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.

DICK GAUGHAN – Handful Of Earth (Topic TTSCD005)

Of the twenty-some albums that Dick Gaughan has recorded, Handful Of Earth is generally held to be his best. That’s tough, given that it was his fifth solo record and is almost forty years old. Personally, I lean towards Parallel Lines, his collaboration with Andy Irvine, but Handful Of Earth ...
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TYLOR & THE TRAIN ROBBERS – Best Of The Worst Kind (own label)

Oregon-born and Boise Idaho-based Tylor Ketchum is a distant relative of Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum, a Texas outlaw and was part of the train-robbing Hole-In-The-Wall Gang, who serves as inspiration for the band’s name and the new album’s six-minute centrepiece, ‘The Ballad Of Black Jack Ketchum’. Part sung, part spoken ...
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DAN WALSH – Trio (Rooksmere Records RRCD118)

I’ve always liked Dan Walsh ever since his debut album, Tomorrow’s Still To Come. It was perhaps unpolished by modern standards but the potential shone through every note. Sadly, I was disappointed by his previous album, Verging On The Perpendicular, but I’ve always thought that Dan was at his best ...
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JESSIE BUCKLEY – Wild Rose (Official Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Island)

The story about how ex-con Glaswegian single mother country singer Rose-Lynn Harlan pursues her dreams of going to Nashville, while I have reservations about the film, which too often resorts to cliché, has one epiphany too many and features a cringeworthy scene with Bob Harris, there’s no doubting either the ...
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JUNE TABOR – Airs And Graces (Topic TTSC004)

As you must know by now, to celebrate their 80th birthday Topic are re-releasing a series of classic albums in deluxe editions. Airs And Graces is among the first tranche and is arguably one of the most important. When June Tabor first appeared on the scene I’d just moved into ...
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BEAU – Damascus Road (Cherry Red BEAUDR1)

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of his debut album for John Peel’s Dandelion Records, Trevor Midgley follows-up Rattle The Asylum Bars with another playful but biting collection of 12-string led protest song commentaries that again reinforces his status as a British answer to Phil Ochs. He kicks off taking ...
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NAVARO – So Long Wichita (Leading Horses Records LHREC02)

It’s been far too long since we’ve heard from Navaro. Steve Austin has posted lots of pictures from his narrowboat where the majority of So Long Wichita was recorded but there hasn’t been much music. This is their third album and is rather stripped down from its predecessor, Home Is ...
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LOVERS LEAP – Lovers Leap (own label)

A coming together of Grammy-nominated bassist Shelby Means, singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist Mary Lucey-Cardine, guitarist Joel Timmons and slide guitar player Billy Cardine, this six-track EP marks their first recorded work. An acoustic-based collection it opens with ‘Walnut Tree’, a Lucey-Cardine number about connecting with nature inspired by a tree in her ...
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DOUGIE MACKENZIE WITH BRIAN MILLER – Along The Way   (Greentrax CDTRAX403)

Dougie Mackenzie began his musical life singing Gaelic songs but later turned his attention to the Scots ballad tradition. The result is Along The Way, a collection of mostly traditional songs sensitively produced by Ian McCalman. Dougie comes from a tradition of unaccompanied singing – some would say that’s the ...
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THE ASKEW SISTERS – Enclosure (Oakmere Music OMCD001)

Enclosure is the fourth album from The Askew Sisters, five years since the release of the award winning In the Air Or The Earth. Both sisters have been busy with other projects in between albums, with Hazel working with Lady Maisery and The Coven. Emily through her solo album Alchemy ...
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FIELD MEDIC – Fade Into The Dawn (Run For Cover RFC188)

The professional name of nasally voiced, lo-fi bedroom folk musician Kevin Patrick, this marks his first release of new material for the label, although he has self-released numerous singles and EPs, many of which were gathered on the Songs From The Sunroom. I guess if you’re looking for musical roadmarkers, ...
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FABRIZIO CAMMARATA – Lights (800A Records)

Fabrizio Cammarata released Lights on March 29th. I’d not heard of Cammarata before getting this CD, but I’m glad it came my way. Cammarata is a Sicilian singer-songwriter who, on this album, writes and sings in English. Lights is classed by iTunes as Indie Rock; if it matters, I’d see ...
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JEFFERSON HAMER – Alameda (own label)

