THEA GILMORE – Ghosts & Graffiti (FullFill Records FCCD 165)

THEA GILMORE Ghosts&GraffitiA mixed bag, jam packed with 20 tracks from the talented Miss Thea Gilmore. Some older tracks and some brand new tracks to encounter. The songs are often woven around intelligent, inventive and sometimes just plain strange lyrics; as in the case of “Razor Valentine”.

Not all the tracks hit the mark in my opinion, but there is such a rich selection that a small wobble here and there is no big deal. There are an array of guest artists on the album, such as Joan Baez, King Creosote and The Waterboys, adding variety and counterbalance to the songs. From upbeat rocking style to mournful ballad (and even, dare I say it, folk) [yes, you dare – Editor], this album covers the ground in style.

It’s incredible to think that some of the tracks on this album stretch back some 17 years and yet still come over as relevant. Age has not dated them.

Stand out tracks, for me? The opener ‘Copper’, ‘Start as We Mean to Go On’, ‘Coming Back to You’ ‘Razor Valentine’, ‘Sol Invictus’ and ‘Wrong with You’. Plenty of other goodies in the bag, but these are the tracks that pressed my buttons on the first play.

So if you acquire this CD you are getting a potted history of Thea Gilmore’s musical work, with the added bonus of new tracks. Plus a glossy booklet which has an introduction by the author Neil Gaiman, who became a fan of Thea Gilmore in the early years.

So, a thumbs up for Ghosts & Graffiti. Well worth the money in your pocket or adding to your birthday list.

Ron D Bowes

Artist’s website:

‘Coming Back To You’ – the official video:

HEIDI TALBOT announces new single Button Up with King Creosote

Heidi Talbot_Button_upButton Up, the brand new single from Irish folk singer Heidi Talbot’s latest album ‘Angels Without Wings’, is a beautiful modern day folk song. Co written and sung with King Creosote, AKA Kenny Anderson, ‘Button Up’ was created after the pair discovered a mutual admiration:

“He was asked to pick his fantasy band for The Independent and he picked me and Morten Harket from A-ha on joint lead vocals,” Heidi laughs. She conceived the melody for Button Up with Anderson in mind, and he sent back his own lyrics. The result is a brooding urgent love song.

‘Angels Without Wings’ is an album of original compositions glowing with special guests from the worlds of folk, pop, rock and bluegrass. Featuring collaborations with Mark Knopfler, King Creosote, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Karine Polwart, Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow), Julie Fowlis to name a few.

“Simply vocal heaven” 
The Sunday Times

“A voice that’s both awestruck and tender” 
The New York Times

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Irish Songstress Heidi Talbot Announces Angels Without Wings

Heidi Talbot Angels Without WingsIrish Songstress Heidi Talbot Announces Angels Without Wings

Former Cherish The Ladies Vocalist’s New Release Features Collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien and More

Acclaimed Irish songstress Heidi Talbot presents Angels Without Wings, a new collection of stunning original compositions, many co-written with  long time collaborator with Boo Hewerdine, featuring some of the most notable players and singers from the worlds of folk, pop, rock and bluegrass.  The new album will be released by the Compass Records Group on January 29th.

When Mark Knopfler and Jerry Douglas offered to play on Heidi Talbot’s new album, they thoughtfully recorded their parts in several different styles – some were instantly recognizable, others more low-key. Talbot’s husband, producer and band-mate John McCusker joked, “you’ve got the best guitar players in the world and we’re blending them in?” But both musicians knew that for Talbot, the song always comes before the name.

Subtlety is Talbot’s magic ingredient – from her gossamer voice to the delicate re-working of traditional and contemporary material that earned her rave reviews for her 2008 breakthrough In Love And Light. The girl from Ireland’s Co. Kildare, who spent several years in New York as a member of the Irish-American super-group Cherish The Ladies, slips effortlessly between musical worlds but retains a personal penchant for traditional folk.

Talbot began writing songs on her 2010 album The Last Star. In just two years she’s become a master of the art, sometimes composing alone, sometimes with McCusker and Boo Hewerdine(who form her touring band). Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) became a new creative foil for Talbot recently. The pair became a song-writing team recently after discovering a mutual admiration for each other’s music: “He was asked to pick his fantasy band for The Independent and he picked me and Morten Harket from A-ha on joint lead vocals,” Talbot laughs. She conceived the melody for “Button Up” – a brooding, urgent acoustic love song – with Anderson in mind, and he sent back his own lyrics.

“At home we listen to Belle And Sebastian and Teenage Fan Club as much as we do The Fureys and Mary Black,” she says, of her song-writing’s broad appeal. The best modern folk music gets right to the heart of human drama while remaining oblique about time and place: “Wine & Roses” is a poignant contemporary reminiscence about young lovers “holding hands and rubbing noses”; “I’m Not Sorry” is a mini-psychodrama written from a single moment of reflection – “I felt it, so it can’t be wrong to sing about it.”

And while the timeless language of traditional folk will always be an inspiration, there are traces of Americana in “When The Roses Come Again” (featuring Mark Knopfler), a delicate country-tinged duet with bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, and Parisian romance in the unforgettable title track by Boo Hewerdine, laced with vintage accordion.

Talbot and McCusker were keen to capture the spontaneity of performance: the album was recorded live in Glasgow’s new Gorbals Sound Studios with her regular team including Ian Carr (guitars), Phil Cunningham (accordian), Michael McGoldrick (flutes/whistles), James Mackintosh (percussion), Boo Hewerdine (acoustic guitar) and Ewan Vernal (bass). “If people made mistakes we’d just keep going,” says Heidi. “On some of the tracks you can even hear the harmonium creaking. These guys are friends, they all give their opinion. They’ll say, “That’s it! That’s the take!’”

Talbot’s close-knit creative environment has fostered her confidence as a songwriter while allowing her to welcome in surprising new collaborators. These ever-evolving musical relationships can be heard on this, her most sophisticated and vibrant recording to date.

THE BURNS UNIT – Side Show (Own Label TBU 001)

Bitter recrimination is the order of the day particularly on the opening track “Since We’ve Fallen Out” on this, The Burns Unit’s (Emma Pollock, Future Pilot A.K.A and MC Soom T [What’s that all about???], Karine Polwart, Kim Edgar, King Creosote, Mattie Foulds and Michael Johnston) debut recording. The lyrics expunge in such a mean and spiteful way so as the listener is left in no doubt that there is no room for reconciliation and definitely no turning back. For those that have experienced this feeling before, the rawness is conveyed by a splendid arrangement full of angst in a gut-wrenching performance clearly stating its case and without doubt a real cry from the heart. The 70’s/80’s subtle techno-rock (as used here) played a lot in my formative music career and on the keyboard generated riff infused “Trouble” I’m pleased to hear it still has a place in this ‘modern’ world of ours. Even isolation has its ‘ups’ when it’s buoyed by a pleasant melody and an upbeat presentation I just wish we’d hear more of it, like this, generated to the mass market and perhaps, just perhaps we might get some sanity back in our impoverished lives? OK, so this might not be quite ‘folk’ as we know it but at least in it’s hippy-ish kind of way it’s an antidote to some of the more earnest straight thinking ‘folk’ arrangements that are seriously in danger of becoming stereotypical and by the sound of them I would imagine The Burns Unit should be a good ‘live’ act.


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