FolkWorld Issue 37 11/2008

FolkWorld CD Reviews

The Coal Porters "Turn the Water on Boy"
Label: Prima records; SID020; 2008
The Coal Porters were formed in Los Angeles as an electric rock group. Since 1992, the UK is the home of this alt-bluegrass band as they call themselves. The band is formed around Sid Griffin who has a long history in music. After producing a Lindisfarne album he fell for the acoustic approach and after falling in love with the Bluegrass as well, the new musical direction was found. As a quintet the band recorded this turn the water on boy which contains original compositions beside the Gene Clark song Silver raven. Chris Hillman is doing a guest appearance on Mr Guthrie. The coal porters recorded a nice album with solid bluegrass songs. Their acoustic sound and straight forward musical arrangements give this album a good retro sound. To be honest, itís not as experimental, or Ďworld shocking newí as the bands description might suggest. But it sure is bluegrass music of high quality.
Eelco Schilder

JoaquŪn Pardinilla Quinteto "13% Vol."
Label: Delicias; DCD87; 2007
Joaquin Pardinilla is a guitarist from Aragon, Spain with experience in traditional and jazz music. On 13% vol. He recorded ten compositions live at the Bodega Bordejť. Besides himself, the quintet exists out of another guitarist / mandola player, a clarinettist, bassist and percussionist. Together they play a warm kind of jazz with Southern-European influences. Pardinillaís compositions are refreshing and adventures. The soloís on guitar and clarinet are fabulous and show many sides of these instruments. In Sobremesa de bestuť the quintet experiments with electric sounds and create a heavy drone. Itís the intro to a intriguing piece of music and definitely my favourite on this album. I love this atmosphere, like the air is heavy and slightly dark. Especially the combination between this Ďdarkí feeling and the fresh and almost innocent sounding guitar is great. This 13% is a 100% quality album, with strong compositions, great musicians and a good quality of sound.
Eelco Schilder

Barbara Blue "Live volume 2"
Label: Big Blue Records; BBR086; 2008
When your name is Barbara Blue, there is only one style of music that fits you Ö yes, thatís right. Itís the blues. Blue is a well known name in the world of blues and she has her own band since 1989. This is the sixth solo CD and the second live album on a row. She is backed by the pianist Nat Kerr and occasionally on sax by Lannie McMillan and on guitar by Corey Osborn. I love her powerful vocals, she sings in a raw and very direct way. Itís pure and honest with sober, but effective, musical arrangements. Although I love this raw and unpolished sound, this CD is sometimes difficult to enjoy. Not because of her singing, but because of the lesser recording quality. Itís like the microphone doesnít know what to do with this vocal hurricane and decided to add his own sounds or just tin some vocal parts which gives an occasional strange sound. Besides that I personally think the piano is to loud and I would have preferred it more at the background. But thatís just a personal thing. So this CD leaves me with mixed feelings. What a fantastic singer, but what a bad recording. Really a pity because I get the feeling with a bit more time and attention this CD could have been so much more.
Eelco Schilder

Napolilatina "Omaggi"
Label: Own label; 2008
Napololatina is an Italian trio and Omaggi is their debut album. As the bands name suggest, the Latin music is an important part of their music, besides the Italian songs. Omaggi is a homage to composers and singers that, to the bands opinion, are of legendary status. Listening to this album many known songs pass by. Sometimes in the original version but a song like Nisciun, that is known from the Buena vista social club, got a new lyric given by one of the band members. Besides this one, the CD contains three songs by Carosone, compositions by Morricone, Bennato and Ramazzotti. Napoliltina plays the music like a cover-band that is often invited to cheer up a good party. Straightforward music, stereotype and very easy going. The musicians show a decent sound but are not virtuosi on their instruments. Besides that, their interpretations of the songs are to much in the same style which makes this CD a bit predictable after a few tracks. And I think that when a band records a classical song like Funiculi funicula you really should find a totally new way to present it, their version is, Iím sorry to write this, terribly old fashioned and doesnít do the song any good. I personally find Omaggi a missed change. I think the band approached the songs to carefully and forgot to give their own twist to the music.
Eelco Schilder