You may know the name from Child Ballads, the album he made with Anais Mitchell back in 2014, while he’s also recorded with the likes of Session Americana, Laura Cortese and Sarah Jarosz, who, along with Hannah Read, provides harmonies. This, though, is the Brooklyn-based songwriter’s solo debut, a collection ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – From Here – English Folk Field Recordings Volume 2 (From Here Records SITW011CD)

Curated by Ian Carter and Nicola Kearey of Stick In The Wheel, the second volume of From Here is every bit as intriguing and entertaining as its predecessor. Recorded wherever the artists were with just two microphones, these performances are sometimes raw and earthy and sometimes delicate and beautiful. Some ...
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MICHAEL McDERMOTT – Orphans (Pauper Sky)

Despite having released solo albums Willow Springs and Out From Under alongside Six On The Out from The Westies in the past couple of years, it seems there were still abandoned songs in McDermott’s notebook looking for a home. So, like a good musical social worker, he’s brought them together ...
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SINGLES BAR 40 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

EDDI READER releases a new EP, Starlight (Reveal) which lifts the title track and ‘My Favourite Dress’ from her recent Cavalier album and adds three hitherto unavailable covers from the same sessions. First up, featuring assorted friends and relative son backing vocals, is James Grant’s ‘Scarecrow Song’, a slow waltz ...
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FINE LINES – Gaslight Roses (Parade PARCD009)

Six-piece Americana roots rockers from Cheshire, Gaslight Roses is Fine Lines' second-full length album, co-produced by Merry Hell’s John Kettle (who also contributes guitar and bass) and band frontman David Boardman who writes the material, either solo or in tandem with drummer Mark Radcliffe (yes, the BBC one). With its ...
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DUIR – Sodden Dogs & Blind, Winged Horses (Songs Of The Oak DUIR-CD-003)

Sometimes an album comes from so far out that it’s difficult to know where to start. Sodden Dogs & Blind, Winged Horses is one such – a beast of a double CD – that one might compare with Comus or Principal Edward’s for its scope and imagination. Duir is as ...
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ABIGAIL DOWD – Not What I Seem (own label)

Born and once again based in North Carolina by way of Florence (the subject of ‘Secrets On The Street’) and Maine, Dowd trades in the blues side of folk, her latest album a no holds barred search for self-identity on songs that never expand beyond trio format with variously Jason ...
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MARRY WATERSON & EMILY BARKER – A Window To Other Ways (One Little Indian)

A musical meeting of minds at a writing retreat led by Kathryn Williams led to Waterson, the daughter of Lal Waterson as, as such, English folk royalty, and Stroud-based Australian singer Emily Barker writing a song entitled ‘I’m Drawn’. That, a dark, dank foliage folk plucked banjo number featuring cello ...
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BONES AND THE AFT? – Mickey (Liver & Lights No. 57)

If you have not yet encountered Bones And The Aft? some explanation may be necessary. They are the musical wing of the Liver & Lights organization, led by poet, artist and publisher, John Bently. The band has a variable line-up with composer Ian Mckean and drummer David Beschizza (aka Admiral ...
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DERVISH – The Great Irish Songbook (Rounder Records)

Dervish release The Great Irish Songbook on April 12th. I don’t really need to say very much more to persuade anyone to give this a listen. But, since that would be a rather short review, I will do. The Band - Dervish have been playing Irish traditional music for nearly ...
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ODETTE MICHELL – The Wildest Rose (Own Label)

As previously mentioned on Folking.com, Odette Michell is following up her well-received debut EP from 2018 (By Way Of Night) with a full-length album called The Wildest Rose. The new CD will be launched at TwickFolk, held in the Cabbage Patch in Twickenham, on April 14th 2019, and is due ...
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CARRIE TREE – The Canoe (Own Label WCRCD05)

Brighton singer/songwriter Carrie Tree's third CD, The Canoe, due for release on the 26th April 2019, is a little more delicate and spiritual than anything I've reviewed recently, but certainly no worse for that. It addresses the themes of "birth, death, water, home and travel" in a style that is ...
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KY BURT – The Sky In Between (Woodstove Records)

