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…

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.


MICHAEL McMILLAN – Heaven Sent Ranch (own label)

Craftsmen. You know when you watch someone working – carpenter, digger driver, artist, musician et al – and you expect a certain level of skill. Then you watch someone who works with apparent ease and you think, “Ooh, you’re good”. For a few you think, “Ah, no, you’re really good” ...

ELLIE WALKER & THE FOLLY – Sink Or Swim (own label)

Having spent several years out focusing on her career as a music therapist, the Cambridgeshire singer-songwriter finally returns, with her 3Ms band of Mike Chalmers, Max Wherlock and Mark Boxall, to release, Sink Or Swim, her debut album, a cocktail of melodic folksy pop to which she brings her piano ...

THE FUGITIVES – No Help Coming (Fallen Tree Records FTRC1035)

Fronted by Brendan McLeod and Adrian Glynn, with Carly Frey on violin and banjo player Chris Suen, in many ways the folksy quartet are Vancouver’s answer to Darlingside. No Help Coming is their sixth album and one that takes climate emergency as its core concern. It opens a capella with ...

SKINNY LISTER – Shanty Punk (Xtra Mile Recordings)

Rogue folk band Skinny Lister’s new album, Shanty Punk, could well be a “best of" compilation, as this album amps up the band’s usual joyous toast to the melody of a favourite pub with the elixir of a local pint in hand. And, as the (sadly) forgotten art-rock band City ...

FUNKE & THE TWO TONE BABY – Reacclimate (own label)

Guitar and harmonica melded with loops and samples, Reacclimate, the fourth studio album by Dan Turnbull, his first since before the pandemic struck, captures the pent up energy of those lockdown years, a sentiment deftly summed up in the opening strum and thump track ‘I’ve Slept Enough’  where, a Kent  ...

LEON ROSSELSON – Chronicling The Times (Fuse Records)

Leon Rosselson has been Chronicling The Times for more than sixty years now and I’d love to hear his thoughts on the current world situation. In the meantime he has put together a selection of his favourite recordings featuring such supporters as Martin Carthy, Roy Bailey, Oysterband, Miranda Sykes and ...

JACK RUTTER – This Is Something Constant (own label RUTTCD027)

Yorkshire’s Jack Rutter’s new album, This Is Something Constant (the first in four years!), is a brilliant collection of traditional songs graced with ancient grinned wisdom. And Jack’s quintessential Topic/Fellside voice is a gift that inhabits these burning human melodies and exists in the same orbit as Dick Gaughan, Chris ...

LOUIS DE BERNIÈRES – Delicate Lies (Khaki Angel Records – KARCD03)

Louis de Bernières is clearly a man of many talents. Although best known as a multi-award winning novelist, his musical reputation has also grown in recent years. Delicate Lies – his beguilingly poetic second solo album – provides ample evidence (if it’s needed) that his music is not a mere ...

STEVE PLEDGER – Bob & Sue’s Carport, Ashburton, South Devon Friday (6th October 2023)

I arrived early at this very eagerly anticipated gig that Steve’s lovely friends – Bob and Sue had kindly put on at the side of their house in a beautiful rustic carport/mancave/ranch! Complete with lights (wouldn’t want their electric bill), comfy seats all around and a royal box – about ...

BLAZIN’ FIDDLES – XXV (Blazin’ Records BFCD2023)

Blazin’ Fiddles celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary. There are several ways to do this: put together a definitive retrospective, release a monster live album or just make a very, very good studio album. That’s what six of Scotland’s finest have done with XXV. If you have seen Blazin’ Fiddles live you’ll ...

DUNCAN REED – The Road Part II (digital download and CD)

Duncan Reed has only just come into my radar, and I am so pleased he has.  His latest album released on October 6th 2023 – The Road Part II is the second in a two volume set, the first being more acoustic to this one as rockier in parts. Duncan ...

LUDWIG WRIGHT – Turn Of Tides (Left Lane Records TOTO-2023)

Cheerfulness, Optimism, Joviality – take your pick. Ludwig Wright is a British-German singer-songwriter who has just released Turn Of Tides, to give the album its full title Turn Of Tides Or Where The Waves Come From. The mood of both music and lyrics is delightfully cheery and positive across the ...

