Category Archives: Roots and Folk Reviews

Richard Durrant – Stringhenge

It’s not easy to get politics into largely instrumental, largely classical music, but that hasn’t stopped guitarist Richard Durrant trying. Straight after finishing Stringhenge – “the most personal album I have ever made” – he cycled over a thousand miles … Continue reading

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Eliza Gilkyson Torpedoes the Ship of Fools on Secularia

“I wouldn’t call myself a Christian, but I am spiritual…” and “I’m not religious, but…” These phrases often come from people who either search for God or experience him, but want to distance themselves from established faith. American Eliza Gilkyson … Continue reading

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Band of Love: Folk Fever

(Island Records) Just when I thought there were no genre mash ups left – and Malcolm McLaren’s mix of punk and opera was a strange one – we now have folk artists covering disco songs. What do we get – … Continue reading

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Speechless

Here’s some of the best instrumental music of the year so far to come across my desk (or kitchen table, to be more accurate). There is jazz, neo-classical, folk, Celtic and various points in between. Most of it is cottage … Continue reading

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Fairport Convention – What We Did on our Saturday

Swipe me, 50 years already? “Who knows where the time goes,” indeed. And with Fairport’s penchant for losing people somewhat permanently, who knows how many of them will be around to celebrate 60 years? So this was an anniversary to … Continue reading

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Darlingside – Extralife

It is rare for me to be so instantly struck by a new album. After hearing about four songs (or maybe only four parts of songs) I was contacting the band for a press copy. It’s the reverb-drenched harmonies that … Continue reading

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Yvonne Lyon – Metanoia

(Yvonnelyonmusic.com) I nearly let a couple of bad first impressions put me off this album: I was underwhelmed by her support act to Iona a few years ago (although I may just have been impatient for the main act), and … Continue reading

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Beth Whitney – The Wild Unrest

There’s deep beauty coming out of pain in that cabin in the woods.

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Wildwood Kin – Turning Tides

(Silvertone / Sony) While a female family trio that features flowing, flawless harmonies might suggest Haim, this band is completely different. Wildwood Kin are less poppy and more atmospheric. Opener “The Author” would have slotted seamlessly onto a Note for … Continue reading

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Billy Bragg and Joe Henry Shine their Light in London

This was one of those gigs that you catch at just the right time and place. As the trans-Atlantic partnership of Bragg and Henry played the show, polls were beginning to close in the US presidential elections, and the setting … Continue reading

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Jarlath Henderson – Hearts Broken, Heads Turned

Every now and then you get an agitator in the world of folk; someone who takes the songs that have thrived for tens or hundreds of years, and makes them fresh for a new generation – people like Jim Moray … Continue reading

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Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop – Love Letter for Fire

  If Beam and Hoop sounds like a gymnastics event, it is the songwriting that stretches and flexes on this fluid performance. Fans of both should be thrilled.

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Afro-Celt Sound System – The Source

There are few bands whose names are as appropriate as Afro Celt Sound System. It feels a bit tacky to do so, but you could describe them crudely as ‘Riverdance on safari’, so well do they blend the Celtic and … Continue reading

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Songs of Separation

“Songs of Separation” isn’t really about separation, admits  project creator Jenny Hill in the liner notes to this feast of female folk artists, explaining that it really looks across borders “to remind us that we’re all so much more connected … Continue reading

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Show of Hands – Centenary: Words and Music of the Great War (2CD)

There will be few better markers of the First World War centenary this year. 4.5 Stars CD 1: 22 tracks, 38 mins CD 2: 12 tracks, 42 mins Hands On Music Of all the celebrations marking the centenary of the … Continue reading

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Mike Farris – Soul Survivor

As a former member of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble, he has his roots deep in the blues, but has re-invented himself as a Blues/Gospel artist, with more than half an ear to the classic arrangements of the ‘sixties. With … Continue reading

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Kate Rusby – 20 (Pure Records via Island)

Another celebration of 20 great years of folk, this puts Rusby’s gorgeous voice in the spotlight 4 Stars Time: 20 Tracks / 90 minutes What was it about 1982 that started so much talent? Both Show of Hands and Kate … Continue reading

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Show of Hands – Wake the Union (Hands On Music)

The duo celebrates 20 years of quality roots music with a semi-Americana release… and does it work! 4.5 Stars Time: 15 Tracks / 57 minutes When I first saw Show of Hands, I was struck by how traditional their song … Continue reading

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Abigail Washburn: City of Refuge (Rounder / Foreign Children Records)

Decemberists producer and clawhammer banjo player join forces to create a fascinating, lush take on nugrass, with an exotic oriental edge. It is superbly executed by world-class players. 4+ Stars Time: 11 tracks / 41 minutes This may be a … Continue reading

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