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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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SLAP GURU – Umashi’s Odyssey (Sixteentimes Music)

This isn’t folk music, but Pete Seeger still wouldn’t want to cut the power cables from Slap Guru’s new album, Umashi’s Odyssey. In truth, at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, he simply said, (according to a May 11 2013 article in Something Else) “I was furious because the sound was ...
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INDIA ELECTRIC CO. – The Gap (Shoelay Music SHMU34)

The problem is that I think I’ve said everything I really need to say about India Electric Co. at least twice. Joseph O’Keefe and Cole Stacey are an enigma: why is an album called The Gap illustrated by a campervan, albeit an upmarket one? Indeed, why is it called The ...
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GORDON THOMAS WARD – Eiderdown Vols 1 & 2 (own label)

While this 2-CD set is his third studio album, I have to admit it’s the first time I’ve come across the Maine-based singer-songwriter who, aside from being a musician is also a published author of four nature/travel books, two about the Somerset Hills of New Jersey where he grew up, ...
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TERENCE BLACKER – Playing For Time (Talking Cat TCCD 1901)

They do say that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Alternatively, I’ve heard that the older we get, the better we were. Somewhere between those two truths lies Terence Blacker’s new album, Playing For Time. It was recorded in Italy with local musicians which might account for ‘Europa, Mein ...
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DAPHNE’S FLIGHT – On Arrival (Fat Cat Records FATCD043)

There’s an earthiness about Daphne’s Flight’s third studio album, On Arrival, that I really like. All the songs are written or co-written by the five members of the group adding to the feeling of realism. The set opens with Helen Watson’s ‘Turn The Microphones Off’ and you can read a ...
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MOONRAKERS – Ebb & Flow (own label)

There has been a line-up change since the previous Moonrakers’ album with Jacqui Johnson’s cello and harmonium replacing Liz van Santen. This change gives Ebb & Flow a bass voice but also provides the albums opening notes with Richard Fariña’s ‘Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’ which is paired with one of ...
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TOM KITCHING – Seasons Of Change (Talking Cat TCCD 2001)

If you want to know more about Tom Kitching’s Busk England project please follow the links below but for now we’ll concentrate on the Seasons Of Change CD – the part that Tom calls the self-indulgent half. Tom is a fiddler in the English style and a versatile player, equally ...
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SHAYLER & BROOKE – Come The Turn Of The Season (own label SB001CD)

Come The Turn Of The Season is the debut full-length album by Kate Shayler and Chris Brooke following an EP, Colouring Outside The Lines. Kate is from London, which is where the duo met and Chris is a Dorset expatriate and that fact will be important later. Kate plays banjo ...
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BLAKELEY & SON – Nuts & Bolts (Little-e Records)

Blakeley & Son’s Nuts & Bolts is (with the help of a feast of friends1) a colourful web of a folk record. Not only that, but after all these years, it puts to use all that algebra I had to retake, year after year, with very little success. Case in ...
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BEAU – The Magic Of Public Relations (Cherry Red BEAUTMOPR1)

Back in the day, when he was signed to John Peel’s Dandelion label, Trevor Midgley was very much part of the 60s protest folk troubadour tradition, following in the footsteps of such names as Paxton, Ochs and Dylan. The past decades have, however, seen him take on more the role ...
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TOM KITCHING – Seasons Of Change (Scratching Shed Publishing)

Tom Kitching is, if you need reminding, a fiddle player, a former musical partner of Gren Bartley and a founder member of Pilgrim’s Way. In 2018 he decided to interleave his regular work with a busking tour of England and compile a blog as he travelled. Seasons Of Change is ...
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CHRIS RICKETTS – Songs In The Key Of Sea (Acoustic Fusion AF04)

Chris Ricketts: singer, songwriter, shantyman, cruise ship entertainer – don’t knock it as a way of honing your trade – is back from far oceans with a new album. Songs In The Key Of Sea is his fourth album and his first for seven years. Regular sidesmen Steve Hampton and ...
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THE LOWEST PAIR – The Perfect Plan (Delicata Records DEL001)

I'm not averse to the occasional joke about banjos and banjoists, but when it comes to The Lowest Pair, I start to feel guilty. Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee are both such talented and innovative banjo players – and much else besides. I enthused about their 2016 albums Uncertain ...
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FINDLAY NAPIER & GILLIAN FRAME WITH MIKE VASS – The Ledger (Cheery 008)

Sometimes something crosses your desk which is just classy. The Ledger is one of those things. The album is due to be released on May 1st and is a rather special piece of work by Findlay Napier and Gillian Frame - with Mike Vass (the latter both in the studio ...
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MOONSHINE REBELS – Moonshine Rebels (1052355 Records DK)

