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.


KINGS HEATHENS – Old Tall Stories (own label)

Respectively from Milton Keynes and Texas, busker David Fisher and barber Evan Ritchie are now based in the Birmingham suburb from which they take their duo name, bonding over a shared love of Celtic and transatlantic folk, shanties and ballads. And that’s what fuels their debut album, Old Tall Stories, ...

MARK NEAL – Cool Waters (Eh Records EHCD08)

Mark Neal is a singer/songwriter/musician/producer and all-round clever chap from the banks of the Clyde near Loch Lomond. He works in a duo with Eilidh Steel and with folk-rock band, Teannaich but his new solo album, Cool Waters, is exactly that with Mark writing, playing and singing every note, producing, ...

DAVID CARROLL AND FRIENDS – Bold Reynold Too (Talking Elephant TECD493)

Talking Elephant haven’t had to spend much on artwork for Bold Reynold Too. The first volume was a great success and I have no doubt its successor would do the same even if it were marketed in a brown paper bag. David’s friends include, as you can see, members of ...

THE NEW LEAVES – A Sketch Of Home (Corn Crake Records)

The New Leaves are a quartet from County Down. Decky McKay and Cian O’Hare sing and play guitar, Patrice McKevitt sings and plays bass with Paddy Goodfellow on drums and percussion. After a couple of successful singles, they have now released their debut album, A Sketch Of Home, a title ...

GANDALF MURPHY AND THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS – A Good Thief Tips His Hat (Talking Elephant TECD498)

Paul Johnson reviews the 25th Anniversary reissue of the first album by the wonderful Gandalf Murphy And The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams: A Good Thief Tips His Hat. Artists' website: https://slambovia.com/home Label website: https://www.talkingelephant.co.uk/ Most of the Slambovians' videos are rather ... er ... loose so here is one of ...

SINGLES BAR 103 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Now just a solo project for Bristol’s Hannah Pawson, FRITILLARIES follow up their(her) 2022 eponymous debut album with the self-released EP Thank God I Have The Songs, addressing grief, uncertainty and dealing with chronic illness, opening with the simply strummed, strings-caressed pastoral vocally double-tracked five-minute ‘Harvest Moon’. Night and the ...

NICK PYNN – Visions/Revisions And Impressions (Brand Oscar Records) 

The “Octopus of Sound” is a pretty fine handle to have as your by-line, the description(?!) bestowed upon him by comedian (and music lover), Stewart Lee. Rather than suggesting Pynn has a slimy feel about him, more it is to denote the veritable orchestra of instruments he has at his ...

CHEERY ODIN – Gan Yer Dinger (own label)

I love reviewing because I can take a punt on an album. I've never sent one back and there are occasions when I find a real gem. Gan Yer Dinger is one of those. Eighteen tracks celebrate the language and people of Hawick in a fine style. This is by ...

SAM REIDER & THE HUMAN HANDS – The Golem And Other Tales (own label) 

So what is the link between Django Reinhardt, Planxty, Duke Ellington, Astor Piazzolla, Bernard Herrman and Raymond Scott? Well, apart from having to look the last one up, the answer is this wide-ranging combo. (Scott, btw, is the composer whose work was adapted for use in all those Looney Tunes ...

SIMON CARE AND GARETH TURNER – Two’s Up Two (Talking Elephant TECD478)

Way, way back in 1997 two bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young melodeon players got together to record an album, Two’s Up. Distinguished careers intervened and it wasn’t until 2022 that Simon Care and Gareth Turner got together to record a follow up. By this time Gareth was seriously ill but he ...

CHURCH STREET SHUFFLE – The Five Day Weekend (own label CCS001)

Church Street Shuffle are the fiddle and guitar duo of Neil Ewart and Ali MacQuarrie. Their name is derived from the street in Inverness which is the centre of the live music scene – a band could play three gigs in one evening with careful shuffling. The Five Day Weekend, ...

BLUE ROSE CODE – Bright Circumstance (Ronachan Songs)

Blue Rode Code (the band led by Scottish songwriter Ross Wilson) released the new album Bright Circumstance on June 7th. If Wilson/the band are new to you, their self-description is Caledonian Soul. At their best, the band draw admiring references to Van Morrison. There are tracks on Bright Circumstance which ...

