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.


All recent review and features posts below (where available) can be ordered below through our UK or US Storefront 

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD

Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


SKERRYVORE – Live Across Scotland (Tyree Records TYREE10CD)

Skerryvore’s Live Across Scotland exemplifies the Ian Hunter album title, You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic. This record captures the Skerryvore ethos: sizzling big group Scottish electric folk and pulsing arena songs with a nod toward the memorable hooks of (perhaps) Supertramp, with a sometimes (pleasant)) country vibe. But let ...
Read More

MATT HILL – Savage Pilgrims (Quiet Loner QLRCD001)

Originally trading as Quiet Loner, now the name of his label, the politically-driven Nottingham-born singer-songwriter made his album debut in 2004 with Secret Rulers of the World topping the UK Americana charts, Since then,. He’s released a further three albums, played countless gigs, had a year long songwriting residency at ...
Read More

ANDY & JUDY – This Road (own label)

Andy and Judy Daigle are from Bridgewater, Massachusetts. I actually missed the MA in their letterhead at first and I was expecting a duo from Somerset. D’uh! They have been a fixture in their part of New England for more than a decade, writing, performing and recording albums of which ...
Read More

OLD-TIME PHARMACEUTICALS – Roots & Honey (own label)

Old-Time Pharmaceuticals’ Roots & Honey is a really hip audio textbook of folk songwriting. The band cite Pete Seeger, Carter Family, The Clancy Brothers (more about whom later!), and Stan Rogers (he of ‘Forty-Five Years’, ‘Barrett’s Privateers’, ‘Northwest Passage’, and ‘Lies’, fame!) as influences. Sure. This one hits that arched ...
Read More

JOHNNY STEINBERG – Shadowland (own label JS032020)

It may stem from the Highland Clearances but there is an affinity, an empathy between Scotland and the USA. They don’t make a huge fuss about it but remember that Andrew Carnegie came from Cromarty and look what he did for New York. Shadowland is part of that link. It’s ...
Read More

WILL HOGE – Tiny Little Movies (Edlo/Thirty Tigers)

Will Hoge’s Tiny Little Movies spins on an asphalt bumped Americana road that still hopes for brand new concrete. That’s the gist of America: We have an insatiable thirst for salvation and a penitent promise to pray, but we just can’t cough up enough holy water to ever say, “Amen” ...
Read More

KEVIN HENDERSON & NEIL PEARLMAN – Burden Lake (own label KEVHENCD02)

Kevin Henderson is a Shetland fiddler player. At age fourteen he was a founder member of Fiddlers’ Bid and he released an impressive solo album nine years ago. Since then he has performed with Boys Of The Lough, Session A9 and Nordic Fiddlers Bloc – quite a CV. Neil Pearlman ...
Read More

MARIE FIELDING – The Spectrum Project (Rumford Records RUMCD04)

I’m sure it wasn’t Marie Fielding’s intention to give us an album to cheer us up in these dark times but reading her notes it does seem that she was searching for positivity in the making of The Spectrum Project. I would say that she has succeeded admirably. This record ...
Read More

SINGLES BAR 53 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

CORRIE SHELLEY has released a digital only EP, Ghost Light.  It begins with the unaccompanied ‘Mother Earth’ sung live in an otherwise empty church to provide just enough atmospheric echo. It’s almost a hymn to our planet coupled with a plea to stop screwing it up. ‘Wedgwood’s Daughter’ is the ...
Read More

BLUEBYRD – Find Your Way (own label)

An unsigned indie folk duo based in Stoke/Wolverhampton, Chris Rowley provides vocals and guitar while Gareth Pask handles keyboards. Find Your Way, their second album, kicks off with the gently fingerpicked title track, a call for guidance on strange times and “my compass don’t work/It don’t find home”, be that ...
Read More

SWAMPMEAT FAMILY BAND – Muck (PNKSLM Recordings)

There seems to be a swell of Americana coming out of Birmingham (UK, not Alabama) at present, what with My Darling Clementine (though, admittedly they’ve since relocated to Manchester), Another Thread and Hannah Johnson and the Broken Hearts, and now, here’s another. Formed around Dan Finnemore and T-Bird Jones, it ...
Read More

MHAIRI HALL – Airs (Strath Records, STRATH003CD)

