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.


St. Agnes Fountain The Twelve Years of Christmas Reviewed!

I’ll just admit it; I’m jealous of those that can celebrate the holiday season with St. Agnes Fountain’s live and newly recorded music “The Twelve Years of Christmas.” In a season filled with holiday albums and tours from artists ranging from Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta to Cee Lo Green, the ...

THE UKULELES – The Ukuleles (DMGTV047)

Logan Wilson & Martha Paton are The Ukuleles. Perhaps something in the title will give you a hint (and it isn’t the word ‘The’) as to what instrument they utilise to convey they’re good-time summer of love styled music. It’s nice to see artists who aren’t snobbish when it comes ...

GREEN DIESEL – Now Is The Time (Own Label)

Perhaps it’s the late 60’s, Fairport styled introduction that appeals to me on Green Diesel’s take on Steve Ashley’s “Fire And Wine” complete with obligatory ‘riff’. Whatever it is, the band play to the strengths of the folk-rock genre of that era featuring Ellen Care’s fiddle/vocals, Matt Dear (lead guitar), ...

OCCASIONALS – Birling (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX371)

For those looking to extend their repertoire of ceilidh dance tunes you could do no better than purchase this ebullient collection by one of Scotland’s leading bands the Occasionals. Within their ranks there’s the formidable tune writing skills and accordion playing of Freeland Barbour (ex Silly Wizard don’t you know), Ian ...

THE YOUNG ’UNS – When Our Grandfathers Said No (Navigator NAVIGATOR075)

The Young ’Uns are probably the most entertaining group I’ve heard in a folk club in a long while. This is not just because of the quality of their music but on-stage banter, in the course of which they’re as unconscionably rude to each other as only the very best ...

RÉALTA – Open The Door For Three (Réalta Music ADC 001)

It’s rare to find an album of traditional Irish music opening with a disturbingly modern sounding guitar figure before sliding into the first tune but quite a few things about Réalta are unusual. Conor Lamb and Aaron O’Hagan both play uilleann pipes and whistles while Deirdre Galway handles the rhythm ...

Live Review – Martyn Joseph supported by Luke Jackson, Rugby Roots 3rd November 2012…

A captivating night all round at Martyns 10th visit to Rugby Roots at the Lawrence Sheriff School on his tour to promote his new album Songs For the Coming Home . This was 3 hours of first class acoustic music from two gifted performers, one sorcerer at the peak of his game (wearing ...

JIM MORAY – folking live concert review…

JIM MORAY, Black Peak:  Folking Live at Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell – October 24th 2012. Reviewed by Colin Bailey. It was the first time a Folking Live event had taken place in the august surroundings of the Wilde Theatre at South Hill Park, and expectations were high. We even ...

SKILDA – Skyewalker (Celluloid 006628)

Now Luke here (sorry about that…couldn’t resist it), with the title Skyewalker used for their latest CD release you’d expect something a bit new-age-ish from the band Skilda and indeed, in some respects they are. But the cross-fertilisation of electronica and folk music is a thing of beauty in the ...

HARVEY ANDREWS – Writer Of Songs (HASKA:CD:003)

The nice thing about writing reviews in 2012 is that time is irrelevant. By that I mean I can write a review of an album recorded years ago and it will still appear as fresh today as it was then to a new set of enthusiastic internet savvy readers. Such ...

Tim Carter, presenter of ‘Off the Beaten Track’ reviews Show of Hands live

Show of Hands at Yeovil Octagon Theatre Saturday 27th October, 2012 Amongst the many acts that populate the current and seemingly ever-expanding British folk scene, few are as reliably rewarding in the live context as Show of Hands. It would seem that this is a view shared by many, since ...

Seth Lakeman Band live review plus new EP: live with the BBC Concert Orchestra

Seth Lakeman Band Ipswich Corn Exchange Sunday 21st October 2012. A top-class night at the very nicely refurbished Ipswich Corn Exchange. After watching Seth grow as a musician on and off since his late teens with his brothers and Equation, through his emergence as a solo performer and post Mercury Prize ...