BROOKS WILLIAMS & AARON CATLOW – Greens & Blues (Red Guitar Blue Music RGBM 2401)

I’m pretty sure that it’s impossible to keep Brooks Williams out of a studio much less separate him from his guitar. An inveterate collaborator, for Greens & Blues he renews his partnership with Aaron Catlow – this is their third album together. It’s a collection of songs old, new and ...

MICHAEL WAUGH – Beauty & Truth (Compass Bros Music)

Australian Michael Waugh’s Beauty & Truth is a strong-voiced melodic folk album (produced by Shane Nicholson!) graced with a dramatic live buzz of electric guitar, drums, and bass – with the brave intent to “really grab at the truth and look at”. The first song, ‘We Are Here’, is a ...

THE CIDERHOUSE REBELLION – And Even The Sheep Shall Dance (Under The Eaves Records UTE 010) 

To say that Adam Summerhayes and Murray Grainger are busy bees would be a vast understatement of their reality, spreading themselves across any number of performing platforms and issuing product seemingly willy nilly. Willy nilly? Well, the day And Even The Sheep Shall Dance is released, both as a CD ...

JESSIE SUMMERHAYES & THE CIDERHOUSE REBELLION – Tales of Colonsay (UTE011)

Poet Jesssie Summerhayes has one again teamed up with the great improvisers The Ciderhouse Rebellion (Adam Summerhayes fiddle and Murray Grainger accordion) to bring out an album in 2 CDs that is something special. Tales Of Colonsay is their second work, after Ironstone Tales, to concentrate on a discrete landscape. It ...

MOLLY DONNERY AND THE CIDERHOUSE REBELLION – A Little Bit Slanted (Under the Eaves – UTE 009)

You might have noticed that the masters of folk improvisation, The Ciderhouse Rebellion, are embarked on a series of collaborations with leading singers on the folk scene, called Cider With... At the time of writing, the duo are on tour with Kirsty Merryn, as Cider with Kirsty. A Little Bit ...

JON BUDWORTH – In Sight Of Home (FF002CD)

Jon Budworth has just released In Sight Of Home. ‘Just’ because it’s out right now and ‘only just’ because the idea for the album came in 2019 when watching a documentary on the Iolaire Disaster – the ship sank ‘in sight of home’ in Stornoway Harbour on New Year’s Day ...

FLO PERLIN – Clay (own label)

The third album by the London-based singer-songwriter and sometime Nest Collective member, Clay serves as a metaphor for the human capacity to adapt and adjust to different challenges, as we mould and change shapes, growing and adapting to new forms. It opens with the whisperingly sung, clattering drum rhythm and ...

NAOMI BEDFORD & PAUL SIMMONDS – Strange News Has Come To Town

Paul Johnson presents another podcast review this time with a bonus interview with the artists. And here is the promised interview: Artists' website: https://naomibedford.com/ ...

M.G. BOULTER – Days Of Shaking (Hudson)

Having offered a musical wander around the sights and characters of his Southend on Sea home town with both Clifftown and A Shadow Falls Over New Brighton, Boulter now offers more gently melancholic but more metaphysical musings on contemporary suburbia and the mundane day to day realities with Days Of ...

ROBB JOHNSON – Pennypot Lane (Irregular Records IRR129)

You might think that this doesn’t look like a typical Robb Johnson CD cover – but the design is all his. Pennypot Lane is a newly recorded collection of Robb’s songs that other people like, or haven’t appeared on vinyl (yes, there is a vinyl edition) or that he plays ...

SINGLES BAR 102 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

BRIAR & BRAMBLE is a new duo comprising Mike Turnbull, who has graced these pages several times before, and Kate Hewson. Their debut EP, Rum Tales, contains five of Mike’s songs rooted, as always, in the landscape and legends of the Lake District. The opening track, ‘Flashing Lane’, is inspired ...

HUNGRYTOWN – Circus For Sale (Big Stir Records)

Hungrytown’s new album, Circus For Sale, perhaps, requires some audio equivalent to a pair of those 3-D glasses to reveal the deep dimensions within their hybrid sound of Americana-Celtic-psych-very British 70’s folk music, which steps on delicate, melodic, and ancient stones brushed with vibrant coloured currents distilled into wonderful folk ...

