Reviews

folking_com new 2016 site logo

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.

DOGHOUSE ROSES – We Are Made Of Light (Doghouse Roses)

Glasgow’s Doghouse Roses’ album We Are Made Of Light oozes Americana, but it still lingers with the taste of a great Old Chub Scottish ale. ‘All My Days’ rides on a simple guitar as Iona Macdonald’s voice echoes the beauty and swaddling cloth comfort of Linda Thompson and Natalie Merchant ...
Read More

JOHN RICHARDS – Bring Back The Spring (Working Joe Music WJMCD2019)

John Richards is credited on his new CD Bring Back The Spring as "John Richards, Songwriter". And it is indeed quite possible that you have never heard John himself or the many bands with which he has been associated. But there is a good chance you know songs of his ...
Read More

BIRD IN THE BELLY – Neighbours And Sisters (GF*M Records GFM011)

“Delightfully dark” is how I’d describe Neighbours And Sisters, the second album by Brighton collective, Bird In The Belly. I haven’t yet heard their debut, The Crowing, but I expect to rectify that very soon. The group comprises Laura Ward and Adam Bonchetti, aka Hickory Signals, multi-instrumentalist Tom Pryor who ...
Read More

FELICITY BUIRSKI – Committed To The Fire (Tree of Life FJB2019CD3)

Committed To The Fire was actually released earlier this year, but somehow slipped under the radar; however, albums of such quality should not be allowed to pass undiscovered. A former Page 3 model and actress, despite a musical family background Orpington-born Buirski (and appearing on Top Of The Pops as ...
Read More

NATALIE MACMASTER – Sketches (Linus)

Natalie MacMaster’s Sketches bows new life into the great fiddle tradition. And please, forget for a moment that she’s immensely popular (with a Christmas album to boot!), and enjoy an album of Cape Breton music that bleeds with beauty. ‘Three Reels’ flints up the kindling. The first part, ‘Father John ...
Read More

NIALL KELLY – Promenade (Glovebox Records, GL103)

Promenade is Niall Kelly’s third album release, and a Kickstarter project, as is ever more commonplace these days. A dozen or so years spent deeply immersed in the London blues scene gave Derry-born Kelly a thorough grounding in the business, ready for when he branched out with his own band ...
Read More

AWKWARD FAMILY PORTRAITS – Everything We’ve Done Up Until Now Except What We’ve Done Since (Holy Smokes Records)

Awkward Family Portraits (that’s the band name) recently released Everything We’ve Done Up Until Now Except What We’ve Done Since (that’s the album name). The style is an assortment of jump jive, rockabilly, western swing et al. You get the gist – it’s a fifties and earlier feel with plenty ...
Read More

JIM MORAY – The Outlander (Managed Decline MD001)

For The Outlander, his seventh solo album, Moray dispenses with any original material to focus on a set of ten traditional numbers, some familiar, some obscure, and gives them his own personalised interpretation. He’s also adopted a more direct, live performance-based approach making extensive use of his purchase of a ...
Read More

CARL HESSION, FRANCIS CUNNINGHAM AND EIMEAR COUGHLAN – Úrnua   (own label URN001)

Carl Hession is held to be one of the finest accompanists, arrangers and composers in Irish music; a veteran of Moving Cloud and a number of bands with Frankie Gavin. Concertina player Francis Cunningham and harpist Eimear Coughlan are both making their recording debuts on Úrnua in this distinguished company ...
Read More

DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS – Dragons (Thirty Tigers 41767CD)

Dragons, the tenth album by the Memphis-born, Nashville-based Holcomb finds him in jubilant form, even if many of the songs touch on mortality, with his most collaborative work yet, six of the ten songs being co-writes and five featuring guest vocalists. It kicks off on upbeat infectious manner with ‘Family’, ...
Read More

KIRSTY McGEE & THE HOBOPOP COLLECTIVE – The Deafening Sound Of Stars (HoboPop HPCD0012)

Kirsty McGee is something of a veteran now but she has operated under many people’s radar including, sad to say, mine over the last few years. The Deafening Sound Of Stars is only her eighth album in almost twenty years, so as the owner of five of them maybe I’m ...
Read More

THE WHISKEY TREATY ROAD SHOW – Band Together (own label)