While lots of Americana finds its way between my ears from time to time, Ky Burt's album The Sky In Between, due for release on the 5th April 2019, is a little different from most of the CDs in that idiom I hear. Ky's self-written songs here seem somehow to ...
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Julie July Band live in Penzance

With lots of milder spring weather finally making an appearance in Cornwall, what could be nicer than venturing down from the hills of Penwith for some live music at the Acorn Theatre? Well, it turns out that many of my neighbours took the opportunity of seeing the Julie July Band ...
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ELLES BAILEY – Road I Call Home (Outlaw Music OLM19CD01)

Elles Bailey is a Bristol-based musician with a reputation for pulsating live shows. Her first album, Wildfire, was released in 2017 to great acclaim and Bailey’s reputation, already growing because of her live performances, spread quickly. Her second album, Road I Call Home has just been released and is in ...
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THE DRYSTONES- Apparitions (Shedbuilt Records TDSR003)

I quite liked The Drystones previous album, We Happy Few, although I wished for more songs and I was not as prepared as some critics to go overboard about them. I was disappointed when I saw them live although, by their own admission, they weren’t at their best but I ...
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FAUSTUS – Cotton Lords (Westpark 87381)

Over the past months, the trio have been gradually releasing online a collection of new songs from the Lancashire Cotton Famine Poetry project in partnership with the University of Exeter. Addressing events that occurred between 1861 and 1865 as a result of the American Civil War and a blockade on ...
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DAVY GRAHAM – Hat (Bread & Wine BRINECD-4)

Hat, released in 1969, was Davy Graham’s third album for Decca. The mixture of blues, jazz and mainstream songwriting with a little classical thrown in continues the pattern set by his earlier work but it is a rather slight album. Only three tracks exceed three minutes and one can’t help ...
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AMY THATCHER – Solo (own label AT001)

Amy Thatcher is usually to be found with The Shee or The Monster Ceilidh Band or alongside Kathryn Tickell in The Side. This, however, is her first solo album called, appropriately, Solo. Amy plays a Pigini converter and utilises the free-bass system. Accordion experts, of whom I am emphatically not ...
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THOM ASHWORTH – Head Canon (own label)

Having released his second EP, The Hollow, at the tail end of 2017, the Hampshire-born, East London-based folkie now goes the whole hog with a full album, funded by the EFDSS, that, featuring violin and soprano sax, embraces traditional and self-penned material as well as an obscure Ewan McColl cover ...
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MIKE VASS – Save His Calm (Unroofed Records UR006CD)

We’re used to hearing Mike Vass as an instrumentalist and, particularly, a composer. His albums have been evocative musical journeys, In The Wake Of Neil Gunn being the prime example of his talent. With Save His Calm he’s turned singer-songwriter, a most unexpected change of direction. The title is an ...
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SCREAMING ORPHANS – Life In A Carnival (own label)

Four sisters from Donegal, Joan (drums), Gràinne (guitar, banjo, viola), Marie Thérèse (accordion, keys) and Angela (bass, fiddle) Diver released their debut album in 2001 and this is now their eleventh, the follow up to 2017’s Taproom and one that sets out to show their range rather than reinforcing the ...
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DAVY GRAHAM – Midnight Man (Bread & Wine BRINECD-3)

Hindsight is wonderful. Looking back to 1966 when Midnight Man, Davy Graham’s second Decca album, was originally released, its eclectic mix of material was fairly representative of the state of the music business in the UK from Jim Reeves and Frank Sinatra at one extreme to The Rolling Stones and ...
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SON VOLT – Union (Thirty Tigers)

In the continuing musical silence from Springsteen in response to the Trump presidency, joined by long-time members Mark Spencer on keys and lap steel and bassist Andrew DuPlantis, returning alumni guitarist Chris Frame and new recruit on drums Mark Patterson, Jay Farrar steps up to the plate with the second ...
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TORI REED – Same Page Different Book (own label)