MICHELL, PFEIFFER & KULESH – Flowers (own label)

The first full-length album by the multi-national triumvirate of Odette Michell (English), Karen Pfeiffer (German) and Dara Kulesh (Russian), several of these tracks have been available as digital singles or on a gigs-only EP, but are now brought together under one roof as Flowers. They’re mostly traditional, some better known ...

THE SANDY DENNY PROJECT – SDP Volume 2 (SKU 364215376135191) 

A tad behind the curve for this one, all apologies sought, given the significance and content of both the recording and, more importantly, the individual inspiration behind it. A somewhat low key release, a fortnight or so ago, at Cromer’s Folk on the Pier, means many may have been as ...

EMILY BARKER – Fragile As Humans (Everyone Sang)

Recorded at 16th century Wool Hall in Beckington, Somerset, during a brief sojourn in the UK before she and husband Luke Drinkwater moved back to Australia, produced by Luke Potashnick, Fragile As Humans is Barker’s first album (if you discount Room 822, the 2022 hotel room lockdown covers set) in ...

TOM KITCHING – Where There’s Brass

There are few musicians who can also write entertaining prose, let alone sustain it for the length of a book. Tom Kitching is one such. Where There’s Brass is the companion piece to the CD of the same name; or perhaps the CD is the companion piece to the book ...

HARBOTTLE & JONAS – Wild Goose (Brook View Records BVR004)

Their seventh studio album (alongside two EPs, a live set and a collaboration with Reg Meuross), over the course of eight songs David and Freya embrace theme of family, nature, and societal shifts as they journey through the mystical and the mythical, he on various guitars, cittern, banjo and glockenspiel, ...

MIRACLE MILE – East Of Ely (MeMe Records CD/LP MM21)

A decade on since the last album, but sounding like they’ve been playing together forever, Trevor Jones and Marcus Cliffe have revived their shared connection for East Of Ely, a ninth excursion, basking in the warm glow of bitter-sweet melancholia, musing on memories, friendship, the passing of the years and ...

RAINTOWN – Acoustic Heart (BMB002CD)

Don’t be too late. Raintown released Acoustic Heart on April 26th. I came across it a week or two later and have spent a week or two listening to it to double check what I first thought about a duo that were new to me. They describe the album as, ...

JASON McNIFF – Everything’s A Song (TR2031)

Jason McNiff, Yorkshire born but now based on the south coast, is an artist who certainly does his bit to support live music and other musicians.  He hosts a weekly acoustic session in Hastings as well as playing gigs around the country.  If that wasn't enough to keep him busy ...

MOJNA – Väntenätter (Heilo HCD7410)

Scandinavian trio Thomas Eriksson, Helga Myhr and Anna Malmström have worked together for three years but Väntenätter (Nights Of Waiting) is their first album under their group name, Mojna. Eriksson composes and plays guitar, Myhr plays Hardanger fiddle and Malmström plays clarinet and bass clarinet. This may seem like an ...

PAINTED SKY – From The Blue (Gilded Lily Records)

Painted Sky’s From The Blue is a lovely album of British folk music from the siblings George and Holly Brandon, which juxtaposes soft acoustic strummed harmonious songs, “gypsy jazz”, a “Morris jig”, and a joyous banjo pluck or two against a Thomas Hardy Casterbridge eerie signpost superstition, all amid a ...

GEORGE BOOMSMA – The Promise Of Spring

This recently released album from George Boomsma – The Promise Of Spring - is an absolutely delightful album which seems to be living permanently in my car sound system!  At first listen I was hooked.  George uses his talents of singer/songwriter/musicianship to the full with his beautifully written songs about ...

JENNY COLQUITT – Staring At The Moon (own label)

Staring At The Moon, her second full-length album, co-produced and performed with David Gorst, sees Colquitt building on her considerable strengths as both writer and musician, ranging across pop, folk and rock with total assurance. It opens in contemplative form, tentative piano providing the intro to ‘Bravest of the Brave’, ...