Band Together is an album that came to me out of the blue. First impressions – with a name like The Whiskey Treaty Road Show they’ve got to be an up-tempo American band, probably Americana/Country genre; my guess was the South but actually they’re from Western Massachusetts. You can hear ...
Read More

FINN PAUL – Wind & Stone (Independent Release IWCD001)

Scottish singer-songwriter Finn Paul says, accurately enough, that his music "… is about fantastical nonsense; pirates, dreamworlds and mystical islands. But more than that it's about the methods we use to escape in a society that's becoming ever more disconnected from reality". That said, to my ear, the lyrics on ...
Read More

CHRIS CLEVERLEY – We Sat Back And Watched It Unfold (Opiate Records OPI001)

I loved Chris Cleverley’s first album, Apparitions, which appeared in 2015. That was four years ago so he hasn’t rushed into recording his follow-up. In that time he’s written and performed, formed a trio with Kim Lowings and Kathy Pilkinton and made lots more friends, several of whom appear here ...
Read More

PIERRE SCHRYER & ADAM DOBRES – Mandorla (SDP-56169)

In early September Pierre Schryer and Adam Dobres released Mandorla, an album which features tunes from across the world. Schryer is one of Canada’s leading traditional fiddle players with a wealth of awards to his name; Dobres is a guitar player with a similarly broad international background and an easy ...
Read More

TIM GRIMM – Heart Land Again (Cavalier CR255624)

Twenty years on from the release of his debut album, the Indiana-based Americana singer-songwriter revisits Heart Land with a re-recorded version alongside two new numbers and, this time round, with his then young sons Jackson (guitars, banjo, mandolin, harmonium) and Connor (bass) joining him and his harmonica-blowing wife Jan. Alongside Dan ...
Read More

Burning Salt Live In London

Burning Salt have a knack when it comes to finding interesting venues. The last time I saw them was at Shrewsbury Unitarian Church, an impressive venue associated historically with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Charles Darwin. And on 28th September I had the privilege of seeing them at a 'secret gig' ...
Read More

MEGSON – Little Bird (EDJ EDJ024)

As well as their adult material, Stu and Debbie Hanna also regularly play shows for young audiences, introducing them to child friendly traditional folk songs. Now, seven years on from When I Was A Lad, they have come up with a second collection, Little Bird, with an insert guide (illustrated ...
Read More

SINGLES BAR 45- A round-up of recent EPs and singles

SARAH YEO is British but she is more deeply steeped in the sounds of America than some Americans. Safe is a five track EP of original songs featuring Sarah Jory on pedal steel and Dobro with drums by Matt Butlin. The opener, ‘I’m On My Way’, was actually written in ...
Read More

MEAN MARY – Cold (Woodrock)

That’ll be Alabama-born. Florida-raised and Nashville-based singer-songwriter Mary James, an early musical prodigy from a musical family (guitarist brother Frank and co-writer author mother Jean) who was writing songs at five, playing banjo, guitar and violin at seven and releasing her first recording, Mean Mary From Alaba, at age six ...
Read More

ALAN PROSSER & AL CLARKE – Living In Clover (Rafting Dog Records RD055)

Alan Prosser and Al Clarke have a Canterbury connection: Alan with Oysterband (who took their name from a connection with Whitstable in case you’re confused) and Al who has worked with members of Caravan and Soft Machine over the years. A discussion about the “Canterbury sound”, which was a thing ...
Read More

WOOKALILY – Everything Is Normal Except The Little Things Inside My Head (Roxy Records RRCD001)

Almost five years on from their debut album, the female Belfast folk noir five-piece return with a follow-up marked by the confidence and experience gained in the ensuing years. Lining up as guitarist Adele Ingram, drummer Louise Potter, bassist and main vocalist Lyndsay Crothers, banjo and double bass player Sharon ...
Read More

3HATTRIO – Live At Zion (Okehdokee Records)

3hattrio release Live At Zion in November. What do you get if three musicians find themselves living in the desert but have arrived there with very different musical pedigrees - a classically trained violinist, someone who has thirty years of playing in the Caribbean and someone steeped in cowboy music? ...
Read More

LUKE DANIELS – Old Friends & Exhausted Enemies (Wren Wren019)

Let me own up and say I blow somewhat hot and cold regarding Daniels’ music. I wasn’t a fan of Revolve & Rotate, for which he composed new music on a 19th century polyphon, and I found Singing Ways To Be More Junior a bit of a hit and miss ...
Read More

