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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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CORNER HOUSE – How Beautiful It’s Been (own label)

A transatlantic quartet comprising Orkney-born fiddler Louise Bichan and Americans Ethan Setiawan on mandolin, cellist and banjo player Casey Murray and frontman guitarist Ethan Hawkins who formed while studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, they draw on traditional Irish, Scottish, Appalachian and bluegrass influences. How Beautiful It’s Been ...
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CHANDRA CHAKRABORTY   SASKIA GRIFFITHS-MOORE -Together In Love And Separation (own label)

If you look at Together In Love And Separation and expect the sort of collaboration in which the two elements hardly interact, I can tell you now that you’d be very wrong. Saskia Griffiths-Moore is well-known to our readers but Chandra Chakraborty perhaps needs some introduction. She is a classical ...
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JAMES EDWYN AND THE BORROWED BAND – Highlights Of The Low Nights (Last Night From Glasgow)

Sometimes you see a little glimmer of a light in the distance. Sometimes, like a glow-worm, it fades if you look too closely or shine a light on it; sometimes, like the sun reflecting for a period on an open window, it gleams from a long way off but then, ...
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JULIE JULY BAND – Wonderland (Aurora Folk Records JJB22CD1)

Wonderland is the third CD from the Julie July Band, and the second to feature all-original material. It also features a relatively new, expanded line-up. Apart from Julie herself on vocals, and longstanding sideman Steve Rezillo on electric guitars and vocals, this line-up includes Caley Groves on acoustic guitar and ...
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SEONAID AITKEN ENSEMBLE – Chasing Sakura (own label SMA03)

There is a story behind Chasing Sakura which I will do my best to summarise. Sakura (cherry blossom) is, in Japan, a symbol of spring and rebirth and is celebrated in hanami, experienced by Seonaid when she lived in Tokyo. Some years ago she suffered a serious riding accident and ...
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BOO HEWERDINE – Understudy (Reveal 186 CDX)

“Age is just a number” is the opening line of ‘Magnets’, a sentiment that Boo Hewerdine seems to contradict with the rest of the song. It gave me the impression that he’s walking a very particular tightrope. Understudy is the rather self-deprecating title of his new album, a record that, ...
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ROB LEAR – Strange Days (own label)

A singer-songwriter from the Welsh valleys, Strange Days is Lear’s third album, the follow-up to 2016’s Motorcycle Heart and again produced by Simon Tassano, albeit with Rob sharing the credits, here adding djembe and trumpet to the mix. As before, it mingles American and folk to melodically infectious effect, the ...
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FELLOW PYNINS – Lady Mondegreen (own label)

Fellow Pynins’ Lady Mondegreen is an endlessly intriguing and very acoustically melodic Rorschach Ink Blot Test that resurrects and interprets the waters of ancient folk song magic. But, as the Greek guy Heraclitus once said, “You cannot step into the same river twice”. So, this record sings an old song; ...
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RORY MATHESON & GRAHAM RORIE – We Have Won The Land (own label RUMSO3CD)

I doubt the English language has any writing that better describes listening to wordless music than that in EM Forster’s fifth chapter of Howard’s End. “How interesting that row of people was! What diverse influences had gone to the making! Here Beethoven, after humming and hawing with great sweetness, said ...
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PAUL WALKER & KAREN PFEIFFER – Auf Wiedersehen, Me Duck (Crazy Moose Records CM04)

Based in Stoke–on-Trent, in some ways Walker and Pfeiffer are an Anglo-German version of Skinner and T’witch, mixing playfulness with serious social comment. Both sharing vocals, he on guitar and she on recorder, Irish flute and Tibetan cymbals, Auf Wiedersehen, Me Duck, their fourth album, also features contributions from Ciaran ...
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THE AMERICANS – Stand True (Loose Music)

Put simply: America is defined by its endless and very musical frontier. And The Americans’ new album, Stand True, plugs into that wide-open and always windy sagebrush soul with wonderful tunes, genuine passion, and clever arrangements that push beyond any pre-fab notion of roots Americana. This is throttle-open big screen ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – The Wonderful World Of Depressing Country Music (Righteous/Cherry Red PSALM23110)

