Heirs&GracesHeirs & Graces is the debut album from Edinburgh singer-songwriter Adam Holmes and his band The Embers. Of course, The Embers includes Kris Drever and Southern Tenant Folk Union bassman, Alex Hunter, so this isn’t some studio pick-up outfit and the record was produced by John Wood, one of the few sound men celebrated in song.

Who’s who doesn’t really matter. This is a classy piece of work. It looks as though there’s a lot going on but the arrangements are the epitome of restraint – as if parts were worked out and then reduced by half. The production is similarly spare but everything gels. Key sounds are Steven Blake’s keys and Alan Train’s pedal steel but there are no ego trips and the music rolls and flows. That, and Adam’s languid delivery, is so reminiscent of John Martyn.

Then there are the songs. The opener, ‘Monday Morning’ is a lazy blues to settle the listener in but the best song is probably ‘Oh, My God’, a reflection on a man’s mortality set to a gorgeously simple tune. In fact, gorgeously simple is a perfect description of this album.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Monday Morning’ recorded live for Amazing Radio:

3 BOXES – ‘Strings Attached’ ALBUM

3 BoxesFrom Richard Thompson, Pink Floyd and The Shadows comes a trio, all featured in Guitar Player’s ‘1,000 Great Guitarists’ with each contributing their unique ‘box’ (ie guitar) styles and a result that is much more than the sum of its parts.

3 Boxes sides are CLIVE GREGSON, MARK GRIFFITHS and ANDY ROBERTS, while the 4th side is legendary producer JOHN WOOD (John Martyn, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, etc.), with whom they have just completed their debut album. Entitled Strings Attached, it contains 12 instrumentals, penned individually by Gregson, Griffiths or Roberts and played by all three, live in the studio. The album was recorded in Eastbourne, England and mixed by John Wood in his Analogue Studio in Northern Scotland.

3 Boxes defy any attempt to put them in one, since their self-penned music encompasses a vast range of musicality – from swing, folk and blues to ballads and beyond. Their dexterity and interplay creates a raft of rhythm and melody on which they sail far beyond any perceived barriers. Producer John Wood has captured the dynamics of their live studio performances and added a magical extra dimension of resonance and clarity.

The band travelled to Southern California to shoot their first video. Directed by award winning film-maker Nigel Dick, ‘Wranglin’’ features the trio deep in the Mojave desert, accompanied by their muse the Spirit Of The Desert, as they perform the lively track.

The trio will be promoting Strings Attached, released on April 21st, with a UK tour.

Artists’ website:

3 BOXES – Strings Attached (Gregsongs CGCD1401)

3BoxesThe men behind the three boxes are former members of Plainsong: Andy Roberts, Clive Gregson and Mark Griffiths. All are experienced composers, players and singers which is why this album is rather puzzling. You see, Strings Attached is a set of guitar instrumentals written by the players and produced by the legendary John Wood. Not that there is anything wrong with that, except that I suspect that the majority of their audience would give their eye teeth for an album of songs from this trio.

The set opens with Roberts’ ‘Wranglin’’, typical of his penchant for country-rock guitar picking.and a good way to kick off. It’s followed by Griffiths’ ‘The Last Goodbye’ and like the later ‘The Car & The Great Salt Lake’ it has the expansive quality of a piece of film music. Gregson’s pieces tend to the quirky, at least as far titles go: ‘No Parrots In Tescos’, for example, although ‘Horny Pipey’ is what it says it is. Roberts is on particularly good form. ‘All The Pretty Little Horses’ and ‘I Have Lately Learned To Swim’ are both delightfully languid pieces and ‘Tick Tock’ harks back to the seventies. Tell me it was written for Nina And The Dream Tree and I’d believe you.

The cover pictures, taken from the ‘Wranglin’’ video, reminded me of The Blues Brothers – without the sharp suits, of course, and I suppose 3 Boxes embrace that spirit of doing your own thing. Strings Attached is an enjoyable album even if it isn’t the one we might expect or wish for.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

Watch the ‘Wranglin” video:

NICK DRAKE Five Leaves Left

Poverty stricken students of 1968 rolled their own – not for them the cigarette temptations of a pack of 10 Embassy, no, their tobacco thrills came hand rolled, usually in Rizla papers which kindly reminded the participant that they were about to run out, with a yellow interleaf paper with bold red type stating ONLY FIVE LEAVES LEFT.

Nick Drake’s bucolic autumnal shades in his debut album of a similar name, heralded a new signing for Island Records: not traditional enough to be folk, not weird enough to be psychedelic, Drake avoided the pitfalls of what was expected and collaborated with producer Joe Boyd, orchestrator Robert Kirby and recording engineer John Wood to make a singular and almost unique record released to a largely indifferent media.