2020 Hands Up For Trad Ignition Award for Innovation In Music winner, Scottish pianist Mhairi Hall has released her third album, Airs. Interweaving contemporary classical, traditional and ambient sounds, Airs has a transcendental quality as well as a strong sense of place. Working inwards from the title, ‘Airs’ encompasses historic ...
Read More

MOLLY MAHER – Follow (Real Phonic Records)

Molly Maher’s Follow is a folk album that, to quote the great Vin Garbutt, is “Tossin’ a Wobbler”. Now, Louie Perez of Los Lobos said of the record, “She combines simplicity and heartfelt melody and creates something that is equally haunting and hypnotic. I can’t stop listening. Bravo!”. Now (again!), ...
Read More

INDIGO GIRLS – Look Long (Rounder)

Indigo Girls are Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. I was surprised to find that the new album, Look Long, is their sixteenth studio album and that their first album was in the late 80’s. My recollection is that I first came across them at a festival, on my way to ...
Read More

THE LONGEST JOHNS – Cures What Ails Ya (own label)

Aware that shanties and other maritime songs can often be earnest fare, the Bristol-based four piece have opted to take an often irreverent and playful approach to the tradition, sometimes a capella, at others with basic instrumentation, combining standards with their own, often, tongue in cheek material. It’s one of ...
Read More

THE HUERS – Welcome On Board (own label)

Now, here’s a bit of fun. A duo from the North West comprising Ian Cleverdon and Phil Caffrey whose instrumentation includes cello-mandolin and cuatro, for their fourth album, Welcome On Board, they opted to give a folksy makeover to an eclectic choice of covers, two of which are studio versions ...
Read More

MINNIE BIRCH – You’re Not Singing Anymore Volume 1 (own label)

Sometime member of Said The Maiden and The Company Of Players as well an an established solo artist, the Herefordshire- based folk singer-songwriter also happens to have a passion for football. She brings the two together here on this inspired concept that draws on the communal singing that characterises football ...
Read More

Ms AMY BIRKS – All That I Am And & All That I Was (own label)

I first encountered Stoke-On-Trent born and currently Staffordshire-based Amy in 2016 as part of prog-folk ensemble The Beatrix Players, since which time they’ve gone their separate ways and she’s assembled this debut solo collection, All That I Am And & All That I Was, which features herself on piano alongside ...
Read More

GEORGE SANSOME  – George Sansome (Grimdon Records GRICD002)

Every so often someone decides to go back to basics and it’s so good to hear. So it is with George Sansome, no novice after ten years with Granny’s Attic and now breaking out as a soloist. He tackles ten traditional songs with just his voice and guitar plus the ...
Read More

THE VILLAGE – Escape From The Witchwood (own label)

The Village is the pseudonym of Phil Matthews; singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Derbyshire native. Actually he doesn’t hide his real identity that well; surely he knows that classic super-heroes valued that above all else. I only mention this because one track on Escape From The Witchwood is called ‘Trapped Inside ...
Read More

KEVIN HUNT – Devil’s Daughter (own label KHCD101)

Despite writing songs for over twenty years and a lengthy career on the folk circuit, it’s only now that the Irish-born singer-songwriter is releasing his debut album, Devil’s Daughter. Joined by long-time collaborator Ian Pearson on violin alongside go to double bassist John Parker, Dan Wilde on guitars, piano and ...
Read More

PADDY DENNEHY – Little Light (Paddy Dennehy)

Bless me father: Paddy Dennehy’s Little Light is a melodic cold shave of a folk record that is riddled with religion and nervy doubt. He’s Irish, but don’t expect the sensitivity of Christy Moore or Paul Brady. Well, there may well be a bit of Sinead O’ Connor, and that’s ...
Read More

THE MAGPIES – Tidings (own label)

A female folk supergroup of musicians, originating as a duo in 2017 with singer-songwriter Bella Gaffney and mandolin wizard Polly Bolton, they expanded to include fiddle player Holly Brandon and Sarah Smout on cello and thus The Magpies took wing, Tidings referring to a group of such birds. Having established ...
Read More

LUNATRAKTORS – This Is Broken Folk (own label BKNFLK 1 CD)

