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.

TWAS NOW – Flesh And Bone (own label)

Hailing from Kitchener, Ontario, and taking their name from enigmatic graffiti adorning a prominent railroad bridge, Mike and Diana Erb have their feet firmly planted in traditional country roots. Indeed, their aptly titled debut album, Old Fashioned Way, featured songs by such legends as the Carter Family, the Louvin Brothers ...
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EAMON FRIEL – Atlantic Light (Thran Records THR 1013)

Atlantic Light is Eamon Friel’s eighth and final album. The Londonderry broadcaster, performer and songwriter died unexpectedly at a remarkably youthful sixty-nine over the weekend. He was immensely popular in and around Belfast and will be sorely missed. The album fits smoothly into Eamon’s oeuvre. It’s gentle and understated with ...
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DYLAN LEBLANC – Renegade (ATO Records)

Dylan LeBlanc’s fourth album, Renegade, was released on June 7th - and it’s rather good. LeBlanc’s publicity gives details of a pretty impressive back story – his first two albums included: acclaim as “the new Neil Young”; Emmylou Harris guesting on his first album; touring/ opening for Lucinda Williams and ...
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EVAN CARSON – Ocipinski (Evan Carson Music – ECMCD001)

Ocipinski is percussionist Evan Carson's first solo album inspired by Jerzy Ocipinski and the Polish Resistance Movements of the Second World War. Why this subject matter you ask? It just so happens that Jerzy Ocipinski was Evan’s grandfather. The album has taken somewhat longer to complete that originally planned, but ...
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STEELEYE SPAN – EST’D 1969 (Park Records PRKCD154)

There are bands who seem to have always been there and have established a reputation that even allows them to break out into the mainstream on occasions.  Steeleye Span are one such band and this year they celebrate their 50th Anniversary with a brand new record Est'd 1969.  Perhaps you ...
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SINGLES BAR 42 – The meaning of life, the universe and everything

A round-up of recent EPs and singles Echoes is the first solo work from Sheffield’s NICOLA BEAZLEY. Nicola plays five-string fiddle which she blends with her brass band background into an intriguing EP of tunes. The opening track, ‘Cutting The Rushes’, is jig but with a slow mournful start. It ...
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COE, PETERS & SMYTH – The Road To Peterloo (Backshift Music BASHCD 65)

In spite of the establishment’s attempts to cover up the story of the massacre for nigh on two hundred years, it’s now common knowledge to anyone who cares to listen. Mike Leigh’s film has done a great service and now we have a musical history of the event compiled by ...
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LAURA VICTORIA – Today’s Another Day (own label LVLGA02)

The Northumberland- born, cello-playing, blues-influenced folk singer-songwriter Laura Victoria follows up her acclaimed 2015 debut Head Above Water with Today's Another Day, an album exploring the different facets of love and relationships, from heartbreak to empowerment. It would be fair to say that her little girl adenoidal warble is something ...
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SUNJAY – Devil Came Calling (own label SLCD201901)

Sunjay has now released five albums and really should be a star but the blues is “genre” music and that’s unlikely to happen yet awhile. After the side-step of Sunjay Sings Buddy he has returned to the roots of his music with Devil Came Calling and if that title suggests ...
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GAVIN LIVINGSTONE – Fire In The Snow (own label GAVCD01)

Formerly a member of Scottish outfit The Skerries and 70s folktronica duo Tonight At Noon, Fire In The Snow is the Glaswegian-based singer-songwriter’s first completely solo album, all bar one of the songs, sung in an unabashed accent, being self-penned. Again, it melds traditional and technology, opening with the circling ...
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DARIA KULESH & MARINA OSMAN – Firebirds (own label)

Firebirds was recorded by Daria and Marina for sale at gigs – although you can also buy it from their website. The fifteen tracks were recorded in single takes to get as close to their live sound as possible and they left the occasional giggle in. Most of the tracks ...
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OLD MAN LUEDECKE – Easy Money (True North Records TND731)

The Canadian folk artist Old Man Luedecke released his sixth album Easy Money on June 7th. Luedecke is a previous winner of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Juno awards and I suspect might get one or more nominations from this album.  He has written ten of the ...
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Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars (Columbia)

