THE JELLYMAN’S DAUGHTER – Dead Reckoning (own label)

Dead ReckoningA gentle beginning with cello, voice and mandolin and then the strings flow into the musicscape. ‘Quiet Movie’ is a fine opener to the new album Dead Reckoning by that marvellous duo The Jellyman’s Daughter.

This new outing is chock-full of bitter sweet ballads, laments, lullabies and dancing tunes such as the second track ‘I Hope’, a foot-tapper with a deceptively quiet start and catchy chorus.

The chugging cello riffs that punctuated their previous album are less frequent here, but still make a welcome appearance now and then. The banjo is used judiciously and joyfully on a number of the songs and, indeed, takes centre stage on the instrumental ‘The Shoogly Peg’, giving it a southern swamp-music flavour.

Emily Kelly has a super voice and Graham Coe’s vocal ably compliments hers giving cohesion to the whole.

There is more of a flow to this collection than the previous album which probably stems from the familiarity of two artists at one with each other. This album is a real pleasure to listen to and seems to offer more to the listener with each subsequent visit. I recommend you avail yourself of a copy and settle down to some fine music by an accomplished duo.

Ron D Bowes

Artists’ website:

‘Dead Reckoning’ – live:

YVONNE LYON – Metanoia (own label)

MetanoiaMetanoia is Yvonne Lyon’s eighth album and is a mixture old tracks revisited and brand new tracks. The collection opens with an Americana track laced with a helping of bluegrass: ‘Where The Poor Find Gold’. It is a good opener with a moderately lively tempo, and my pick of the tracks, but don’t expect the rest of the album to follow that path.

This a body of work filled with winsome songs. A feeling of melancholia dominates and yet there is an underlying hopefulness in a lot of the lyrics. The only track to kick off its boots is ’Everything’s Fine’, an up tempo dancing song with a positive message.

Yvonne’s voice carries the listener along through the reflective stories. A voice that is melodic and ideally suited to the subject matter of the songs.

The album as a whole is best described as a pleasurable listen. Nothing is going to shake any foundations here. There is nothing stunningly original on offer, but what you do get is quality music accompanied by meaningful words and delivered with Yvonne’s accomplished performances.

Any fan of Americana and American folk won’t be disappointed in this collection of songs that reflects Yvonne’s musical journey.

Ron D Bowes

Artist’s website:

GALLEY BEGGAR – Heathen Hymns (Rise Above Records RISECD208)

Heathen HymnsI have opined before that Galley Beggar’s albums, though excellent in themselves, never quite reflect the live feel of the band. The last album Silence And Tears went some way to redressing this imbalance, but their latest offering, Heathen Hymns, is much more in line with their live performances.

The opener ‘Salome’ is seasoned with eastern spice and is taste of the new direction that Galley Beggar is taking. A progressive rock feel with hints of early Pink Floyd in the mix. The mood and drive continues much in the same vein for ‘Four Birds’.

Back to their traditional folk roots for ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’, though the latter stages of the track has power building as it soars ever skywards before returning to its folk foundation. The middle section of the album is firmly in folk-land. Good tracks all, my favourite being the violin driven ‘Moon And Tide’ and Maria O’Donnell’s pure voice is admirably suited to this style of music.

The penultimate track is my personal pick of the crop. A traditional folk tale given the Galley Beggar prog rock treatment.  Cascading guitar echoing into the stratosphere, inducing flashbacks of psychedelia to this enthralled listener.

The album ends with ‘My Return’ which, in places, has a very similar feel to ‘Salome’. Tasty violin on the bridge of this track and, once again, there is that underpinning of power lurking beneath.

Overall an excellent addition to Galley Beggar’s discography and one I can heartily recommend. If this is your first taste of Galley Beggar, it should leave you wanting more.

Ron D Bowes

Artists’ website:

‘Moon And Tide’ – official video:

MERRY HELL – A Grand Night Out (Focal Media)

MERRY HELL A Grand Night OutThree albums to the good and a growing reputation, Merry Hell, have seen fit to release a live DVD. Having seen the band perform live and reviewed their last excellent album The Ghost In Our House and other stories…, I slipped the DVD into the player with some anticipation. I was not disappointed.

