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.

GREG HANCOCK –The State of My Hair (own label)

An intoxicating musical and lyrical cocktail of Al Stewart and Ray Davies, infused with his own unique brilliance as a guitarist and songwriter, for his follow up to 2017’s A303, Devon based Hancock mines memories from childhood to middle age, from hanging out with fellow teens playing at being grown ...
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FOLKLAW – We Will Rise (Fiddle of 8 Records – FO8R02CD)

Folklaw are a folk rock band made up of Nick Gibbs, vocals, fiddle and strings, Bryn Williams, vocals and guitar, Martin Vogwell, vocals, mandolin electric guitar and banjo, Jon Dowling vocals and bass guitar, Gaz Hunt, vocals, drums and percussion, Jacquelyn Hynes Irish flute and whistle and Emi McDade, vocals ...
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KATIE SPENCER – Weather Beaten (own label GUK-PR002KRS)

Ralph McTell has likened the Yorkshire progressive folk singer-songwriter’s guitar playing to Bert Jansch. I’d not disagree, but I’d also suggest Davy Graham and Wizz Jones have also helped shape her highly distinctive and often esoteric patterns and structures, while she herself cites Roy Harper, John Martyn and Laura Marling ...
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THE LEYLINES – Recover Reveal (own label)

Based in Weston-super-Mare, with numbers like ‘Breakout’, False Hope’, the rhythmically choppy ‘This Is Your Life’ and the aptly titled ‘Kicking Up A Storm’, the five-piece collective’s second album, Recover Reveal, bolsters their claim to be included alongside the likes of Skinny Lister, McDermott’s 2 Hours, Ferocious Dog, and The ...
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VICKI SWAN & JONNY DYER – Twelve Months & A Day (WetFootMusic WFM190201)

Vicki and Jonny usually build their albums around a theme and the theme of Twelve Months & A Day is … that there isn’t a theme. They freely describe the record as a bit of a mixed bag and it comprises the songs and music that they have been working ...
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THE CROOKED JADES – Empathy Moves The Water (Jade Note Music CJ010)

Empathy Moves the Water is the ninth (and most recent) album from old-timey stalwarts, The Crooked Jades. Following a similar blueprint to previous releases, this nice little chunk of Americana combines traditional obscurities with original material. The old-timey style is immediately apparent on this record, with fiddle-driven opener ‘Ryland And ...
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SINGLES BAR 38 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Founder member of criminally overlooked cult mid-80s outfit Penelope’s Web with their weaving together of classic English pastoral folk, blues, jazz and progressive folk-rock, these days DOMINIC SILVANI trades under his own name, his speak-sing vocals (a sort of warm, huskier early Al Stewart with a hint of Noel Harrison ...
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MIKE TURNBULL – …In So Small A Compass (own label MTM03)

Mike Turnbull’s debut, Circlet Of Gold, was a delightful vignette that began with the landscape of his native Lake District and told stories from here, there and everywhere. He sang and played every note but it was inevitable that he would stretch his metaphorical wings. …In So Small A Compass ...
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KALYN FAY – Good Company (Horton Records)

After international critical recognition for Caroline Spence and Courtney Marie Andrews, it’s time for the Tulsa-born singer-songwriter to step up to the plate and take her deserved place in the spotlight. Following on from her 2016 debut, Bible Belt, which was rooted in her father’s Cherokee heritage and her mother’s ...
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WEST OF EDEN – Flat Earth Society (West of Music WOMCD12)

It’s a touch ironic that one of the best bands currently energising traditional British and Celtic folk music with a contemporary lens happens to come from Sweden. Comprising Lars Broman on fiddle, Martin Holmlund on bass, drummer Ola Karlevo, Henning Sernhede on lap steel and electric guitar and fronted by ...
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MARTYN JOSEPH – Here Come The Young (Pipe Records PRCD028)

Martyn Joseph released Here Come The Young on January 25th. I imagine most people reading Folking.com will know Martyn Joseph, but in case he’s new to you, Joseph is a multi-award winning singer and songwriter. His lyrics spring from an internationalist and humanitarian belief in people and their ability to ...
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THE BROTHERS GILLESPIE – The Fell (own label TBGCD002)