Released today, Western Stars is Bruce Springsteen’s 19th studio album. A beautiful sweeping soundscape, which for me musically, conjures up the image of a rancher looking out over a large expanse of a Western dusty land. Stallions gently whicker to the sound of a transistor radio, playing sweeping Southern California ...
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SKIPINNISH – Steer By The Stars (Skipinnish Records SKIPCD28)

Skipinnish have had a spectacular couple of years since the release of The Seventh Wave and now, as they celebrate their twentieth anniversary, they find themselves at the top of the tree in contemporary/ traditional Scottish music. Now an octet with Angus Tikka being replaced by Charlotte Printer on bass ...
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JON WILKS – live in Birmingham

Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham. June 9, 2019 Now based near Winchester, but making a welcome return to his hometown of Birmingham, opening with his reading of the Incredible String Band’s ‘October Song’, Jon Wilks made an all too rare live outing in support of his album, Midlife. It’s a collection ...
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JOHN TAMS – The Reckoning (Topic TTSCD006)

The Reckoning, John Tams’ third solo album, is the latest deluxe re-issue marking Topic Records’ 80th anniversary. Originally released in 2005, it was the last of a trio of albums that might fall into the singer-songwriter category and the culmination, as far as recording goes, of a career that now ...
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BELINDA O’HOOLEY – Inversions (No Masters NMCD53)

If you’ve followed Belinda O’Hooley’s career you’ll be aware of what a fine musician she is and you will have noticed how her talents have grown and developed in the decade that she and Heidi Tidow have worked together. It’s a big step from lugging an electronic keyboard up folk ...
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MASSY FERGUSON – Great Divides (North & Left NL001)

A meat and gravy roots rock bar band powered by driving guitars, fronted by bassist Ethan Anderson and guitarist Adam Monda with Dave Goedde on drums, Massy Ferguson occupy much the same blue-collar Americana territory as Drive By Truckers, The Hold Steady and The Jayhawks. Since their last album, 2016’s ...
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NAOMI BEDFORD & PAUL SIMMONDS – Album Launch Interview

“The Men were up from Kent, and out of Essex too - Though naught but the Thames divides us and unites us onwards - Through all the villages of England and on to London town”. Well maybe not quite the “Wat Tyler” rallying cry (by way of Fairport Convention) … ...
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JULIE JULY BAND – Lady Of The First Light (Aurora Folk Records JJB19CD1)

The Julie July Band is best known currently for Julie's sensitive reinterpretations of the Sandy Denny songbook, and their previous CD Who Knows Where The Time Goes represents a cross-section of classic Denny material. However, the live set I saw earlier this year included a wider range of Denny material ...
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THE LARK AND THE LOON – 2 (own label)

I really enjoyed The Lark And The Loon’s previous album, Homestead Hands, and I’m glad to say that their follow-up, 2, doesn’t disappoint. The Lark And The Loon are husband and wife duo Jeff Rolfzen and Rocky Steen-Rolfzen, named for reasons I now forget. All the songs were written as ...
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THE BYRDS – On A Wing: Volume 2  (Sound Stage – SS6CDBOX49)

In December last year, the Sound Stage label issued a massive Byrds boxed-set titled The Byrds On A Wing: Volume 1 and the good news is that a mere few months later, Volume 2 has arrived! While an obvious continuation of the series, this (slightly smaller 6 disc) collection doesn’t ...
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MARSHES – When The Lights Are Bright (Endearingly Ramshackle ER0001CD)

The artist formerly known as Beth Porter and the Availables, the name inspired by her new home in Dumfries and Galloway,  When The Lights Are Bright is a new venture for the acclaimed cellist and songwriter, also part of Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band, but one that, recorded two ...
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THE BAND – Live in Charleston 1994 (Live on Vinyl – LOVL2027)

Although The Band called it a day in the late 1970s (as famously documented in Martin Scorsese’s  The Last Waltz) they did re-emerge in the early ‘80s, albeit with an altered line up. This time, there was no Robbie Robertson and although Richard Manuel would initially reunite with the group, ...
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THE LITTLE UNSAID – Atomise (Reveal 080CDX)