The selection of songs come from across the three albums and with exception of the elusive ‘No Money’, which I have yet to catch live, all my favourites are in evidence.

The first thing that hit me was the high quality of the sound recording. I actually wondered, initially, if the track was overdubbed, but could see after a few minutes that it was the actual live soundtrack. The performance starts a little restrained and then eases into more comfortable delivery. Not unusual for any live show.

So, what we have here is Merry Hell moving from jig, to light folk to Celtic rock and all colours between. Top of the list, for me: ‘Let’s Not Have A Morning After’, ‘There’s A Ghost In Our House’, ‘The Butcher And The Vegan’ and ‘BLINK… and You Miss It’. Although, I am sure you will all have your own favourites if you are a fan. If you have never heard any of Merry Hell’s music you really are missing out on some damn fine folk/folk rock.

Not seen Merry Hell live? Well, here is the next best thing. Support the band, buy the DVD and have a Grand Night In.

Ron D Bowes

If you would like to order a copy of the DVD then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

Artists’ website:

‘The Baker’s Daughter’:

CANNED HEAT – Songs From The Road (Ruf Records RUF 1218)

CANNED HEAT Songs From The RoadBack in the dim and distant past, in another life, when I was just getting into blues and rock, I encountered the delights of those “Kings of Boogie”, Canned Heat. It’s great to know that 50 years on they are still turning out their unique brand of blues and boogie.

Here is a live compilation of tracks that include the chart hits from their heydays and a whole lot more. If you are a fan you will be familiar with ‘On the Road Again’(the opener), ‘Time Was’, ‘Going Up the Country’, ‘Amphetamine Annie’, ‘Rolling and a Tumbling’ (their first recording) and, of course, ‘Let’s Work Together’. The CD would be worth getting, for those tracks alone.

However, in the mix is not only slick blues and driving boogie, but a surprising amount of jazz too. Just listen to ‘Don’t Know Where She Is’ to see what I mean. Most of the lead vocals are provided by Dale Spalding, who also provides plenty of fat blues harp throughout. Renowned, in the past for their protracted boogie tracks on their albums, they don’t disappoint with the last track ’Euro Boogie’. Thirteen minutes of pure legendary Canned Heat.

As ever, in the Songs From The Road series, this CD comes with an accompanying DVD. This time there are a couple of extra smooth blues tracks that don’t appear on the CD; ‘I’m Her Man’ and ‘Have a Good Time’.

The CDs that I have heard in this series, so far, have all been worth listening to, and this album is no exception. Slap it into your player, volume up to 11, close your eyes and let the boogie take you.

Ron D Bowes

Artists’ website:

It’s an old film but who cares? ‘Let’s Work Together’:

MAWKIN – The Ties that Bind (Good Form Records MKN004)

TheTiesThatBindHere we have a traditional Celtic folk album, filled with traditional folk offerings, but a peppering of other influences, such as Cajun, blues and country. Mawkin are a home grown five piece band, formed in 2002 and they have been earning themselves a reputation for turning out traditional folk, but with a contemporary cutting edge.

From the outset of the stomping ‘I Can Hew’, you are invited to stamp your feet and dance. There are quite a few danceable tunes on the CD. Not least of these, is the ‘Frenchy Set’, which comprises of three tunes delivered at jig-pace and like many of the tracks, there are some rousing vocals to sing along to. You even have the obligatory drinking song in the aptly titled ‘Jolly Well Drunk’.

No new compositions on the album. They are all traditional tunes given the Mawkin treatment. The band sounds like it is enjoying itself and the songs are such that you can join in the fun by singing to the roaring choruses. The musicianship is exemplary, the arrangements and production expertly handled and not a bad song or filler on the album.

If you are a fan of traditional folk music, you have probably already encountered Mawkin. If you haven’t, there is a hole in your collection!

A thoroughly enjoyable collection of tunes and I’ll bet the band has them jigging in the aisles when they play live.

Ron D Bowes

Artists’ website:

‘Jolly Well Drunk’ live: