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.

NITEWORKS – Air Faìr An Là (Comann Music, CM002)

If the combined words “folk” and “electronica” bring on an attack of the vapours, a lie down with the reviving sal volatile of Niteworks’ second album Air Faìr An Là (At Dawn Of Day) might just help. The four Skye lads of Niteworks clearly love their traditional music but, obviously, ...
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RACHAEL McSHANE & THE CARTOGRAPHERS – When All Is Still (Topic TSCD596)

It’s been nine years since Rachael McShane realised her solo debut, the time since then keeping her busy as cellist, fiddler, viola player and singer with the now defunct Bellowhead, of which she was a founding member back in 2004, and, more recently, her role in the reworking of Peter ...
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MAIREARAD & ANNA – Farran (Shouty Records SHOUTYCD04)

Farran is the Scots word for the starboard side of a boat and is also Mairearad Green and Anna Massie’s fourth album as a duo. It’s a stripped back album recorded by Andrea Gobbi and co-produced by Calum MacCrimmon of Breabach, recorded off the floor with accordion, pipes, fiddle, guitar ...
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NIALL HANNA – Autumn Winds (own label)

I have to say out the outset that this is rather lovely. Two years ago Niall Hanna received a Young Musician’s Platform Award from the Arts Council which gave him the opportunity to collect and record some traditional songs, mostly from Ulster. He threw in a couple of original compositions ...
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DAN JOHNSON – Hemingway (State Fair)

In 1987, when Dan Johnson was just ten, his father, an injured US Air Force veteran, finding his skill set was not transferrable to civilian life, sank into depression and an eventual mental collapse that led to suicide. Thirty years later, his son is releasing Hemingway, a conceptual five-track EP ...
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GREGORY PAGE – A Wild Rose (own label)

His mother lead vocalist London’s first all-girl pop band The Beat-Chics and his uncle Tom Jones’s dummer on ‘What’s New Pussycat’, born in North London of Irish-Armenian heritage (but now based in Southern California), Page describes the music on A Wild Rose, his twenty-seventh album in as many years, as ...
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JACKIE OATES – The Joy Of Living (ECC Records ECC018)

Jackie Oates’ new album, her seventh, is an intensely personal one with songs spanning four generations of her family from her grandfather to her daughter Rosie. The latter can be heard on several tracks notably her “theme tune”, ‘Rosy Apple’. The Joy Of Living reflects on new life and death ...
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THE SHACKLETON TRIO – Fen, Farm And Deadly Water (own label)

The name having slimmed down from The Georgia Shackleton Trio, though still comprising fiddle player, locally accented vocalist and songsmith Georgia alongside guitarist Aaren Bennett and mandolinist Nic Zuppardi, their second album, Fen, Farm And Deadly Water, again draws on British, American and Scandinavian traditions for its songs and influences ...
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SINGLES BAR 32 A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Named for the Virginia city, but based in Nashville, ROANOKE are a rising Folk Americana five-piece led by guitarist Joey Beesley and Taylor Dupuis, alongside fellow band members Zach Nowak on mandolin, acoustic guitarist John Fiorentino and drummer Kyle Breese. Following on from their self-titled 2016 debut, the songs written ...
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TONY WINN – Push And Pull (Freefall FF011D)

Hailing from Essex and while you’ve likely never heard of him, an actor and poet as well as a musician, Winn has sufficient a following to make Push And Pull his seventh album. Given the right exposure, awareness levels could well rise. It’s a highly accessible collection that spans the ...
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LETITIA VANSANT – Gut It To The Studs (own label)

Letitia VanSant is an American activist whose first album, Gut It To The Studs, has a UK release date of August 28th. Gut It To The Studs is Americana rather than folk, but the lyrics focus on modern-day spiritual and political concerns as much as the ‘folk revival’ did in ...
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PHILIP MARINO – Chasing Ghosts (own label)