Over the course of three albums (four if you count the instrumental Electronic Sketches) and two EPs, West Yorkshire songwriter John Elliott has become the bard of mental illness and emotional isolation. Atomise, their first for Reveal, takes its cue from the current climate of division and unrest, but seeks ...
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BOB DYLAN WITH JERRY GARCIA – San Francisco 1980 (Rox Vox – RV2CD2143)

San Francisco 1980 comes from the Fox Warfield Theatre on November 12th, 1980, at the start of a twelve date residency which Dylan had at the venue, and the very first night in which he performed officially onstage with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. Released on a raft of bootlegged ...
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NIC JONES – An Introduction To Nic Jones (Topic TICD014)

Alongside the 80th anniversary celebrations, Topic Records complete their introduction series with An Introduction To Nic Jones. This presented something of a problem. Nic recorded the sublime Penguin Eggs, his final album for them and licensed a set of live recordings which appeared as Game Set Match. The rest of ...
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TERES AOUTES STRING BAND – Lo Rock ‘n Roll De La Mountagna (TERESCD2018)

The Teres Aoutes String Band are from the north-west of Italy and released Lo Rock ‘n’ Roll De La Mountagna in 2018. A couple of weeks ago the e-mail came through asking if I’d like to review it (“it’s sort of folk-baroque-rock and sounds good” – but also pointing out ...
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BARD EDRINGTON V – Espadín (own label)

Born in Alabama, raised in Tennessee and now based in New Mexico, Edrington brings together the variations within the musical cultures, as well as his work running a landscaping business with wife and backing singer Zoe Wilcox, on Espadín, his first solo venture, that charts his family’s journey from the ...
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DARIA KULESH – the Earthly Delights launch – June 1st 2019

Hosted by Dunton Folk, the church of St Mary Magdalene welcomed a gathering of friends old and new for the official launch of Daria Kulesh’s third solo album, Earthly Delights. Daria’s gigs are like that – there’s always someone good to talk to. This was the big band – the ...
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THE PAUL McKENNA BAND – Breathe (own label PMB002CD)

The Paul McKenna Band is a Glasgow-based five-piece, lining up as Robbie Greig on fiddle, Conar Markey on banjo, bouzouki, mandolin and guitars, percussionist Ewan Baird, Conal McDonagh providing pipes and whistles with McKenna on guitar and piano, Breathe is their fifth album. Produced by Mike Vass, this time around ...
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EMILY LOCKETT – My Imagination (own label)

Emily Lockett calls My Imagination an EP, I call it an album. Her reasoning is that is consists of five new songs fleshed out with reworkings of previously released tracks. Mine is that, is that it contains nine tracks that I haven’t heard before and that makes it an album ...
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DEREK SENN – How Could A Man (own label)

Out of the blue came an email from Derek Senn with a link to his new album. Derek is a singer-songwriter from California of whom I had not heard. My usual response would be to listen to couple of tracks and decide how to proceed – I listened to How ...
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WINTER WILSON – Live & Unconventional (own label WWCD010)

The joke, you see, is that Kip Winter and Dave Wilson recorded Live & Unconventional on the road with Fairport Convention during their 2018 winter tour. In fact, the first voice we hear is that of Ric Sanders doing compere duty and the rest of the chaps appear later. There ...
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GAVIN SUTHERLAND – A Traveller’s Tales (own label GS003CD)

Gavin Sutherland released A Traveller’s Tales in early May. Sutherland had international fame in the seventies both in the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver and as a songwriter – Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’ being the most obvious. In 1999 he began to release solo albums. A Traveller’s Tales is his sixth - ...
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NANCY KERR & JAMES FAGAN – An Evening With Nancy Kerr & James Fagan  (Little Dish LiDiCD003)

Twenty years playing together! It seems like only yesterday they were cast in the role of ‘brat pack’ young folk upstarts. And now we’re talking the language of ‘retrospective’ with a new offering An Evening With… to showcase the impressive repertoire and instrumental prowess that has kept them at the ...
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JOHN CEE STANNARD – Moving On (Cast Iron CIRCD 030)

