BILL MADISON – Only A Dream (own label)

Only A DreamThe Florida-based singer-songwriter’s follow-up to last year’s If I Had The Time is, like that, mostly self-penned, three again in collaboration with wife Nancy, and, again, offers a rootsy acoustic collection of folk and blues numbers. That said, as the title suggests, the opening track, ‘Barefootin’ Boogie’, finds him in rock‘n’roll mood, albeit very much in its original blues-influenced style with slide guitar.

Taking the non-originals, ‘Lord Franklin’ is, of course, the much recorded traditional staple, here refreshingly reimagined as a fingerpicked American folk tune, Madison’s voice once more conjuring thoughts of the great Stan Rogers, serving reminder that these songs can take on new life given artists keen to work outside of the familiar boxes. The other, and at nearly six minutes, is ‘Sammy’s Bar’, a cover of an unrequited love song (that ends with the girl dying in a car crash) by the late lamented Hampshire maritime and traditional folkie Cyril Tawney, originally recorded in 1960 under the title ‘The Last Boat’s A Leaving’, the bar in question being a haunt of submariners in Malta. Tawney’s version (and other covers) was in a shanty style, but Madison takes the tempo down for a slower, more melancholic fingerpicked arrangement.

Of the self-penned material, one, ‘Oceans of Love’, is a reflective Spanish guitar instrumental, the others variously a mix of the personal and political. Evoking Pete Seeger in his more solemn moments, ‘Trying To Be A Friend’ treats on isolation and lost love, ‘Friends In Love’ a strummed celebration of finding the right one, the circling pattern title track, co-penned with Scott Roby, reflection on a relationship that’s ended while ‘All She Wanted’ has him explaining to a self-absorbed man exactly why his lover left him.

The political comes with ‘Farm Boy’, an anti-war protest song about how it’s so often the blue collar youth that become a nation’s cannon fodder, the album ending back in midtempo slide blues gospel boogie with the ease on back when this life’s over ‘When I Get There’, Nancy providing the harmonies. There’s no fuss or frills here, just the relaxed come on over and settle down sound of an artist who has no need to prove his craft or musicianship, and whose company it’s a pleasure to share.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.billmadisonmusic.com

‘Lord Franklin’:

HANNAH SANDERS – Charms Against Sorrow (Sungrazing Records SGR001)

CharmsAgainstSorrowHailing from Norwich, Sanders came to folk early, singing with her a capella family group, The Dunns, as a teenager before briefly putting music to one side to travel to America and develop a career as a cultural anthropologist, the album title bearing witness to her study of contemporary witchcraft. Returning to the UK in 2013, she’s resumed her relationship with folk music, releasing an EP last year and now following on with this full-length debut. Accompanied by musicians that include Ben Savage, Evan Carson and Jade Rhiannon from The Willows, bassist Jon Thorne and Anna Scott on cello, not surprisingly, it reflects both British and American influences in what is a predominantly traditional and simply arranged affair recorded in ‘grass roots’ settings that range from an old mill to a Lake District kitchen in order, capturing the intimate atmosphere, not to mention the sounds of fires crackling and birds singing

Sanders has a clear, pure vocal, a slight breathy husk alternating with soaring high notes and, listening to ‘Joshuay’, a sprightly variation on the song variously known as ‘The Prickly Bush’ and ‘Gallows Pole’, it’s hard not to sometimes find yourself thinking of the early Joni Mitchell. She certainly favours Mitchell jazz-folk stylings, both on that and on the ensuing versions of Michael Hurley’s psych-folk number ‘The Werewolf ‘(where her voice also suggests Janis Ian) and Annie Briggs’ ‘Go Your Way’. Elsewhere, the clear air of the Appalachians can be felt on ‘I Gave My Love A Cherry’ and in the Dobro colours of the otherwise softly sung English pastoral ‘I’ll Weave My Love A Garland’ while, in arrangements and vocal, both ‘Bonnie Bunch Of Roses’ (which segues into intricate guitar instrumental ‘Mayflower Stranger’) and ‘Lord Franklin’ are haunted by the ghost of Sandy Denny.

Harking back to her family heritage, there’s an unaccompanied reading of ‘A Sailor’s Life’ (aka ‘Sweet William’) and, her native accent heard in the pronunciations, a wearied, melancholic, cello-hued take on ‘Geordie’. Joined by sister Ruth on backing vocals, she’s slightly sprightlier on folk evergreen ‘Pleasant And Delightful’ (also known as ‘Dawning Of The Day’), though more restrained and tender than the rousing approach usually to be found in folk clubs while the album’s remaining track draws on the inspiration of Nic Jones (and, again, Scott’s cello) for a jazzy blues inflected interpretation of broadside ballad ‘Miles Weatherhill And Sarah Bell’.

It’s early days yet, but, with an extensive tour coming up to promote the album, Sanders could soon find herself numbered among the ranks of today’s contemporary masters of traditional folk.

Mike Davies

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: hhttp://www.hannahsandersfolk.com

Hannah sings ‘Lord Franklin’:

SINÉAD O’CONNOR re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua due 8th April 2013

Sean-Nos NuaApril 2013 will see the UK & Ireland re-issue of Sean-Nos Nua, first released in 2000 selling more than 200,000 copies worldwide. Literally translating as “Old Songs Made New”, Sean Nos Nua is a redefining moment in Sinead O’Connor’s career, an album composed of songs extracted from the bottomless well of traditional Irish folk song. Indeed, as many have proved in the past, this ancient repository is an apt source of material from which to draw and compliment the outsider’s oeuvre of an artistic mutineer such as O’Connor, for, along with the customary stories of lust and heartbreak, Irish traditional song and verse, much like that of other folk song emanating from the British Isles, is stuffed to the gills with bloody narratives of tragedy, intransient rebelliousness and lawless skullduggery.

Despite its generous thematic share of ex-pat Irishmen caught up in foreign wars, nautical misadventure (Lord Franklin), murder and piracy, Sean Nos Nua is a very feminine album, with O’Connor at her fragrant, interpretive best on the sorrowful Molly Malone and Lord Baker, which finds Christy Moore revisiting the song he performed with Planxty on the 1982 album Words and Music. Intentions to “sex things up”, as O’Connor puts it, give birth to an intriguing reggae undertow on Óró Sé Do Bheatha ‘Bhaile while guest appearances from the Emerald Isle’s most eminent bouzouki practitioner Donal Lunny, the WaterboysSteve Wickham on fiddle, Sharon Shannon on accordion and ON-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood keep things fresh but traditionally firm-footed enough not to deter purists. And, who knows, the boozy Irish bards and archivists of the future may have occasion to recount the tales of the shaven-headed colleen from Glengeary who ripped up pictures of the Pontiff and whose backside never surrendered to the threat of a star-spangled kicking from the boot of Frank Sinatra.

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link for the UK Store is: https://folking.com/folking-store/


Click banner above to order featured CD/ Vinyl/ Download/ Book/ DVD
Physical link to the US Storehttps://folking.com/folking-us-storefront/


Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.