How can you resist. As anyone with a passing interest in folk music knows, there are certain gloomy staples in the tradition, primarily maidens being misled - and usually murdered – by feckless nobles/sailors/soldiers, dispossession, and death (drowning, disease, war), but it’s positively happy clappy compared to country music where ...
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KATE RUSBY – 30 Happy Returns (PURE PRCO73)

To mark her 30th anniversary in the music business, as she did with 20, Rusby has revisited songs from her past albums, all but three featuring special guests kicking off doing a Paul Simon with Ladysmith Black Mambazo bringing their distinctive joyous township vibe to ‘We Will Sing’ from Ghosts, ...
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MICHAEL JOHNATHON – AfterBurn (PoetMan Records PMR70032)

Does the man never sleep? Subtitled Folk at Arena Level, AfterBurn, his nineteenth album is the second this year and ranges from a chugging strum to a 61-piece symphony orchestra. Dubbed songs of war, peace and power, it opens with ‘Techno-Folk’, a one take live recording with long neck banjo ...
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THE SHACKLETON TRIO – Mousehold (own label)

Comprising Georgia Shackleton (fiddle, vocals), Aaren Bennett (guitar) and Nic Zuppardi (mandolin and banjo), the East Anglian trio pay tribute to the titular  area of heathland and woodland which lies to the north-east of Norwich, the perky opening fiddle and mandolin-led track noting there’s ‘No Road Across Mousehold’ (though there ...
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FRAYA THOMSEN – Release (own label 002)

Fraya Thomsen is a Scottish harper, composer, singer and teacher who draws her musical inspirations from far and wide without ever allowing herself to be pigeonholed. Release began life as a commission for Celtic Connections and was recorded in this form in isolation during 2020. Fraya is as well known ...
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BOB FREY – Ghost (own label)

Midwest singer-songwriter Bob Frey’s new Ghost album is a sincerely whittled selection of whiskey-soaked and quite wonderful songs that bleed with Gothic folk campfire prayers. Bob has the emotional tightrope vocal delivery of the sadly late Bill Morrissey. That’s a huge idiosyncratic complement! And not only that, but to sort ...
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JILL JACKSON – Yours Aye (JJR002CD)

Jill Jackson releases Yours Aye on May 6th. Jackson has a twenty year career in the music industry – UK singles charts, performing on Top of the Pops, playing the likes of T in the Park and Glastonbury etc. Yours Aye is her sixth solo record. Her previous album, 2018’s ...
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NATALIE D-NAPOLEON – You Wanted To Be The Shore But Instead You Were The Sea (own label)

To give her her full name, Natalie Damjanovich-Napoleon is a self-described torch and twang singer-songwriter and poet from Fremantle in Western Australia and was one of the leading lights in the emergence of the country’s alternative country music scene.  Recorded in Santa Barbara three years ago with a single microphone ...
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KINNARIS QUINTET– This Too (own label KO002CD)

This Too is Kinnaris Quintet’s second album, and it feels like a bright, comforting smile in tough times. That’s not surprising, as the title comes from those timeless words of comfort – this too will pass. Kinnaris Quintet consists of five bright stars of Scottish music. Laura Wilkie, Aileen Reid, ...
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PAUL BOLGER – Hard Truth (Pillar Stone Productions PPCD002)

Hailing from Waterford in south-east Ireland, Hard Truth is animator, graphic novelist, songwriter and musician Bolger’s second album under his own name (he debuted as The Moss House in 1995) , four songs from which are remixed and remastered versions from 2018’s The Start Of It limited edition EP with ...
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WOLF & CLOVER – Twelvemonth & A Day (own label)

Wolf & Clover are a six-piece band based in Columbus, Georgia. In fact they are all associated with Columbus University and its music schools – these guys are serious musicians. Their main influence is Celtic, particularly Irish, and multi-instrumentalist Matthew McCabe admits that they are a “weird bunch” probably because ...
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HÒ-RÒ – New Moon (own label)

Hò-rò New Moon is a really nice sip of Moray’s finest Windswept Wolf Scottish ale, and it also colours (perhaps because of the melodic alcohol content!) the Robert Burns image on the old five-pound Scottish note in deeper and more vibrant hues. And it’s always nice to say that the ...
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WILLIAM WILLIAM RODGERS – William William Rodgers Sings The Yellow Pages (own label)