Well, Moonshine Rebels are from Manchester, but they manage a pretty great Celtic tune. By the way, apparently Jenny had some chickens, which caught the glance of main Rebels Paul Sudlow and Sam McGrady (of Run Out The Guns fame), who composed and arranged traditional tunes for this record. The ...
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BEN MORGAN-BROWN – Live In Lancashire (own label)

With physically going out and earning a living by playing to audiences currently not an option, many artists are making downloads of live recordings available, the latest being Exeter-based, Purbeck Rising 2019 winner fingerpicking singer-songwriter Morgan-Brown, either as a high-quality digital download or as a Limited Edition CDR version of ...
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JACK SHARP – Good Times Older (From Here Records SITW015CD)

Any album from the From Here stable is worth a hearing and Good Times Older is no exception. Jack Sharp has spent thirteen years as front man of psych-rock band Wolf People so you might well ask what he’s doing releasing a solo album of mostly traditional songs. The answer ...
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HARBOTTLE & JONAS – Live At Acoustic Roots (own label)

While their planned tour fell victim to CoVid 19, Live At Acoustic Roots, recorded in Wigan on March 7 this year and available for download from Bandcamp, offers welcome compensation, even if doesn’t feature the three-member line up that would have been out on the road at some of the ...
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BORIS McCUTCHEON – As Old As Española (FVR-091)

You can’t help but have a good feeling about an album which is accompanied by a note that says “Note from the artist: For the most part the album rocks and needs to be played very loudly”. Boris McCutcheon’s new album, As Old As Española, is released on April 24th ...
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SINGLES BAR 50 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

LA-based British musician LUKE SITAL-SINGH joins forces with a clutch of fellow singer-songwriters for his new EP, New Haze (Raygun), the opening track being the simple reflective strum of  ‘Almost Home’ a road song co-write with Steve Aeillo paradoxically from Sital-Singh’s first ever session after moving out to LA. A ...
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ELIZA CARTHY & BEN SEAL – Through That Sound (My Secret Was Made Known) (Hem Hem HHR202001)

A collaboration with the Fife-based composer, musician, songwriter and producer, and who would have been part of the Restitute tour before the cancellations, Through That Sound  is either her eleventh solo album or her sixth as a duo partnership, whichever perspective you choose. Either way, a collection of new (albeit ...
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ADAM AMOS & NOEL ROCKS – Back Up To Zero (own label ARBR001)

Amos and Rocks recorded two well-received albums in the 1980s but little has been heard from them as a duo since Adam moved abroad, apart from two sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015. In 2019, however, Adam returned home to Scotland, and they started working on their ...
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JOHN CEE STANNARD – Folk Roots Revisited (Cast Iron Records)

John Cee Stannard’s Folk Roots Revisited is a wonderful flashback to the land of British singer-songwriter, circa 1970. But, oddly enough, it also nests nicely with the current (Bon Iver inspired!) love of authentic heartfelt acoustic music. It’s just like (the great) Richard Thompson wrote so long ago, “If you ...
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NAVARO – Diamond Skies & Desert Roads (Leading Horses Records LHREC05)

With their debut album, Under Diamond Skies, no longer obtainable Navaro have decided to make a selection from it available on-line and I must admit it’s been a pleasure to hear these first tracks again. You don’t get much time to listen just for fun in this game. There are ...
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THE PINE HEARTS – Back To Sustain (own label)

The Pine Hearts are a string-band trio from Washington state: Joey Capoccia, who plays guitar and writes the band’s original material, Derek McSwain playing mandolin and Dean Shakked on upright bass. Back To Sustain, their 5th album is a stripped back affair comprising previously recorded songs; just three voices and ...
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PETE MORTON – A Golden Thread (Further003)

Five years on from The Land of Time, the Leicester-born folkie returns with his fourteenth studio album, A Golden Thread: eight new self-penned songs, a brace of traditionals and the Pete Seeger title cover, with musical assistance from Sarah Matthews on strings, Matt Quinn providing mandolin, banjo and concertina, double ...
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ROBERT SEVERIN – Postcard From Budapest (RSM001)

Robert Severin is a British-Hungarian, Glasgow-based, singer songwriter who has just released his debut album, Postcard From Budapest. The album is a very personal response to events from Severin’s family history, events which are also landmarks in European history: the impact of World War II on Hungarians (several songs touching ...
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KUSH K – Lotophagi (blaublaurecords)