Tori Reed is a female singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar but that is such a superficial description that it’s worthless. Same Page Different Book is her third album and I loved its predecessor, The Snug Sessions. So what’s going for her? Firstly, she writes very clever songs but doesn’t spoon-feed ...
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SEAN TAYLOR – The Path Into Blue (Sean Taylor Songs STCD113)

Sean Taylor's CD The Path Into Blue, due for release on April 12th 2019, is very much an album of its time. Which is to say it's grounded, lyrically, in most of the things that are wrong with 21st Century Britain and the world in general. Not a lot of ...
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FLOOK – Ancora (Flatfish 006)

“Ancora impara” said Michaelangelo, aged 82, and I probably don't need to tell you that means “I am always learning”.  [I suspect you might - Ed.] That's something that Flook have taken on board with their first album since Haven in 2005. Flook didn't go away in those 14 years, playing ...
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THE MEADOWS – Force Of The Tide (own label)

A new addition to the folk family ranks, the Welsh Celtic-Classical crossover quartet line up, in age descending order, as Melody, Fantasia, Harvey and lead singer Titania, variously on violin, flute, piano, guitar and percussion, their debut album, Force Of The Tide, drawing on the stories and history of the ...
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NAOMI BEDFORD & PAUL SIMMONDS – Singing It All Back Home (Dusty Willow Records DWR005)

It has been my experience that any record with Naomi Bedford’s name on it is worth listening to and adding Paul Simmonds to the mix practically makes it mandatory. With Singing It All Back Home they turn their back on their customary songwriting and present a set of Appalachian songs ...
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AMBER CROSS – Savage On The Downhill (own label AC03007)

Born and raised in rural Maine, the daughter of a smalltown pastor, where she first sang in her local church (her live debut album of gospel country was titled My Kind Of Church), now, when not singing, Cross roams the California forests as a hunter and fisherwoman. No surprise then ...
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SIMON AND THE ASTRONAUTS – Simon And The Astronauts (own label AIRLOCK01)

Simon And The Astronauts is something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing or, more accurately, disguised as a cat video. The titular Simon is poet Simon Wells who co-wrote the songs and alongside him are Boo Hewerdine and Chris Pepper who drums and was responsible for most of the recording ...
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MATTHEW EDWARDS & THE UNFORTUNATES – The Birmingham Poets (December Square)

In The Birmingham Poets, a follow up to 2017’s Folklore, Birmingham-born Edwards describes the titular word minstrels as “amusing but unexpected guests who eventually ruin your dinner party” and who “graffiti the walls with romance languages.” Again sparking thoughts of Bowie and Brel in his pastoral baroque cabaret conjurations, there’s ...
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JACOB & DRINKWATER – This Old River (Polyphonic Life Records PRCD001)

Following on from the Devon duo’s debut EP and 2016’s Live At Hope Hall, singer/guitarist Tobias Ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater (everything else) now release their first studio album, a collection of nine self-penned songs and their arrangement of one traditional number that weaves a melancholic mood but, as Cohen ...
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HOLY MOLY AND THE CRACKERS – Take A Bite (Pink Lane Records)

Holy Moly & The Crackers release Take A Bite on April 5th. Sometimes it brings a smile to your face to see a band grow and develop – for me, this is one of those bands. “All roads lead to the stage. It boils down into one manic, riotous party ...
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SIR SILENCE & LADY HUSH – It’s Time She Said (Hushland Creative HUSHCD06)

The third collaborative album by Bill and Rachel Taylor-Beales under their musical partnership name trawls some thirty-five years for what they call balladeering ‘dystopian maladies’, musings on time and existing within it, penned across the decades in places as diverse as Melbourne and Nottingham and finally coming home to roost ...
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DAVID GRAY – Gold In A Brass Age (IHT Records)

David Gray released his new album, Gold In A Brass Age, last week - his first album of new material in four years and his eleventh in a career that has now spanned 25 years. The album is currently number 21 in the Album Chart and a single, ‘The Sapling’, ...
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SARAH-JANE SUMMERS – Owerset (Eighth Nerve 8Nerve004)

I was in a melancholy mood when I sat down to listen to Owerset, not uncommon as I contemplate the growing futility of Man’s existence. The opening track, ‘Gall-Ghàidheil’, really didn’t help but fortunately I only had a blunt pair of scissors to hand. Sarah-Jane Summers is a Scottish fiddle ...
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ASTRALINGUA – Safe Passage (Midnight Lamp)

A self-described nomadic space-folk duo, multi-instrumentalist and composer Joseph Andrew Thompson and his backing vocalist wife Anne Rose have, over the course of recent critically well-received singles, built a healthy anticipation for this, their debut album, variously recorded in the Sierra Nevadas, the Mojave desert and France. Navigating a cosmic ...
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SINGLES BAR 39 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

FINDLAY NAPIER & MEGAN HENWOOD don’t seem like an obvious partnership but here they are. They met at a songwriting retreat and Findlay suggested writing a song about maths. Megan, not knowing any better, agreed and so ‘End Of Numbers’ was born to be followed by the other five songs ...
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INNES WATSON’S GUITAR COLLOQUIUM – Guitar Colloquium (ISLE Music Scotland ISLE06)

I'm a little late with this one, for various reasons: Innes Watson's CD Innes Watson’s Guitar Colloquium was due to be released on the 13th January 2019. However, now I've finally caught up with it, it's too good not to review. Innes Watson is a multi-instrumentalist from Glasgow. It tells ...
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DIANE NÍ CHANAINN – Idir Muir Agus Sliabh (Cló Iar-Chonnacht CICD 207)

As the cover makes clear Idir Muir Agus Sliabh is a collection of Irish traditional songs – there is a Scottish interloper but we’ll let that pass. Three songs are in English, the rest in Irish and Diane Ní Chanainn has eschewed the Celtic ambient style for something more earthy ...
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BILL PRITCHARD – Midland Lullabies (Tapete TR427)

It’s been at least twenty years since I last heard anything by the Lichfield-born ex-pat, now based in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Little known here, he’s established a substantial following in France, which seems rather ironic given his music is quintessentially English pastoral singer-songwriter pop, often reminiscent, both vocally and melodically, of Stephen ...
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CERIAN announces SEASONS Video Release Single

Seasons is the second single by London-based singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Cerian, from her upcoming EP Caught in the Dark. Described as “the purest voice on radio” and tipped by Music Republic Magazine as one of their “ones to watch” in 2019, Cerian now releases the official video to ...
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STEVE GARRETT – Discover And Endure (Alt Mor Records ALT-MOR2)

Steve Garrett's Discover And Endure consists of solo electric guitar pieces, "inspired by stories and experience of landscape, exploration and human endurance." On this CD his Gibson ES-335 is sparingly augmented with some minimal but effective looping/drone and percussive effects by way of an Electro-Harmonix Freeze pedal, and a sub-octave ...
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ALESSIO BONDì – Nivuru (800A Records 800A/020)

After the sunshine splash of Alessio Bondì’s first album, Sfardo, the title of his second outing, Nivuru (Black), gives a hefty clue that things are about to take a darker turn. Although still singing in his native Sicilian, Bondì’s musical palette has greatly diversifed, taking on influences from travels in ...
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EABHAL – This Is How The Ladies Dance (own label EAB01)

I shouldn’t need to tell you that This Is How The Ladies Dance is the debut album by another talented and frighteningly young Scottish band. Kaitlin Ross, Megan MacDonald, Nicky Kirk, Jamie MacDonald and Hamish Hepburn came together on South Uist and as Eabhal they revive old tunes, write new ...
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RUTH NOTMAN & SAM KELLY – Changeable Heart (Pure PRCD52)

Ruth Notman burst onto the scene a dozen or so years ago with two very fine solo albums and then disappeared to successfully pursue a medical degree – not the usual career path. Sam Kelly – well, if you don’t know about Sam Kelly you’re probably reading the wrong page ...
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BENEDICT MORRIS & CORMAC CRUMMEY – Wavelength (own label BMCCCD001)

So a Glaswegian and an Ulsterman met, started to make music together and Wavelength is the first recorded fruits of their partnership. Bene, the Scot, is just 20 and plays fiddle. He’s already confirmed as a finalist in Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year for 2019. Cormac, from ...
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