His stage name lifted from a line in John Cale’s ‘Paris 1919’ and at times reminiscent of Robert Wyatt, the  refreshingly eccentric singer-songwriter from Birmingham with a keen ear for despondent whimsy and melody makes his album debut with, William William Rodgers Sings The Yellow Pages, a delightful collection of ...
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PAUL BRADY – Maybe So (Proper Records PRPCD162)

I may as well confess that the nearest thing I’ve heard previously to a complete Paul Brady album was probably actually by The Johnstons. Well, The Johnstons did, from time to time, step quite a long way beyond their traditional roots (I rather liked their version of Brel’s ‘Port Of ...
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NICK HART – Sings Ten English Folk Songs (Roebuck Records RRCD003)

Following a logical mathematical progression from eight and nine, recorded during the first 2020 lockdown, Hart used the enforced isolation to explore different approaches to traditional song, expanding his usual stripped down arrangements to introduce harmonium, lyre, viols percussion and woodwinds to the canvas as he Sings Ten English Folk ...
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KESTON COBBLERS CLUB – Alchemy (own label)

Two years on from Siren, the Bromley indie-folk band four-piece formed by siblings Matthew and Julia Lowe and close friend Tom Sweet return, alongside Harry Stasinopoulos on drums with Rachel Lansky on viola in typically high-spirited form with Alchemy, an album based around folklore from their home town.  The scene is ...
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SARAH MARKEY – Leaving Lurgangreen (own label SMM001)

If I don’t give a CD its first spin in the car chances are that I’ll do so while doing some routine jobs and so it was with Leaving Lurgangreen. It passed the test with flying colours, repeatedly distracting me from what I was supposed to be doing to check ...
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EDWINA HAYES – Ruby Rose (own label TWIRL03CD)

Released last Christmas, this is something of a belated review but, given the ten years between albums (though she was part of The Miles Roses 2017 album), it seems a rather negligible delay and, besides which, coverage of Ruby Rose has been criminally sparse. Born in Ireland, raised in Preston ...
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PETE GOW – Leo (CLUBHOUSE Clubhousecruk0061CD)

While his debut solo album, Here There's No Sirens, didn’t stray too far from the  alt-country path of  Case Hardin, Leo sees a real musical swerve as he embraces his inner Meatloaf/Jim Steinman, especially in his enunciation and delivery, overlaid with The Dreaming Spires’ Memphis soul influences of producer Joe ...
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THE HAAR- Where Old Ghosts Meet (Under The Eaves UTE006)

The old ghosts that are meeting here are the songs. All traditional songs are old by definition but fashions change and most of these enjoyed their heyday in the 60s. The majority have stood the test of time but one or two have been consigned to the attic, although, as ...
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BEAU – Al Killem’s Final Show (Cherry Red AKFS1)

It’s been said before but it bears repeating that Trevor Midgley is a sociopolitical satirist cut from the same cloth and of the same mettle as Jonathan Swift and Jake Thakray and Al Killem’s Final Show, his thirteenth album for Cherry Red and the second born during the pandemic, is ...
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JOE BROUGHTON’S CONSERVATOIRE FOLK ENSEMBLE – Not Leaving Quietly (own label SAECD19)

If you haven’t heard Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble live you’ve missed one of the great spectacles that folk music has to offer. The fifty musicians are drawn from various courses at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and tours every year in the long vac so the musicians and the musical ...
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SINGLES BAR 77 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

NINA HARRIES is a singer, composer and double bass player from Northampton. Five years ago she released her debut solo album but most of her time is spent on various ensemble projects. Now she has released a six-track EP, Water. Nina pairs her bass with a slightly husky voice which ...
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ABIGAIL LAPELL – Stolen Time (Outside Music)

Toronto singer-songwriter Abigail Lapell’s Stolen Time is an (often) intimate collection of lovely tunes that touch countless melodic tributaries that course from deep water folk music traditions. Now, just so you know (and oh my!) Abigail’s voice dances with the equally emotive steps as those of Linda Thompson, Natalie Merchant, ...
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CHRIS BRAIN – Bound To Rise (Big Sun Records, BSR-001)