JACKDAW – No Cactus (DUGUY/CUTTHROAT 3747-02)

Jackdaw release No Cactus on October 3rd. In very broad terms, you’d classify the album as Americana. From this point onwards I want to write a different kind of review…… Part of the publicity material said, “Jackdaw is not an individual or a band. It’s home for songs written by ...
Read More

HANNAH JAMES AND THE JIGDOLL ENSEMBLE – The Woman And Her Words (BMC JDR002)

What with Hannah Elizabeth and Hannah Martin, Hannah seems to be a favourite name among the contemporary English folk circle at present, this particular Hannah being a third of Lady Maisery and acclaimed as one of the scene’s best accordionists. Recorded in Budapest with backing musicians Scottish fiddler Katy Young, ...
Read More

SAYER & JOYCE – Makes You Stronger (Gulf Coast Records)

Sayer & Joyce released Makes You Stronger on September 20th. Makes You Stronger is one of those blues albums that just makes you want to see the band live. Have a listen to ‘Backbone’ below – the riff, the drum(s), the vocal, the bigger sound, all building to Sayer’s voice ...
Read More

REG MEUROSS – Raw (Hatsongs HAT021)

The third of the solo back to basics recordings Raw trilogy reunites him with Geoff Hocking, the man who recorded and engineered everything he did as an emerging singer-songwriter in mid-70s Devon. He, together with banjo, dulcimer, harmonica, tenor guitar and trusty ’44 Martin are responsible for making this the ...
Read More

JOHNNY COPPIN – 30 Songs (Red Sky RSKCD122)

Covering four decades 30 Songs, a new compilation from the Stroud-based singer-songwriter amply serves, were it needed, to underscore his status as one of the folk world’s finest alumni. Compiled as two CDs (that one’s red and the other blue surely a Beatles nod), with the second disc a personal ...
Read More

OONAGH DERBY – Breathe (own label KTM002)

In real life Oonagh Derby is a PR representing a number of distinguished Irish artists. Behind that façade, however, there is a diva waiting to burst out. Breathe is her second solo album and where it fits on the musical spectrum is open to debate. For the most part these ...
Read More

JACK RUTTER – Gold Of Scar & Shale (own label RUTTCD025)

There can be no doubt that Jack Rutter is one of the finest young interpreters of traditional song in the country. For his second album, Gold Of Scar & Shale he has enlisted Sam Sweeney to augment his guitars, bouzouki and concertina with cameo appearances from Alice Robinson on Northumbrian ...
Read More

PAULA RYAN – Turas Cumadóir (Maverico MAVO/SA/1003)

Born and bred in Tipperary, Ryan is the working definition of a solo artist, writing, arranging and performing everything (and that includes bouzouki, marimba, bodhran, sax, low whistle & guitar) on this, her third solo album. Turas Cumadóir translating as “songwriter’s journey” it embraces the personal and the political, the ...
Read More

THE MINING CO. – Frontier (own label)

The third album from London-based Irishman Michael Gallagher in as many years, he’s declared this as his romantic album, both in terms of songs and production. As such, Frontier starts off yearning and melancholic with the mid-tempo jog of the strings-washed ‘Mexico Alone’, a song inspired by his fear of ...
Read More

BRUCE COCKBURN – Crowing Ignites (True North Records TND 737)

Bruce Cockburn, legendary Canadian artist, released Crowing Ignites on September 20th. This is Cockburn’s 34th album and is made up of eleven new compositions – unusually, all instrumental. In 2005, Cockburn released a previous all-instrumental album, Speechless, which earned him a Canadian folk Music award for Best Instrumentalist. I’ve just ...
Read More

STYLUSBOY – Routes (Tortoise Recordings)

Although Coventry singer-songwriter Steve Jones released the Out Upon The Ocean EP in May, it’s been six years since his last studio album, Hospitality For Hope, so, again working with Nizlopi’s John Parker on double bass, Routes is a welcome return for his lo-fi folk. It opens with ‘Embrace The ...
Read More

DARRIN BRADBURY – Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs (Anti-)

