FolkWorld #47 03/2012

CD & DVD Reviews

Tim Bragg "Revamped"
Own label; 2011

This is indeed a revamped album of reworked prior songs, new material, and a nice cover tune. Bragg has sort of a classic singer/songwriter style as opposed to the traditional and other folk categories. In fact, there is a mainstream soul, light R&B quality at times that reminds me of Hall & Oates. Especially impressive is that he performs most of this himself and has very professional sounding songs as a result. There are a few guest musicians helping with clarient, violin, and lead guitar. The songs do get a bit too ‘mainstream’ for me at times, but there is a lot of quality in all of the songs that would have an audience. “Fields of England” and “Common Courage” are my favorites from his original songs. But it is exciting to see he is a Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy) fan and recorded a slower “The Boys are Back in Town” for this album. By slowing it down, he reminds listeners of the great songwriting qualities Lynott had, and it was not all about those blasting double leads (but those were fun, too). Hopefully Tim Bragg can take this mature music and get it to the right audience.
© David Hintz

Denison Witmer "The Ones Who Wait"
Asthmatic Kitty Records, 2012

Denison Witmer is low-key. Not to say he is taking it easy as this is his ninth album in fifteen years. I have not heard enough of his earlier work, but I cannot imagine it being quite as mature as this work. Witmer sounds as if he has put both a lot of living and a lot of thinking into these songs. Playing quieter songs with little accompaniment will of course drill the focus on the songwriting and core melodies. And these melodies easily work their way into your head. More effective than the core is the smart accompanying sounds. There is a light and airy feeling coupled with spacey strange sounds that keep listeners on edge. Witmer reminds me a bit more like of a modern artist such as Alisdair Roberts than some of the folk-rock singer songwriters of old, although clearly the influences are also from that era. No matter the influence and comparisons, Denison Witmer has great command at expressing his music in captivating ways. I will be interested to see how he comes across live when he opens for William Fitzsimmons at the 6th and I Synagogue on February 23rd.

Songs to try out:

© David Hintz

Finn Olafsson "Music from North Sealand"
Olafsongs; 2011

This certainly has a new age flavor to it, but stay with me if that genre makes your skin crawl. It is not overly lush, and is nicely guitar driven throughout. There is some nice bongo work scattered about as well and there is no excessive orchestration. This is pleasant atmospheric acoustic music, closest to some of John Renbourn’s most easy going albums. Pierre Bensusan comes to mind, although the guitar work here is not always as dazzling as what you hear from those two. But a song like “The Monks of Esrum” showcases Olafsson’s skill and more importantly his feeling for an exotic melody. Now this is what takes me back to something like John Renbourn’s “The Black Balloon”. Olafsson works out of Denmark, but his music is not geographically bound and balances the ancient and modern styles as well.
© David Hintz

Dave Gunning "We’re All Leaving"
Fontana; 2009

German CD Review

Dave Gunning is from Nova Scotia in Canada which has excellent European and worldly folk traditions at the heart of its fine music scene. Gunning also adds some American heartland songwriting style in his music. The music is smooth, smart and inviting. Just when I am uncertain of whether it reminds me too much of what I have heard before, he tosses in a guitar line or melodic twist in the vocals to push his song to a higher level. He has a very enjoyable voice and the band is solid throughout. I liked that he put a storytelling song like “Before the Morning Song” in between more general songs. Everything is balanced nicely, both within the songs and with the album as a whole. Folk-rock fans should give this one a listen.
© David Hintz

Rodrigo y Gabriela "Area 52"
Ato Records; 2012

I have enjoyed this duo for a few years now catching live performances whenever I could. Their faux-flamenco dual guitar approach was both tasty and filled with energy. It was all acoustic guitar fury, never losing melody. I did not expect this big shift away from that simplicity into a full band setting with horns, percussion and mostly Cuban rhythms. Once the shock wore off, it was easy to pick up the Rodrigo y Gabriela story. Their guitars are still quick and melodic as ever, they just wanted to add some more ingredients to the stew. It is to their credit that they want to vary the formula. It probably excites them quite a bit, which leads to exciting audiences. If they took a U-turn, this may not work, but it still sounds like Rodrigo y Gabriela on steroids. So indulge.
© David Hintz