Bidaia "Duo"
Label: Own label; 2007
Bidaia, their debut album Oihan took me by surprise and was in my top ten of best albums of that year. Such a fresh, uncomplicated album that shows the best elements of Basque traditional music in a modern context. So I couldnít wait to hear their new album which has recently been released and is called Duo. A very logical title seen the fact that the band is grouped around two musicians. Mixel Ducau is originally from the French part of Basque country and the founder of the successful group Errobi. Their lpís are still much sought after and loved by many world wide. The other half of the duo is Californian singer and Hurdy-gurdy player Caroline Phillips. She studied classical voice but also has experience in jazz and East-Indian and Moroccan vocal styles. On the new album they are backed by two guest percussionists. With Basamartxa the album starts as powerful as the other ends. Bidaia shows to have a very recognisable sound. The high pitched female vocals, the used rhythms and structures of the compositions, the sound of the hurdy-gurdy and the Sanfona. Itís like the first album continues. This changes with the second song called where is the rain an English sung about how terrible it is what we do to our world. In stead of sit back and enjoy, I get a bit annoyed with this song. Both the lyrics and the arrangements are predictable and to be honest, a bit dull. Much better is amaren alabarik the third song, that is closer to tradition and immediately sound more passionate and interesting. Beautiful is albokasbah. I love Ducauís peaceful and warm voice. A voice that never bores me. After hearing Duo several times I have to conclude that Bidaia is still a fantastic group, but also that this new CD is a bit disappointing. The band is at itís best in the more traditional orientated pieces like Albokalapita which is a great reprise. But on the whole the album doesnít have the same† balance between styles and musical arrangements like their debut CD. That album sounded like a whole and can be listened as if it is a continuing story. Duo has great songs and tunes but also moments that I have the feeling a song is not finished or that I heard it before. Nevertheless Bidaia is absolutely worth a visit to their homepage and I highly recommend their first album, but this second one has enough to offer to become a part in your collection as well.
Eelco Schilder

Beggarís Bride "Unwired Under Cover"
A-minor Records; 2008-001; 2008
Beggarís Bride is a trio from Switzerland specialised in many string instruments, but are not afraid of percussion and a harmonium as well. This unwired under cover is their second album. Over forty minutes, eleven songs all self composed. After the friendly and folk like beggarís instrumental welcome the band shows to be a very pleasant folk-pop trio, with often an acoustic approach. The band has a relaxed sound, with well played easy going songs. Slight bluesy influences beside the earlier mentioned folk sounds and even an occasional drop of spacy elements like in beggarís sing along. Which is followed by Game of love, a pop song with a catchy refrain that hours later is still running through my head. This Unwired under cover is a pleasant album that is suitable for a big audience.
Eelco Schilder

Karin Wallin "Guldpolska"
Nordic Tradition; NTCD12; 2008
Itís impossible to write a review about this CD while listening to it. The music constantly attracts my attention and from the first moment Iím stunned about the sound and the fabulous play by this Swedish violinist. Karin Wallin grew up in a family where folk music and dancing was about the most important thing in life. She was twelve when she hold the violin for the first time and at the age of fifteen she really started to take it seriously. By now she got the prestigious golden Zorn award for her music. She was only the seventh women ever to get this award and also one of the youngest. That she more than deserves it proves this fantastic debut CD, to my opinion one of the best solo-violin albums I have heard in years. Like I wrote earlier, itís impossible to concentrate on something else when Wallin plays. She has a very intense and personal style and she is one of these few musicians that manage to play with their heart instead of with their hands only. Beautiful how she creates a dancing melody together with a deep and hypnotising drone. There is no hesitation in her play, itís fluently and passionated. An absolute dream debut and a must for all serious lovers of the genre. See this issue of folkworld for an interview with Karin Wallin.
Eelco Schilder

The Creole Belles "The Creole Belles"
Arhoolie; 535; 2008
The Creole Belles were founded in 1995 and it would take them thirteen years to release a debut CD called Cajun and creole. The style of the band is exactly what the title says. Lively Cajun and Creole dance music. Most members have a long history in this style of music and know how to create the right sound. This debut album is an album by experienced musicians who know exactly how to capture the soul of the Cajun and Creole music. Nice, raw sounding violin, furious accordion and rhythms that make your feet move. Well produced album, it has this old fashioned sound that perfectly fits the music. A strong debut album.
Eelco Schilder