Bound To Rise is the quietly impressive debut album from Yorkshireman Chris Brain. His songs have a gentleness and ethereality, enhanced by his softly husky, smoky vocals coupled with delicate finger-picked guitar patterns based around his alternate tunings. The self-composed songs draw on the pastoral and the traditional, heavily centred ...
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EMÉT – Carlin’s Farm (AntiFragile Music)

Born just outside of Derry and now based in Calgary, accompanied by bassist Rónán McQuillan and drummer Matt Sloan, recorded in Belfast, Carlin’s Farm is the debut album from singer-songwriter Emmét McGonagle following a couple of well-received EPs. He cites Hozier, Cohen and Phoebe Bridgers among his influences and his ...
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BELSHAZZAR’S FEAST – That’s All Folkies! (WildGoose WGS437CD)

Paul Hutchinson and Paul Sartin have been entertaining us with sublime musicianship and comedy for more than two decades while at the same time pursuing their own projects – you may have heard of Bellowhead. Now they are calling it a day (until the first reunion) with an album drawn ...
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THE EXMOUTH SHANTY MEN – Tall Ships And Tavern Tales (WildGoose WGS438CD)

Tall Ships And Tavern Tales is essentially a studio recording of The Exmouth Shanty Men’s stage show, spread across two CDs. It was actually recorded in Lympstone church which gives just the right amount of natural reverb. Like many WildGoose recordings the sound is natural and retains a few rough(ish) ...
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GRAEME ARMSTRONG – You Are Free (own label)

Graeme Armstrong’s first solo album, You Are Free, is a gorgeous collection of original and traditional songs from the Scottish Borders. Perhaps, it isn’t for those folk fans who only enjoy the purest of Scots whiskey in a tuneful dram, as the songs are lightly seasoned with, besides the customary ...
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CERI JUSTICE – Walk In Shadow (own label)

Having released her punchy, rocky debut back in 2019, the Irish-blood Solihull singer-songwriter returns keeping the power still pretty much turned up with her vocals at times reminiscent of the raunchier side of Carol Decker. While playing live she has a band backing, Walk In Shadow is, save for strings ...
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YOKO PWNO – Part Machine (Skye Records SRCDX010)

Yoko Pwno released Part Machine on April 1st. This is the band’s second album following 2019’s Artefacts and they’ve added a couple more members on flute and tenor banjo to the fiddles, synths, percussion and guitar of their earlier work. Have you ever wondered what it might be like if ...
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THE WARDENS – Sold Out At The Ironwood (own label)

Does what it says on the tin. The Wardens are wardens, a trio of Canadian National Park Wardens who started playing in 2009.  Sold Out At The Ironwood is their third full length album and has led to a Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination. The themes of the Wardens’ songs ...
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THE BROTHERS GILLESPIE – The Merciful Road (own label)

Listening to The Brothers Gillespie’s third album, The Merciful Road, I found myself reflecting on why I love folk music. Of course, there are lots of reasons, but among them is a sense of place. In folk, it matters where a musician comes from, and it matters that James and ...
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TEMPEST – Going Home (Celtodelic)

Tempest’s new album, Going Home, is alive with Celtic and Scandinavian folk nuances, which are all framed with really nice electric eclectic gusto. It’s just an idea, but so many of these festival Celtic (and oft time punk!) bands just turn the amps to ten and then play really loud ...
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BAILEY BIGGER – Coyote Red  (Madjack)

Touted as the next big thing from Memphis (though she’s now back living in smalltown Marion, Arkansas), Bigger’s debut album, Coyote Red,  is a hugely infectious, melodically catchy collection of country Americana sung in an appealing reedy voice occasionally reminiscent of Judy Collins with an ear for that old time ...
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PARIS TO KYIV – Prairie Nights And Peacock Feathers (Olesia Productions)

Paris To Kyiv’s still pertinent Prairie Nights And Peacock Feathers was released in 2000, and in their own words, fuses Ukrainian music with “Medieval Slavic chants, dance tunes inspired by Carpathian Mountain fiddlers and blind bandura players, original compositions, and (of course) ancient songs with roots in the Neolithic”. Indeed, ...
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HANNAH SANDERS & BEN SAVAGE – Ink Of The Rosy Morning (Topic TSCD610)