David Francey "Late Edition"
Laker Music; 2011

This record instantly reminds me of guys on a porch playing folk and light bluegrass on a lazy summer afternoon. But staying with this record, I keep hearing more crafty intelligent songwriting from David Francey. There is a touch of Dave Alvin in here along with many traditional folk songwriters of old. The arrangements are spot on and the writing is quite compelling. Even the barest arrangement brings a depth to the song that you do not often hear. Compelling folk we have here.
© David Hintz

Danny Carnahan "Sky in your Pocket"
Celtoid Records; 2011

Danny Carnahan plays guitar, writes about guitar, teaches… you get the drill. He can certainly play. Vocally, things are soft in a folk manner. The basics here are decent, but the country touches especially that cloying pedal steel guitar are way to distracting for me. And although that is obviously a personal issue with me, I still sense that this sound does not enhance these songs enough. There are some exceptions such as “The Only Stranger” which has a deeper Irish folk feeling evident. The horns on “Ballad of Capel Street” offer a nice unique flavor as well. A patient listen may yield some nice results here, depending on the style of folk singer/songwriter music you prefer.
© David Hintz

Los Dos y Companeros "Salsa Guerilleros"
C+P Connector; 2011

German CD Review

Even not knowing Spanish, the obvious album title here perfectly describes the music within. Dance beats a plenty, piano that truly sounds like a member of the percussion family and a hot pace throughout these ten songs are what is on this menu. The vocals are the other key in addition to the percussion and successfully bring out the better songs. Sometimes they slip into rather dull hip hop or pop moves, but other times they add some more welcome jazz touches. It is a bit all over the place, but the spirit and general sound is consistent and enjoyable if you like this sort of dance tempo.
© David Hintz

Yellow Umbrella "Live at the Groovestation"
Rain Records; 2011

This is ska. Coincidentally, I just saw a local ska outfit play last night, so I have a point of comparison in addition to the classic 2-Tone bands of the late 1970s. I am not sure if this can rival the best of the Specials or Madness, but I think it was a step up from the live show I saw. The main improvement was that this live recording has studio quality separation of the instruments. The sound is clean and vibrant with all the excitement of the live setting. The keyboard work is much higher than most ska bands and the vocals really deliver the messages in the songs. If I have any criticism, the sound is almost too clean and professional. But the quality in the writing and playing makes this an enjoyable album. Ska still is quite popular and the Yellow Umbrella does it as well as anybody this century.
© David Hintz

Bebe "Un Pokito de Rocanrol"
EMI; 2012

No folk here. What we have is a modern pop rock sound that combines a lot of interesting forms. There is a bit of mixture of rap and singing atop elements of snappy electronica and occasionally drone rock. It could almost pass for new wave at times, but it is much too modern. Ultimately it is a good pop album that dares to try enough styles to keep things interesting while maintaining catchy hooks and dance rhythms. Not half bad at its worst and pretty good at its best. I like the worldliness to it all as well. Of course, it is all sung in Spanish so it will be worldly to me, but the music also has some Spanish flair at times. This is her third album and the first I have heard. It was well worth a listen says this novice.
© David Hintz

Whitehorse "Whitehorse"
Six Shooter Records, 2011

This was a surprising little gem. At first, I thought I might have a masterpiece. It settled back into merely very good after the first two songs, but ultimately this record achieves a very high rating. The beginning sounds channel Fit & Limo, while the second song reminds me of the very underrated and brilliant Faun Fables. After that, it settles into a quirky Americana folk with some light psyche touches. This is primarily a male/female duo with some drums assistance from other musicians. The male/female vocal dynamic is quite excellent throughout. And the music is about as atmospheric as it gets. It did not surprise me in the least that they shared the record label of one of my favorite Canadian bands, Elliott Brood.
© David Hintz

Bring the Mourning On "Going Going Gone"
Stargaze Records; 2011

This is a rich and hearty record that fits in comfortably with the finer alt country and folk rock bands that most of you are familiar with. Stirring male and female vocals atop a strong rhythm section and steady guitars, strings and keys. There is often a feel of weaving that takes place when you hear quality music like this. There is a lot of sound blending together in constructive patterns with heartfelt vocals on top. And just as I thought they started playing it a little too safe as the album went on, they close with “Eye of the Beholder”, a song revealing such minimalist intensity, that it could easily fit on a Woven Hand album (that is a high compliment from me). Give this one a careful listen.
© David Hintz

