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.


SHEP WOOLLEY – GRUMPY OLD MATELOT (Uppit Records BALD 6)

I remember a time when the words ‘folk’ and ‘entertainer’ ran side by side like participants in a well-oiled marathon and artists such as Shep Woolley, Jasper Carrot, Richard Digance and Billy Connolly were on equal billing with the likes of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and Joe Brown. Of course, ...

LUNASA – La Nua (Lunasa Records LRCD 001)

Receiving the latest Lunasa CD is like unwrapping the best Christmas present you could wish for. There’s something magical that brings a broad grin to your face and a warm feeling to the heart. Starting with “The New Day/Ryestraw/An Old Woman Would” the band know just how to push the ...

MICHAEL MARRA – Folksong Club, Croydon 19.04.10

Although I personally hadn’t seen or heard Michael Marra before his name is legend on the folk circuit in Scotland. My first image of Marra crouched over his piano and ironing board stand was like a first encounter with a sleazy back-street pianist in a French bar and in a ...

DALA – Everyone Is Someone (Campus Music)

I heard Dala by chance on the radio one evening and sought out this CD at the earliest opportunity. The Canadian based duo (Amanda Walther & Sheila Carabine) certainly didn’t disappoint and if “Horses” were the only track on the album then I’d still buy it! Getting into the mind ...

RE-ENTRANTS – The Good, The Bad And The Ukulele (Sore Thumb Records)

I can’t remember who suggested I check out The Re-Entrants. Still, it wasn’t a bad idea as my tastes in music spread far wider than what a majority of people who read my reviews perceive to be my ‘folk’ roots. So, hand on mouse I clicked on my computer to ...

GARRY BLAKELEY – ROSE BLAKELEY – The Ceremony Of May (Attitude Records CD-007)

OK, I know nepotism isn’t a nice thing but when the artist I am reviewing just happens to be my best mate in a professional and personal sense and a damn fine fiddle player to boot then I think I should be forgiven this one transgression. As well as part ...

Feast Of Fiddles – Walk Before You Fly

I didn’t know that Elmer Bernstein was a closet ‘folkie’ and that he’d contributed to a canon of ‘folk’ tunes that grace this great little silver disk. Then again, I’m not sure either what he would have thought of having his ‘Magnificent 7 Theme’ being both crusts to a jig ...

BAD SHEPHERDS – Yan, Tyan Tethera, Methera! (Monsoon Music MONMUCD002)

By hook or by crook here is a CD just waiting to be reviewed. The Bad Shepherds consist of Adrian Edmondson, Troy Donockley, Maartin Allcock and Andy Dinan with additional percussion from Mark Woolley (no jokes please) who obviously just want to have a good time along with their audience ...

DAIMH – Diversions (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX 343)

Starting with the Gaelic song “Donald’s Sporran” immediately puts me in mind of when I first heard the arrangement of “Brose & Butter” by Ossian in the late 70’s. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, more power to Daimh’s collective elbow for allowing the creative juices to flow from ...

TANNAHILL WEAVERS, Willows Folk Club, Arundel 07.04.10

Well, what a week this has turned out to be for Hampshire. Firstly there was the Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival followed swiftly by a return to the wonderful Willows Folk Club in Arundel and a chance to catch up with The Tannahill Weavers who once again have found time ...

GOSPORT & FAREHAM EASTER FESTIVAL – 03 to 04.04.10

I suppose it seems a little weird reviewing a festival that you are a participant as a performer. Still, why not? Firstly let’s set the record straight. I’ve always enjoyed the Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival because it is so audience and performer friendly. Our host is the ever affable ...

Dillon hits the spot by Sarah Burch – artsdepot, North Finchley

After a hectic, stressful week, it was such a panacea to chill out at Cara Dillon’s gig at the artsdepot, North Finchley on March 5th. Cara Dillon’s exquisite voice, coupled with the superb musical accompaniment of Sam Lakeman provided an evening of sheer joy and enjoyment. The couple provided the ...

SETH LAKEMAN – The Hawth, Crawley 4th March 2010

Well, this was going to be interesting as I wasn’t sure what I’d make of Seth Lakeman only having seen him on a couple of TV appearances when he was up for the Mercury Awards some years ago. At the time I remember thinking to myself he appeared a little ...