A few leaves fell in the right place and Nick’s reputation grew, despite his early death at 24 in 1976, escalating into the world-wide fame he enjoys today. Released initially only on vinyl and cassette, these formats became redundant with the dawning of CD and downloads – leaving a gaping hole that was filled by high collectors prices for original pressings and the inevitable poor quality bootlegs.

Island Records now complete the ReDISCovered vinyl set on Nick Drake with this boxed faithful replica of his debut album. As before, it was remastered from the original un-eq’d quarter inch master tapes by John Wood at Abbey Road Studios and pressed using wholly analogue processes onto 180 gsm virgin vinyl. The sleeve is an exact replica of the first edition of the album and is coupled with a period shop poster, lyrics to two of Nick’s songs and options to download the tracks in MP3, Hi-Res FLAC files or the new DFD (dubbed-from-disc) files for that authentic listening experience.

•         Mastered from original master-tapes at Abbey Road Studios by original engineer John Wood
•         Analogue Pressing onto 180GSM audiophile virgin vinyl
•         Gatefold sleeve, inner sleeve, paper labels
•         Original shop poster
•         Reprint of Nick’s handwritten lyrics to two songs
•         Digital download/ card- 3 Formats: lo and hi res plus Dubbed-From-Disc


Anne Marie AlmedalMemory Lane (released on June 3, 2013) is the latest album to showcase the visionary folk of Norwegian songstress Anne Marie Almedal.

Memory Lane” is a sweeping collection of songs, timeless in sound, a panorama of nostalgia, with flashes of psych-folk, cinematic classicism all wrapped up in Anne Marie’s powerful voice. Her personal history takes in stints with art-rock groups, features with the likes of Dazed And Confused, long tours and long days – but as she settled in Norway with producer, and British husband, Nicholas, they began to collaborate on a more intimate sound – one influenced by seminal folk records, acoustic instrumentation and the icy, spectral surroundings of their adopted hometown.

From the subtle, sparse production twinned to a beautiful melody of opener “Back To Where It Started” right through to closer “The Wanderers”, the album skits back and forth between the organic sounds of their 60’s and 70’s folk influences through to a telling sign to their location – a confident approach to modern pop warmth twinned with the dark, introspective lyrics that the Scandinavians have been doing so well in recent years, the confidence is unmistakable. The record contains both hooks and heart, a testament to Anne Marie’s songwriting and vocal skills.

Already building further success in her home country of Norway, the support of legendary producer John Wood and folk legend Danny Thompson should help her find a place amongst the folk audience and wider in the UK too.

Folking previews Union Jill’s new album ‘Repectable Rebellion’

Union JillYorkshire’s acoustic duo, Union Jill (Sharon Winfield and Helen Turner) release their new album Respectable Rebellion, on May 11, 2013. Union Jill’s songs combine strong melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. With both Winfield and Turner on acoustic guitar, mandola and vocals , the duo’s sound is distinctive and fresh.

Union Jill’s Respectable Rebellion is a vibrant collection of 13 new tracks. The album has been produced by Clive Gregson (Richard Thompson, Nanci Griffith, Gregson and Collister) and John Wood (Pink Floyd, Cat Stevens, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention) and features an impressive roster of contributing musicians.

The impressive arrangements include rich harmonies, whilst the instrumentation ranges from gutsy and dark to a feathery light touch.  Clive Gregson on guitar is masterful and fluid.  Andy Seward demonstrates he is a virtuoso on upright and electric bass and throws in a delightful banjo on Queen of Holloway.  Mark Boyce on drums expertly drives the rhythm and adds delicate moments throughout. The effervescent Ric Sanders is unmistakable on fiddle, particularly on Morecambe Bay where he characteristically lets fly. Kate St. John on sax and cor anglais brings added sparkle to Trailblazer and Witch Hunt.

Top all that talent off with the genius that is John Wood capturing the detail and the vibe of each track and you have a formidable album.

‘This album is a quantum leap for us,’ says Sharon Winfield, ‘the production brings out the live sound, the results are superb. Working with Clive Gregson and John Wood is a fantastic opportunity to develop our sound.’

‘We’ve really enjoyed making this album,’ Helen Turner adds. ‘We play well together as a duo and working with these brilliant musicians has been inspirational.’

To celebrate the release, Union Jill will perform at the National Centre for Early Music in York on 11th May 2013 at 8pm.

Union Jill will be on tour this Summer. Dates and locations

Folking were really hoping to have a video or soundcloud audio link for the Queen of Holloway, the open track on Respectable Rebellion to share with you.  The catchy banjo, electric guitar and fiddle combination is driving us folking mad . Keep an eye out for this duo, they are going to be folking huge”

‘A great album…this will get Union Jill some well-deserved recognition.’

Dave Pegg, Fairport Convention