Hoots & Helmouth "Salt"
sonaBLAST! Records; 2012

From nearby Philadelphia, comes this interesting band with their own twist on Americana folk and blues. I have not caught the live show yet, but I have heard they really deliver a great set. They will be playing here in late March, so I will be able to judge for myself soon enough. The album gives plenty of clues as to why they have a good reputation around here. They have a relaxed and fun sense of stompin’ blues as well as folk songs that cut to the heart of the matter. “I Don’t Mind Your Cussing” has a casual Devandra Banhart style to it, although it is not quite as ‘out there’. They definitely feel modern in style with an understanding of different histories of the genres they cover, but with their updated personal touch. “Ocean, Open Wide” is a lovely folk number that although quiet in tone, has a nice intensity within. The variety continues as the album concludes with the choral singing and handclaps in “Being Borned Again”, which is a nice way to take this album home.
© David Hintz

Blame Sally "Speeding Ticket and a Valentine"
Ninth Street Opus; 2011

Now this is my sort of folk record. It begins with a strong passionate song (“Bird in Hand”) with delicate acoustic guitar, great lead and harmony vocals and a timeless folk melody that sounds traditional but is original. Blame Sally is four women handling all vocals and instruments aside from the bass work and a few other guest spots. I also enjoyed “Throw Me a Bone” with the delicately picked acoustic guitar melody and ethereal vocal harmonies. The vocal reminds me of a somewhat lighter Wyld Olde Souls and balances earthiness with psychedelia. There are some moderate rock songs that fit well into the indie rock camp and that sort of variety is welcome here. The vocal work is brilliant and carries the songs forward no matter how they are arranged. This is a lovely record that is worth exploring further by music fans of old and new styles. The quality here should win you over.
© David Hintz

Blame Sally "Speeding ticket and a Valentine"
Ninth Street Opus, 2011

Blame Sally was formed in 2000 and features four singer/songwriters from San Francisco: Pam Delgado (drums, percussion), Monica Pasqual (piano, keyboards, accordion, glockenspiel), Jeri Jones (guitars, mandolin) and Renée Harcourt (guitars, mandolin, banjo). For their new album they recorded together with guest musicians Rob Strom and Chris Kee on bass and Julie Wolf on accordion and Hammond B3 ten brilliant songs.
They start off with one of Monica's songs, "Bird in hand", an epic Country song showcasing her warm alto voice accompanied by great guitar playing, Wurlitzer and a soft but accelerated pace. Pam's powerful singing on "Big big bed" (Jane Selkye) is driven by Chris Kee on acoustic bass, resophonic and electric slide guitar, mandolin, Wurlitzer, accordion, guitars and drums. My favourite song is "Pajaros sin alas" (birds without wings) by Monica. Monica's passionate Spanish style singing is accompanied by acoustic rhythm guitar, e-bass and intoxicating drum rhythm, Wolf joins in on accordion, Monica on piano and they go for the breathtaking final duet of Monica and her three mates. Renée adds wonderful songs like the beautiful rock ballad "Throw me a bone" or "Wide open space", a cool blend of Rock, Blues, Pop and Americana. They end up with Monica's hauntingly beautiful piano ballad "Take me there", accompanied by guitar, banjo, slide guitar and accordion.
Blame Sally have published four studio and two live albums, I wonder if all of them are as good as "Speeding ticket and a Valentine", a fantastic collection of songs in different styles and performed by great singers and musicians.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Henry Girls "December Moon"
Own label, 2011

Scotsman Calum Malcolm produced and recorded the Donegal native Henry Sisters' fourth album "December Moon" in Glasgow. The three talented multi-instrumentalists and singers invited some first class musicians to record 10 original tracks, 3 cover versions and one traditional song.
Liam Bradley on drums and percussion, Nicky Scott on double bass and Lorna on bodhràn create the intoxicating rhythm on the breathtaking Blues "Sing my sister down", Joleen on harp, Karen on banjo and fiddle, Ted Ponsonby on Dobro and Denise Boyle on viola and fiddle accompany the great singing of the three siblings; my favourite track. The title song is a beautiful up-beat Americana with brilliant playing together of Karen (viola) and Denise (fiddle) and "Moonstruck", one of the two instrumental tracks, stands out with a mesmerizing duet by Joleen on harp and Gameli Tordzro on kora. The traditional ballad "Rain and snow" is a perfect showcase for their hauntingly beautiful singing accompanied by melancholic fiddle and harp playing as well as e-guitar sound by Cameron Malcolm and rock rhythm. In addition to their self-crafted tracks they perform American songwriter Lhasa de Sela's "Fool's gold", a romantic slow waltz, brought forward by harp, viola, banjo, fiddle, Dobro, bass and drums. American Bluegrass masters Shawn Byrne and Chuck McCarthy wrote "Ol' cook pot" and The Henry Girls sing the Blues, Denise adds some awesome mandolin playing and the two fiddles (Karen and Denise) play their melancholic melody. they end up with an original up-beat Bluegrass featuring a jazzy brass arrangement by Donal McGuinness, Joleen's funky honky-tonk piano and Karen on ukulele, "Couldn't ask for more".
The Henry Girls impress with their beautiful vocals, wonderful arrangements and brilliant musicianship and their band include great musicians from Ireland and abroad. Check them out!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Curst Sons "The Original and Genuine"
Curst Mountain, 2010