Joel Rafael "Thirteen Stories"
Inside Recordings; INR8031-8; 2008
Joel Rafael is a Californian singer-songwriter and this thirteen stories is his first album in eight years with new material. In these eight years he did release two CDís with songs by Woody Guthrie. He has won the Ďnew folk emerging songwriter awardí at the Kerville festival and has a solid reputation in the US world of folk songs. Thirteen stories shows a experienced singer-songwriter who writes personal and political songs. Especially the opening track This is my country is a good piece of singer-song writing with David Crosby and Graham Nash on additional vocals. The songs that follow Ball and chain and Rich manís war are, compared to the opening track, a bit more laid back and less sparkling. On I ought to know the right energy is back, a nice catchy folk-pop song. Same for Dancing to the drums, on which I particular like the sound of his guitar. More intimate are songs like Wild honey in which his voice sounds at itís best. One of my favourite songs on this album. Thirteen stories is a nice album with moody songs that are easy to listen to. Rafael is an uncomplicated singer songwriter who stays close to the basic elements of a song. Nice!
Eelco Schilder

Geoff Goodmanís Tabla & Strings "Songs of Nature"
Tutu; CD888230; 2008
Geoff Goodman origins from New York and has a long history in music. He studied guitar, flute, jazz and ethnomusicology, was a member of several folk, rock and bluegrass groups and until today he teaches guitar in Germany. He recorded with the known German band Embryo and in 1987 his album in duo with Chris Hirson was released. Since than four more albums of this duo were published and just over ten years ago he released the Misery love company on which he chooses a more international roots approach. During the last ten years, seven other works were released and now he brings Song of nature together with Charlie Mariano on saxophone, Fjoralba Turku on vocals, Bernd Hess on electric and acoustic guitars and Tobias Ott on tabla. The result is a moody album which mixes Ďmidnightí jazz with Indian and Arabic rhythms and light Celtic influences, especially in the finger picking parts. A surprisingly strong album with disciplined Mariano on Sax and some dreamy vocals by Turku. The compositions are uncomplicated and lean mostly on the jazz idiom. Itís quiet music with subtle changes and even in the faster parts, it still has a kind of peaceful soul.
An interesting crossover album.
Eelco Schilder

Sylvie Sivann "Israel - Traditional Jewish music"
Airmail Music; SA 141161; 2008
Iím always a bit afraid when I get new CDís by the Airmail label. It are often Ďworld music for millionsí CDís. This time it is Jewish songs from Israel, sung by the Belgian singer Sylvie Sivann. She has experiences in opera, baroque and theatre music and that can be heard. She has a powerful, well trained voice. Her singing has a strong taste of opera and the arrangements often are theatrical or remind me of a musical. The songs are not always recognizable as Jewish, but without doubt of technical high quality. Personally this is not my favourite way of interpretating this ancient and often emotional style. But I can imagine many others will love her more classical approach and less obvious Jewish way of performing. And although itís not after my personal taste, I can't deny that she is a very gifted singer and the songs are of good quality.
Eelco Schilder

Silveroot "Full Measures"
Silverado Records; X; 2008
Silveroot is a California based trio playing original material composed by band member, guitarist/singer Patrick Flynn. Besides Flynn violinist and singer Emily Palen and banjo / accordion player and vocalist Darryl Webb are members of the trio. Their music is a fine mixture of Americana and bluegrass. The opening track Overland road shows a talented trio with a really nice style and strong musical arrangements. The second track Full measure is even better and surprises me with good vocals and again strong song writing. But, there is a small thing in these two songs that annoys me terribly. The sound of the violin is to sharp compared to the rest of the instruments and I get the feeling that itís not Flynnís way of playing but something that happened during the mixing process. A pity because it breaks the balance of these two songs. Revenge in the third song long train one of the best songs on this album. Absolutely fabulous psych-electronic sounds with bluesy vocals, very inventive and effective. Beautiful is dream reality that has a special kind of sadness, well sung and here the violin has the right balance and here I can hear Flynnís real quality. The same for the end song Stickin with you where she shows a very sensitive way of playing. Full measures is an overall very strong album with a good unique sound and music from the heart. Except for my small remark about the first two songs, I can only say positive things about the album. Recommended and it wont surprise me when Silveroot will become a major name in near future.
Eelco Schilder