Kush K’s Lotophagi (aka Lotus Eaters) is a wonderful folk-rock-psych album filled with simpatico playing from Catia, Pascal, Nicola, and Paul. E. Cummings once wrote, “listen: there’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go”. And that’s what Lotophagi does: it opens an interesting door. So, cut to ...
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PAVEY ARK – Close Your Eyes And Think Of Nothing (own label)

Pavey Ark are a seven-piece band from Hull although their name is taken from a Cumbrian Fell.. Close Your Eyes And Think Of Nothing is their debut album, firmly in the alt-folk style and all their songs are written by Neil Thomas and need to time to take hold of ...
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JUDY DYBLE – Weavings Of A Silver Magic (Cromerzone CZ00022)

The original female voice of Fairport Convention and subsequently part of Giles, Giles and Fripp and Trader Horne, Dyble retired from the music business in 1973. However, following a handful of live festival appearances, she returned to recording with a double A-side single in March 2008, followed by her solo ...
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KIT HAWES & AARON CATLOW – Pill Pilots (BBCRD007)

Pill Pilots was released at the end of February. “This is good”, I was told. Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow are new to me (I’m slightly ashamed to say this given their obvious talent and the range of people they’ve worked with), but the thing I would reiterate to anyone ...
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PETER KNIGHT’S GIGSPANNER BIG BAND – Natural Invention (Gigspanner GSCD007)

It is, let’s be honest, something of a mouthful as names go, but, the line-up now comprising of Knight and core band members Roger Flack and Sacha Trochet alongside ‘recent’ recruits Hannah Martin and Phillip Henry plus new addition John Spiers, it’s one worth getting your tongue around. Their first ...
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SIOBHAN MILLER – All Is Not Forgotten (Songprint Recordings SPR004CD)

I have to say, and with a heavy heart, that I really didn’t like Siobhan Miller’s previous album and I’m pleased to say that to my ears All Is Not Forgotten is a considerable improvement on Mercury. Siobhan has returned to the mix of traditional and modern songs that made ...
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REVEREND SHAWN AMOS & THE BROTHERHOOD – Blue Sky (Put Together)

Reverend Shawn Amos & the Brotherhood with their new album, Blue Sky, tell us all to “Keep the faith. Have some fun. Spread a little joy to everyone”; and in doing so, they ignite these grooves with folky electric blues that blow harmonica salvation to the street corners of America’s ...
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CORMAC O CAOIMH – Swim Crawl Walk Run (own label)

Cormac O Caoimh is a singer/songwriter from Cork and Swim Crawl Walk Run is his fifth album, although the first to come our way. He’s been compared favourably to the more introspective folk-pop artists like Badly Drawn Boy and Paul Simon and I can see that but after my first ...
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CARUS THOMPSON – Shakespeare Avenue (Mind’s Eye Records 8687)

Forming Carus and the True Believers in Perth back in 1995, after three albums Thompson went solo in 2008 and has since himself released three studio albums and a live collection., Shakespeare Avenue is his fourth and, reflecting its folk edge, finds him in illustrious company. Having opened on four ...
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JEZ LOWE – The Fellside Collection (Fellside FECD286)

This is 40 years’ worth of Jez Lowe from his first album The Old Durham Road, through the Bad Penny group days and down to his present solo endeavours. Five albums in a box! It’s not just a collection, it’s a biography. Forty years ago he was the very first ...
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PHIL ‘SWILL’ ODGERS – Uke Town (own label)

For reasons you can discover by following the link below Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers has been obliged to release Uke Town, a double album of demos some of which, in the fullness of time, will be released as a full album. Don’t be put off by the word “demos” – these ...
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ANNA RENAE – Skin (own label)

At the risk of vilification from all sides I have to say that there are very few female singer/songwriters that really float my boat: a list topped by Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega. However, when I first heard Anna Renae I knew that here was someone special. Anna is an ...
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HENDERSON:HOOPER – Pete’s Trees (own label)

Sometimes you just need a little breathing space to indulge yourself in the enchanting continuum between musical genres. Having played with Judith Henderson in the past I confess to being predisposed towards her, but without bias I declare that her playing is a total delight throughout, a textbook demonstration of ...
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ALDEN PATTERSON AND DASHWOOD – Waterbound (own label)

One of the most delightful and breezily refreshing acts current treading the folk circuit, the Norwich trio, guitarist Christina Alden, fiddler Alex Patterson and dobro player Noel Dashwood, return with their third album, a combination of eight new numbers, both self-penned and traditionally-based, and an extended rework of an instrumental ...
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SALT HOUSE – Live at the West End Centre, Aldershot

Very nobly, I refrained from swapping my ticket for Salt House for one for the burlesque show taking place in the main venue. I’m glad I did. Between the coronavirus and the strippers it was a small but enthusiastic audience that welcomed the band on stage. They opened with ‘Turn ...
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CHRIS TITCHNER – Already Gone (Bridgefolk Records BFR 3002)