MCGOLDRICK MCCUSKER DOYLE – Live (Vertical Records)

Like your draw dropping open when you first saw Mo Farah or Usane Bolt at the Olympics you know you are witnessing something special given the combined talents of Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker & John Doyle taking to the stage and this CD magnificently captures that moment for posterity. Make ...

SHARON SHANNON and THE RTE CONCERT ORCHESTRA – Flying Circus (CACD2415)

Following her own yellow brick road (judging by her choice of footwear) Sharon Shannon has chosen yet another…how shall we say ‘obscure’ bedfellow in utilising the services of the RTE Concert Orchestra. This possibly may not seem so odd if any of you have heard either of the two 1980’s ...

SESSION A9 – Session A9 (RAJ Records 005)

Featuring four world class fiddle players; Charlie McKerron, Gordon Gunn, Adam Sutherland and Kevin Henderson plus, for good measure Marc Clement (guitar), Brian McAlpine (piano and accordion) and percussionist David “Chimp” Robertson there’s no monkey-ing around with Session A9. The first track, McKerron’s “The Surfing Bride” is an attractive set-up ...

Martyn Joseph – Songs For The Coming Home – reviewed by Trish Roberts

After 30 plus years of making music you would be forgiven for thinking an artist would plateau at some point, happy to remain within familiar boundaries of the singer/songwriter, the man, voice and guitar. However , that is most assuredly not the case here !. Whatever preconceptions there are of ...

Luke Jackson – More Than Boys is reviewed by Trish Roberts…

The first word that came to me when I listened to this initially was ‘Classy’  . It is difficult to talk about the exceptional song writing and musicianship on this album without reminding myself this guy is still a teenager, only 18. This young musician has been grafting for a ...

SAM CARTER – The No Testament (Cap 003)

In 2010 Sam Carter was on the ‘folk’ scene radar with his debut album and a name to watch out for. Since then he’s been a bit quiet only now returning with that second ‘difficult’ album. Starting somewhat bizarrely (to me at least) with the shape-note intro “Antioch” leading into ...

GEORGE STEVENS – A Toad In The Hand – GPJ Records GBN7M1100001-12

George Stevens is a maker of bespoke musical instruments by profession and a maker of music by instinct and inclination. His debut EP, 3 Tunes, came into my possession last year and I really liked it. It was by way of being a demo and perhaps a testing of the ...

Dylan Mondegreen – Dylan Mondegreen FOLKWIT RECORDS F0087

It isn't his real name, of course, but it caught my attention and I bet it caught yours, too. Børge Sildnes is Norwegian, although you wouldn't know it from his singing or writing. He sounds younger than he looks in his cover photo but I think that’s because he is younger. This is his ...

WE BANJO 3 – Roots Of The Banjo Tree

WOW (followed by as many exclamation marks as it’s possible to give!) this album gets a resounding ten out of ten and then some. I chanced upon the title of the band via an E mail from folking.com and to say that I was intrigued would be to understate the issue. Banjo ...

JOYCE THE LIBRARIAN – They May Put Land Between Us (FOLKWIT RECORDS f0083)

Joyce The Librarian are as enigmatic as their music. They would seem to be a quartet from Bristol led by singer-songwriter Martin Callingham. That said they are surrounded by a number of musicians who are as important to the sound as the core of the band. This is their full ...

SHOW OF HANDS – Wake The Union (Hands On Music HMCD36)

Steve Knightley and Phil Beer (with long time collaborator Miranda Sykes) certainly know how to stir things up opening with a powerful song of bitter recrimination in the hard-hitting and spiteful “Haunt You”. You can just hear the angst as Knightly spits out the lyric with such venom that it ...

GARRY and ROSE BLAKELEY – The Wheel Of The Year new album

It’s amazing what you can achieve at home these days and also where it literally becomes a ‘cottage’ industry. This couldn’t be more true than in the case of fiddler, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Garry Blakeley who has managed to keep it in the ‘family’ by collaborating with his wife Rose’s ...

