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…

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MARK JOSEPH – Vegas Motel (own label)

Singer/songwriter Mark Joseph is a man who likes to keep busy. Between full-time gigs playing with Big Wu, Momentary Lapse Of Floyd, and other projects, one might wonder just how he made time to write, compose, and record his newest record, Vegas Motel. Clocking in at just over 37 minutes, ...
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CATFISH KEITH – Land Of The Sky (Fish Tail Records FTRCD019)

Catfish continues his prolific recording career. Land Of The Sky is his twentieth album overall and his third in the last three years. After last year’s Blues At Midnight, a collection of Catfish Keith’s own songs written across his career, the new album is a mix of self-penned tracks and ...
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THE LITTLE UNSAID – December Songs (Reveal Records Reveal 181CDX)

A few months ago The Little Unsaid’s John Elliott was exhorting us to Lick The Future’s Lips and, following a tour of that album, he returns with the seasonally appropriate December Songs. Unlike its predecessor, December Songs is a solo piece, with Elliott’s gifted multi-instrumentalism shaping each bittersweet reflection crafted ...
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THE TREETOP FLYERS – Old Habits (Loose Music)

The Treetop Flyers’ new album, Old Habits, hums a very British tune, while “going down to old, old Woodstock”. And yes, that’s a Van Morrison lyric. Suffice it to say fans of soft, supple, and “moondance” mystical music will find a “whole lotta love” for this album. And yes (again!) ...
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THE NORFOLK BROADS – Yonder Green Grove (own label)

The Norfolk Broads – I love that name – are Eleanor Dale, Daisy Johnson, Anna Cornish and Helen Cherry from East Anglia; I’m not going to spell it out for you. Yonder Green Grove is their second album of traditional songs. Essentially they perform unaccompanied in harmony but they employ ...
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JOE TILSTON Tightrope (Our Records OUR001)

The bass player from punk/ska band Random Hand makes a solo album and it’s reviewed on folking.com? Oh yes, definitely. Joe Tilston (that bass player) released Tightrope early in November and it’s folk-ish…punk-ish…..new wave-ish…. ballad-ish…..All kinds of ‘ish’ really, except in one respect. It’s a glorious album. No ‘ish’. No ...
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BROOMDASHER – The Country Diary In Song Live (Clean Sweep Records CS0121)

For readers of a younger persuasion: Edith Holden’s Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady was the coffee table book de jour in the 1970s, spawning a TV series and sufficient merchandise to gladden the heart. Edith was a contemporary of Cecil Sharp and Broomdasher, following the success of their debut ...
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IAN A. ANDERSON – Please Re-Adjust Your Time (Cherry Tree CDTREEBOX025)

During the Hot Vultures reunion tour Ian A. Anderson opined that there wouldn’t be any more reissues from his back catalogue. Then everything went wrong and straits became dire. Ian released a few carefully selected items on his own imprint which proved popular and now in steps Cherry Red to ...
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MALCOLM MacWATT – Settler (Need To Know Music NTKBB2021MM)

Playing all instruments except bass (Phil Dearing) and with Kris Drever on guitar for one track, Malcolm MacWatt’s Settler continues his melding of Scottish and Appalachian influences, inviting a clutch of celebrity voices to share the journey. First up is Jaimee Harris on the bluesy shuffle of ‘Avalanche And Landslide’ ...
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MATTIAS LIES – Turning Points (Mta Productions/ Quality Recordings)

Mattias Lies’ new folk album, Turning Points, continues (as did his last record, Highs And Lows), to calm the hot lava ash of the current state of human affairs. To be blunt: this is a wonderful folk album that conjures the melodic patience of the very best of the 70’s ...
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BEANS ON TOAST – Survival Of The Friendliest (BOT Music)

For the unaware, Beans On Toast releases an album every year on his birthday (December 1st). Last year was his fortieth and he released two but that was an exception and this year’s offering is Survival Of The Friendliest. It can be difficult to categorise Beans (Jay, as his mum ...
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MABILENE – The Other Side (own label)

Houston native Jenny Weaver, aka Mabilene, will be releasing her debut full-length album, The Other Side, this week. Though unlike many debut projects, this one stems from a songwriter whose artistic identity seems almost fully formed on her first record. In these instances, it is often the case that such ...
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SINGLES BAR 72 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