The Brighton based Curst Sons are Tim Dunkerley (slide guitar, mandolin, guitars, vocals), Willi Kerr (vocals, washboard, rhythm-pole) and Dave Simner (banjo, lead guitar, vocals). "The Original and Genuine" forth album features 13 self-crafted songs and 5 guest appearances.
Starting off with "Murder", an up-beat Bluegrass with great playing together of banjo, mandolin and guitar, the guys set the first musical highlight. Dickie Jayston on drums and Willi on jews harp create the intoxicating rhythm of "Bang Bang Billy", a dramatic Country song, and Willi's soulful singing on the blues rock "Snow Bound" is awesome. Then Dickie on drums and Phil Jones on double bass accelerate the pace for "Stop Sign Disaster", a three guitar Rock'n'Roll gem. Kate Simner and Willi sing a beautiful duet on the old-time country "Till I met You", Bob Tipler adds some awesome accordion playing and the guys play banjo, guitar, mandolin, rhythm pole, spoons and Shaker. Producer Simon Walker plays violin on "Last One at the Party", double bass, drums, banjo, slide and guitars accompany the melancholic Americana song, another favourite track of mine.
The new album of The Curst Sons is a brilliant collection of songs and sounds, their music is strongly influenced by American music of the early 20th century, but their style is original and genuine.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Michelle Burke "Pulling Threads"
Kilcronat Records, 2011

Irish singer Michelle Burke participated on Cherish the Ladies' Christmas CD "A Star in the East" (2009) and now she presents her first solo album "pulling threads". Based in the musical scene of Edinburgh she assembled some of the finest musicians to record 8 beautiful songs: Aidan O'Rourke (producer, fiddle), Kris Drever (guitars, vocals), James Ross (piano), Karine Polwart (vocals), Donald Hay (drums, percussion), Kevin McGuire (double bass), Martin Green (accordion) and Su-A Lee (Cello).
They start off with the only traditional song, "Molly Bawn"; Michelle's hauntingly beautiful singing, Aidan's brilliant string arrangements, James' beautiful piano playing and Kris' eerie guitar sound make it my favourite song. Edinburgh's cult songwriter Sandy Wright wrote "Hey Mama" about someone on death row, Michelle, Karine and Kris mesmerize the listener with their great singing together and Andy M. Stewart's melancholic love song "Where are you tonight I wonder" is lyrically brought forward by Michelle and James. Cover versions of Bob Dylan's "I shall be released" or Tom Waits' "Broken Bicycles" sound different sung by a virtuoso singer. Another highlight is American songwriter Chris Stuart's "Springhill Mine": Shuffling blues rhythm, powerful singing and breathtaking musicianship. In addition to these contemporary songs Michelle recorded "I'll take you home again Kathleen", a song written by Thomas P. Westendorf in 1875; accompanied by Kris on guitar Michelle sings this song for her granny with much emotion.
Michelle Burke is an amazing singer and together with these brilliant musicians she recorded an extraordinary album. No doubt, she will make her way, check her out.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Mutefish "On Draught"
Own label 2010