Introducing Dodson and Fogg – Folk singer songwriter psychedelia

Folk singer songwriter psychedelia makes a welcome return in the form of Dodson and Fogg and Fogg, a new project led by songwriter Chris Wade. The influences of the early pioneers of 70s folk-rock is apparent and the new album tries to counterbalance this theme with a modern, atmospheric approach. Chris ...

Colin Bailey reviews THE 1971 PROJECT gig at Riverhouse Barn, Walton-on-Thames 28.9.2012

Fittingly billed by the venue as The American Songbook 1971, this was an evening of new interpretations of songs from four classic singer-songwriter albums produced that year – James Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon, Neil Young’s Harvest, Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Carole King’s Tapestry. A less than ...

Pete Fyfe reviews ALEXANDER WOLFE – Skeletons (Dharma Records DHARMACD15)

I used to play at the New Cross Inn, London years ago and was somewhat intimidated by the dowdy interior of the venue…just thought you’d like to know that, but if New Cross itself can bear witness to housing singer-songwriter Alexander Wolfe then we all have a lot to be ...

Dai Jeffries reviews GALLEY BEGGAR’s latest release…

There have been major line-up changes since Galley Beggar released their debut album, Reformation House, a couple of years ago. Gone are lead vocalist Frances Tye, violinist Prasanthi Matharu and pianist and bassist Paul Murphy. The intent remains the same. There’s still an attachment to the classic folk-rock of the seventies but ...

JAMIE SMITH’S MABON – Windblown Review

I must admit that I was pretty blown away by Mabon’s last CD and my thoughts haven’t changed much with this excellent follow-up. Jamie Smith’s accordion pyrotechnics are still there joined by band members Oliver Wilson-Dickson, Adam Rhodes, Matt Downer and Iolo Whelan. Opening with the bouzouki driven, triplet heavy ...

THE OUTSIDE TRACK – Flash Company

It’s nice to be uplifted every now and then and anyone that has witnessed the recently televised 2012 Olympics should appreciate this recording opening as it does with the question and answer riddle song “False Knight On The Road”. The multi-layered accompaniment featuring first a chunky (though not clunky) sparring ...

KIMBER’S MEN – The Strength Of The Swell (A Private Label APL014)

For those of you that haven’t seen Kimber’s Men do yourselves a favour and rectify this at the earliest opportunity. Otherwise, you could stay at home and put on this great 2-disk CD and bask in the rich harmonies of one of this country’s leading Shanty-styled groups. Now a five-piece ...

THE HALTON QUARTET – Based On True Events (Own Label HQR001CD)

This is a very nicely structured album in that it reminds me of days gone by when bands such as Nightnoise were recording for the Windham Hill record label. The combination of acoustic jazz and folk music felt fresh in a cultured way and so long as it wasn’t rammed ...

Dai Jeffries reviews Broadside by Bellowhead

Bellowhead’s fourth album comes so loaded with expectations it’s a wonder that it can stand up unaided. Hedonism has been so successful and the band’s profile never higher so can they keep the momentum going? Emphatically, yes! Their working relationship with producer John Leckie seems to have imbued them with ...

HOT FINGERS – In Glorious Mono

Years ago I used to pop to my local pub (anyone remember those?) and be ‘entertained’ by artists the calibre of Bill Posters Will Be Band and Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band. Well, they’re becoming a rare breed these days so it’s refreshing to find a CD from those nice folks ...

GILMORE and ROBERTS – The Innocent Left

As I’m sitting here listening to this, the third album by Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts I’m struck particularly on the second track “Doctor James” by how similar they sound to the Scottish band Ruby Blue. In fact, so much so that the track is reminiscent of Ruby Blue’s single ...

GREG RUSSELL and CIARAN ALGAR – The Queen’s Lover (Fellside Recordings FECD251)

Our admiration and respect should go to Paul Adams at Fellside Recordings for yet another coup. Not only did he manage to promote and nurture a certain Spiers & Boden burgeoning recording career but it now looks like he might have hit bulls-eye again with young whippersnappers Russell & Algar ...