THE CURSE OF K.K.HAMMOND is London born slide guitarist and self-professed hermit Kristelle Karina who has a thing for resonator guitars and early Delta blues. She has, however, forsaken her reclusive Buckinghamshire life to record a self-titled five track EP, opening with the self-penned ‘The Ballad Of Blue Docherty’, a ...
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SETH LAKEMAN – Make Your Mark (Honour Oak Records)

One of the most distinctive voices, literally and metaphorically, in contemporary folk music, Make Your Mark, self-produced, is Lakeman’s 11th solo album and, joined by longtime collaborator Ben Nicholls on bass, Benji Kirkpatrick on bouzouki, mandolin and banjo, Birmingham Conservatoire principle percussionist Toby Kearney and backing vocalist Alex Hart, another ...
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GARETH DAVIES-JONES – Truth Tradition Prophets & Loss (HWM019)

Gareth Davies-Jones released his new album, Truth Tradition Prophets & Loss, at the end of October. The album is a collection of traditional and self-penned songs. He describes himself as a technophobe who’s spent the time off given by the pandemic as an opportunity to “learn the ways of technology ...
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OLD BLIND DOGS – Knucklehead Circus (own label OBDCD015)

Old Blind Dogs are veterans of almost thirty years. Co-founder Jonny Hardie is joined in the current line-up, which has been together since 2016, by Aaron Jones, piper Ali Hutton and percussionist Donald Hay on their fourteenth studio album, Knucklehead Circus. The opening title track starts with a funky shuffle ...
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MEGAN NASH – Soft Focus Futures (Acronym)

While this is her third album, I have to confess it’s my first encounter with the non-binary Saskatchewan-based singer-songwriter. Clearly I have been missing out. A mix of Americana and more pop/rock styled numbers, Soft Focus Futures is very much a post-divorce album, searching for reasons, raking through the ashes ...
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KATE GREEN – A Dark Carnival (own label KGCD002)

Kate Green has hidden her musical light under a bushel for a while. Her first record, An Unkindness Of Ravens, was released in 2007 and A Dark Carnival is only her second album. If you haven’t heard Kate yet, and that’s unlikely unless you live in the region of South ...
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VISION THING – Woman Like Me (own label)

Offered at a bargain £5, Woman Like Me, a ten track collection, is essentially an introduction taster for newcomers to this outstanding Southport folk-rock outfit, although current admirers might like to acquire two early numbers from their work in progress next album as well as a previously unreleased traditional interpretation ...
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COLIN JAMES – Open Road (Stoney Plain SPCD1434)

Open Road is the twentieth album in the distinguished career of Colin James. The Canadian guitar-slinger has famously rubbed shoulders with many of the all-time musical greats throughout his musical journey. From swing revival to Christmas music, James has done his fair share of musical exploration over the years. His ...
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THE DAUGHTERS – Golden Shore (own label)

The Daughters' debut album Golden Shore is delightful, and something beautiful to come from a horrible year that saw the world stand still due to the pandemic. While acoustic alt-folk duo The Daughters have been singing together informally for a decade, the national lockdown gave the Scottish singer- songwriters Martha ...
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SKINNY LISTER – A Matter Of Life & Love (Xtra Mile)

Skinny Lister’s A Matter Of Life & Love rocks with a very modern punk (aka rogue) folk pulse. The album is positive proof of two ideas: First, John ‘Babbacombe’ Lee wasn’t the only guy England couldn’t hang; and perhaps more importantly, our very musical universe is both curved and very ...
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MARTYN JOSEPH – 1960 (Pipe Records PRCD034)

Martyn Joseph was born in 1960 and is now sixty years old – a pleasing synchronicity (or should that be symmetry?) that just had to be exploited in an album full of memories, both happy and regretful. Recorded…well, you know… this is a record in Martyn’s quieter, thoughtful style - ...
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DEVIN HOFF – Voices From The Empty Moor (Songs Of Anne Briggs) (Kill Rock Stars)