Czech mandolin player Vaclav felt like a mute fish when he started busking in Dublin with Bogus (guitar, mandolin) from Poland and Marka (cajon, guitar) from Lithuania. Vaclav left the band and Tomas (bass guitar), also from Lithuania, Peter (drums, percussion) from Ukraine and Irish flute and tin whistle player Daithí joined to create a great five-piece line-up. Together with some brilliant guest musicians they recorded 12 intoxicating tunes for their debut album "On Draught".
They kick off with Daithí playing a breathtaking flute solo, drums, e-guitars and bass join in and accelerate the pace before Peter Staunton adds his button accordion, great dance tune. "The congress reel" fuses fine flute playing in a slow reel time with cool reggae/dub sound and on "Gypsies on the moon" they add a jazzy flair. The tracks sound like folk, reggae, ska or even like punk: "Fields of Russia" has it all. Other highlights are the five minute long musical world trip "Bon chanson" or "De la ferme", a hauntingly beautiful tune in a Breton dance-rhythm. Mandolin, accordion and the up-beat rhythm on "Wellies in the air" remind the listener that most of these guys come from the east, matches well with ska groove.
I love this album, it is one of the most creative and innovative folk albums I've heard lately; brilliant musicians, intoxicating tunes and extraordinary arrangements, get tuned!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Madison Violet "The Good in Goodbye"
High Romance Music, 2011

Lisa MacIsaac (guitars, fiddle, banjo) and Brenley MacEachern (guitars, harmonica) are the voices and songwriters of Madison Violet, a Toronto based folk pop act. Together with Les Cooper (guitars, mandolin, , banjo), Adrian Lawryshyn and Mark MacIntyre on bass, Joel Stauffer on drums, Chris Quinn on banjo and Robbie Grunwald on Rhodes they recorded one traditional and ten brand new original songs.
Acoustic strings, Rhodes, bass and drums create a relaxed sound and the two angelic voices sing romantic Americana ballads like Lisa's "Goin' away" with fine playing together of mandolin, guitar and fiddle. "Fallen by the wayside" has been co-written with Canadian songwriter Ron Sexsmith, Rhodes, lap steel and banjo give the beautiful pop hymn a folky touch. One of my favourites is the title song, an up-beat song between bluegrass, jazz and blues, brilliant drums/bass rhythm, virtuoso mandolin, banjo and fiddle solos and great singing, awesome. Electric guitar and harmonica accompany "Come as you are", a shuffling blues-rock song, and the traditional Bluegrass "Cindy Cindy" is my absolute favourite song, an intoxicating groove. Brenley wrote "Christy Ellen Francis", a beautiful folk song with fine guitar accompaniment and harmonica playing to the raspy singing.
"The good in goodbye" is a beautiful collection of songs, brought forward by first class musicians and two breathtaking singers. They are touring around the world, check it out!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Catie Curtis "Stretch Limousine on Fire"
Compass Records, 2011

Singer/Songwriter Catie Curtis has been established in the thriving Boston music scene for twenty years and still she keeps performing and recording. On her latest album she presents ten brand new songs, recorded in Los Angeles with some brilliant musicians.
Catie starts off with a hauntingly beautiful Americana, "Let it last", her soulful singing is backed by Mary Chapin Carpenter and accompanied by drums, bass, electric guitar and lap steel. Wurlitzer joins in on "Shadowbird", an intoxicating blues rock, and the title song is a cool up-beat rock song. Glen Patcha accompanies Catie on the soft piano ballad "River wide" and Wurlitzer, guitar and vibes dominate the love song "I do". Another highlight is "Wedding band", a folk song featuring Lorne Entress on drums, percussion and keyboards and Duke Levine on octave mandolin and electric guitar. Catie's mesmerizing singing and the fine guitar and mandolin picking are accompanied by the eerie sound of the keys and the electric guitar.
Catie Curtis released her 12th album and friends of her music will not be disappointed, "Stretch limousine on fire" is a fantastic collection of songs.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Bearfoot "American Story"
Compass Records, 2011