They call it post-apocalyptic folk. Imagine that all technology is gone and all that is left is the human voice and the ability to bang the rocks together – This Is Broken Folk is the perfect title. Carli Jefferson, percussionist, dancer, choreographer and member of STOMP met vocalist Clair Le ...
Read More

TEDDY THOMPSON – Heartbreaker Please (Chalky Sounds)

Heartbreaker Please, released on May 29th, is Teddy Thompson’s sixth album. As you might expect from the title, it’s an album about relationship break up. While some of the music is Thompson’s natural sadder, slower style, he has deliberately written up-tempo songs, “I tried to make an effort here to ...
Read More

THE HAAR – The Haar (Nimbus Alliance NI6404)

Very rarely does an album appear unheralded and threaten to make a major impact. The Haar is one of those rarities. It appears that Cormac Byrne, percussionist to the gentry, and his musical partner Adam Summerhayes were on holiday in Ireland when they heard Molly Donnery singing in a pub ...
Read More

ELLE OSBORNE – If You See A Rook On Its Own, It’s A Crow (9th House)

Since I first heard Elle Osborne she’s fallen in with a good crowd – friends like Alasdair Roberts and Trembling Bells – moved from interpreting traditional songs to being a fully fledged songwriter and polished her performances a bit. Don’t get me wrong: So Slowly, Slowly Got She Up is ...
Read More

ROLY WITHEROW – Ballads And Yarns (own label)

Roly Witherow is a well known and successful composer for film and television but he is now making his mark with the critics in quite a different field. His first solo album, Ballads And Yarns, is a collection of modern and traditional folk songs recorded in his home studio in ...
Read More

MARTIN HARLEY – Roll With The Punches (Del Mundo DM007)

Martin Harley’s Roll With The Punches  plays a good game of Chess, the Chicago blues record label that is, not the game with pawns, kings, and queens. And this is a slide guitar lover’s paradise recorded in “a remote chapel deep in the wilds of Pembrokeshire”. Yeah, this is British ...
Read More

AVOCET – Lend Your Garden (Mink Records)

The Scottish trio’s name taken from Bert Jansch’s 1979 album, the music crafted by Iona Zajac on Celtic harp (clarsach), guitarist Sam Grassie and double bassist Herbie Loening also often recalls the jazz, folk and blues cocktail of Jansch’s influential first band, Pentangle. Variously accompanied by Guillermo Martín-Viana on percussion, ...
Read More

HANNAH WHITE AND THE NORDIC CONNECTIONS – Hannah White & The Nordic Connections (Paper Blue Records)

Hannah White And The Nordic Connections self-titled album follows up her excellent 2018 album Elephant Eye. If you’re wondering about the name, this is an Anglo-Norwegian Americana band which came together after a meet up between Hannah and the Norwegian super group The Connections in a Bergen bread factory. There ...
Read More

LIZZY HARDINGHAM – Seven (own label)

A Merseyside background and her family’s strong support of the RNLI, both served to afford shanties and sea songs extra resonance to Hardingham in her formative years performing folk music. And now the tide has come in to wash up this marine-themed mini-album that, the title referring to the seven ...
Read More

DUIR – The Stout Guardian Of The Door 2020 Remaster (DUIR-OAK-CD-004)

Duir are unique. I’m torn between Ralph Waldo Emerson unique, “Insist on yourself; never imitate.” and Henry David Thoreau unique, “I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion”. But of course, they are neither, they are Duir unique. Last year Duir released Sodden Dogs ...
Read More

FIONA ROSS & SHANE O’MARA – Sunwise Turn (own label FRSOM164)

In these strange times it took this album six weeks to arrive from Australia. I’d almost forgotten about it and I’m sure that Fiona Ross had given up hope of ever hearing from me again. But arrive it did and I’m very pleased about that. Sunwise Turn is a collection ...
Read More

CHARLIE DORE – Like Animals (Black Ink Records Catalogue BICD10)

Like Animals is Charlie Dore’s tenth album and I was chuffed to bits when it dropped through the letterbox this morning, though somewhat daunted by the thought of having to write a review for such an established artist. Having had a taste of what was to come at the recent ...
Read More

TERES AOUTES STRING BAND – Courenta & Cadillac (WMMusic Italia)