Philip Marino released his fourth CD, Chasing Ghosts, on July 27th. Marino is an American singer-songwriter who lives in Essex in the UK. In style, perhaps the most appropriate genre would be to describe Chasing Ghosts as Americana. It’s broader than that though and you can hear the influences that ...
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EFDSS NATIONAL YOUTH FOLK ENSEMBLE – Grand Arcade, Cambridge

Serendipity. It’s great isn’t it? I was just leaving John Lewis (other department stores are available -Ed), doing a spot of late-night shopping, when I became aware of a largish, youthful-looking group of musicians setting up to play in Cambridge’s Grand Arcade. Nothing particularly unusual there, except that flyers and ...
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LONESOME GEORGE – Flat As The Earth (own label)

What do you do if you’re essentially an Irish traditional band who also want “to represent an underlying dissatisfaction that we believe to be present in our generation”, as lead vocalist and lyricist Joe Campbell-McArdle puts it?  Lonesome George decided to do both on their debut album, Flat As The ...
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BEINN LEE – Osgarra (own label BL18)

Beinn Lee are a young six-piece band who are deeply rooted in the music of their home in Uist. Osgarra is their debut and I get the feeling that they had enough ideas for three different records but decided to combine them all into one to see what happened. It ...
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JULIE JULY BAND – Who Knows Where The Time Goes (Aurora Folk Records JJB18CD1)

The Julie July Band has built a substantial reputation on reinterpretations of Sandy Denny's songs, so it comes as no surprise that the CD Who Knows Where The Time Goes, released on July 27th, is a collection of 11 songs written by Sandy, plus one song of Richard Farina's that ...
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IRA BERNSTEIN & RILEY BAUGUS – Appalachian Roots (Yodel-Ay-Hee CD-0046)

I’m pretty sure I saw Ira Bernstein demonstrating his Appalachian clogging and flatfooting when he was the sensation of the festival circuit back in the 1980s. I have a vivid picture in my mind of a man impossibly high off the ground given that he was step-dancing and I hope ...
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WE BANJO 3 – Haven (own label WB3CD005)

I know I’ve said this before but there are four members of We Banjo 3: two sets of brothers David and Martin Howley and Fergal and Enda Scahill, and only two play banjo but let’s not get bogged down in details. Haven is their fourth studio album and this time ...
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JACKIE OATES – Lush Studio Soho

I have reported on CD launch events from a number of venues; the BBC Club, The Convent, even Wigan but none as lush as …well, Lush. On the hottest day of the year in London the air-conditioned Lush Studio Soho was an oasis. It’s a rabbit warren of a building ...
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STEPH GEREMIA – Up She Flew (Black Box Music BBM009)

I was beginning to muse about why it is that Irish, and indeed Scottish, musicians have such a deep desire to rework and circulate the music from their native lands and then I read that Steph Geremia is actually from New York. Up She Flew is Steph’s second album, almost ...
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YVES LAMBERT TRIO – Tentation (La Prûche Libre PRU2 4818)

Yves Lambert's is a well-known and well-respected name in Québécois traditional circles, as a founding member of La Bottine Souriante, as founder of the Bébert Orchestra, and, since 2010, the driving force behind the Yves Lambert Trio. The trio consists of Yves on accordions (I suspect that the word accordion ...
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SHEILA K CAMERON – Those They Chose (Glalell SKC1708CD)

Over the past couple of years, Sheila K Cameron has completed the reissue of her 7-CD back catalogue and recently released Those They Chose, an album whose artless title reflects the fact that the songs featured were selected for play on the Women Of Substance podcast. It’s typical of Cameron ...
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GEORGE DUFF – The Collier Laddie (BEAGCD BEAG CD005)

Although he’s been singing for many years and is well-known and respected in Scotland George Duff hadn’t until now made a solo album. He is The Collier Laddie of the title – a National Coal Board engineer, to be precise – and a fair part of his repertoire is made ...
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ROO PANES – Quiet Man (CRC057CD)

Roo Panes released his third album Quiet Man on June 15th. Panes has a strong following – I gather his first two albums clocked up 160 million listens on Spotify and 13 million views on video channels. His music is thoughtful, quiet even, and to be heard at its best ...
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TRAIL WEST – From The Sea To The City (TW Records TWO1CD)