Darrin Bradbury’s Talking Dogs & Atomic Bombs spins in the echo of John Prine’s “speed of the sound of loneliness”. That said, this music doesn’t create the pathos of Sam Stone’s kid singing about “the hole in daddy’s arm”, but it does vibrate with rough neck vernacular tunes that flow ...
Read More

PP ARNOLD – The New Adventures Of (Absolute/Ear Music, 0214038EMU)

PP Arnold never quite became the global soul superstar she deserved to be, despite that rich, wounded voice giving the defninitive rendition of Cat Stevens’ 'The First Cut Is The Deepest' and Chip Taylor’s 'Angel Of The Morning'. Her voice may grace albums by music’s biggest names over the last ...
Read More

DOM PRAG – Young Man On A Ferry (own label)

Young Man On A Ferry is another album that arrived out of the blue. Dom Prag is based in the Southampton area and, although this is his debut album, he’s been paying his dues and gaining support for a few years now, including an EP, Talitha And Other Tales in ...
Read More

LISA BASTONI – How We Want To Live (own label)

How We Want To Live, the Massachusetts singer-songwriter’s fifth album is a collection of songs informed by an absent father and her recent divorce The former, who she’s not seen for eight years, is the subject of ‘Never Gone To You’ a simple organ backed, pulsing drumbeat number on which ...
Read More

STEVE LOGAN – Shaking Hands With The Devil (Moondragon Records SLOG 026)

Steve Logan, Song-Poet, Cambridge-based, from Wales has a new album Shaking Hands With The Devil. The DJ Johnnie Walker used to have a slot called “The One That Got Away” for music that was released but didn’t make as big a public splash as it might have done; Logan’s previous ...
Read More

BEMIS – The After Hours (Mayfield Records)

This time I have the advantage of knowing who Bemis are before I start. Actually the Portsmouth band have gone through a change of line-up with Nathan Shervill stepping aside again for the return of drummer Kayleigh Thomas and vocalist/guitarist Ian Scarbro coming in to expand the line-up. The After ...
Read More

CATGOD – Feel It Go Round (own label)

An Oxford-based five-piece centred around siblings Robin Christensen-Marriott and Catherine Marriott, they trade in slightly woozy, hushed pastoral psychedelia that clearly has an affinity for such similar fey folk spirits as Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan and Bridget St John. As such, if they don’t flutter your heart, chances are Feel ...
Read More

STEVE PLEDGER – Alone In The Dark (Noisy Dog Records NDCD02)

As Steve says “live is what happens in a space…in a moment” but he produces a damn good approximation on his mini-album Alone In The Dark. Its only fault is that it’s too short – just eight tracks – but we have to live with that. With the exception of ...
Read More

HOTH BROTHERS – Workin’ And Dreamin’ (own label)

Having already released his own solo album earlier this year, Bard Edrington V now returns in company with fellow songsmith Boris McCutcheon on a project spawned as they swapped musical ideas and stories while pruning fruit trees in a New Mexico apple orchard. Workin' And Dreamin' was recorded in just ...
Read More

MERRY HELL – A Documentary: A Year in the Life (own label)

Exactly what it says, A Year In The Life follows the much acclaimed and awards-festooned Wigan outfit across the course of a year from February 2018 to February 2019, from rehearsals and hometown gigs to meet and greet Q&A sessions (why are you called Merry Hell?) and festivals, from Portugal ...
Read More

SHOW OF HANDS – Battlefield Dance Floor (Proper Records PRPCD156)

Battlefield Dance Floor is the 18th studio album from Show Of Hands, a band that is one of the most recognized Folk acts of the 21st Century. So much so I’m writing this review with some trepidation as I only became aware of them when they toured their last album ...
Read More

CHRIS WHILE AND JULIE MATTHEWS – Revolution Calls (Fat Cat FATCD041)

I’ve listened to a good deal of Chris While and Julie Matthews over the years but I don’t think I’ve heard them produce anything as powerful as Revolution Calls. The title track which opens the set screams folk-rock and I quickly checked to see who they had imported. No, it ...
Read More

ROAD NOT TAKEN – Fragment (own label)

A new Bristol-based folk four-piece comprising pure-voiced singer Anita Dobson, Claire Hamlen on fiddle, guitarist Ant Miles and Joe Hamlen providing bass, banjo and harmonium. Produced by Lukas Drinkwater, their debut, Fragment, mixes together two originals by Dobson, six traditional arrangements and a notable cover. Taking the self-penned material first, ...
Read More

