Reviews

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Welcome to the folking.com review section.

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…

All our reviewers give their spare time to bring you this resource and we always looking for new people to get involved who share a similar passion for the genre to help lighten the load. If that sounds like you, then please email us here for more information about joining the folking review team.

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Destination (Fellside Recordings FECD282)

The Fellside Recording label has been a major force in independent folk music recording for 42 years and has over 600 albums to its credit, many by some very big names in the genre. Now, Paul and Linda Adams have decided to slow down, and though the label remains in ...
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THE KIMBERLEYS – The Kimberleys (Popla OB7)

It can be difficult to take a well-known traditional song and attempt to do something new with it. Those of us with long memories will recall that once upon a time you could be run out of town just for thinking about it. The Kimberleys do it seven times over ...
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ALDEN PATTERSON AND DASHWOOD – By The Night (own label)

Arriving in a hand printed card sleeve, By The Night is the second album from the Norwich-based trio of Christina Alden, Alex Patterson and Noel Dashwood following 2016’s well-received Call Me Home self-funded and recorded at home with Patterson producing. Alden singing lead, there’s no significant deviation from that homespun ...
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TONY ROSE – Medicine Tunes (Cannery Row Records. CRR 1824/ CRR 1825)

Recorded in just one session in the spring of 2017, Medicine Tunes is the debut solo album by Tony Rose. Moving away from his more frequented folk-rock sound, this album is about as country as country gets, musically and lyrically, and often dealing with subject matter such as loss and ...
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JAMIE MACDONALD & CHRISTIAN GAMAUF – The Pipe Slang (own label JMCG01)

Jamie and Christian met on the Isle Of Uist and, having participated in a cultural exchange in Asturias and paid their dues at small gigs, eventually making it to Celtic Connections, they started work on their debut album, The Pipe Slang. The title tune is an old reel but be ...
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LUCY WARD – Pretty Warnings (Betty Beetroot BETTY03)

Having been finally converted to Ward with her last album, I Dreamt I Was A Bird, I was unsure whether that was a one-off or if her follow-up would keep me on the path. Well, feathered friends again in evidence, with the opening, ‘Silver Morning’, Helga Ragnarsdottir on electric piano, ...
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SERIOUS CHILD – Empty Nest (TCR Music TCRM75099)

The core of Serious Child – or as the CD sleeve has it, SERIOUS CHiLD – consists of Alan Young on guitar and vocals, Carla March on vocals, and Steve Welch on bass. However, a fine selection of well-performed songs by Alan Young is further lifted on the CD Empty ...
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PARKER MILLSAP – Other Arrangements (OkraHoma OKRA004CD)

Three albums in, two of which have topped the US Americana charts, the Oklahoma singer-songwriter is expanding his musical horizons and looking to broaden his audience. As such, while there’s still country at the core, his latest outing, Other Arrangements, is a rockier and poppier affair. It’s also his first to ...
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THE MOONBEAMS – This Land (Moonbeam Records MBR003)

The Moonbeams band forms the core of The Moonbeam Collective, a multi-platform arts community based in the Yorkshire Dales. This Land, the band’s third album, is once again rooted in that landscape, linking up past and present, rural and industrial. Apart from the closing song - a jaunty lunge at ...
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HECTOR GILCHRIST – Gleanings (WildGoose WGS426CD)

Hector Gilchrist, as you will quickly discover, comes from Ayrshire but is much travelled. To misuse a common phrase, however: you can take the man out of Scotland but you can’t take Scotland out of the man. There is someone like Hector in just about every folk club: always welcome, ...
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CARDBOARD FOX – Topspin (own label, CARRIVICKSCD09)

Featuring the shared lead vocals of sisters Charlotte and Laura Carrivick (who also perform as a duo), with backing provided by Joe Tozer and John Breese, Topspin is the Bath quartet’s third release and second album, a meld of English traditional folk and American bluegrass influences built around the core ...
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HÒ-RÒ – Hex (own label)

Since their eponymous debut album two years ago, Hò-Rò have expanded to a six-piece with Paul Martin and DC Macmillan joining Calum MacPhail, Lucy Doogan, Sean Cousins and Crisdean MacDonald. Thus we have the cunningly titled Hex. The band talk about the melding of six musical styles but really it’s ...
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SKERRYVORE – Evo (Tyree09CD)

