during lockdown, ...
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