The Italian band Teres Aoutes String Band released Lo Rock’n Roll De La Mountagna in 2018, essentially stringed instruments reinterpreting the music of the Italian mountains. They’re back again having recently released Courenta & Cadillac which is both more of the same – more “dances and songs of the Western ...
Read More

ROOTDOGS – Live (Circle Of Sound)

Rootdogs got together in 1997 under the auspices of Roger Watson’s TAPS project. The original line-up was Mark T. on guitars and vocals; vocalist Fran Wood, bassist Keith Holloway and, on percussion, Mysterious Bob – don’t ask, I’ve already tried. Later Paul Critchfeld replaced Holloway and Paul Midgely and Greg ...
Read More

LUCINDA WILLIAMS – Good Souls Better Angels (Thirsty Tigers Records)

Lucinda Williams’ Good Souls Better Angels rocks all the really decent souls out of their Sleepy Hollow graves and lets them all dance one more time. Just so you know, Better Angels is a (sometimes) harsh follow-up to the quiet and spooky The Ghosts Of Highway 20. Now, I may ...
Read More

STEVE CRAWFORD & SPIDER MACKENZIE – Celticana (own label)

Imagine a sound entirely its own (there’s a brilliant track about a ceilidh) but reminding you of early 70’s Laurel Canyon but additionally with some classic harmonica playing across the whole album. Celticana – the very name links Scotland to Americana – is released on June 1st and is Steve ...
Read More

SINGLES BAR 52 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Fiddle player RACHEL BAIMAN returns in company with Vermont singer-songwriter MIKE WHEELER, put together while he was renting a room from them near their Nashville home, for a three-track digital EP, The “Countin On You” Sessions, indeed he actually played his waltzing self-penned opening duet title track as the first ...
Read More

DAVID GRUBB – Nano (Shake’Um’Dud)

David Grubb is a musician who doesn’t play by anybody else’s rules; a fiddle player with roots in traditional music and a composer with a taste for contemporary music and jazz. Nano, his second solo album, comprises just five tracks as originally released in digital form but there is news ...
Read More

THE MAMMALS – Nonet (Humble Abode Music HAM 018)

The Mammals’ Nonet is a warm (with a big organic vibe and nine-piece ensemble) folk album that touches a bit of rock and gospel and floats in its signature sound of (the usual) vocals and guitar, but is also coloured with a rather original brush of sweeping organ, fiddle, and ...
Read More

REELY JIGGERED – Tricky Terrain (own label RJ32020)

Although Tricky Terrain is their third album, this is the first time that Reely Jiggered have come to my attention. The Clydeside trio are sisters Alison and Fiona McNeill and their cousin Scott McLean and they work in a diverse range of styles fusing the musical influences they have picked ...
Read More

ELIZABETH & JAMESON – Northern Shores & Stories (own label 0793618108441)

Most of our readership will recognise the view that illustrates Northern Shores & Stories; indeed many will have climbed those steps. The first sound we hear is that very sea and it recurs along with other field recordings throughout the album. Hannah Elizabeth and Griff Jameson are two of the ...
Read More

SINGLES BAR 51 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Making waves on the Suffolk acoustic scene, HOLLY D JOHNSTON bids for a wider audience with her self-released new EP, Illusive Harmony. Hattie Bennett on cello, the airily pastoral fingerpicked modal guitar of ‘Eve’s Kind’ opens things up, her pure voice reminiscent of the young Judy Collins (indeed, ‘My Father’ ...
Read More

LISA MARINI – Born In Tribes (own label)

Lisa Marini’s Born In Tribes is filled with music that has been “summoned by a foolish magpie”. And what a wonderful sound that is to hear! My native state of Wisconsin derives its name from the Chippewa-Ojibwa-Anishinake word Ouiscoundin, which means “a gathering of waters”. Now, Lisa Marini’s album, Born ...
Read More

LOUISE JORDAN – Florence (Azania AZA06CD)

May 12 marks the bicentennial anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, the legendary Lady of the Lamp renowned for her service among the troops during the Crimean War, although there was much more to her life than that, indeed she only spent two years as a nurse. To mark the occasion ...
Read More

PAUL J BOLGER – Paul J Bolger (WIR 018-2)

Paul J Bolger last released an album twenty-five years ago. In the interim he has been working in visual arts and film rather than music. Over the past five years, what reads like the lighting of a slow-burning fuse brought him back into music through a combination of chance encounters ...
Read More