American bassist, composer, and arranger Devin Hoff’s album Voices From The Empty Moor (Songs Of Anne Briggs) condenses the wild and weird unearthly folk eerie ooze of that wonderful 70’s band Comus into a simmering Hallow Eve’s broth of deep, dark, and any very aged forest’s spectral murmured melodic ruminations ...
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LACHLAN BRYAN & THE WILDES – As Long As It’s Not Us (Social Family Records SFR0124)

Already a huge success in their native Australia, while the blurb talks of a different direction, pushing the definition of Americana to its limit, even if mandolin and banjo have been left in the locker room, As Long As It’s Not Us is not the extreme makeover it might suggest ...
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MARGO CILKER – Pohorylle (Loose Music)

Sometimes a CD arrives on my desk and gets overlooked for no good reason and Margo Cilker’s debut album, Pohorylle, is one such. I got a promo copy which lists the tracks but has no other information; the cover doesn’t exactly grab the attention and the accompanying press release is ...
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LOUIS DE BERNIERES – Despatches (Khaki Angel Records KARCD02)

Louis de Bernieres releases a double album called Despatches on November 12th. Though De Bernieres has - how should I put it? - a more famous trade, let’s focus on the music, particularly since I gather it’s taken some persuading for him to take the step of putting an album ...
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FINE LINES – Deadbeat Lullabies (Parade Recordings PARCD015)

The 12-string revival continues to gather steam with the third album from the British folk-rock septet fronted by David Boardman and Zoe Blythe and featuring BBC presenter and co-writer Mark Radcliffe on drums. Deadbeat Lullabies opens in splendid jangling guitar and mandolin style with the vintage Byrdsian/Dylanesque  ‘King Of The ...
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ARCHIE BROWN AND THE YOUNG BUCKS – Diddley Bow (own label)

Archie Brown And The Young Bucks have been pub-folk rocking (in one form or another) all the way from Newcastle, circa 1976. And their new album, Diddley Bow, exemplifies former Mott The Hoople guy Ian Hunter’s rock ‘n’ roll comment, “’N you gotta stay young man, you can never be ...
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HANNAH JAMES & TOBY KUHN – Sleeping Spirals (Jigdoll Records JDR 003)

Hannah James has covered a lot of ground in a career that now spans two decades as a singer, songwriter, step-dancer and an innovative accordion player. She has now added to her repertoire the sansula – essentially a kalimba on a drum – which you can hear to particularly good ...
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JACOB & DRINKWATER – More Notes From The Field (own label)

A highly contemplative and reflective collection, More Notes From The Field, the second of the duo’s studio albums, is a largely unhurriedly–paced affair. It opens with the (part) title track, ‘More Notes’, on which, with a playful touch of self-deprecation, Tobias announces “This one’s for the folks back home, play ...
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ROBB JOHNSON – Minimum Wages (Irregular Records IRR118V)

Robb Johnson’s second album of the month is a more conventional set of guitar based songs with like-minded friends in attendance: Jenny Carr and John Forrester from The Irregulars plus Jude Abbott, Jason Pegg, Fae Simon and Boff Walley. Minimum Wages encompasses Robb’s regular concerns from his family to the ...
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CHARM OF FINCHES – Wonderful Oblivion (AntiFragile Music)

A close harmony duo from Melbourne, Australia, sisters Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes have been likened to First Aid Kid while other influences include Sufjan Stevens and Gillian Welch, Wonderful Oblivion being their third album with songs variously about loss, death and environmental consciousness. Joined by multi-instrumentalist Daniel Ledwell handling drums, ...
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KEVIN BRENNAN – The Clown & The Cigarette Girl (Revolver REVXD331)

Kevin Brennan is MP for West Cardiff – something of a first for us – and has chaired the Parliamentary All Party Folk Music group so in theory he knows something about the music. As his solo album, The Clown & The Cigarette Girl, demonstrates, he knows quite a bit ...
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IAN M BAILEY – Songs To Dream Along To (Kool Kat Musik PURR2203)

Earlier this year, Bailey released an  EP of four songs in collaboration with Daniel Wylie from Cosmic Rough Riders. The response was encouraging enough to prompt a full album’s worth in a similar vein, evoking the heady days of Byrdsian folk rock and Laurel Canyon harmonies. All four of the ...
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SINGLES BAR 71 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