Skerryvore release Evo, their sixth studio album, on June 11th. You get an album to review and it’s a bit like sitting in the marquee at a festival – you’re sitting around or stretching your legs and waiting for the next band to come on stage, wondering what will turn ...
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SINGLES BAR 30 – a round-up of recent EPs and singles

Following on from 2016’s Trick Star, accompanied by Steve Mayone on mandolin and nylon string guitar, pedal steel player Chris Tarrow, Jason Mercer on upright bass and Alex Hargreaves providing fiddle, ANNIE KEATING’s latest is a five-track collection of road songs originated from last year’s European tour. It opens with ...
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FAIRPORT CONVENTION – What We Did On Our Saturday (Matty Grooves MG2CD055)

If you’ve ever been to a Cropredy Festival you’ll know exactly what they do on Saturday. They gather together a bunch of former band-mates and old friends and play a mammoth set long into the darkness (subject to health and safety restrictions, of course). These days, Fairport Convention don’t need ...
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VINNY PECULIAR – Return Of The Native (Shadrack & Duxbury SADCD013)

An album celebrating his return to his roots after years living in Manchester, with its heady dose of nostalgia and memories, borrowing the title from Thomas Hardy (and with a cover that sees him fork in hand to dig up old ground), Bromsgrove-born Alan Wilkes’ thirteenth album (fourteenth if you ...
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MISCHIEF AFOOT – Mischief Afoot (WildGoose WGS424CD)

Mischief Afoot are a trio of English musicians based in the Cotswolds and I think it’s fair to say that John Davis, Becky Dellow and Jeff Gillett are best known for the musicians they have worked with over the years. Their repertoire is largely traditional or tunes that have a ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – 1989 Newport Folk Festival (Air Cuts AC3CD8060)

Hats off to the Air Cuts label for this box-set of the Ben & Jerry’s 1989 Newport Folk Festival – a near 30 year old recording, made to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the original 1959 event. While in many ways, this release harks back to the boxed editions of ...
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JENNIFER WARNES – Another Time, Another Place (BMG 538358052)

I first encountered Warnes back in 1977 with the release of her eponymously titled Arista debut fourth album, prompting me to immediately seek out its 1972 predecessor, Jennifer, (her first two albums remain impossible to find), eventually interviewing her in Birmingham when she toured with Leonard Cohen in 1979. Aside ...
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JAKE WALTON – Silver Muse (CM0001)

Folk music, as opposed to singer-songwriting or the many facets of acoustic music, has a sense of place and history. It is defined by social context. Nevertheless, one small niche within the folk traditional defies the here and now and fosters the notion of a spiritual ‘otherworld’, a dreamy predilection ...
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MISHAPED PEARLS – Shivelight (own label MISSHAP04)

Four years on from Thamesis, the London septet return with an album that take its title from Gerard Manley-Hopkins’ invented word for the lances of sunlight that pierce a woodland canopy. Fronted as ever by German-born mezzosoprano Manuella Schuette with co-founded and producer Ged Flood providing the bulk of the ...
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MATTHEW BYRNE – Horizon Lines (own label MB060417)

Hailing from Newfoundland, the deep-voiced Byrne stands in the classic tradition of Canadian folk singers such as Stan Rogers, Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson, his third album sure to spread his name far beyond his native shores. Unlike those mentioned, Byrne is predominantly an interpreter of traditional song, opening here ...
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RURA – In Praise Of Home (Rura Music RURACD003)

Almost the first sound you hear is the voice of Steven Blake’s grandfather, James Russell, reflecting on his home in Montrose. Or rather the feeling of home, that sensation sailors used to call the channels, and that idea is really what In Praise Of Home is about. Later, we hear ...
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BOB DYLAN – Live NYC 1963 (Rox Vox. RVCD2130)

In early 1963, Bob Dylan was at the threshold of a career that would skyrocket him to previously unimaginable heights, in part, aided by his Freewheelin’ LP, released in May ’63. Although an implied ‘live’ recording, Live NYC 1963, is actually, more accurately, part of a radio broadcast from WBAI’s ...
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DANIEL & EMMA REID – Life Continuum (own label EMR04)