FEROCIOUS DOG – Kleptocracy (Graphite records GRAPHFAR61)

Government by theft, then? At least, that’s my take on it, a criticism, I imagine, rather than an aspiration, Red Ken and his bondage trouser philanthropists no strangers to a bit of agit-prop. And mighty fine fare it is, too, their energetic folk-punk now claiming studio album number five. In ...

ANGELINE, COHEN AND JON – Grace Will Lead Me Home (Invisible Folk)

That’ll be Morrison, Braithwaite-Kilcoyne and Bickley, then, partnering up for a concept album its themes bookended by the 250th anniversary of ‘Amazing Grace’ in 2023 and 2025’s 300th birthday of its writer, John Newton. One of the world’s best known hymns, recordings of which range from Judy Collins, The Byrds ...

ANGELINE, COHEN & JON – Grace Will Lead Me Home (Invisible Folk) 

Is this the year for ‘Amazing Grace’, as it appears once more, and this time as the focus, barely a week after its inclusion on the latest from Blue Rose Code? Here, rather than a mid-album surprise, this time it is the whole history and background of the song that ...

ELAINE PALMER – Half Moon Rising (Butterfly Effect BEFFECT036CD)

For her fourth album, Half Moon Rising, the North Yorkshire-born country singer-songwriter headed to San Diego for an eight day session, mostly recorded live, the magic evident from the get go with balladeering soaring opening track ‘Heart and Soul’, a straightforward supportive love song (“I’ve danced with your demons/Now I ...

NOTIFY – Airneán (Liosberg Records)

Notify are a six-piece Irish band and Airneán is their first album in eight years and only their third in total which explains why their name didn’t strike a chord. Formed by concertina player and composer Pádraig Rynne, the band now comprises fiddler Tara Breen who is also a member ...

SADIE GUSTAFSON-ZOOK – Where I Wanna Be (own label)   

Raised in a Mennonite community in Indiana, her mother a pastor, where she regularly attended quilt auctions (not, I suspect, as much as an influence as her parents being folk musicians), Gustafson-Zook came out in her mid-20s, something that inevitably informed her debut album, ‘Sin Of Certainty’. Where I Wanna ...

TIM EASTON – Find Your Way (BMR078)

Seasoned American songwriter Tim Easton releases Find Your Way on May 17th. ‘Seasoned’? Easton was born in 1966, spent his formative years in Japan and in Ohio, and his older youth busking in various European countries. He returned to the US in the mid-1990’s and recorded his debut solo album ...

JACK BADCOCK – Cosmography (own label JKBK003CD)

Frontman and founding member of world-folk outfit Dallahan, since 2021 Co.Kilkenny-born Badcock has also been following a solo career, Cosmography being his full length debut. It opens with the near nine-minute heady opus ‘Life In Three Dimensions’, which, following the title, comprises three verses of being grateful for the life ...

ELEANOR DUNSDON & GREGOR BLACK – Let No Man (Goatskin EDGB01)

Eleanor and Gregor burst on to the folk scene with an innovative, beautifully delivered, and ear-catching set of five tracks which will doubtless be an imprint for future success. The unusual combination of harp and percussion would have been sufficient to stimulate interest, but added to this are the beautiful ...

ADEEM THE ARTIST – Anniversary (Four Quarters Records/Thirty Tigers)

Raised in a conservative Christian household in North Carolina, a self-declared non-binary pansexual, married father previously known as Kyle Adem and now sometimes going by Adeem Maria, Anniversary is their eighth studio album and one that, through Americana colours and the concept of muscle memory, explores different anniversaries, both personal, ...

THE DICEMEN – Double Six (own label)

The Dicemen release their new album Double Six on My 3rd. The band, based in Watford, consist of Ken Spearpoint on acoustic bass, Kevin O’Brien on guitar and Richard Brandon on mandolin, bouzouki and vocals. The album has twelve tracks, six new and six singles/re-mixes. The album opens with ‘Living ...

THE KIMBERLEYS – The Shape Of A Year (Popla Disque)

Six years ago we reviewed the first album by The Kimberleys and I must confess that I’d forgotten about them until a week or so ago when their name cropped up twice. I therefore acquired a copy of their second album, The Shape Of A Year. Isobel and Jim Kimberley ...