Trail West’s third album, From The Sea To The City finds the band contemplating the often necessary transition for islanders (Hebrideans, in this case) to big centres like Glasgow. What could have been a cue for an album of wistful nostalgia is neatly sidestepped by a band that simply does ...
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TARA BEIER – California 1970 (Red Raven)

The title, California 1970, pretty much tells you where this is coming from musically and lyrically, as the Canadian singer-songwriter and classically trained pianist (not to mention documentary filmmaker and actress) casts an eye over L.A. life through the prism of soft folk-pop filtered through Wurlitzer, pedal steel, guitars and piano ...
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STEVE TILSTON – Distant Days (Riverboat Records TUGCD1117)

Steve Tilston has enjoyed a long career as a singer, composer and guitarist both solo and in partnerships. It seems to me that his popularity and the esteem in which he is held increases year on year which is great for a man who has worked continually at his craft ...
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PAUL COWLEY – [Just What I Know] (Lou B Music LBM 005 2018)

In the notes that arrived with Paul Cowley's third solo CD [Just What I Know], he explains the album's title by quoting the Reverend Gary Davis as say "…play just what you know…" It turns out that what Paul Cowley knows is country blues, and he really does know his ...
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SINGLES BAR 31 A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Special Commissions is just that, a set of songs written or recorded by JIM CAUSLEY, for one-off projects and left in search of a home. ‘City Of  Trees’ is about Exeter and initially sounds very folky but Jim cleverly quotes other bits of music as he writes about wassailing and ...
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CLANNAD – Turas 1980 (Made In Germany Music, MIG02092)

On the heels of their 1979 US tour - the longest by any Irish band back then - a five-piece Clannad fetched up in Germany having their live show recorded by Radio Bremen. Previously unbroadcast, the recently resurfaced recordings are now available as Turas 1980 (“an turas” meaning “a journey”), ...
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I SEE HAWKS IN LA – Live And Never Learn (Western Seeds WSRCD-013)

Having released a solo covers collection in 2016, lead singer Robert Waller returns to the band nest for their first album in five years. The good news is that it’s like they’ve never been away, that familiar country rock sound with its Telecaster reverb and Waller’s vocal drawl picking up ...
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DAMIEN O’KANE & RON BLOCK – Banjophony (Pure Records PRCD48)

If you’re not a fan of the five-string egg-slicer you might be thinking of moving on but hold hard there, stranger. This is no ‘Duelling Banjos’, last one to the end gets the beers in mayhem-fest. The object of the exercise was to pair the 5-string banjo of the American ...
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CHRIS RONALD – Fragments (Borealis Records BCD 248)

With a solid body of work since 2004’s Pacific Time, the English-born/Canadian-based singer-songwriter, Chris Ronald has just issued album number four, titled Fragments. On this album there are traces of 1960s styled folk revivalists, 1970s singer-songwriters, contemporary writers, country and bluegrass music, bound together with Ronald’s contemporary songwriting and John ...
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COWBOY JUNKIES – All That Reckoning (Proper PRPCD149)

It has been six years since the Cowboy Junkies last released an album. The Nomad Series may have been something of a diversion for the band although it included some of their best work, particularly on Renmin Park, but with All That Reckoning they are back in their mainstream. I ...
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BOB & GILL BERRY – Echoes Of Alfred (WildGoose WGS427CD)

This takes me back. I knew Bob Berry’s parents back in the day when albums were still issued on cassettes. Len was a genial gentleman of the old school and when Fairport Convention covered Barbara’s setting of ‘I Wandered By A Brookside’ her fame was assured. Which brings us very ...
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MICHAEL McDERMOTT – Out From Under (Pauper Sky Records 2018)

I’ve been bewitched by the music of Michael McDermott for a few years now, I’m late to the party I know, as the Chicago based singer-songwriter has been a shining musical light over us for over 25 years now and is in fact celebrating his Eleventh Solo album with the ...
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BEN SURES – Poema Poematis (BS11CD)