Saxophone and fiddle isn’t a combination you hear very often, no more than flute and Hardanger fiddle but here they are, together with accordion, piano and viola. Life Continuum is the third album from a duo who are, as they say, big in Sweden. Actually Emma is fairly big in ...
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MISNER & SMITH – headwaters (own label)

The actor-turned-muso duo of Sam Misner and Megan Smith return with their fifth album, headwaters, due for release on June 25th, although it has been available in the States since October 2017. It is a little bit different from previous offerings such as Seven Hour Storm or Poor Player, and ...
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JON BUDWORTH – We All Share The Same Sky (Flying Folkie FF001CD)

Jon Budworth is a man of contradictions: a son of Lancashire who now lives in Yorkshire; a former rock’n’roller who discovered the joys of the acoustic guitar via Richard Thompson and became a singer-songwriter. The first impression of his debut full-length album, We All Share The Same Sky, is that ...
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BARRY NISBET – A Bright Ray Of Sunshine (Own Label, RRIG001)

Shetland singer-songwriter (and sailor) Barry Nisbet’s little box of delights, A Bright Ray Of Sunshine finally reaches the top of the unruly stack by the CD player. Although released in March, this absolute treasure chest of ten songs fully deserves to receive the widest recognition. Some expected themes - a ...
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TRACY GRAMMER – Low Tide (own label TGM180119)

Although Grammer released six albums with the late Dave Carter and a previous solo outing in 2006, this is the first on which she’s both singer and songwriter. Working with longtime guitar accompanist Jim Henry (who co-produced), drummer Lorne Entess, Paul Kochanski on bass and Chris Haynes providing keys and ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Resound (Shrewsbury Folk Festival)

Curated by Hannah James and released by Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Resound is a multi-tasking album. Firstly, it’s a tribute to Alan Surtees, founder and organiser of the festival and secondly, it’s a fundraiser for the Alan Surtees Trust which aims to give grants to young musicians and new musical projects ...
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SHARON LAZIBYRD – Half Shame And Half Glory (Trampoline TRL002)

Sharon Lazibyrd first came to my attention in 2013, disappeared for a while and returned with her single, ‘Opium Of The Masses’. It felt at first like a rail against consumerism but the more you listen, the deeper it seems to go. Like many of her songs it makes you ...
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JACK CARTY AND GUS GARDINER – Hospital Hill (It’s Dinner Recordings/ MGM GLWCD07)

Australian musicians Jack Carty and Gus Gardiner collaborate to co-write Hospital Hill, which will be released on June 1st. While by and large, I would consider this a somewhat stripped back type of album, for the entirety of the record, Carty’s acoustic guitar and vocal takes are backed by a ...
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DÓNAL CLANCY – On The Lonesome Plain (Proper/Copperplate DCLPCD16)

Dónal Clancy is the son of Liam Clancy, and comes highly recommended by the likes of Archie Fisher and Martin Simpson. His forthcoming album On The Lonesome Plain has already garnered praise from such publications as fROOTS both for his singing and for his Celtic-styled guitar. Deservedly so. His singing ...
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WINTER WILSON – Far Off On The Horizon (The Launch Event)

If you go to a Winter Wilson gig you can expect great songs well-played, but also humour in their introductions. I saw them play at a small festival last summer and they stopped their set for five minutes so we could watch the Spitfire fly past. This is a duo ...
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PHIL MADEIRA – Providence (Mercyland Records. ML006)

Providence is the brand new release from one of Nashville’s most seasoned veterans, Phil Madeira. It’s jazzy, it’s bluesy and as you’d expect from a man with Madeira’s credentials, the musicianship on the record, is second to none. In April 2018, it entered Billboard’s Traditional Jazz Chart at number 12 ...
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PHANTOM VOICES – Peace By Peace (Wyre Records WR006)

Phantom Voices are a six-piece band from Lancashire, Peace By Peace being their second album. With five vocalists and eleven instruments to choose from their style doesn’t lend itself to easy categorisation. The opening ‘Lovely Joan’ is classic folk-rock with a country edge and an all-too-brief electric guitar break from ...
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JILL JACKSON – Are We There Yet (own label JJR001CD)