THE STORY SONG SCIENTISTS, Findlay Napier and Megan Henwood, are widely regarded as two of the finest songwriters in the country. On the evidence of their second EP, Quantum Lyrics, they are also among the least predictable. The opening track, ‘Specimen 1: 1800 FTD’ finds a heavily echoed Findlay reading ...
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ROBB JOHNSON – Your Affectionate Son (Irregular Records IRR117)

There seems to be no stopping Robb Johnson. Your Affectionate Son is the first of two new albums he’s about to release and there is a back-story to it. The songs were commissioned by Hartlepool Folk Festival for a concert inspired by the letters home written by Pte. George Gower ...
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THE MATTHEWS BAARTMANS CONSPIRACY – [distant chatter] (Talking Elephant TECD468)

Iain Matthews seems to have a restless streak when it comes to musical collaborations; collaborations that have produced some fine music over a long career. BJ Baartmans is one of the latest, a member of the current Matthews Southern Comfort line-up. Now they have released [distant chatter], their first album ...
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SCOTT LAVENE – Milk City Sweethearts (own label)

Scott Lavene released Milk City Sweethearts in September – and it’s a belter. Lavene’s first album under his own name, 2019’s Broke, had spots of brilliance in an uneven set of tracks; Milk City Sweethearts is on a higher level, with rather more swathes of brilliance. It’s still quirky, still ...
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MÀNRAN – Ùrar (own label MAN05)

It strikes me that the epicentre of British folk-rock has been moving steadily northwards with the times: from London, where everyone headed, to Oxfordshire, when getting it together in the country was the thing, and to the north-west when gritty realism took over. Contentious rubbish? Possibly. But now the focus ...
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SASKIA– Where Are We Heading (Music Without Measure MWMCD009)

The second album as part of Griffiths-Moore’s deal with the Atlanta-based Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, again recorded at Abbey Road it’s an all acoustic set featuring guitars, double bass, mandolin and piano. Airily sung, Where Are We Heading opens with ‘Picture House’, the lyrics alternately having talking about a crowd ...
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WILL VARLEY – The Hole Around My Head (Yellow Cake) 

Singer/songwriter Will Varley has emerged with his first new material since 2018’s Spirit Of Minnie with ‘The Hole Around My Head’, the title track and first single from the album of the same name which will see release on October 15th. Varley is a known self-starter, having acted as his ...
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OVER THE MOON – Chinook Waltz (Borealis BCD275)

Over The Moon are Canadian roots/swing duo Suzanne Levesque and Craig Bignell who live in a ranch in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Their new album, Chinook Waltz, is released on October 29th. It’s rather good. Especially impressive is that there is a mix of covers and self-penned tracks ...
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DANNY GEORGE WILSON – Another Place (Loose Music)

Australian born Brit Americana singer Danny George Wilson’ s Another Place is a wonderfully weird concoction of folk and rock music that continuously stops time like a good Neil Young or Bob Dylan song. And for once, it also proves that I was right and some other guy was wrong ...
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ROB PETERS -The Moon That Thought It Was The Sun (Wafer Thin WATT 059)

Producer, songwriter, singer, and engineer, Birmingham born and based Peters has had a lengthy musical career, initially as the drummer with 70s fractured reggae-infused new wave experimentalists Dangerous Girls, as one half of We’ll Always Have Paris in the 90s, touring with the likes of Boo Hewerdine, Everything But The ...
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REG MEUROSS  HARBOTTLE & JONAS – Songs Of Love & Death (own label)

I’ve waited several decades for someone to use this title for an album - I’ve long thought that Songs Of Love & Death summed up a vast swathe of English traditional songs. I never expected Reg Meuross to be involved in such a project…Harbottle & Jonas, maybe…but Reg has gone ...
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DAN WALSH – Live At The Floodgate (own label)

We all tell jokes about banjo players even when we know better. But I’ll tell you this. See Dan Walsh on his current tour and you won’t be laughing. In fact, you’ll probably leave with a big smile on your face. Dan managed to record Live At The Floodgate in ...
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CARAVAN – It’s None Of Your Business (Madfish SMACD 1212)

Back in the late 60s and early 70s, Caravan, along with Soft  Machine, were the leading lights of the so-called Canterbury Scene, in effect a music press invention that tried to link together various musicians like Kevin Ayres, Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt who had some sort of connection, however ...
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SARAH MCQUAID – The St Buryan Sessions (Shovel And A Spade Records SAASCD002)