JEZ LOWE – Croydon Folk Club, Croydon, Surrey (09.07.12)

Expectations are high…they always are for a gig at Croydon Folk Club particularly when this week’s guest is the truly stellar (at least in ‘folk’ terms) Northern star Jez Lowe. Even before you enter the club room there is excited talk of what might form the basis of his set-list ...

PIPELINE – The Red Line

Many years ago I had the pleasure of working with the Hyde Brothers (then based in Scotland) in the short-lived band Malin Head. In a moment of “…I wonder what happened to them…” I was browsing the internet and came across the name Dermot Hyde working with a chap called Tom ...

MACMASTER/HAY – Hook

Make no mistake this is a real thinking person’s album. It’s quite obvious from the opening track “Hook” that it feels in many ways like a musical equivalent of being hypnotised by Derren Brown or Paul McKenna. The ponderously mesmerising harp bass hook underpinned by gentle use of percussion and ...

JUNE TABOR and OYSTERBAND – The Union Chapel London 19th April 2012

Someone once said that a typical June Tabor concert review went thusly: “June Tabor sang some songs and everybody cried”. There is some truth in that but on stage with Oysterband things are different. There is darkness in the songs, yes, but here June was sharp, jokey and making points ...

DANA and SUSAN ROBINSON – American Hornpipe (Threshold Music TM 1012)

Whether it was Robin Hood or the 18th century English Prime Minister Robert Walpole that provides the title character for the poem “Who Killed Cock Robin” hardly matters when, in this case it’s the musical production that counts. Just witness the infectious rhythm provided by River Guerguerian and Dana Robinson’s ‘bluesy’ ...

ColvinQuarmby CQV is reviewed by the folkmaster…

The new ColvinQuarmby album has now descended from CQ towers, and is heralding in, by a fab twelve page booklet containing of all Gerry Colvin  lyrics which are wrapped, in bright shiny, cherub packaging (beam me up Scotty). In our opinion, we believe that CQV can sit proudly alongside the ...

SOPHIE PARKES – Wayward Daughter: The official biography of Eliza Carthy (Soundcheck Books)

I confess to being an intermittent fan of Eliza Carthy throughout the whole of her career so when this tome arrived on my doorstep for review I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it even though I have numerous other ‘music’ artist biographies in my collection. I (wrongly as it goes) ...

BULLY WEE BAND – The Madmen of Gotham & The Vintage Years 1975-1980 (Slaughterhouse Productions SLP009CD)

The saying “…born at the right time…” couldn’t be more appropriate in describing this more than welcome trip down memory lane. I remember first meeting members of the band when they turned up unannounced one night at the Cambridge Folk Festival (was it really 1975?) and provided their spell-bound audience ...

Marvin, Welch and Farrar – Second Opinion (Beat Goes On BGOCD714)

How do you carry the burden of being so well established because of another vehicle (in this case The Shadows) that anything else you try pales into insignificance…at least in the eyes of a majority of the general public? Such was the case of Marvin, Welch & Farrar. Well, part ...

DOGAN MEHMET Outlandish Album Reviewed

Blimey mate…luvvaduck…wotcher cock, it wouldn’t surprise me if these and many other colloquialisms were all thrown into Dogan Mehmet’s melting pot and a good few others to boot. If I was in Brick Lane I’d possibly have thought I’d just bought a ‘fake’ CD so colourful is the International vocabulary ...

DAVE SWARBRICK – Swarbrick/Swarbrick 2/Smiddyburn is reviewed by Pete Fyfe…

This tremendous 2-disk, 3-album set by that quintessential fiddler Dave Swarbrick should be required listening and possibly one of the best boxed sets to grace any ‘folk music’ CD collection. Containing as it does his two ‘solo’ albums from the late 70’s and the excellent “Smiddyburn” (1981) the record company ...

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Gannin’ To Blaydon Races: The Songs Of George Ridley

The unitary district of Northumberland is to be lauded for its musical contributions to the world including as it does Billy Mitchell, Lindisfarne and Jack The Lad etc and perhaps none more so than the unofficial anthem “Blaydon Races” written by George ‘Geordie’ Ridley. This 19th Century song captures the ...