KEN NICOL – Tidings (MVS Sound Limited MVS CD002)

I suppose it’s probably a little early/late for this review but anyone who knows me knows I can’t get enough of Ken Nicol’s accomplishments as a guitarist…another thing is my enjoyment of nostalgia particularly at Christmas time. Well here’s a recording that hits the mark on both counts. Coupled with ...

JIM MALCOLM – Jim Malcolm’s Bard Hair Day (BELDVD101)

This DVD is a gentle parody on the life and times of Robert Burns as seen through the eyes of Scottish singer-songwriter Jim Malcolm. Staging this tribute to the great man in Perthshire’s Soutar Theatre was an inspired choice of venue for filming as it proves just the right setting ...

WEST OF EDEN – Travelogue (Zebra Art Records ZAR 851)

The nomadic life of the wandering minstrel comes vividly to life on this the fifth release by the excellent Swedish band West Of Eden. This is an album that in many respects is a retrospective of their touring life and allows the band Jenny Schaub (lead vocals/accordion/tin whistle), Martin Schaub ...

ASHLEY HUTCHINGS & KEN NICOL – Copper, Russet And Gold (Park Records PRKCD109)

Ashley Hutchings proves a fine songwriter on the strength of this recording and opening with “I Am Prologue” there’s a sense of pomp in the lyrics that suits the image hinted at on the superbly subtle cover of the CD booklet. Not one to rest on his laurels Ken Nicol, ...

ALTAN – 25th Anniversary Celebration (IRL044)

Is it really 25 years ago that I first saw Altan performing in Hastings at a hastily put together gig in the non too salubrious setting of the local Catholic hall? I do remember fondly though the rapturous applause from an astonished packed audience. Of course, since then the band ...

JEZ LOWE – Folksong Club, Croydon 08.02.10

To fans of folk music everywhere the name Jez Lowe is enough to conjure images of a great night out. As well as his finely crafted songs he is a consummate professional when it comes to musicianship and entertainment. His confidence motivates the audience to join in the songs…even if ...

BEGGARS’ HILL – Beggars’ Hill (Talking Elephant Records TECD156)

Well, here’s a blast from the past…at least my past. Beggars’ Hill were a ‘collective’ from the Surrey area who, for a labour of love with that music we so endearingly call ‘folk’ recorded a selection of songs for their posterity and ours. The ‘band’ were around at the same ...

Celtic Connections reviews by Pauline Keightley

Fyfe Dangerfield ABC Glasgow Celtic Connections 20th January 2010... Dangerfield stormed the ABC Glasgow as part of the Celtic connections festival with his latest solo album 'Yellow Moon'. He is a vibrant, energetic and expressive performer, who brought the audience with him with fun and interactive chat. This is an ...

MICHAEL McGOLDRICK – Aurora (Vertical Records VERTCD090)

There’s always a sense of anticipation when you hear news that one of your favourite musicians has just released a new album and of course, I just had to obtain a copy of this latest offering from Michael McGoldrick. Also, it is highly unlikely that you will be disappointed as ...

KATHRYN TICKELL – The Best Of Kathryn Tickell (Park Records PRKCD107)

I was first introduced to the wonderful sound of Northumbrian Smallpipes on hearing a recording by the High Level Ranters over thirty years ago. Colin Ross and particularly Alistair Anderson were both influential in helping broaden my audio tastes and that continues to this day with the prodigious talents of ...

DUOTONE – Work Harder & One Day You’ll Find Her (Garrett Brown Music GBMCD 003)

This album reminds me of my youth when I was listening to the likes of Clifford T Ward and Al Stewart. As a journalist it’s a labour of love digging for information and piecing it together courtesy of the www and that’s what I had to do in the case ...

IMAGINED VILLAGE – Empire & Love (ECC Records ECC002)

To the opening strains of Sheema Mukerjhee’s sitar joined by Mr Carthy’s trademark guitar the Imagined Village cross fertilisation of different cultures continues apace with a clever re-interpretation of the ballad “My Son John” utilising a more chilling, modern ‘take’ on the song’s powerful anti-war stance. Building to a suitably ...