Boom Pam "Puerto Rican Nights"
Essay Recordings; CD 18; 2008
Boom Pam was founded in Israel in 2003 as a trio with two electric guitars and a Tuba. In 2006 they released their debut album on the German Essay label and know their second album has just been born. The title Puerto Rican nights might suggest that the band plays warm Latin style music, but actually they are not. They mix Southern European sounds, with Balkan beats, Yiddish emotion and Klezmer rhythms. Besides that, some great surf guitar parts which makes the band by occasion sound like a underground garage band from the sixties. Still the guitars and Tuba play the major part in their music but they add some harmonica, banjo and vocals and are backed by a drummer/percussionist. The overall result is pure crossover-sunshine music with a good underground feeling. They seem to get the optimal result out of their three instruments and create their completely own style and sound. Intriguing album!
Eelco Schilder

Old Crow Medicine Show "Tennessee Pusher"
Nettwerk; 2008
Tennessee Pusher is the sixth album by Old crow medicine show, a US roots group with a good rockín roll sound. Sometimes fast and furious dance music, but also more slow folky ballads. Most of all they sound like a great live act, the CD is nice but a bit to unpolished and it shows the bands restrictions. I personally find the violin to loud compared to the other instruments and after a few songs itís like the band stays to long in the same style and I cant concentrate on the music anymore. A bit more subtlety and variation would have done me some good. But maybe Iím not enough into this style of music to be able to appreciate it the right way.
Eelco Schilder

Veretski Pass "Trafik"
Golden Horn Records; 032-2; 2008
Veretski Pass is a trio from the US that focus on music from the old Ottoman empire. All three musicians have a long history in music. Cookie Segelstein plays the violin and viola and is the founder of the band. She is also a member of two orchestraís and the klezmer band Budowitz, besides that you can hear her in several soundtracks. Stuart Brotman plays the Cello, Baraban and Tilinca. He has an over 35 year long history in music including cooperations with Ry Cooder, Geoff and Maria Muldaur and Canned heat. The third member is Joshua Horowitz on accordion and Tsimbl. Same as the other two he has studied the many facets of the Klezmer music and played with the known Ruth Yaakov. On trafik the band has recorded thirty tunes divided in nine suites. Many own composition but also new arrangements on old traditional tunes. Veretski pass is a trio that studied the music thoroughly and that is also the way they play the music, almost like itís science. Technically spoken good, especially the accordion is excellent at moments and I wish there were more soloís by Horowitz, but itís played in such a decent way that it doesnít give me any feelings at all. I hear the quality of the musicians and I hear that the music is arranged in a well thought way. But I also get the feeling that they play it automatically and especially the violin play makes me a bit nervous, to much the same sharp sound and at moments slightly disordered. Seen the success of the band there might be a lot of you who totally disagree with me, but somehow Veretski pass and I donít match. Hopefully a lot of you will love their over thought music and check their website to be sure of that.
Eelco Schilder

Khamelien "Never Say Never"
Goin native; 10108; 2008
Never say never is the debut album by Khamelien, a Trinidad native nowadays living in Orlando. A very short review this will be as Khamelien doesnít even come close to folk or world music in any way. His music is Hip-Hop mixed with reggae and pop music, easy going but not I donít think very interesting for readers of a folk magazine, maybe more for their sixteen year old children.
Eelco Schilder