ASHLEY SOFIA – Shades Of Blue (own label)

Raised in the Adirondack Mountains and now based in Nashville, Shades Of Blue is Sofia’s second album, a baker’s dozen of self-penned folk rock tracks co-produced with Kenny Baumann that nod to 70s country and get under way with the cello accompanied little things in life love song ‘Slowing Down’ ...
Read More

I SEE HAWKS IN L.A. & THE GOOD INTENTIONS – Hawks With Good Intentions (Western Seeds Record Company WSR-CD014)

A team-up album that brings together the Los Angeles quartet and Liverpool folk duo Peter Davies and Gabrielle Monk, who, after several years of shared friendship and stages have finally written and recorded together, albeit largely via the internet. The result is Hawks With Good Intentions. It opens with Davies ...
Read More

SINGLES BAR 44 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

As a taster for his somewhat delayed album, From Coalfield To Battlefield, GARY MILLER releases his DLI EP. The DLI is The Durham Light Infantry and the final track, featuring Ferryhill Town Band, has previously been released as a single. The long opening track, ‘The Final Letter Of Jimmy Durham’, ...
Read More

ALLISON LUPTON – Words Of Love (own label ALCD005)

An Ontario singer-songwriter and flautist in the Celtic folk tradition, Lupton twins her own material with traditional numbers from both Canada and the UK, this being her fourth album (she also recorded last year’s single ‘The Eve Of Christmas Day’ with The Young ‘Uns) on which she’s backed by a ...
Read More

JEREMY IVEY – The Dream And The Dreamer (Anti-)

Jeremy Ivey’s The Dream and the Dreamer is a collection of tunes that touch the tough folk rock semi-tone that spirals between the “stars and burnt out cars”. It’s said the devil is in the details. That’s probably true; but in great folk-rock Americana music, that’s also the best place ...
Read More

SIMON SCARDANELLI – The Rock, The Sea, The Rising Tide (Resonator RES0015)

In the distant past, Scardanelli used to be Simon Tedd, one half of 80s acoustic duo Big Bam Boo, these days he’s a solo artist with four folk-inclined albums already under his belt. On The Rock, The Sea, The Rising Tide he plays everything you hear, primarily acoustic guitar, but ...
Read More

BEN HEMMING – The Devil Beside Me (own label)

Released in May 2019, Ben Hemming’s third album, The Devil Beside Me is, it’s fair to say, a pitch dark slice of blues. Written from a place of alienation, “…that sense of isolation and detachment is a central theme that runs throughout the record” says Hemming, this is one album ...
Read More

ELLIS PAUL – The Storyteller’s Suitcase (Rosella)

Originally from Maine and resident in Virginia for the past fourteen years, with nineteen albums to his name Ellis Paul (born Paul Plissey) was a mainstay of the Boston folk scene of the 90s, eventually burning all his music business bridges to do the DIY route thing on his own ...
Read More

SARA GREY & KIERON MEANS – Better Days A Comin (WildGoose Records WGS431CD)

There is something special about real traditional folk music. It doesn’t matter where it comes from or what language it is, it stands out as something special and that’s what Better Days A Comin provides. Sara Grey and her son Kieron Means have never been into over-arranging their music although ...
Read More

SASKIA GRIFFITHS-MOORE – Baez, Dylan & Me (own label)

For her second album this year, Griffths-Moore opted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock by recording an album of songs she’d have liked to have sung had she performed there. As the title indicates, she decided to focus on two of her heroes, one penned by Baez and one ...
Read More

RALPH McTELL – Hill Of Beans (Leola Music TPGCD50)

The new Ralph McTell CD Hill Of Beans, due for release on the 20th September 2019, is apparently his first collection of original material since Somewhere Down The Road in 2010, though he's been keeping busy with other projects such as Songs For Six Strings and two albums with Wizz ...
Read More

KATHRYN WILLIAMS – Anthology (One Little Indian TPLP392CDBOX)

Well, this is a mammoth affair. Released as a limited edition box set Anthology exhaustively trawls pretty much the Mercury-nominated softly-voiced Williams’ entire musical career and output, bringing together all her studio albums into one collection, from her 1999 debut Dog Leap Stairs through to 2015’s Sylvia Plath themed Hypoxia, the ...
Read More
Loading...