ROSS COUPER BAND – The Homeroad (Ross Couper Music)

We proudly present the second of our podcast reviews by Paul Johnson. The Ross Couper Band - The Homeroad. Buy the album from https://rosscouper.bandcamp.com/album/the-homeroad ...

SINGLES BAR 101 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

NIGHT FLIGHT, Sam Holmes and Harry Phillips, release their new EP, English Noise, in early May. The title track, reflecting on the end of a relationship amid the bustle of life, has already graced these pages and that is followed by their current single, ‘Monster’. It’s a richly orchestrated song ...

RAY COOPER – Even For A Shadow (Westpark Music)

Even For A Shadow is a sublime singer-songwriter album from Ray Cooper, also known as (the beloved) Chopper from his twenty-three-year stint with the great Oysterband. And, yes, this music has the always relevant attitude, with many a melody to burn. The very first lyric, “The lights are changing in ...

RUM RAGGED – Gone Jiggin’ (LHM Records – LHM077)

Newfoundland has a distinct identity. It’s an identity forged amid a history of colonisation and migration, with its oldest art form – its traditional music - playing a vital role. This musical heritage is richly celebrated in Rum Ragged’s fifth album, Gone Jiggin’. I’ve felt a sort of connection with ...

KATHRYN WILLIAMS AND WITHERED HAND – Willson Williams (One Independent Records)

Willson Williams is music that is (to invert the words of Charles Dickens) “the worst of times” and “the best of times”. Maverick British singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams has joined forces with Good News guy Withered Hand (aka Dan Willson) to create an album with an “overreaching theme of grief” that ...

MALIN LEWIS – Halocline (Hudson Records HUD051CD)

Halocline is the debut album by trans bagpiper, fiddler and composer from the western isles, Malin Lewis. It may help to know what a halocline is as its definition explains two short pieces, ‘Freshwater’ and ‘Saltwater’, so a halocline is an interface between layers of fresh and sea water which ...

GENTLEMEN SOLDIERS – Gentleman Soldiers (probably own label)

It’s twenty-eight years since The Pogues ceased trading as a full-time band but they are certainly not forgotten – principally because of one man and one song. Gentlemen Soldiers from Pomona County, California haven’t forgotten them either – their eponymous debut album is a collection of Pogues covers (plus a ...

BANTER – Heroes (Mrs Casey Records MCFCD4202)

The album so named as it pays tribute to their musical heroes, this is the fourth from the acoustic four piece of keyboardist singer Nina Zella, Mark Jolley on bass guitar, fiddle and guitar, drummer and caller Tim Walker and Simon Care on melodeon, a cocktail of covers, traditional numbers ...

BEN GLOVER – And The Sun Breaks Through The Sky (Goldrush Records)

Glover is neither the first nor the last Irish troubadour to find the comfy shoes of a downhome Americana fit him very well. Very well indeed, in fact. It seems a while since his last solo release, 2018’s Shorebound, but this now Nashville native has always preferred the slow simmer ...

ANNIE DRESSNER – I Thought It Would Be Easier (Dharma Records DHARMACD54)

We last encountered Annie Dressner via her 2020 album, Coffee At The Corner Bar. Now we have I Thought It Would Be Easier – great title by the way – her just released new record. Annie is a New Yorker who relocated to England several years ago and has become ...

PHOEBE REES – Bring In The Light: Si Kahn’s Songs Of Courage And Resistance (Strictly Country Records SCR-91)

For those who need bringing up to speed, Si Kahn is an American singer-songwriter, civil rights activist and founder of Grassroots Leadership while Rees is a multi-instrumentalist (primarily fiddler) and singer from Oswestry. Bring In The Light, her first full-length album, was recorded in the Netherlands with Dutch musicians on ...

RENAISSANCE – Tuscany (Esoteric ECLEC32870)

Originally founded in 1969 with the line-up comprising Keith Relf and Jim McCarty from The Yardbirds, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relf's sister Jane, they were reborn with a new roster in 1972, going on to become the definitive progressive symphonic rock band, melding folk, rock and classical ...