Nashville, Tennessee, based Bearfoot have released their fifth album "american story", recorded, mixed and produced by Brent Truitt. The line-up features Nora Jane Struthers and Todd Grebe (acoustic guitars), Angela Oudean (fiddle), Jason Norris (mandolin, violin, viola) and PJ George (bass, banjo, percussion, drums).
Struthers sings on most songs the lead vocals, she wrote "Tell me a story", a melancholic song with dramatic string arrangement and intoxicating rhythm, or together with West Virginian songwriter Tim O'Brien the hauntingly beautiful folk song "Feel free". Then they accelerate the pace with Grebe's up-beat Bluegrass "Midnight in Montana". Fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, guitars and Charlie Cushman on banjo create an incredible sound and accompany Todd's brilliant singing. Another highlight is his rhythmic Country song "Come get your lonesome" with a breathtaking duet by Nora and Angela, fine playing together of fiddle and mandolin and Jeff Taylor bringing in the accordion. "When you're away", a band-crafted song, is a fantastic Blues with a modest but virtuoso line-up: fiddle, mandolin, guitar, upright bass and Nora's soulful singing. The guys are all great singers and Oregon based songwriter Annalisa Tornfelt's "Billy" is a perfect showcase for their incredible singing together. Nora and Todd share the lead vocals, Angela adds the tenor voice, PJ sings baritone and Jason bass, an awesome a Capella performance.
Bearfoot will be touring Germany in November, check their tour dates and have a listen, the guys are one of the finest acts in Bluegrass and Country.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Bear Fox "Rich Girl"
Ohgwahlee Records, 2010

Kenkiohkoktha is a member of the Mohawk people and lives in the state of New York. Together with multi instrumentalist Robby Baier (guitars, banjo, mandola, bass, drums, percussion) she recorded her debut album with eleven self-crafted songs.
Bear Fox sings mostly in English like on the a capella title track, but there are also some songs in the Mohawk language like "Kaieri Niionkwetake", sung with Lawrence Laughing and accompanied by guitar and mandola. My favourites are "Ironworking Hubby", a beautiful song with banjo, drums, bass, guitar and Bear Fox singing Native American chants, and "Karenni:io" (the wedding song) written and performed by Bear Fox and Lawrence Laughing. Mandola, bass and percussion create a moderate but intoxicating pace and the two hauntingly beautiful voices sing a mesmerizing bilingual duet. On "Sky world" Bear Fox sings with Lydia Garrison-Clauson and the Turtle Duhks, great choir singing and awesome musical arrangement. The epic final track, "Ohenton Karihwatekwen" (opening address song), features again Lawrence Laughing and introduces a third voice, Yovani, the three singing to the steady percussion rhythm.
The music of Bear Fox is a fusion of Native American singing and rhythms with influences from Blues, Americana and world music. Listen to some samples at!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Noriana Kennedy "Ebb'n'Flow"
Own label, 2011

Galway based folk singer Noriana Kennedy (banjo ukulele) has released her first solo album. Together with Trevor Hutchinson (double bass) and Gerry Paul (guitar, 5-string banjo) she recorded and produced nine traditional songs and three cover versions. The basic line-up also includes Sylvain Barou on flutes and a bunch of brilliant guest musicians guarantees a real musical firework.
Noriana sings American folk songs like the beautiful "I've endured" (Ola Belle Reed) featuring Stephanie Coleman and Cleek Schrey on fiddles as well as traditional songs from the New World, "Say darlin' say"; for this romantic love song Sharon Shannon joins in on accordion. One of my favourites is the hauntingly beautiful Irish song "Ó fill a bhruinneall". Brendan O'Regan's intoxicating bouzouki rhythm, Noriana's breathtaking singing and Sean Regan's virtuoso fiddling create the dramatic pace and Barou adds some awesome flute playing. Irish singer/songwriter Damien Dempsey wrote the melancholic ballad "Beside the sea", brought forward with crystal clear voice and Schrey on pump organ and Bill Whelan plays the 5-string banjo on the traditional Blues "Who's gonna shoe", sung by Noriana with Christof van der Ven. Other highlight are Steve Tilston's "Slip Jigs and Reels", a perfect showcase for the guys to show their virtuoso playing together, and the traditional "Momma Blues" with Liz Coleman on fiddle jamming with Noriana on ukulele and another great duet with Christof.
Noriana Kennedy is a great singer covering a wide range of music styles. Her wonderful singing together with a line-up including some of the finest musicians of the scene make this album a must for friends of good vocal folk.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra
"30 Glorious Years Of The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra" [3 CDs]
REL, 2011