TOMMY FLEMING – The Platinum Collection is reviewed by Pete Fyfe…

The first time I heard Tommy Fleming sing was probably around 1996 when he was the latest recruit to the ranks of De Dannan. Of course the lads kicked up a storm (as they always have) but it was Fleming’s operatic tones that truly astonished the audience. Unfortunately (to my ...

The Harbour Of Songs Project is reviewed by Pete Fyfe…

“Harbour Of Songs” is a project…excuse the pun…helmed by Adrian McNally and funded by The Stables Arts Centre near Milton Keynes providing an interesting background coupled with a selection of ‘folk-styled’ music artists as diverse as Ralph McTell, Janis Ian and Guy Chambers. I won’t go into much detail here (you’ll have to ...

BETHANY WEIMERS – Harpsichord Row – Reviewed by Dai Jeffries

If you ever need justification for the technology that allows someone to make an album in their bedroom using a sofa and some sleeping bags for sound-proofing then this is it. Bethany Weimers plays piano and acoustic guitar, gets her drums from Pro-Tools and added some electric guitar from Mark ...

SILLY WIZARD – ‘Live’ Again – Reviewed by Pete Fyfe

The old saying ‘…died and gone to Heaven’ really is the only way I can describe this re-release of Silly Wizard’s performance recorded at The Sanders Theatre in Massachusetts, USA in 1983. Ah, the memories come flooding back as I relive my youth and the acoustic explosion that was Andy ...

ALASTAIR SAVAGE – Secrets From The Kitty – Reviewed by Pete Fyfe

The only problem I have with all instrumental albums is whether there will be enough going on to keep the listener’s interest throughout the entire project. Unfortunately, as is the case here, I find everything on one level with no real dynamics to speak of. Once you’ve hit the road ...

MAZ O’CONNOR – Upon A Stranger Shore – Album review by Pete Fyfe

What a lovely voice! I just knew I was going to enjoy this album from the moment I played the first track “South Australia” which I’m more used to hearing being bellowed at volume eleven by burly shanty ‘men’. Instead, Maz’s controlled and never forced vocals blends so well with ...

Gathered – Nick Burbridge and Tim Cotterill – Album reviewed by Valerie Moss

Once again Nick Burbridge has produced a jewel of an album.  Somehow every word of every songs seems to crackle with energy. His folk music has also been compared to the “emo” genre but it is far deeper than the miserable pop offerings – darker and more complex. “Gathered” differs ...

Rachel Newton – The Shadow Side

To say this album is understated, would be no overstatement. Shot through with an arresting delicacy that simply wills you to listen, it possesses a naked simplicity that radiates beauty. Whether it be singing, or playing the harp or fiddle, Rachel performs with an effortless allure that speaks to your ...

Jim Moray – Skulk

It’s some time ago now that Sweet England thundered on to the UK folk scene, momentum like an express train on a collision course to alter the very foundation of the tradition. Since then, Moray has continued to experiment, with some staggering results – however this album is from start ...

Mark Waistell – Latecomer

Mark Waistell used to play and sing 30 years ago before (like the rest of us) stepping on to, the "proper job" hamster wheel and fading into whiskered obscurity. Well, 2 years ago, Mark decided to jump off the proverbial wagon wheel, pick up the guitar again and write some new songs. An introduction led him ...

JAKE WILSON – All’s Well (Jake Wilson Music JWM001)

The ironic title will not be lost on anyone who recollects the front cover photo of the ill fated Scott Expedition. On this recording Jake explores the possible thought process that was going on in the minds of Edgar Evans, Lawrence Oates, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers and Robert Falcon Scott ...

SKERRYVORE – World Of Chances (Tyree Records tYREE03CD)

I was really looking forward to this, Skerryvore’s fourth album. Unfortunately their major selling-point of upfront Highland bagpipes that played a major part of the overall sound on their previous recording has been usurped by the more rustic charms of Daniel Gillespie’s accordion and Craig Espie’s fiddle. OK, so the ...