The Tradition is alive. It passes in a straight line to the distance, capturing mediaeval songs of the common people, handed down through the oral tradition because of the illiteracy of the majority. Scholars trying to capture its history can only see the songs disappearing in the swirls of time, ...
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THE UNTHANKS – Lines (RRM021S / RRM021SLP)

Lines is a trilogy of song cycles inspired by poetry, focusing on three female perspectives across time: Hull fishing worker Lillian Bilocca; World War One poets; and writer Emily Brontë. Lines is available on general release from February 22nd . After discovering Brian Lavery’s book, The Headscarf Revolutionaries, the actor ...
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MARTIN LLOYD CHITTY – Antiques (own label)

When I listened to the first few tracks of Antiques I realised that it was a rather special debut album. Martin Lloyd Chitty is a singer-songwriter from Lancaster – his voice retains the trace of an accent – with a remarkable talent for story-telling. He wrote, produced and performed every ...
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JOSHUA BURNELL –The Road To Horn Fair (Misted Valley Records MVR19A)

While The Road To Horn Fair may follow on from last year’s Songs From The Seasons, a 14-track distillation of his project to record a traditional folk song for every week of the year, it was actually begun prior to that and, as such, is both prequel and sequel. Again, ...
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STEVE BROCKLEY – Is Not Was (Afterlife Music ALM2370CD)

A Canadian singer-songwriter, based in the mountains of British Columbia, while a multi-instrumentalist his third album finds him going back to where he began and working from behind the drums. Produced by John Raham, whose previous work includes The Be Good Tanyas, Is Not Was trades in a warm smoothie ...
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RUSTY SHACKLE – The Raven, The Thief & The Hangman (Get Folked Records)

Rusty Shackle are a vibrant and energetic five piece folk-rock band from South Wales who I had the pleasure to see perform on the main stage at BunkFest, Wallingford in 2018. They have previously released three studio albums and one live album. The Raven, The Thief & The Hangman is ...
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IAN GEORGE – Kingdom Of My Youth (own label)

Kingdom Of My Youth arrived unheralded, as CDs often do. It sat on my desk, almost got buried under the clutter and was rescued at precisely the right moment. I tell you this, not to explain how things sometimes “work” here but to put off the moment when I have ...
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VRÏ – Tŷ Ein Tadau (Erwydd Records ER002)

Tŷ Ein Tadau (Our Fathers' House) is the stunning debut album from Welsh chamber-folk trio Vrï. First off, it’s blindingly obvious how great these guys (Aneirin Jones, Jordan Price Williams, Patrick Rimes) are together. They play off each other wonderfully well, with superb control of dynamics and nuance, excelling in ...
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DAVID BROMBERG – The Player: A Retrospective (Floating World Records FLOATM6382)

David Bromberg always strikes me as one of those artists you’ve heard a hundred times without realising you’ve even heard him…perhaps because his extensive talents as a multi-instrumentalist have seen him credited on hundreds of albums by hoards of famous acts from the early 1970s to pretty much the present ...
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GRÁINNE HOLLAND – Corcra (Gráinne Holland GH003)

Gráinne Holland released Corcra on February 1st. This is her third album, but Corcra is the first album of her own original material. Holland was born and raised in Belfast, bi-lingual in both English and Gaelic, and with a love of Irish music from her early years. When I got ...
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MEGSON – con-tra-dic-shun (EDJ edj023)

The eighth studio album by Stu and Debbie Hanna again delves into the personal and the political with an even balance of self-penned material and Tyneside traditional lyrics set to new tunes. Taking the latter first, with Debbie on vocals and accordion and Stu providing banjo and mandolin, taken from ...
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TANNARA – Strands (Braw Sailin’ Records CD006BSR)

After their impressive debut, Trig, Tannara could have headed into folk-rock territory – Owen Sinclair played a mean electric guitar. Alternatively, they could have turned back to their roots and with Robbie Greig coming in to replace Cameron Ross on fiddle it seems that was the direction they chose. Although ...
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RACHEL CROFT – Hours Awake (Black Ink BI19001)