Raised in Vermont and now living in Raleigh, North Carolina, having released his debut, Moving Day, in 2005, it’s taken 15 years to get round to a second. However, it’s been time well spent. Things open with ‘I’ll Come Back Around’, a lightly scampering rhythm and a hint of early ...
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ELIS MACFADYEN – Dreamers And Journeys (own label EM2019CD)

A familiar figure on the folk scene around Inverness, there is, to say the least, very little info on Macfadyen out there in internet land, but, while Dreamers And Journeys  is only his second album, I’d suspect he’s been doing the rounds for a few years. Predominantly self-penned, the songs ...
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SIAN – Sian (Sian Music SIAN001)

Sian’s self-titled debut album gives credence to Shakespeare’s words, “If music be the food of love, play on”. This is gossamer Gaelic music spun by Eilidh Cormack, Ceitlin Lilidh, and Ellen MacDonald, sublime singers all, as they celebrate songs by “Scottish female bards”. A first impression: Donald Shaw produces the ...
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SINGLES BAR 49 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

MIKE TURNBULL writes about the places he lives and has lived and the history he enjoys – sometimes simultaneously. With his band THE SAFE KINGS he has recorded a five-track EP, Courageous Tree, that is full of his customary warmth. The title track concerns an ash tree near Coniston Water ...
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RORY ELLIS – Inner Outlaw (own label)

The “Big Man” is back with his new album Inner Outlaw, this time in the guise of a Buck ‘Ned Kelly’ Rogers in the 21st century proving that Rory Ellis can, with one hand, bring out a bang up to date country outlaw album but still keep one foot in ...
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MUIREANN NIC AMHLAOIBH—Thar Toinn/ Seaborne (Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh)

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh’s Thar Toinn (aka Seaborne) is a crystal brook twenty-one-minute “capsule project” of wonderful Irish folk music. The first song, ‘Faoiseamh Faoistine’, is an acoustic featherbed with MNA’s vocals dancing with melodic steps. Lyrics are by Domhnall Mac Sithigh, and the music is by Gerry O’ Beirne (of ...
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HAMISH NAPIER – The Woods (Strathspey Records SRCD004)

The Woods is the third album in Hamish Napier’s Strathspey Pentalogy and it’s nothing less than a musical journey through the woodlands around Grantown-on-Spey where Hamish lives and along the valley of the river. Literally so in some cases as co-producer Andrea Gobbi has woven into the music field recordings: ...
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VICKI SWAN & JONNY DYER – Sleep Deprivation (WetFootMusic WFM200201)

Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer wrote Sleep Deprivation as an aid for touring musicians trying to stay awake while driving home from a gig. From their description of the difficulties experienced I can assure them that we punters suffer in exactly the same way. Whether it works or not I ...
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THE HACKLES – A Dobritch Did As A Dobritch Should (Jealous Butcher JB178-CD)

You may well ask. Rather than something out of Harry Potter, the title refers to a famous Bulgarian circus dynasty, the patriarch, Lazaro Dobrich founding the first circus in Sofia with his brother Aleksandr and going on to become director of the Bulgarian State Circus in 1956. His brother’s children ...
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SALT HOUSE – Huam (Hudson Records HUD018)

Salt House’s Huam (the call of an owl) is an album of temporal beauty that touches the eternal. The poet Emily Dickenson (more about whom later) did the very same thing. ‘First Light’ is a stunning song. Jenny Sturgeon sings with a cautionary voice, a voice that recalls (the great) ...
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CHRIS ELLIOTT AND CAITLIN JONES – Carry Me Home (own label)

Amongst the many charms of Carry Me Home, the fine debut album by Staffordshire duo, Chris Elliott (guitar, bouzouki, fiddle, vocals) and Caitlin Jones (harmonium, whistles) is the endearing cover photograph. The pair are pictured perched upon a vintage luggage trolley at a railway platform. It could almost be a ...
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IAN CARR & THE VARIOUS ARTISTS – I Like Your Taste In Music (Reveal Records REVEAL087CDX)

It has been five years since Ian Carr took time out from being a go-to session guitarist to release his first “solo” album, Who He?. Now he’s back with more of the same so if you liked that you’ll like I Like Your Taste In Music. The Various Artists are ...
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WILLIAM K.z. – After A Long Time (Digital Download Only)

The title of William K.z.’s debut solo album, After A Long Time, derives from the period and nature of its gestation. After relocating to study at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), he wrote songs documenting his feelings of dislocation. Manchester does that to people. William K.z. (extra hipster ...
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