Ben Sures is a Canadian singer songwriter whose latest album, Poema Poematis, was released worldwide on June 17th. His website tells you, “We are holding off on the Jupiter and Mars releases til we see how the album does on this planet”. That kinda tells you the first thing you ...
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REG MEUROSS – Reg Meuross (Stockfisch SFR 357.40922)

I don’t often get to review a Reg Meuross album, usually because someone else gets to them first but this time that someone else wrote the sleeve notes which rather disqualifies him. This pleases me greatly because Reg Meuross is quite probably the best album I’ve heard this year. There ...
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ALISTAIR McCULLOCH TRIO – Off The Hook (Rostral Records RTRLCD015)

The Alistair McCulloch Trio summer tour has become a well-established Scottish fixture over many years now, yet this busy bunch has only just got around to recording an album. Thankfully, they have now whittled down their extensive live repertoire to the ten excellent tracks featured on Off The Hook. Alongside ...
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THE FRETLESS – Live From The Art Farm (own label TFCD004)

The Fretless is a string quartet – two fiddles, viola and cello although Karrnnel Sawitsky and Ben Plotnick double up on viola and fiddle so they don’t play strictly by the rules. Their latest album, Live From The Art Farm, was actually recorded in Sean Boyd’s studio but live from ...
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FEAR OF DRINKING – Live In Zurich (own label)

There was an Englishman, a New Zealander and several Canadians who met in Vancouver and formed a band. While I don’t altogether approve of their name, Fear Of Drinking were a pretty good band in the mould of The Pogues. They officially stopped live appearances in 2000 and Live In ...
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BRACKENBURY & NEILSON – Crossings (Monoline MLRC1)

Crossings is an album that falls into a category generally known as “music”. Faith Brackenbury and John Neilson have worked together for some time and bring together experience of classical music, folk, jazz and busking round Europe. This is their debut as a duo. Most of the material is self-composed ...
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THE ANDREW COLLINS TRIO – Tongue / Groove (own label, ACT003/ACT004)

Finally, there’s an album paying long-overdue homage to practical, yet rustic bathroom panelling. What’s that? It’s not? Fortunately, Tongue / Groove is a paired album set from phenomenally talented, multi-award-winning Canadians, The Andrew Collins Trio. Their hard-to-pigeonhole fusion sound is sometimes referred to as ‘chambergrass’ but absorbs such a broad ...
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JEFF WARNER – Roam The Country Through (WildGoose WGS425CD)

If you haven’t yet heard Jeff Warner live, you have a rare treat in store. Jeff is the son of two of America’s foremost song collectors, Frank and Anne Warner and, as such, his knowledge is unparalleled. On stage he is relaxed and genial swapping between concertina, banjo and guitar ...
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THE BEVVY SISTERS – This Moment (Interrupto IM007)

The Bevvy Sisters first came to our ears in 2009 with an album of mostly old songs sung in the close harmony style of the 40s and 50s edged with jazz and blues. Five years later, their follow-up, Plan B, continued in the same vein, although perhaps a little more ...
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RAB NOAKES – Welcome To Anniversaryville (Neon Records NEONCD021)

I was delighted to receive a review copy of the new Rab Noakes CD Welcome To Anniversaryville – scheduled for release on the 13th July 2018 – especially as I had previously reviewed and enjoyed his EP The Treatment Tapes. I mention the earlier EP because it was released in ...
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FOLKY MACFOLK FACE – When Night Falls (own label)

Can we just accept that this is the worst band name since Sconce The Ogives and move on? When Night Falls is the debut album from Folky McFolk Face, a Scots/Irish quartet based in Scotland – Irish fiddler Eabhnat Ni Laighin is the one who has been transplanted. Dougie Torrance, ...
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DOWALLY – Somewhere (own label, DW002)

Are we there yet? Today’s destination is highland hamlet Dowally – or rather, the immensely talented Scottish trio of that name, who decided to call their second album Somewhere. Alongside their first album, Welcome To Scotland, it does suggest the musician’s itinerant life, that standing wave of maps, road signs ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Destination (Fellside Recordings FECD282)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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