ALAN HULL – Live At Clifton Poly 1975 (Market Square Music MSMCD152)

In the days when I was a ‘yoof’ I was forever popping out to support artists such as Lindisfarne and their lead protagonist Alan Hull. So, it’s nice to see a recording of those bygone days appearing in the form of this release from those marvellous chaps at Market Square ...

POOZIES – Yellow Like Sunshine (Greentrax Records CDTRAX 342)

Opening with a standard ‘blues’ riff, you feel as if you’re into conventional music pigeon-holeing until that is the introduction of Camac harp that adds such a deep, resonant texture it makes you think “wow”… this is really different! It’s that unusual texture and presentation layered by the evocative, almost ...

ABBIE LATHE & THE LOVELIES – Stargazing (Curlew Records CD001)

I’ve been enraptured by the sounds of tight, close harmonies since I first saw Steeleye Span many years ago and there are plenty featured on this album. Abbie Lathe the engaging front-person of The Lovelies along with the other members of the group Claudia Gibson (piano), Colin Fletcher (acoustic bass ...

KIMBER’S MEN IN PORT Album Review by Pete Fyfe

Kimber’s Men are something a little extra special…a shanty crew that everyone can enjoy! Consisting Joe Stead, Neil Kimber, Dave Buckley, Gareth Scott and John Bromley the ‘Men’ all have fine voices each as good as each other and then there’s that resonant bass ringing masterfully at the end of ...

Tom Napper & Tom Bliss – The Kelping

I had the utter delight of seeing this duo play at the Ho at Anchor, in Leigh-on-Sea and they wove magic for me that night. The magic was in the stories that they told before and during playing. It made me listen harder and instilled a greater understanding of the ...

Celtus Reflections and Echoes

This was the place where Celtus fans shared their stories,  gigs they attended and the Celtus music they loved. It was also the place where they put their questions to John or Pat McManus. If you would like to have any of your other Celtus stories shared on this page then email me ...

Celtus Live 2000 (Evangeline GEL4020)

The fourth album from Celtus featuring all live tracks with 2 Bonus Tracks. A must have. Starting with Navigator at full belt in front of an audience. Into The Pilgrim slow, soulful and the audience quiet and listening intently. We have Wide Awake next to make sure “we are not ...

Celtus Rooted (Shamrock Records 001)

A traditional album, again different, but stunning in its own right. Irish Folk/Celtus at its best in a traditional form. Rooted brings out whistles, bouzoukis, reels and jigs in abundance. First track is Heart and Hand, slow then into an up-tempo classic foot-tapper. Next we have Voyage, an Instrumental with a beat ...

Celtus Portrait (Sony 494710 2)

This is the second Celtus album from the incredible McManus Brothers. The opening track Two Worlds, is an up-tempo, love song then leads into Wide Awake, a track telling of a stifled person in love with someone else. Touch You tells of love gone stale. Harmonies and stunning whistle playing from John ...

Jamie Marshall – Here After

Jamie Marshall - a new shining light in acoustic music releases his latest album 'Here After' - an album mixed by the legendary John Wood. The opening track 'She is in me' straight away sets the pace and feel of the album which left me with a high expectations. I was not disappointed - Jamie’s voice resonates an earth-like quality ...

Darryl Purpose – Travelers’ Code

Travelers' Code, Darryl's third CD, is as colourful as the man himself. Darryl was once recognized as the World's top blackjack player and is an avid peace activist. Darryl's peace march took him across the U.S and on to Russia which culminated in the first-ever, outdoor stadium rock concert in ...

Sheila Nicholls – Brief Strop

Sheila Nicholls début album Brief Strop has classic written all over it. Her voice contains a primal emotion that makes you instantly connect with the music. Well thought out lyrics seduce and woo your senses as you're taken on a journey though the light and darker sides of human nature ...

LUNASA – The Merry Sisters Of Fate

A nice opening set-up from Donogh Hennessy's driving rhythmic guitar settles comfortably in to the jig 'Aoibhneas Eilis Ni Cheallaigh' with Kevin Crawford's flute and Sean Smyth's fiddle taking up the lead lines. The rather nifty segue from the second tune 'Jimmy Ward's' into the closing 'Not Safe with A ...