CHRIS BRAIN – Steady Away (Big Sun BSR002)

With the Leeds troubadour’s smoky wisp vocal and watery acoustic guitar, it’s pretty inevitable that the Nick Drake pastoral folk comparisons will be rolled out. But take time to listen carefully and closely to this introspective gem, Steady Away, a swift follow-up to last year’s debut, and what you’ll hear ...

THE BREATH – Land Of My Other (Real World Records)

The Breath’s new album, Land Of My Other, is a gorgeous folk album which captures the runic texture of “whispering grass” sharing ancient secrets under grey clouds burdened with foreboding gravestone rain drops. Yeah, at times, Irish born Rioghnach Connolly’s vocals can echo the beauty of (the great!) Sandy Denny, ...

STEVE JINSKI – Muscle Memory (Lucky Smile Records LKSM2CS03)

From Liverpool of Polish extraction, originally one half of Jinski with Dave Kennedy, they made their debut with ‘Eventually’ in 1989, going on to release a further two albums. The duo now on an extended hiatus, Stephen Wegrzynski has launched a solo career as Steve Jinski, making his album debut ...

RYAN YOUNG – Just A Second (own label RYM02CD)

Ryan Young’s Just A Second is his second album and much delayed (his debut came six years ago) because of a problem in his left hand which prevented him from playing. Having recovered, he reports that he had to learn to play all over again – a real blow. The ...

MISCELLANY OF FOLK – Atlantic Sounds (Doon Productions)

A Canadian-Irish trio comprising Benny McCarthy on button accordion, Billy Sutton variously on fiddle, mandolin, mandola, bodhran, bass and percussion and Eddie Costello on guitar and lead vocals, individually they’ve carved a sizeable reputation over the decades but, joining forces in 2022, Atlantic Sounds is their downloadable debut album together, a ...

JERRY JOSEPH – Baby You’re The Man Who Would Be King (Cosmo Sex School CSS202301)

Written during 2020 lockdown and recorded back in 2021, Joseph’s follow up to the Patterson Hood-produced The Beautiful Madness finally sees light of day, this time Eric Ambel behind the desk for an album that sets the guitars to ring and chime, digs into Springsteen and Dylan folk rock (and ...

SINGLES BAR 94 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Following on from their debut EP, Animals which featured songs about Dian Fosse, a colony of bees painted gold by a tropical forest tribe as a superstitious ritual, and Big Mary, the incredible true story of how, in the late 19th century, a huge circus elephant was lynched by a ...

BLUENOSE B – Hoping For Purgatory (own label SMCD001/23)

The musical alias of Liverpool’s Stephen Dawson, this teams him with longtime Merry Hell friends John and Virginia Kettle as well as the band’s former fiddler, Neil McCartney, for Hoping For Purgatory a collection of infectious, melodic and punchy folk-rock that kicks off with the circling, ringing guitar notes of ...

PISKEY LED – Piskey Led (own label)

To avoid any confusion, Piskey Led are a Welsh band playing Celtic music with a predilection for Cornwall. The quartet consists of guitarist James Bower and three multi-instrumentals, Joshua Goodey who takes care of the low notes, Katie Lower and Chris Mercer and this is their debut album. Piskey led ...

BEN STUBBS – Light Of My Life (own label)

Originally from the Isle Of Wight, while he released a download only acoustic project on Bandcamp in 2014, Light Of My Life is Ben’s debut album, a collection of songs since he returned to songwriting in 2019 that affords reflections on escaping, loss, ageing and coming to terms with the ...

GREGG HILL – Bayou St. John (Skippy Records)

Gregg Hill’s Bayou St. John, recorded in New Orleans, is music that soundtracks a vision of (to quote the great John Fogerty!) “Barefoot girls dancin’ in the moonlight”. This record courses through the musical Mississippi River Big Muddy bloodstream and flows in the wake of sources like Bobby Charles, Jesse ...

GILMORE & ROBERTS – Documenting Snapshots (GR! Records GRR009)

Five years, a pandemic and two children on from A Problem Of Our Kind, the title of their sixth album succinctly captures its reflective tone and themes of change. Katriona on fiddle, viola and mandolin and Jamie on everything else save for bass which is handled by Tommy Fuller, Documenting ...