Shira Uítfila "Sephardic Songs from the Balkans"
Orange world; CD011; 2008
Shira Uítfila is formed by the vocalist and oud player Stefan Sablic. Besides member of this group he is the cantor of the Belgrade synagogue and also founder of the Jewish centre for culture and art. This is the groups fourth CD on which they present fifteen Sephardic songs from the Balkans. In the past they have, besides this style, also released liturgical CDís. The music origins from the time Jews lived in harmony with Muslims and Christians in Spain. Especially between the eighth and twelfth century, Spain was a country of tolerance under Arab rule. In these songs you can hear the influences of the Arabic culture very clearly, somehow it reflects a time very opposite to our recent years in which we stopped seeing the beautiful, tolerant and peaceful sides of cultures and religions. After the 12th century Jewish immigrants spread the music al over the world and on this CD you find the Balkan variations. I have to admit that I would never have guessed this CD contains music with a Jewish background, seen the fact it has so many elements that I normally would place in the Arabic culture. So besides being a beautiful listening experience, this CD also taught me a lot of historical background information. Shira Uítfila shows to be a group that understands the art of catching the soul of old traditions and bring it back to live. The result is an album of pure quality.
Eelco Schilder

Ruth Minnikin "Folk Art"
Label: Own label; 2006
A beautiful handmade cover contains Minnikinís latest CD, her third solo album. She was member of the Booming Airplanes in the nineties and has toured with the alt-country formation The Guthries. Folk art is a surprisingly good album with a fine mixture of folk, country and jazz. Minnikin has a beautiful clear voice and her songs are open minded and really easy going. She has a creative way of composing and by adding the French horn to the more common banjo and mandolin sounds, she creates a refreshing sound. Folk art is a rich album that easily fits into the new folk wave. Nice, happy, instrumental pieces such as instrumental breakdown and bad dreams pt 2,†go hand in hand with beautiful songs, like the introvert Stairs. Already two years old, but it makes me curious to her actual work and I do hope this will be available soon.
Eelco Schilder

Travis ďMoonchildĒ Haddix "Daylight at Midnight"
Earwig; 4955; 2008
Liz Mandeville "Red Top"
Label: Earwig; 4954; 2008
Scott Ellison "Ice Storm"
Label: Earwig; 4956; 2008
Chris James & Patrick Rynn "Stop and Think About It"
Label: Earwig; 4957; 2008
Four CDís published by the Earwig label, a label that specialises in Blues music. The first one is by singer/guitarist Travis Haddix. Itís his tenth album and he has a long reputation in blues including several awards. Together with thirteen musicians he brings pure an honest blues-rock. The second CD is by Liz Mandeville. This is her fourth album for the Earwig label and she is a singer/guitarist as well. Backed by fifteen musicians and a Gospel choir, Mandeville is a bit more expressive in her music. Note the pleasure she has in making her music and the raw touch she gives to the blues. A nice album, with a good feeling. A bit to uncontrolled at some occasions to my taste. The same feeling I get while listening to Ice storm by Scott Ellison. †Again a singer/guitarist backed by a big group of musicians. And for the third time nice and honest blues-rock, but not much different than the other two. All easy going, accessible music. My personal favourite comes from the duo Chris James and Patrick Rynn. Their new album Stop and think about it is a beautiful piece of blues music and the most purest one. Strong vocals, strong guitars, good sound quality and perfect blend between traditional blues and contemporary music. Seen the fact that Iím not a blues specialist, just to be sure you should visit the webpage of all three musicians to make up your own mind about their music.,,,
Eelco Schilder

Atongo Zimba "Savannah Breeze"
Hippo Records; 003; 2005
Atongo Zimba "Savannah Breeze live"
Label: Hippo Records; 006; 2006
Atongo Zimba "Barefoot in the Sand"
Label: Hippo Records; 008; 2007
Atongo Zimba was born in 1967 in Ghana. His grandfather taught him to play the two string instrument ĎKolikoí and so he passed on the tradition. Zimba is fasinated by tradition but also by the way modern African musicians interpretate their tradition throughout the years. Savannah Breeze is not his first album, but the first one that is released internationally. The album is now available together with the live version on cd/dvd. On this album from 2005, Zimba plays easy going Afro-pop. Roots mixes with jazz, rock, rap, electronica and sometimes his music even sounds a bit Caribbean. The difference between the studio album and the live versions of the songs is huge. Somehow on the studio album the songs stay close to each other and itís hard to find the own identity of the songs, while on the live album the music has much more energy and passion. Than his last album Barefoot in the sand. This CD has a much more restful and balanced sound. The opening track Ti zaa tari sum la be-em shows a Atongo Zimba that has grown and become more experienced in his songwriting and performing. His sound is a bit more acoustic and the biggest difference are his vocals. So much more relaxed, so much nicer to listen to. Atongo Zimba is a musician with many possibilities and a great talent. The way he developed in the last three years is very promising for the near future. He has the potential to become a major African roots artist.
Eelco Schilder