John Cee Stannard’s new album, Moving On, was conceived as a successor to his recently relaunched debut – see link below. It’s another big band album featuring, among others, Spencer Couzens, Matt Winch, Nick Pentelow, Richard Cox-Smith and Paul Hutchinson together with his regular sidesmen Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore ...
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CORRIE SHELLEY – Forget Me Not (own label CSSSMCD003)

Since the release of her previous album I've had the pleasure of meeting Corrie Shelley although I’ve not yet heard her perform live. Although I don’t claim to know her, I have an inkling of what she’s about and that helps. Forget Me Not sounds rather more uniform than The ...
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LE VENT DU NORD – Territoires (Borealis BCD258)

Le Vent Du Nord are back on tour and with a new album which is always good news. Territoires sees the band expanded to a quintet with André Brunet, poached from La Bottine Souriante, making his presence felt with three compositions. The band has evolved in subtle ways since their ...
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SCOTT LAVENE – Broke (Funnel Music SLFMCD007P)

Scott Lavene releases, Broke, on June 7th. It’s an eclectic collection of nine songs, an album for the twenty-first century in the territory of, say, Ian Dury, Frank Turner, John Otway with song-poems of day-to-day life set to a slightly quirky musical style. I can’t find a link on YouTube ...
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AMY GODDARD – Always A Dreamer (own label AGAAD2019)

Always A Dreamer is something of a departure for Amy Goddard being a tribute to her favourite songwriter, John Stewart, who she has name-checked more than once in the past. Sadly, she hasn’t included my favourite Stewart song, ‘Armstrong’, but as she has squeezed seventeen gems onto the album I ...
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BURNING SALT – Automatic Lullaby (Own Label)

Burning Salt's EP Dirt, inspired by the women and workers of Holloway prison and released in September 2018, was a stunningly intense and original aural and lyrical experience that earned the band a nomination for the Folking 2019 Awards in the 'Rising Star' category, but also gave them a lot ...
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ME & FRED – Sweet Anticipation (own label)

Me & Fred are a singer/songwriting duo from Cumbria comprising Me (Robin May) and Fred (Fredrika Buchanan). Sweet Anticipation is their debut album and is remarkably polished given that it was recorded in their front room. They supply six songs each – Fred’s being more relationship-based while Robin perhaps tends ...
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HEADSTICKS – Kept In The Dark (STP Records Group STP056)

Defining or categorising music can sometimes be difficult.  If you Google Headsticks you find them defined as Alternative/Indie.  Their website, however, says  FOLK, PUNK, ROOTS, REVOLUTION. The website is probably a better definition of the music to be found on their new album Kept In The Dark.  Headsticks formed in ...
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JOHN CEE STANNARD – The “Doob Doo” Album (Cast Iron CIRCD 022)

The “Doob Doo” Album is John Cee Stannard’s first solo work but not many people know that. In fact, I didn’t know that until John explained it to me. It was released in 2013 and boasts a lavish package – triple-fold digipak with a booklet that really makes a statement ...
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ALEX SEEL –Spell On A Tin Drum (own label)

Mostly written in a caravan on the west coast of Ireland and recorded under his bed in London, Seel’s softly sung second album often resonates with that sense of intimacy and seclusion while also showcasing his virtuoso guitar work. The album sets out the latter’s stall with the slow waltzing ...
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SINGLES BAR 41 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

It slipped out late last year with virtually no publicity, so perhaps it’s time to shine a light on Voices Of Equilibrium (Silvertone), a four-track EP of covers from three part harmony Devon trio WILDWOOD KIN, sisters Beth and Emillie Key and cousin Meghann Loney. There’s some surprising choices, though ...
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EDGELARKS – Feather (Dragonfly Roots DRCD006)

The fifth album by Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, but Feather is only the second under their new name Edgelarks, this had the formidable task of following upon their eponymous ‘debut’. As you would expect, it does so effortlessly, expanding their musical palette as it goes and showcasing Martin’s ever ...
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KATE RUSBY – Philosophers, Poets & Kings (Pure PRCD53)