GAZ BROOKFIELD – Morning Walking Club (own label)

Gaz Brookfield’s new album, Morning Walking Club, entered the folk album chart at number 1 last month which is quite an achievement. This is his ninth studio album (plus seven live albums). He was voted singer-songwriter of the year by Acoustic Magazine in 2010 and sold out major venues and ...

MARTIN SIMPSON & THOMM JUTZ – Nothing But Green Willow: The Songs of Mary Sands and Jane Gentry (Topic TSCD614)

In the summer of 1916, Cecil Sharp and his assistant Maud Karpeles visited Madison County in the North Carolina Appalachians where they lodged at the Sunnybank Inn in Hot Springs owned by Jane Gentry,and, prior to that, Mary Sands who lived in nearby Allanstand. The two women sang their visitors ...

JOHN REED – Elevation (digital download)

I have had the pleasure of a preview of Elevation before its launch on 23rd October and I have been absolutely bowled over! Three singles – ‘Ringing Bells’, ‘Coal Fires’ and ‘Corruption’ have been released from this album as a taster and shortly all will be revealed! John is a ...

AUKA – Wild Waters (own label)

Auka are a trio of talented instrumentalists with a passion for the natural, who draw inspiration from the beauty to be found in and around their home city, Sheffield. On their second album, Wild Waters, the region’s waterways are evoked in a set of complex and atmospheric tone poems. Celtic ...

ALEX SEEL – All Sails To the Sun (Ballymore Records)

Contemporary singer-songwriter Alex Seel is unleashing his latest album All Sails To The Sun on September 29th, 2023, which is self-produced allowing Alex to have his own brand of creative expression. This will be his third album (plus 2 Eps) and a fine album it is too. Alex is very ...

TAMSIN ELLIOTT & TAREK ELAZHARY – So Far Have We Come (Penny Fiddle Records PFR2309CD)

I love going to festivals. I suspect we all love going to festivals but there’s something particular in my case, that I really enjoy, which can only happen in festivals. What I really like is wandering around the festival site, bumping into people, probably going for a beer, and then, ...

WARD KNÚTUR TOWNES – Unanswered (Betty Beetroot Records BETTY05)

Unanswered is a votive candle folk album that burns with melodic wisdom. While Sir Paul McCartney may have found “the meaning of life” in “seven levels”, Unanswered, by England’s Lucy Ward, Iceland’s Svavar Knútur, and Canada’s Adyn Townes, condenses sublime revelation into their folk trio format. The first song, ‘Astronaut’, ...

TOM PAXTON & JOHN MCCUTCHEON – Together (Appleseed Songs)

Longtime friends but coming together as songwriters for the first time during lockdown, this debut collaboration (the second this month from Paxton who’s also teamed up with C.Daniel Boling) is, as might be expected, often a response to the world around them as it unfolded, the music ranging from simply ...

ADAMS & COSTELLO – One By One (own label) 

I must begin with a confession. It took ages to rid my mind of the “Who’s on first” routine – childish I know – but I must also make it clear that Julie Adams and Michael Costello are not a comedy duo. They are a rock duo from Oregon; Julie ...

VAN PLATING – Orange Blossom Child (Singular Recordings)

Hailing from Florida, for her third album Orange Blossom Child, Van Plating announces a new country genre she terms Orange Blossom Country, a coming together of Southern Americana, bluegrass and folk-rock with nods to Gram Parsons, Tom Petty, and fellow Florida country star Elizabeth Cook in a personal exploration of ...

CARLA FUCHS – Songbird (Talking Elephant TECD487)

Back in 2010, while working on the complete Sandy Denny box set, Phil Lloyd Smee came across notebooks with lyrics for uncompleted songs. Several of these, at the request of Denny’s estate. Thea Gilmore transformed for her 2011 collaboration album, Don’t Stop Singing and now, as a continuing celebration of ...

LUCIA COMNES – Have We Met Before? (Delfina Records DR393-LC20)

Following on from her collaborative album with John Palmer as Open Road, Comnes reverts to solo mode for Have We Met Before?, a countrified collection of self-penned matter recorded in her adopted home of Italy. Featuring shaker, violin and keys, it opens with ‘Soul On A Journey’, a soft, midtempo ...