Mike Whellans "Fired Up & Ready"
Temple Records; COMD 2101; 2008
Mike Whellans is a well known name in the history of Scottish music. He was a member of the legendary Boys of the Lough and for a period he formed a duo with Aly Bain. In 1969 his harmonica and percussion were recorded for the first time on an album by Hamish Imlach. He played guitar on one of the Iain Mackintosh albums and released his first solo album in 1976. This is his first solo output in 5 years and although he calls himself ĎThe one-man blues bandí he is backed by six guest musicians including David Bromberg. On this album some original and traditional compositions in a groovy blues style. Nice guitar works, harmonica and straight percussion. His way of performing the blues has a nice kind of purity and an authentic sound. Besides that he knows how to tell the story and shows to be an allround entertainer.
Eelco Schilder

Pete Cummins "The Brilliant Architect"
Sidekick Records; kick 132; 2008
Pete Cummins is an Irish singer songwriter. His album The brilliant architect is recently released on the sidekick label. Cummins has a long history in music including early seventies band recordings and cooperation with Donovan. The brilliant architect contains ten original songs and one Cash cover called The train of love. The album starts with an easy going pop song called State of grace. I would call this easy going bluesy-pop, very nice and very accessible. When it comes to tears is a bit more rocking, while a song like burning all your candles is much more laid back and in the Americana style. Highlight on the album is Flowers in Baghdad. Cummins managed to catch the sadness of a war in describing a place where the flowers are disappeared. This metaphor is used before, about forty years ago by Pete Seeger, but Cummins interpretates it in a different way. Cummins recorded a strong album full of nice songs mixing rock, blues, Americana and many other styles.
Eelco Schilder

Fayssoux "Early"
Red Beet Records; 007; 2008
Fayssoux, the name might ring a little bell. Probably all people out there who love Emmylou Harris, have heard Fayssoux sing. She did harmony vocals on several of Harrisís albums. Finally her debut album is her, after a many years without recordings. This time itís the other way around. Emmylou Harris is singing the harmony vocals and Fayssoux is taking the lead in eleven beautiful country songs. Besides some own material she also sings traditionals like Weepin mary, the blackest crow and Amen children and compositions by Bill Halley, Rodney Crowell and others. Early is a beautiful and pure piece of music. Fayssoux chose a (more or less) acoustic approach and that fits her, somehow bit shy, vocals very well. Itís such a country CD that gives peace and rest to the mind and soul, with good musicians and nice harmony vocals.
Eelco Schilder

V/A [Samplers, EP's & Demo CD's]

SubEgo "Naming Trees" (EP): Maltese duo featuring singer Bianca 'Bee' Caruana and guitarist Adrian Camilleri, formerly known as "bee & ade". Acoustic jazz folk with first-class guitar and Bianca's sweet voice.,

V/A "The Gira" (Sampler): Promotional sampler of the Legados agency from Leon, Spain, featuring artists such as Aira da Pedra, Abraxas, S.O.G., Bardos Druidas (see review above), Maria Jose Val, Divertimento Folk (see review above). Prove enough that Spain has a lot of quality roots music beyond the usual suspects.

V/A "Siansa Gael Linn Duaiseoiri 2008" (Sampler): Insert of the November issue of the Irish Music magazine, containing the performances of the three prizewinning groups Fionnuar, Ollnova and Spraoi @ the Siansa Gael Linn 2008 competition for young traditional Irish music groups. No need to worry about Irish music, it is damn good and alive.,

V/A "2L - The Nordic Sound, Sampler 2007" (Sampler): Meanwhile, the Lindberg Lyd label from Oslo seems to be specialised in classical music. Here is everything from Mozart to Bartok to Grieg, only one track features the traditional Norwegian fiddler Sturla Eide (-> FW#36). However, he is worth seeking out, being a classic himself.

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 11/2008

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