Category Archives: Roots and Folk Reviews

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh – the Sea Maiden

This is the way to do traditional Irish music. The 28-minute EP Thar Toinn/ Seaborne shows a wonderful sense of restraint, and its simplicity means that there are no distractions from its key features: Nic Amhlaoibh’s voice, the strongly Celtic … Continue reading

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Waterboys – Good Luck Seeker

Fisherman’s Blues this certainly isn’t – but it’s exhilarating, just the same.

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Kate Rusby: Handed Down Songs

There are two big questions here: how old does a song have to be to be classed as a folk song? And how should you approach a cover – be faithful to the original or make it your own?

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Gigspanner – a Cert for Best-of-2020 Folk Album Lists.

There are times when ‘big’ is highly relative, and that applies to Gigspanner, the trio formed by ex-Steeleye Span veteran Peter Knight. Its Big Band version still only has six members.

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Kaprekar’s Constant – Depth of Field

Like Big Big Train, this poetic album blends folk, soft-prog and a personal take on historic events. It deserves a wide audience.

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Wildwood Kin

The Devon trio release another magical, harmony-drenched set of hooky songs. This is beauty with guts and purpose.

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Bruce Cockburn: Crowing Ignites (Crowing Ignites??)

This album is a real surprise. Cockburn named his last release Bone on Bone, because he was suffering from arthritis to such an extent that it was affecting his guitar playing. One might expect his response to major on singing, … Continue reading

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The Unthanks – Lines

I get the feeling that you’ll always learn something with an Unthanks project, and this one is an English teacher’s dream.

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Stopping the Loss

Sumptuous. That was my initial reaction at handling this release, a CD tucked safely inside the cover of a 112-page hardback book, inspired by another book, itself inspired by yet another book.

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Molly Tuttle – When You’re Ready

There aren’t too many singers who could keep me very happy just by singing a privacy policy. Dusty Springfield and Cara Dillon probably could, and Dusty would probably even find some emotion in there somehow. Molly Tuttle might just be … Continue reading

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Speechless 2

It has been a few months since my “Speechless” round up of notable 2018 instrumental releases, and they have kept coming, pouring into 2019. Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita – Soar (Bendigedig ) 8 tracks /45 minutes This beautiful release … Continue reading

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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, more accurately, kitchen table). There is jazz, neo-classical, folk, Celtic and various points in between. Most of it is cottage industry stuff, … 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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