Incredibly, Philosophers, Poets & Kings is Rusby’s 17th studio album in just over 20 years. Once again, a collection of the traditional and self-penned with a couple of covers for good measure, it pays homage to her Yorkshire roots, both musical and personal, as well as furthering her exploits into ...
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FEROCIOUS DOG – Fake News & Propaganda (own label)

Fake News & Propaganda is the fourth full electric album by Warsop’s punk-folkers, Ferocious Dog. It’s dedicated to the memory of Ken Bonsall’s son Lee who, suffering from PTSD after his experiences with the army in Afghanistan, took his own life aged just 24. That’s why Ferocious Dog do what ...
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KEITH JAMES – Message From The Gods (Hurdy Gurdy HGA2928)

The forthcoming CD from Keith James, Message From The Gods, is released on Monday June 3rd, and it's a worthy successor to the albums of Keith's that I've previously reviewed on this site. Which is to say that it's very good indeed. Keith is a fine poet and songwriter in ...
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THE DOVETAIL TRIO – Bold Champions (GR! Records GRR009)

Bold Champions is the second album by Jamie Roberts, Rosie Hood and Matt Quinn and there is an awful lot to like about it. Firstly, either the song, its title or its story is, in almost every case, familiar. These are songs that have stood the test of time and ...
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THE GOAT ROPER RODEO BAND – Tall Grass (Old Pup OPR003)

A trio from Rhuddlan in North Wales, comprising brothers Jim (lead guitar) and Tom Davies (percussive double bass) and Sam Roberts (rhythm guitar), all three of whom live in a caravan, they take their prime influence from The Band and are characterised by their high pitched, nasally vocals that sound ...
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DADDY LONG LEGS – Lowdown Ways (Yep Roc Records YEP-2657)

Lowdown Ways is the third studio album from Daddy Long Legs, a animalistic, energetic trio from New York. Comprising Brian Hurd (vocals/ harmonica/guitar), Murat Akturk (slide guitar) and Josh Styles (drums/maraca), the three write their own material drawing on blues and other genres, all wreathed in a scuzzy sonic fuzz ...
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ELIZA CARTHY – Restitute (Topic TSCD599)

Hitherto only available direct from Carthy’s website, Restitute was originally recorded as a fund raiser for the Wayward Band after they lost funding for the Big Machine album project halfway through and, though eventually rescued by Topic, no one got paid, hence the prevalent theme of betrayal. Save for a ...
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DARIA KULESH – Earthly Delights (own label)

Daria Kulesh is a very highly-rated performer in the hallowed virtual halls of Folking.com, so I count myself as rather lucky to have got a review copy of her forthcoming CD Earthly Delights, due for release on May 31st 2019. Once again, she is supported by an impressive selection of ...
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J.D. & THE STRAIGHT SHOT- The Great Divide (own label)

I’m not wholly sure what to make of this Nashville/NYC-based six-piece fronted by Jim Dolan who, in his day job, is the CEO of a company that oversees several professional NBA sports teams, including the New York Nicks and Rangers. That the members have variously played with Martina McBride, Sheryl ...
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DAVE FIDLER – Songs From Aurora (27.27 Records)

For his follow-up to 2014’s debut, I’m Not Here, singer-songwriter Dave Fidler decided on something different. He spent last August conscientiously challenging his creativity by writing a song every day (chronicled on his website: a fascinating read) and eight of those songs are distilled into Songs From Aurora. As the ...
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TONY BURT – People Watching (Mirror Blue MBCD010)

Hailing from Birmingham and now living in Bromyard in Herefordshire, Burt’s been a jobbing folkie since the 60s, playing in outfits such as Witches Brew and Dempsey’s Lot as well as solo gigs round the pub and club circuit. Although he’d always written, that had taken something of a back ...
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BILL JONES – Wonderful Fairytale (Brick Wall Music BRICK007CD)

Fifteen years on from taking a short break to raise a family, the Sunderland-based former Radio 2 Horizon Award winner finally returns with her fourth studio album. Produced by Ian Stephenson, who also plays guitar and double bass, and featuring Jean-Pierre Garde on strings, percussionist Stephen Henderson, Santi Jayasinha on ...
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