ANDY SMITH – An English Village (digital download)

Andy Smith is one third of that wonderful trio Harp And A Monkey whose metier is the songs of the Northern working classes and of army life, particularly in the Great War period. With his first solo album, An English Village, Andy has followed a similar path but gone deeper ...

GABRIEL MORENO – Wound In The Night (Poetry Mondays 005)

A Gibraltarian ex-pat now based in London (in 2022 he was awarded the title Cultural Ambassador of Gibraltar), Moreno is a published poet, with 12 books, in Spanish and English, to his name as well as two previous albums. Variously likened to (and influenced by) Cohen, Cave and Callahan (and, ...

LAURA MULCAHY – Sub Nubibus Margarita (own label)

Releasing her debut album back in 2017, and earning a Mercury Music Prize nomination, a multidisciplinary artist, musician and writer from County Clare, Mulcahy is one of the most exciting talents to have emerged from Ireland in the past decade. Sub Nubibus Margarita is her fourth album (a literal translation ...

THE GENTLE GOOD – Galargan (Bubblewrap Collective BWR71CD)

Gareth Bonello, in his professional identity as The Gentle Good, has achieved something I’d thought impossible. He has garnered a 5* album review from The Guardian, an admirable publication but one which I hadn’t heretofore considered as an afficionado of Welsh folk music. The album in question, Galargan, draws its ...

SISKIN GREEN – Siskin Green (Limpet Records LIMPET003)

Taking their name from a pastel shade of colour (and not to be confused with the Dutch/Icelandic jazz-folk duo of the same name), Jane Bentley (percussion), Suzanne Butler (fiddle, guitar) and Margaret McLarty (guitar, banjo, piano) are, augmented at times by Jennifer Clark on double bass, a close harmony Scottish ...

MÁIRE NI CHATHASAIGH – The New Strung Harp (Old Bridge Music OBMCD25)

When this reissue first came to my attention I was convinced that I had a copy of the 1985 original. Alas, that was just wishful thinking and I apologise to Máire for misleading her. The New Strung Harp is an album everybody knows – the cover is immediately recognisable and ...

THE LANDLUBBERS: Mytholmroyd Music Festival, West Yorkshire, 27th August 2023

Halifax in West Yorkshire’s Calder Valley may be around 70 miles inland from the sea, but it’s home to a solid shanty fanbase. Among several excellent local exponents are the mighty 11-man (plus huge 11-pint ‘grog log’, guitar, cajon and digeridoo) The Landlubbers. As the closing act at the second, ...

BETH WIMMER – Nature (own label)

Based in Switzerland but raised in Boston, Nature, the mini-album follow-up to last year’s Chemical Reaction, is the first to feature her partner, go-to sideman Mike Bischof, who both co-produced, did the arrangements and plays guitar and bass while David Raven lays down the drums. Featuring Aaron Till on fiddle ...

JOHN NAPIER – More White Elephants (own label)

Though embracing an array of different musical genres, the Birmingham singer-songwriter is generally associated with folksy acoustic. However, while that may be the bedrock here, there’s a more electric and at times 80s rock presence at work. Mixed and mastered by fellow Birmingham musician David Benjamin Blower, available as a ...

NINEBARROW – The Colour Of Night (Winding Track 9BTCON)

Again featuring Lee MacKenzie on cello, double bassist John Parker and both producer Mark Tucker and Evan Carson on percussion, close harmony duo Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere’s fifth album, The Colour Of Night, their first new material in over two years, brings together a mix of originals, covers, the ...

JOHN ALEXANDER – Face The Wind (own label)

John Alexander is a Scottish songwriter and guitarist. He releases his new album, Face The Wind, on September 15th. At the Edinburgh Festival, he has recently concluded a number of well-regarded shows called Dustbowl Blues with a Glasgow Kick. The shows’ title is spot on. You know how, at times, ...

BEAU – Deep In The Dark: Unreleased Rarities 1971-1991 (Cherry Red BEAUDITTD1)

Released in 2009, Edge Of The Dark was a collection of recordings made between 1972 and 1995 when he’d essentially publically retired from the music scene. That’s now being digitally reissued so, to complement it, he’s foraged through the archives for a ‘lost years’ sequel. For latecomers, Beau, or Trevor ...