A York-based singer-songwriter and illustrator, influenced by Celtic folk, Croft bookends her debut studio album (she previously released a live covers collection) with its two strongest, but highly contrastive, numbers. It opens with ‘Old Climbing Tree’, a dark and moody Celtic-inspired number, sparse hollow drums, violin and cello backdropping low ...
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KATHERINE CAMPBELL – Robert Burns: Tune Unknown (own label SCKCBU020CD)

Here is collection of ten songs written by Robert Burns for which the original tunes are lost or were never known, hence Robert Burns: Tune Unknown. Now I know what you’re thinking: surely a song without a tune is a poem? Better Burns scholars than you or me, notably James ...
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SERIOUS SAM BARRETT – Where The White Roses Grow (YaDig! Records YDoo7)

Returned to his native Leeds after a lengthy sojourn in America. Barrett doesn’t make it easy for you to discover him, having no website other than Facebook from which to elicit any background or biographical information, and the About page hasn’t been updated since his 2014 release. Suffice to say, ...
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DEER TICK – Mayonnaise (Partisan)

Clearly not ones to think that, just because you’ve recently released two albums back to back, you can sit round twiddling your thumbs, the Rhode Island combo have put together Mayonnaise, a thirteen-song companion piece to 2017’s Deer Tick Vol 1 and Vol 2, a mixture of alternative versions (all ...
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VISHTÈN – Horizons (PTVISH18)

The East Coast of Canada is a mix of cultures that have retained their ancestral background whilst forming an overall whole.  There are influences from all parts of the British Isles and France.  The French influence is still very strong, especially in the area still referred to as Acadie and ...
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MICK RYAN – Here At The Fair (Wild Goose WGS 428 CD)

Mick Ryan is, as we all know, is a prolific song-writer and skilled at melding his ideas into shows or folk operas as he is happy to call them. Here At The Fair is his sixth such show and, as always, he has assembled a fine cast: Heather Bradford, Alice ...
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MANDOLIN ORANGE – Tides Of A Teardrop (YepRoc YEP-2638)

Were you looking for just two words to describe the North Carolina duo’s sixth album, then reflective and introspective might well come to mind. Melancholic would be a good one too. It’s informed by the death of songwriter Andrew Marlin’s mother when he was 18, looking back on the impact ...
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BROOMDASHER – Nothing To Do With Me (Clean Sweep)

Finally settled into a manageable six-piece, Broomdasher has its origins in the Cecil Sharp House Choir and comprise original members Chris Hayes, Deena Marcus-Jedamzik who was mentored by Leon Rosselson), Margaret Moore alongside ‘recent’ recruits Huw Davies, opera trained Josephine Swinhoe and Richard Cryan. They perform unaccompanied, singing traditional English ...
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MARK MANDEVILLE & RAIANNE RICHARDS – Live In Manitoba (Nobody’s Favourite Records NFR041)

Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards are well known on the East coast of the US and Canada, and their latest CD, Live In Manitoba, features a classy selection of live performances from their thirteen date house concert tour in Canada back in 2017. The songs feature intelligent lyrics set against ...
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JOHN ANAYA – Change Will Come (Olao Records CWC-006)

I spent the time listening to Change Will Come (without the benefit of notes) for the first time trying to decide from whence John Anaya hails. His Americana is very authentic, passing over a song called ‘California’ which is a dead giveaway, there are elements of vocabulary and inflections of ...
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THE SOUTHERN COMPANION – Shine A Little Light (Eleven33)

Fronted by Darren Hodson and featuring a roll call of the UK’s top session players as his backing band, while the name and the music might indeed suggest they hail from the American south, Hodson’s actually from Harrogate. Shine A Little Light is their third album (the second with just ...
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ALAN CATTON – Faru (own label)

Alan Catton plays guitar with Hull folk band Beggar’s Bridge but his solo work is rather different. Faru – Anglo Saxon for journey – is not his first album in this style: acoustic guitar compositions to which he adds flute, drums, mandolin and what I suppose are synthesised strings. Alan ...
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KATIE DOHERTY & THE NAVIGATORS – And Then (Steeplejack Music, SJCD023)