German CD Review

The cds start off quite in the manner of a pipes-and-drums-band – just with fiddles instead of pipes (indeed it often culminates with the use of the expected bag-pipes). The sound of the many violins reminds me a little bit of an old record of mine with the bigband of the german bandleader James Last with ist cover from soap advertisements ("Irish Spring“). It has for the main part live recordings, the audience clapping in time. With the third piece, things get more classical: more than one-part harmony, more calmly, and piano accompaniment rather than percussion. Accordingly, the arrangements are mostly simple and straight, but sometimes a little bit more elaborated (in rare cases even almost baroque), but always full of energy.
The fiddle-duet „The Hardanger“ sounds like coffee-shop music from Vienna and is not 100% in tune – this is hopefully not owed to the use of a norwegian Hardanger-Fiddle which I like very much … Generally, the great sound originates more in the number of instruments. Fast licks are not always synchronous, e. g. „Harvest Home“ (the bowed triplets are not precise, so the effect is lost). To make up for this, a second part harmony is introduced. To become faster towards the end is an effect that does not always fit to the music (but I know there are different opinions about this), and also gets worn out after a while (but live on stage it always seems to drive people crazy).
Even if dancing is not the main focus of the orchestra or the recording, there are well-known dancing tunes on the cds like "Reel Of The 51st Division“ (probably not in the correct length for a four-couple set) or "Gay Gordons“, there often is a chord in the beginning and the end, and almost all dancing rhythms are represented: reel, jig and strathspey. And in the end into the rhythmical clapping of the audience you even get a three-minute polka with people really getting crazy. Altogether, there are three cds, of which every one represents a decade. The booklet contains the history of the band.
© Christian Zastrow

Various Artists [Samplers, EP's, Demo CD's, Downloads]

Asynje "Genkaldt" (Biem/NcB, 2011). Valravns's[39] Sören Hammerlund (hurdy gurdy, nyckelharpa) and Martin Seeberg (fiddle) team up with singer Nanna Barslev and bouzouki player Mads Kjoller-Henningsen, renounce all electronics and move way back in time to medieval Nordic sagas.

Chasing Summer "Chasing Summer" (2012). Nashville based duo Tammy Rochelle and Joseph Bamber on the musical tracks of Simon-&-Garfunkel-like folk music and americana. Listen to folksy pop ("I Want You") or a gospel medley.
Download the Chasing Summer debut for free from!

The Civil Wars "Live at Eddie's Attic" (Download, 2011). Joy Williams and John Paul White, recent Grammy winners for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album ("Barton Hollow," review following soon), recorded their second ever show at a club called Eddie's Attic in Decatur, Georgia. Pop meets folk music, the West Coast surrenders to the deep South.
Download The Civil Wars' "Live at Eddie's Attic" from!

Dom Duff "Foeter Breizh" (Download Single, 2012). Breton guitarist and singer-songwriter Dom DufF,[44] best known for his blend of folk and rock music, his native culture and rootsy guitar licks, has been asked to compose the anthem for the Redadeg 2012, a 1,500 km relay across Britanny with the aim of raising funds for cultural projects all along the way.
Download Dom Duff's "Foeter Breizh" single, including the song, the instrumental track, lyrics, and translations from!

Julian Gaskell "Kind Words from Home" (2012). Step into a tumbledown world of gypsy-punk accordion, surf klezmer, speak-easy ragtime, intellectual drinking and protest songs, romantic piano torch ballads, sweet musette waltzes, weeping country laments, violent tangos and stomping balkan skiffle beats... Singer-songwriter and one-man-orchestra Julian Gaskell[41] howls and hollers as if Tom Waits came from a Roma family and punk had its origins in cabaret and circus.

Marketa Irglova "Live from San Francisco" (Download, 2012). The female half of The Swell Season and the Academy Award winning film "Once"[38] only recently published her debut solo album "Ånår". To promote the release here's some select live tracks from her concert at The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco on November 18, 2011.
Download Marketa Irglova's "Live from San Francisco" from!

Arto Järvelä "Plays Fiddle Vol. 2 - Cross-tuned" (Own label, 2011). The most reknown Finnish pelimanni fiddler is best known for his work with groups such as JPP[6] or the Helsinki Mandoliners,[27] but has also released a couple of solo recordings. This time - solo fiddling of open-tuning pieces.

Mike June "Exile on Wilson Street" (New Austin Music, 2012). Mike June is a singer-songwriter from New Jersey who raised one or two eyebrows with the alt-country band The Dirty Doves. His solo debut is a musical journey through the ups and downs of his move to Austin, Texas. More than decent folk rock ("The Prisoner"), folk ("Hey Woody Guthrie"), blues ("Mama You've Been...") ...