CALUM STEWART – True North (own label EMCD03)

Calum Stewart has come to our attention once or twice before but this is the first time one of his solo albums has landed on our doormat. Calum is a Scot who plays the Uilleann pipes and wooden flute and True North is, we think, his second solo album, a ...

PETE ATKIN – The Luck Of the Draw (HILL01)

As those of a certain age and a certain musical temperament will know, back in the 70s Atkin released six albums featuring his collaboration with Australian critic, satirist and poet Clive Atkin, setting the latter’s words to music, the partnership culminating in the label contract-obligation Live Libel in 1975. They ...

DAPHNE’S FLIGHT – Love Is The Weapon Of Choice (Fat Cat Records FATCD048)

So familiar individually are the names of Chris While, Julie Matthews, Helen Watson, and Melanie Harrold that it comes as something of a surprise to realise it’s been almost 20 years since they made their collective debut in 1995, taking a lengthy sabbatical after their 1996 tour before reuniting in ...

SINGLES BAR 93 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

GAVIN MARWICK releases the third of his Quarterdays series, Lammas, this time in the company of his partner, nyckelharpa player RUTH MORRIS. The nyckelharpa, for those who have never seen one, looks like a fiendishly complicated instrument and it actually is. It’s easy to discern how it works but much ...

BERNADETTE MORRIS – To The Well For Water (own label – EAN 5056628082442)

To The Well For Water is the second album from Irish singer-songwriter Bernadette Morris and comes some ten years after her debut All The Ways You Wander.  After such a long time (in which an EP was released), it’s not surprising this second album is very different to the first ...

EDD DONOVAN – Anchovy (own label EDD004)

Anchovy is the fourth album from Edd Donovan, a singer-songwriter labelled ‘the singing social worker’ by The Guardian because of his day job. Edd has never been afraid to address serious topics, and since this this is another album with origins in the opportunities for thought and reflection afforded by ...

THE PAPER KITES – At The Roundhouse (Nettwerk Records)

The Paper Kites’ At The Roundhouse is country folk-rock album that burns a sad neon light into any damp and foggy late Sunday night reverie -- when Friday is gone; Saturday night is a lost warm memory; and this music hangs as the hopeful tether to any weekend’s big final ...

RAB NOAKES & BROOKS WILLIAMS – Should We Tell Him (Red Guitar Blue Music RGBM-2301)

Brooks Williams seems to have the happy knack of meeting people and, being a nice bloke, befriending them and then convincing them to record with him. The idea for Should We Tell Him had been in development for some time but Rab Noakes’ failing health gave the project some urgency ...

MORNING TOURIST – The Endless Eve (Blaggers Records)

Morning Tourist’s The Endless Eve is an ever-churning alt-folk album (with incredibly persistent percussion!) that zigs and zags in oddly melodic curves, nice acoustic guitar moments, and lyrics that roam the universe with constant “what if” speculation, and yet are still grounded with bare wire insight. My friend, Kilda Defnut, ...

KEEPING IT LIVE – A Day of Lincolnshire Folk

In December 2016, I wrote my first review for folking.com, the Doghouse Roses album Lost Is Not Losing, an album I still play (thanks Editor). Over the past (nearly) seven years I’ve written a hundred and ninety-nine reviews, mostly albums, but several under the heading ‘Keeping It Live’ because it ...

THE 19TH STREET BAND – Near Perfect (own label)

Named for the street in Arlington where Caolaidhe and Meghan Davis lived, The 19th Street Band play an amalgam of Irish and American folk-rock. Near Perfect (no false modesty here) is their third studio album, mostly original material but including a cover of ‘Livin’ In These Troubled Times’, the number ...

DANIEL RODRIGUEZ – Vast Nothing (CD Baby)

Daniel Rodriguez is a Colorado singer-songwriter, who released Vast Nothing, his second solo full-length album, on July 1st in the UK. It’s a thing of gentle beauty – glorious melodies, gentle picking and arrangements that hold back rather than take over. The album mostly fixes us in the USA “Keep ...