Bob Fox – Dreams Never Leave You

Bob Fox's latest album "Dreams Never Leave You" is like an old friend. "The Road to the North" welcomes you in and leads very nicely into "The White Cockade". The album is very well constructed and every track seems to fit well with the next, like Ewan MacColl's "Champion at ...

Bluehorses – Dragons Milk and Coal

This album bays loudly and stampedes the listener with a sound that has been created by the fusion of a classic Rock technique thrust into a delicate layer of traditional folk. Liz Prendergast's vibrant electric fiddle and gritty vocal control works beautifully on tracks like "Rabbit in the Headlights" and ...

Shave the Monkey – Good Luck Mr Gorsky

Original folking posting date - 17-May-2001 When Apollo Mission Astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" statement but followed it by several remarks, whilst communicating between him, the other astronauts and Mission Control ...

Ashley Hutchings – An Hour With Cecil Sharp

Not exactly an hour but who's counting? Bearing in mind the current debate on the nature of Englishness, this is a timely and welcome re-issue of the 1986 vinyl album that followed up Ashley's successful show, "An Evening with Cecil Sharp and Ashley Hutchings". Part entertainment and part documentary, it ...

Flook – Flatfish

Orginal folking.com Posting date - 17-May-2001 Flook are like a well-oiled machine, with the many parts working in harmonious precision. Driving the sound is the flute interplay of Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen, supported by the deft rhythm section of guitar and bodhran. 'Flatfish' is full of vitality and energy, ...

Martyn Joseph – Far from Silent

"Far from Silent" is about real life, people and experiences. When you listen to the words behind the songs you begin to understand the depth to Martyn’s world. Like the destruction of communities, cultures and traditions portrayed in the song "All in the Past" or the irony and false obsession in the ...

Celtus – What goes Around

“What goes Around” builds a new refined pyramid of sound, vocal and spirit. John and Pat McManus are at the heart of this new structure, which is held together with the strongest set of songs to date, heavenly harmonies and exciting new concepts. Track Analysis: “What Goes Around”, Eastern Techno-folk flavour with ...

Gjallarhorn – Sjofn

Gjallarhorn's unique mix of world music finds its roots in the Swedish folk music of Finland. It features a layered style of mythical medieval ballads, whirling minuets, prayers in runo-metric chants and Icelandic rimur epics. There are some moments of sheer improvisation and others that are "composed" and influenced in the classic ...

Celtus Moonchild (Sony 487715 2)

Debut album of the incredibly talented Celtus, who were previously the hugely successful hard rock band Mama's Boys. Formed after the death of their drummer brother Tommy. John and Pat McManus from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland wrote the incredibly, mystical music to produce this fabulous album. A total change back ...

Celtus At the Memorial Hall, Sheffield 2000 -By Jean and Emma Camp – Devon, England

We all waited outside eagerly, knowing that we were in for a treat. We were not disappointed!! It was our first visit to the Memorial Hall, and we were really taken with the intimacy of the venue. We found out after the show that the acoustics were a nightmare, but ...

Celtus At the Royal Festival Hall on Monday 13th March, 2000

The air was filled with gathering excitement as we waited for Celtus to appear on stage. Our first view was of Dan bathed in a soft eerie glow as he conjured up the introduction to "Two Worlds". Then light erupted around John as he appeared from nowhere, low whistle in ...

Celtus – Reviewed by The Sunday Citizen Milton Keynes on the 12th March, 2000 – by Paul Brookman

Celtus are simply the best! CELTUS are quite simply the best band Ireland has ever produced. Forget U2, The Corrs, Them or any group of any genre - this trio from County Donegal are head and shoulders above them all. After two brilliant albums their record label, Sony, dropped them ...

Celtus – Reviewed by the Liverpool Daily Post on the 06th March, 2000 – by Andrew Judge

It's a great achievement finally knowing you've got there. Celtus have paid their dues and they deserve it. The band have supported Paul Carrack of Mike and the Mechanics fame, Deacon Blue and Jimmy Nail. It was about time it was their turn. Each Merseyside gig has shown a professionalism ...