Many eagerly-anticipated tours were wrecked by the onset of that wretched pandemic, including an aborted six-week tour by Sarah McQuaid. Sarah and her long-time sound engineer and manager Martin Stansbury had long been considering a live album that would reflect Martin's awareness that "a transformation happened when she stepped on ...
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NATHAN EVANS FOX – Wasted Love (own label)

Raised in North Carolina and now based in Nashville, originally trained as a hospital chaplain, Wasted Love marks Fox’s fourth album which, written as his mother cared for his grandmother in her last days, embraces themes of unconditional love, loss and recharging our energy. While he brings a moderately uptempo ...
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MISHRA – Reclaim (Shedbuilt Records MSR005)

Reclaim is the second album from the global folk collective Mishra, it is a lovely relaxing collection original and traditional Indian influenced folk music and is “a joyous celebration of music’s ability to help us to connect to each other and the natural world around us”. Mishra are the writing ...
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KARINE POLWART AND DAVE MILLIGAN – Still As Your Sleeping (Autumn On Hudson Records)

Karine Polwart and pianist Dave Milligan’s Still As Your Sleeping, in a non-literal biblical sense, is metaphorically, as pure as the Euphrates River on the third day of creation. This is Scottish folk song crystal-clear river euphoria. It’s a lovely collection of traditional songs, as well as tunes by Karine ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Sense Of The Place (Stonehaven Folk Club SFC001)

Stonehaven, as our Scottish readers all know, is a coastal town south of Aberdeen. The Stonehaven Folk Club is one of the founders of the Folk-In-Crisis Fund and from that effort came Sense Of The Place, a collection of ten specially commissioned songs rooted in north-east Scotland. The writers are ...
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GRANNY’S ATTIC – The Brickfields (Grimdon Records GRICD005)

For their fourth album together, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, George Sansome and Lewis Wood have returned to their origins in that The Brickfields is a purely instrumental album. Personally, I find this a bit perverse given that Granny’s Attic includes two of the finest interpreters of traditional song of their generation but ...
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JINNWOO – Dreamcreatures (Square Leg Records)

Ben “Jinnwoo” Webb has been building a reputation over recent years both as a soloist and as a member of Bird In The Belly and Green Ribbons. Lockdown didn’t help and robbed me of the opportunity to hear the latter group on stage. Dreamcreatures is Jinwoo’s second solo album. The ...
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FRANK RICHARD – Rough Enough (own label)

Rough Enough is Frank Richard’s first album. That’s a pretty unusual statement when you discover that Richard's learnt guitar in his teenage years - taught by Tim Hardin for his first lesson - just outside Woodstock, where he’d travelled because Dylan and a bunch of other musicians were there. The ...
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ROSENBLUME – Rosenblume (Rosenblume Records)

Rosenblume’s self-titled album is a well-produced (with full backing band) collection of songs that glance with melodic memories at the American folk-rock sound of the 70’s. ‘Enough To Burn’ stakes a soulful gospel testimony with passionate vocals and a paintbrush of soft organ and harmonica. That is, until the tune ...
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KATY ROSE BENNETT- Alone On A Hill (Little House On The Hill Records, LHHCD01)

Written and recorded in her hillside home office/hallway studio while living in isolation on the rural fringes of Birmingham, Alone On A Hill (the title of which surely partially alludes to that line in that Beatles song) is quite simply just Bennett’s voice (and some body percussion), eleven songs variously ...
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DUIR – Drome (own label)

How to review a band that are unique? Perhaps two-in-one? One to try and capture the spirit of Duir; one which takes you through the new album, Drome? ----------------- To understand the world, we can travel widely, see different sights, undergo different experiences [the ‘Explorer’] …..or we can stay in ...
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SINGLES BAR 70 – a roundup of recent singles and EPs

Based outside L.A., AIR COOL JENNY are multi-instrumentalist Americana duo Helen Rose and Kramer Sanguinetti, the self-released First Flight being their debut EP, The Lost Bayou Ramblers drummer and producer Kirkland Middleton, bassist Bryan Webre and Brenden Moore on organ bringing Cajun-influenced rhythms to the party. Inspired by an old ...
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