Anais Mitchell "Young Man in America" (Wilderland Records, 2012). Best known for her 2006 folk opera "Hadestown, described as the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in post-apocalyptic Depression-era America,[44] Vermont's Anais Mitchell[46] is out with her fifth studio album, telling the story about her recession-plagued country. Listen to the title track!

Josh Ritter "Solo Acoustic @ KCD Theater, Louisville, KY March 19, 2011" (Download, 2011). Idaho's greatest singer-songwriter-guitarist, Josh Ritter,[43][44] presents solo acoustic versions of fan favorites spanning his entire back catalogue, as well as a cover of John Prine's "Mexican Home" and a previously unreleased song.
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Tori Sparks "Until Morning/Come Out of the Dark" (Glass Mountain Records, 2011). Double disc with seven songs, respectively. First of all, "Until Morning" displays a darker side, second, Tori Sparks[42] provides a way out of the darkness. At least she tries!

The Steel Wheels "Lay Down, Lay Low" (2012). Original Americana from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, somewhere inbetween bluegrass and blues, old-time and folk music. Search out the a capella song "Rain in the Valley" with its great four-part harmonies!
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Lucy Ward "For the Dead Men" (Single, 2012). BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award, Fatea's Debut Album of the Year ...[47] Young Derby singer Lucy Ward is making waves. Her single "For the Dead Men" from her debut album "Adelphi Has To Fly" (review following soon) is rising in the folk charts too ... between Ralph McTell and Eva Cassidy ... how cool is that? Watch the video @!

Kyle Warren "Wanted" (Lochshore, 2011). Scottish bagpiper Kyle Warren - 2010 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year finalist, member of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers[44] and the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band - presents his debut album, including many of his own compositions.

Various Artists "The Best of American Songwriter Sessions" (Download, 2011). Thirteen stripped-down, acoustic live recordings for "American Songwriter," featuring Ron Sexsmith, Paul Simon’s son Harper Simon, Justin Townes Earle,[43] ...
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Various Artists "Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International" (Shangri-La, 2012). Charity compilation album featuring new recordings of compositions by Bob Dylan.[45] Proceeds will be donated to the human rights organization Amnesty International, founded in 1962 when Dylan released his debut album. The 4 CD box features 73 songs from Adele to Lucinda Williams, including Steve Earle,30 Billy Bragg,[23] Jackson Browne,[43] Flogging Molly,[42] Marianne Faithfull,[30] Pete Seeger,[39] ...

Various Artists "Danish Roots - Growing in the World 2012" (GO' Folk, 2011). "Danish Roots"[46] is a project promoting the most promising Danish artists (or those based in Denmark, such as Marianne Green[41]). The 2012 compilation is a who's who of Denmark's folk and roots music scene (not exclusively artists from the GO' Folk label), featuring 40 tracks from Abild[43] to Zenobia.[38]

Various Artists "Indies Scope 2011" (Indies, 2011). Introduction to Czech artists and their recent albums on the Indies label, featuring Cankisou,[47] Jarret,[47] Tomas Kocko,[46] Lade,[47] as well as erotic folk songs[47] and traditional music from Moravia.[47]

Various Artists "Dusty Banjos - Live at the Crane" (2009). The Dusty Banjos project was started in 2002 by musicians in the west of Ireland as a music session for students of Irish traditional music. Members are offered regular beginners classes and advanced sessions, CDs and sheet music, ... The CD was recorded live in the Crane bar, Galway in 2009 and features 48 members of the group playing a selection of regular sets.

Various Artists "Roots Moments: Special Live Cuts From Season One" (Compass Records, 2012). A selection of 11 performances from the inaugural season of Nashville’s celebrated weekly live radio show and new-era webcast "Music City Roots," featuring new and established talent in contemporary folk and Americana music such as multi-Grammy Award winning musical host Jim Lauderdale,[36] Nanci Griffith,[39] Scott Miller.[23] The final cut is a jam with Sam Bush[43] leading "Up On Cripple Creek".

Various Artists "This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark" (Icehouse Music, 2011). A 2 CD tribute to celebrate the Texan singer-songwriter's 70th birthday,[47] featuring vignettes such as "Desperadoes Waiting For A Train" (by Willie Nelson)[40] and cinematic works such as "The Last Gunfighter Ballad" (by Steve Earle),[30] as well as country-folk artists as Rosanne Cash,[41] Kevin Welch,[34] Ramblin’ Jack Elliott,[46], Terri Hendrix,[43] ...

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