A life-changing decade after her debut album, Bridges, was released, Katie Doherty returns - with Navigators Shona Mooney (fiddle) and Dave Gray (melodeon). New album, And Then, feels like an invitation to sit down for some tea and cake and a bit of a catch-up. An early graduate of Newcastle ...
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MCDERMOTT’S 2 HOURS VS LEVELLERS | OYSTERBAND – Besieged/Anticlockwise (On The Fiddle OTFCD028F)

McDermott’s 2 Hours are best known for their live performances. Besieged is only their eighth album in a thirty-odd year career but it is rather special because it promises (or threatens) to be Nick Burbridge’s final outing with the band. Burbridge was a founder member of McDermott’s playing Irish folk-rock ...
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ALL THE LUCK IN THE WORLD – A Blind Arcade (own label)

All The Luck In The World is an Irish band who are embedded in Germany, having moved there to add the Berlin ambience to their Irish musical upbringing in Wicklow and Kildare. Their album A Blind Arcade was released in February 2018 but has only just made its way to ...
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CHRISTINE KYDD – Shift And Change (Greentrax CDTRAX401)

I looked forward to this record, and it didn’t disappoint. The brilliant Christine Kydd has been kept busy of late, with yet another project, this time materialising as a solo album titled Shift And Change: Songs from Scotland. It is as an eclectic a collection as ever, made up of ...
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MIKEY KENNEY – The Reverie Road (Penny Fiddle Records PFR1902CD

Mikey Kenney is an accomplished fiddler and balladeer with wealth of English and Irish folk song in his repertoire. His most recent release, The Reverie Road, brings these traditions (and a few other influences) together. Beginning with ‘Bacca Pipes’ (the English variant of Greensleeves), it isn’t long before Kenney turns ...
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TRAPPER SCHOEPP – Primetime Illusion (XtraMile)

Based in Wisconsin, Schoepp’s third album, Primetime Illusion, produced by Wilco’s Pat Sansone, boasts a co-write with Dylan in celebration of his hometown. Well, sort of. Closing the album, the waltztime ‘On, Wisconsin’ has its origins in news that, back in 1961, Dylan had written but never recorded a song ...
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LAU – Midnight And Closedown (Reveal REVEAL078CD)

Following their tenth anniversary retrospective Kris Drever, Aidan O’Rourke and Martin Green return with an album of new music and Midnight And Closedown is certainly new. It opens with a stunning song, ‘I Don’t Want To Die Here’. Drever says that the album is about islands and the listener is ...
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LUCY KAPLANSKY – Everyday Street (own label)

Although she released Tomorrow You're Going, a collaboration with Richard Shindell, in 2014, it’s been six years since Kaplansky’s last solo album. Primarily available direct from her website, Everyday Street is her eighth and, a reflection of her live shows, the most acoustically-based work she’s recorded, accompanied by just multi-instrumentalist ...
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NIGHT TREE – Dedications (Night Tree Records, NT02)

Night Tree is an American/Swedish sextet, all alumni of the New England Conservatory. The group has worked extensively with US-Irish band Solas, with founder Séamus Egan producing both their albums so far. Dedications is Night Tree’s second album, commemorating places and people of significance to them. The unique set-up of ...
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ME AND MY FRIENDS – Look Up (Split Shift Records – MAMFCD001)

This is a cool album from a band I’d not come across before. Their Facebook page describes the band as “the sound of English folk colliding head-on with the golden-era music of 1970s West Africa and the Caribbean”. There are nine tracks on the album two of which are instrumental, ...
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DAVID IAN ROBERTS – Travelling Bright (Cambrian Records CAM014)

I enjoyed David Roberts’ debut album, St Clears, principally for his arrangements although I found his lyrics rather too stream-of-consciousness. Hearing the first few tracks from Travelling Bright I was immediately hooked by his music all over again. He plays four different guitars, bass and eight other instruments calling only ...
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BARNSTORMER 1649 – Restoration Tragedy (Roundhead Records CD9)

I must begin by apologising profusely to Attila The Stockbroker – this is his project – for not getting to this album rather soon than I have. However, as a new year treat it rates highly. Restoration Tragedy is a look at the latter part of the English revolution from ...
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RANAGRI – Playing For Luck (Stockfisch FR357)