I was captivated from the moment I first heard the single and opening track of this album. The powerful harmonies of ‘Winter’s Night’ set the scene for what is to come on Ink Of The Rosy Morning. It’s a fine song in any version I’ve heard but Hannah and Ben ...
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SINGLES BAR 76 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Currently on the English Folk Expo artist scheme, BEN & DOM are an a cappella vocal duo (the former the high notes, the latter the low) from South London, their debut self-released EP Shoulder a collection of self-penned, traditional folk styled songs about male expression, covering themes such as friendship, ...
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THE WEATHER STATION – How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars (Fat Possum Records)

The Weather Station’s album How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars simmers with the very personal 70’s folk music purity that (long ago!) required vinyl-grooved patience but also rewarded with counter-culture dividends of introspection, intense beauty, and a fierce devotion to any artist who wrote songs about ...
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ANNA HOWIE – The Friday Night Club (INHOUSECD1)

The Friday Night Club is Anna Howie’s debut album, to be released on March 25th. Its title is born from lockdown – Howie livestreamed every Friday at 6:30 and apparently went on to have two million views of the streams. It’s not a surprise, the album has eleven original songs ...
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LANDON LLOYD MILLER – Light Shines Through (own label)

Texas singer-songwriter Landon Lloyd Miller’s Light Shines Through is a warm and joyous folk rock record that simply spins with wonderful sonic bliss that, from time to time, passes (with hope eternal!) into that dark side of humanity’s moon. The first song, ‘Light Is Growing’, has a Paul Simon vibe, ...
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TOM DELANY – The Lark’s Call (own label)

The Lark’s Call, is the debut solo album from uillean piper Tom Delany, and it’s one for the purist. No fusion or electronic wizardry here – just Irish traditional music, on traditional instruments, and played beautifully. The quality of the musicianship is no surprise because – although this is a ...
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TRACK DOGS – Where To Now? (Monde Green MGRD122)

Based in Madrid and now entering their 16th year together, the quartet follow up 2019’s Fire On The Rails with a dozen songs and a dozen guests for an album, Where To Now?, their seventh under this name, that is equally introspective and upbeat. They kick off in latter mode ...
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EMMA GALE – Emma Gale (By Example Records BEX1)

A self-described accidental indie folk artist, the Dorset born singer-songwriter’s debut album (her background includes acoustic covers duo/trio Galeforce) started out as an eclectic cocktail of styles before gradually transforming into different shades of Americana. Produced by Boo Hewerdine, who also contributes alongside Chris Pepper, Melvin Duffy, Tanya Brittain, Robbie ...
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IONA LANE – Hallival (own label ILR001CD)

Iona Lane was brought up in the high country. Living in the Yorkshire Dales, holidaying in Scotland, she thanks her parents for dragging her up hills as a child. Her upbringing has now found its voice in her debut album, Hallival, named after a mountain on the Isle of Rum ...
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IAN NOE – River Fools & Mountain Saints (Thirty Tiger Records)

Ian Noe’s River Fools & Mountain Saints is a blessing to lovers of dirt road Americana music – performed with a voice that’s a melodic concoction of whisky and sawdust. It’s all here: patched blue jeans melodies, friendly diner conversations over a cup of coffee, a few loyal handshakes, respect ...
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PAXTON & MORRIS – Is It Safe Out There? (own label PCMCD001)

Is It Safe Out There? Well, is it safe out there? That’s a question we have all been asking for the past two years and here’s another. Why do Maggie Kenny and Drew Wegg call themselves Paxton & Morris? I had to ask and it transpires that Paxton and Morris ...
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EMILY BARKER & LUKAS DRINKWATER – Room 882 (Cooking Vinyl Australia)

Arriving in Australia to visit her family for the first time in two years, Emily and husband Lukas had to spend 14 days in their Perth hotel room under Covid quarantine regulations. So, to pass the time, he suggested recording an album: Room 882. So armed with their guitar and ...
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M ROSS PERKINS – E Pluribus M Ross (Karma Chief KCR-12012)

Singer, multi-instrumentalist and self-styled psychedelic songwriter, M Ross Perkins, recently finalized work on his second LP, E Pluribus M Ross. Set for a March 18th release, the album serves as a follow-up to 2018’s What Did You Do For Summer Break EP. From the offset, the Liverpudlian elephant in the ...
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