Are We There Yet was released a few days ago on May 18th. The album was produced by Boo Hewerdine and has that classy feel you’d expect from “the wonderful man of magic” as Jill Jackson calls him on the sleeve notes. At the age of 22, Jackson had a ...
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PROSECCO SOCIALIST – Songs From Behind Bars (Gypsy Chicken Box Records)

Prosecco Socialist emerged late last year with a brilliant single, ‘This Dog’s Just For Christmas (Not For Life)’. It’s the second track here and not really about dogs although perhaps it is about Christmas a la mode but, like most of the Songs From Behind Bars it’s about people. The ...
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DÀIMH – The Rough Bounds (Goat Island Music, GIMCD005)

Twenty years to the day since their first gig, Dàimh release their seventh album, The Rough Bounds. While the title might aptly describe the burly chap gracing the cover, it actually relates to the area around West Lochaber where the band originates, “Na Garbh Chrìochan” in Gaelic. Dàimh (meaning “kinship”) ...
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BRYONY GRIFFITH – Hover (Selwyn Music SYNMCD0009)

It’s funny how things go but there seems to something of a resurgence in English fiddle music at the moment. Hover is Bryony’s second solo album although these are in addition to her work with The Witches Of Elswick, partner Will Hampson and The Demon Barbers. Although mostly solo, Ian ...
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BLAIR DUNLOP – Notes From An Island (Gilded Wings GWR005)

No artist is going to say their latest album isn’t as good as their previous ones, but when Dunlop says he thinks Notes From An Island is his best to date, he’s not just spouting press release clichés. Again produced by Ed Harcourt, who also contributes bass, and featuring long-standing ...
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CHRIS TAVENER – Is He Joking? (own label)

Recorded live over two sold-out nights in Manchester’s Three Minute Theatre, Is He Joking?, the debut album by satirical singer-songwriter, Chris Tavener is available now on CD and DVD. Cleverly, the show begins with an internal monologue (which the live audience are privy to) as Tavener tries to get himself ...
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Ó CONAILL FAMILY AND FRIENDS – Let’s Have Another Gan Ainm (Digital release)

I'm not sure I should be writing this review: while I've played guitar in many ceilidh bands over the years, I don't claim any in-depth knowledge of the tradition from which Let's Have Another Gan Ainm – due for digital-only release on July 1st 2018 – springs. Yet it's such ...
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GRETCHEN PETERS – Dancing With The Beast (Scarlet Letter/Proper PRPCD148P)

Having enjoyed her biggest success to date with the Ben Glover co-penned southern gothic ‘Blackbirds’, it is, perhaps, not too surprising to find echoes in Dancing With The Beast. In terms of narrative, the slightly swampy ‘Wichita’, which Glover also co-wrote and which features Jerry Douglas on Dobro, is another ...
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SINGLES BAR 29 – a round-up of recent EPs and singles

VIRGINIA KETTLE is one of Merry Hell’s front line as songwriter and singer and formerly a successful soloist around the clubs. This eponymous EP with The Dreamcatchers (who are not named but who look suspiciously familiar) is, we’re told, the precursor to a solo album. Her songs tend to be ...
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CATH & PHIL TYLER – The Ox And The Ax (Ferric Mordant Records Fe10)

Cath and Phil are based in the north-east – Phil is from Newcastle upon Tyne – but you wouldn’t know it from their music. Their greatest influence comes via Cath who was a member of Cordelia’s Dad back in the 1990s and has absorbed their take on traditional music from ...
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THE JELLYMAN’S DAUGHTER – Dead Reckoning (own label)

A gentle beginning with cello, voice and mandolin and then the strings flow into the musicscape. ‘Quiet Movie’ is a fine opener to the new album Dead Reckoning by that marvellous duo The Jellyman’s Daughter. This new outing is chock-full of bitter sweet ballads, laments, lullabies and dancing tunes such ...
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HATFUL OF RAIN – Songs Of The Lost and Found (Long Way Home Music 004)