An Anglo-Irish alt-folk four piece headed up by singer-guitarist Donal Rogers and featuring Eliza Marshall on flutes (European and Indian) and whistles, electric harp player Ellie Turner and Joe Danks providing bodhran, percussion and tenor guitar, Playing For Luck marks their fourth studio outing and the first to expand their ...
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OLDSEED – Bloom/ Burn (Bekassine Records)

Oldseed is a name you might not be familiar with, but when it comes to touring and recording, it’s far from being his first rodeo; as he continues to work his way through extensive, underground, DIY tours of mainland Europe – particularly his native Germany. Bloom/Burn is the most recent ...
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DAN RAUCHWERK – We Are More Than What We Leave Behind (own label)

A founding member of The Lords of Liechtenstein, the New York-based multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter took time off to put together this debut solo project, We Are More Than What We Leave Behind, one informed by both a love of books and history, and influences absorbed from UK folk music across the ...
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CLAIRE HASTINGS – Those Who Roam (Luckenbooth Records LUCKEN002CD)

Following a somewhat unexpected and adventurous debut album, Claire Hastings became a Top Floor Taiver – still adventurous – and now reappears with her second solo album. Those Who Roam leans more heavily on the tradition which made her reputation as a Young Traditional Musician Of The Year but is ...
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NANCY K DILLON – A Game Of Swans (Rose Rock Records RRR333)

People may talk about “pure” Americana but this is the real thing. A Game Of Swans is Nancy K Dillon’s third studio album, recorded, by the wonders of electronic communications, on both sides of the Atlantic with a group of musicians reflecting her British roots as well as her Seattle ...
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RICK DANKO RICHARD MANUEL & GARTH HUDSON – Live At The Lonestar, NYC, 1985 (Floating World FLOATM6380)

Live At The Lonestar, NYC, 1985 is the third and final of a set of new bootleg releases of Band alumni for this year. The sound is good and the trio, with collected years of experience behind them, are tight. Danko handles the majority of the lead vocals: ‘Mystery Train’, ...
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SINGLES BAR 37 – The year’s final round-up of EPs and singles

Together We’re Lost is the latest EP from Brighton’s JACKO HOOPER. Its themes are frustration and loneliness, appropriate to the time of year some might say. The lead track, ‘Sidelines’, starts out starkly with Jacko’s voice sounding oddly sinister but it is built up by producer Josh Trinnaman’s electronica band ...
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CHURCHFITTERS – Old Friends (own label CH110917)

Here is Churchfitters new double album, Old Friends. There is no UK release date, but it will be available from their website shortly. The album will, however, be released in France from March 1st (don’t underestimate the internationalism of Folking.com) The album is a celebration of forty years of Churchfitters, ...
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DUCK POND SAILORS – Sea Songs And Shanties (own label)

Duck Pond Sailors are an unaccompanied quintet from the south coast – Littlehampton or thereabouts, as far as I can judge. They don’t tell us much about themselves except that Sea Songs And Shanties is their debut recording, mostly traditional with a one original song and possibly two adaptations. The ...
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RICK DANKO – Double Live (Floating World FLOATM6381)

Double Live is exactly that. Here are two (almost) solo performances from Band bassman, Rick Danko, recorded in 1989 and 1997. Both are bootlegs; one listed in The Band’s archive, the other not. The first set is an off-the-board recording from Cubby Bear in Chicago and it is alleged that ...
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HOLLIE HAINES – Letters To My Last Love (own label)

Hollie Haines is a songwriter and singer from London who I've not come across before, so I had no idea what to expect from this first release although I assumed that with a title like Letters To My Last Love it wasn't going to be an album of drinking songs.  ...
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SVER – Reverie (Folkhall Records FHR002CD)

In celebration of their ten years as a quintet, SVER release their fourth album, Reverie. Recorded live over two days and steeped in Nordic tradition, SVER’s tight-knit musicianship, versatility and sense of sheer enjoyment simply shines through. The band may describe their sound as ‘folk-rock’ but it gleefully transcends obvious ...
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JOHN MAYALL– Nobody Told Me (Forty Below Records FBR 022)

Even before I started to become aware of the blues in the mid-1960s, John Mayall was already a veteran of the British blues scene (though by the end of the 60s he had moved to the US, where he's lived ever since). In fact, his 1967 album The Blues Alone, ...
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