ANDREW HIBBARD – Andrew Hibbard (Sofaburn)

Born in Hamilton, Ohio, Andrew Hibbard clearly sports a Dylan influence, perhaps rather too obviously so at times on numbers such as ‘Sweet Song’ and ‘I’m Coming Over’ where his slurred nasal whine suggests more of a tribute act than an acolyte. That said, however, this, his third album, is ...
Read More

SALLY IRONMONGER & BRIAN CARTER – Sketches (own label)

The first song of this album, ‘Just A Song’, is such a perfect opener for a live set that I was almost surprised not to hear applause at the end. Sally Ironmonger & Brian Carter are a singer/songwriter duo from the Medway area – Brian is a mean guitarist, too ...
Read More

DOUGIE BURNS – Martha (own label DBCD-001)

An Inverness-based music journalist, author and singer-songwriter who also front seven piece outfit Dougie Burns & The Cadillacs, Burns is a familiar figure on the Scottish music scene, Martha being his second solo album. Dedicated to his mother, hence the title, it mixes country, blues, Americana and gospel and features ...
Read More

KIRSTY MERRYN – Our Bright Night (own label)

Against my expectations, One Bright Night drew me in and proceeded to seduce me. Kirsty Merryn is a singer/songwriter originally from the New Forest who is deeply rooted in traditional music as this, her second album, amply demonstrates. It’s complicated in a simple way with support from producer Alex Alex ...
Read More

PAUL COWLEY – Brandéha (Lou B Music LBM 006 2020)

I really liked Paul Cowley's 2018 album Just What I Know: it showed him to be a very competent singer and guitarist with an unusually authentic feel for country blues, both as an interpreter of songs by classic artists and in terms of extending that gift into his own blues-soaked ...
Read More

ELEANOR DATTANI – Darkness Into Light (Naplew Productions)

A Birmingham singer-songwriter, pianist and music teacher, Darkness Into Light is Eleanor's second album, the first since her debut (as Eleanor Williams) ten years ago and, recorded in her living room, was, as she says in the notes, written to help her recover from severe post-natal depression and post-natal psychosis ...
Read More

TOM FAIRNIE – Lightning In The Dark (own label ESK010)

Based in Edinburgh, but the album recorded in Austin with session players who’ve worked with the likes of Dylan, Cash, Willie and Jackson, Lightning In The Dark is Fairnie’s sixth solo album, largely written with Bob Shiels and which produced what Merel Bregante describes as Celticana with its mix of ...
Read More

THE DANBERRYS – Shine (Singular Recordings)

The Danberrys’ Shine is filled with spooky Americana old time medicine show stuff. This record carves a deep wagon wheel groove, like (the world famous!) Hamlin’s Wizard Oil Company, who brought music and happy times to the masses, and also sold its Wizard Oil, an alleged cure for just about ...
Read More

PHARIS AND JASON ROMERO – Bet On Love (Lula Records Lula-CD-2006)

Pharis and Jason Romero have released six albums but Bet On Love is only their second collection of all original songs. Their previous albums have won significant awards including two Junos, Canada’s annual music awards. Bet On Love was recorded in the duo’s banjo shop in British Colombia. Pharis is ...
Read More

SAM SLATCHER – Chaos & Solitude (own label)

When other artists are postponing their album releases, Sam Slatcher has brought his forward. It’s not a bad idea – he has a clear playing field as far as reviewers are concerned. Chaos & Solitude is his first full-length solo album although he is far from a newcomer, being a ...
Read More

JUNE TABOR & OYSTERBAND – Fire & Fleet (A Tour Momento) (Running Man)

As the title would suggest,  Fire & Fleet is a (limited edition) record of last year’s tour, although, not strictly a live document since four of the tracks are actually studio recordings. However, taking those from the tour first, variously recorded at Treorchy and Exeter and Gloucester Cathedrals and loaded ...
Read More

DYLAN McCARTHY – Lost & Found (own label)

Dylan McCarthy’s Lost & Found has deep bluegrass roots. But, ultimately, the album is a wonderful slice of instrumental music. You know, America’s a weird place that dances with a quickstep, a secure waltz, and, sometimes, a Great Depression stare. America’s a gamble - with no limit, just like the ...
Read More