Hatful Of Rain were formed in 2011, have been played by Mike Harding and have performed live on the Bob Harris show. Their music crosses the borders of folk and country and Songs Of The Lost And Found is their fourth release, following two albums and an EP. I found ...
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WILL FINN & ROSIE CALVERT – Beneath This Place (Haystack HAYCD012)

It’s not often that you hear British traditional music played on steel pans but that’s what you’ll find here. Will and Rosie are half of The Teacups, known for their unaccompanied harmony but on Beneath This Place, their debut album as a duo, they expand their musical palette The opening ...
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JOE SOLO – Not On Our Watch (own label)

Having issued the equivalent of nearly one recording per year since 2004, Not on Our Watch is the most recent release by the prolific folk-punk troubadour, Joe Solo. It’s a bigger sound than one of Joe’s live shows with the usual guitar, harmonica and percussion set-up being accompanied by fiddle, ...
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THE POOZIES – Punch (Schmooz SCHMOOZCD003)

I was amused by the quote from Eilidh Shaw (fiddle, vocals) who says that the Poozies are probably fortunate that the charge of witchcraft has gone out of fashion; otherwise they’d be in trouble. In Punch there’s certainly a mischievous mix of musical mayhem, spellbinding showcase instrumentals and probably some ...
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JOE WILKES – Japanese Elvis (Frontline FLR009)

Born in Coventry and now based out of East London, Wilkes first caught my ear back in 2006 with his debut album Spotlight. This was followed two years later by Here On This Frontline and, in 2012, Looking For The Grave of Garcia Lorca. However, the following year an injury ...
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ROBBIE SHERRATT – Provenance (own label)

Robbie Sherratt comes from north Staffordshire, as his repertoire readily testifies. In fact, the music of his home region is part of the rationale of this record. He has studied at the Sibelius Academy and is just completing his final year at university. He first encountered folk music in the ...
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FRANK TURNER – Be More Kind (XtraMile Recordings/Polydor 6738173)

The globe-circling gigging machine and humanist that is Frank Turner might surprise some with his seventh solo studio album, Be More Kind. Fearlessly true to himself, as always, he embraces an ambitious new musical palette, while his smart, sharp lyrics display maturity in the face of an uncertain world. The ...
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JOSHUA BURNELL – Songs From The Seasons (Misted Valley Records MVR18a)

In late December 2015, quite possibly infused by a degree of festive spirits, the York folk musician (his voice not unlike Gerry Colvin) set himself the task of recording his arrangement of a different traditional folk song every week for the next twelve months reflecting the passing of the seasons ...
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RAY COOPER – Between The Golden Age & The Promised Land (Westpark 87368)

They say you only get one chance – this time I’m very grateful that I’ve had two. A couple of months ago a friend put Ray Cooper on about ten miles away from me and I couldn’t get to the gig because of a family event. Last week I got ...
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MERRY HELL ACOUSTIC – live at The Old Courts, Wigan – 29th April 2018

The previous evening, the electric Merry Hell had rocked the packed courtroom supported by The Trials Of Cato and Derek Martin. I’d like to tell you how good they were but that must wait for another monograph. Tonight was about the launch of their acoustic album, Anthems To The Wind, ...
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STEPHEN HARRISON – It Starts With The Soul (Word Poem Records, WP018)

Stephen Harrison is a something of a music industry veteran. From his early days as a teen, playing in Edinburgh’s post-punk scene and the electronic experimentation that followed, through rock and out the other side, he’s arrived back at the simple pleasures of one man and his acoustic guitar. It ...
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SCOTT MATTHEWS – The Great Untold (Shedio Records)

For a man so frequently brushed with greatness, singer-songwriter Scott Matthews does not quite yet seem to be a household name. Perhaps his sixth album, The Great Untold, will change that – it certainly has a broad, genre-defying appeal. Matthews’ CV is impressive: a 2007 Ivor Novello award-winner for his ...
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WILL POUND – Through The Seasons (Lulubug LULUBUG004)

The cover tells you most of what you need to know about this album. Will Pound, here devoting more of his energies to melodeon than harmonica, was brought up in the Morris tradition and is a long-time member of Chinewrde Morris. Through The Seasons is a project he has long ...
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