FolkWorld #55 11/2014

CD & DVD Reviews

Millipond Moon "Broke in Brooklyn"
Tikopia Records; 2012

This is a smooth folk duo featuring male and female vocals with plenty of harmonies on top of a couple acoustic guitars. There is quite a bit of violin to embellish the simple melodies. Some of the guitar work is of high quality as well. They are from Norway, but have a universal style that could place them just about anywhere. The songs are what you may expect from modern folk with historical roots. And to cap off the history, they cover Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ to finish off the album.
© David Hintz

Jenai Huff "Grace" [EP]
Own label; 2014

This is one of the loveliest EPs I have heard in a while. There are just six well-crafted songs here, but on just one listen, I want to hear a lot more. Hopefully Ms. Huff will continue to grace us with her haunting voice, melancholy melodies, and smart arrangements. This is a little more down to earth than Marissa Nadler,[55] but will have you deep into emotions in the same manner. This is just the follow up to her debut LP, so it is safe to consider her one of the bright new faces on the scene—the scene being any broad based singer songwriter grouping that covers lighter rock and band oriented folk music. This one deserves many careful listens.
© David Hintz

Tim McMillan "Wolves of Stunz"
T3; 2014

This record almost has a progressive folk style to it. There is definitely a progressive flavor and aroma that works its way in between nimble acoustic guitar runs, light drumming and airy vocals. The writing is particularly unique, refusing to be pigeonholed. It is not unlike a more acoustic Fuchsia.[51] The guitar playing is lightening fast at times and merely fast and precise at others. It is a fine contrast to the nearly sleepy vocal style. This all has a comfortable sound, yet is strikingly original. This is a very fine album that will awaken sleeping music aficionados who seek something beyond the comfortable genre boundaries.
© David Hintz

Mellow Mood "Twinz"
La Tempesta International; 2014

This is reggae music, Italian style, well not exactly, but the band is from Italy. The vocals are Jamaican accented and the music is crisp with a lot going on. The production is rich and there are a variety of instruments and instrumental shifts to keep this interesting. And the vibe is a positive one, so reggae fans should take note of this band.
© David Hintz

William White "Open Country"
Adon; 2014

Barbados born, William White has traveled the open country and briefly stopped in his home country of Switzerland as well as Jamaica to record this album. There is plenty of authenticity in the music as it starts with reggae, but adds plenty of soul with a gospel tinge on his fine lead vocal work. Toots and the Maytals feature on ‘Rub a Dub’, which is an outstanding romp through various musical forms. It should bring a smile to your face and have your mind working as well. This is a fine record and you should try to get the full release as there is a second disc included featuring nine additional songs recorded live.
© David Hintz

Tom Corbett "Tonight I Ride"
Songs & Whispers, 2014

If you are seeking authentic Texan music done the old fashioned way, with plenty of grit and swing, Tom Corbett and his band cook up some fine honky-tonk. The vocals have that laid back relaxed style of old that provides a nice contrast to the pace of the music. And it works all the more when they slow things down to ‘ballad pace’. This is nearly timeless Americana music, sounding like it comes from someone’s front porch, yet with clean modern recording technology. This is all pretty light and pleasant with that Andy Griffith Show sort of warm smile working its way in. Although the recording process has resulted in a cleaner sound than records of old, the spirit here is a great match for Hank Williams and many other legends of old. While maybe not destined to join these all-time greats, this record can confidently sit next to the classics in your record collection.
© David Hintz

The Flying Eyes "Leave it All Behind Sessions"
Noisolution, 2014

Artist Video

This Baltimore, Maryland band (that I believe I have seen) has captured Wyrd-Americana better than most bands do. They do this with healthy doses of psychedelia that work in different ways throughout these songs. This is very western in the ‘Denver sound’ tradition as well as that as the Long Ryders and other California bands. There is a Colin Meloy quality to the lead vocals and there are harmonies that add to the fine array of instruments. There are lots of guitars and strings with some harmonica that is not too overwhelming. I hear the wheeze of an accordion at times, which is a nice touch. This is a strong band with a great sound and songs that last in the memory. These ‘sessions’ are quite complete and finalized to these ears.
© David Hintz

Ciro Hurtado "Ayahuasca Dreams"
Inti; 2014

Here is a great record for the world music folk fan. Ciro Hurtado plays a fine acoustic guitar and shows his Peruvian roots. But he also brings in Indian instrumentation, guest vocalists, and a mix of accompanying sounds that stretch the barriers of both geography and genre. The album gets a little long winded for all but guitar fans, but hunting out the strong cuts is well worth the time it takes as there is so much unique material within.
© David Hintz

Reverend Shine Snake Oil Co. "Anti-Solipsism pt. 1 Creatures"
Noisolution, 2013

Artist Video

The vocals initially hit me like the sound of Dr. John passing a gallstone. The music is as intriguing as some of that of Dr. John or other roots musicians that wing around the various forms and genres with comfort and a sense of relaxed adventure. The vocals manage to pull back into a moodier register, which adds to the exciting variety in this music. This is just a five song EP, but there is enough on display here to make this a band that could hold your attention for multiple albums or a long night in the clubs. I am not sure they will make it to my side of the Atlantic, but my radar detection is set to find these characters, wherever they may land.
© David Hintz

Sugarfoot "Big Sky Record"
Crispin Glover Records; 2014

Normally when I hear that a band is influenced by the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Grateful Dead, I worry. But the Byrds are also mentioned and they are favorites of mine and I do hear some of that great band in here. Frankly, I hear a lot of great things on this duo’s second album. These guys bring a lot of musical style from other genres into the fix, which shows with searing guitar solos, pop harmonies, as well as variations on western roots music. There are even some progressive moves here as this album never ceases to surprise. They have worked with Bent Saether of Motorpsycho, so it is not terribly surprising that there are such a variety of skills here. Sugarfoot are from Norway and I imagine the ‘western landscape’ there is as tough as anything the Rocky Mountains and western deserts dished out in the USA. The most important thing is that these are memorable songs with lots of style coming out in so many different forms. There is something excellent here for almost any music fan to dig into.
© David Hintz

Alana Amram & the Rough Gems "Spring River"
Kingswood; 2013

Artist Video

This starts off with a country music song that does not do much for me, even as it is skillfully performed. Fortunately, this band takes a left turn and adds a lot of droning electric guitar as they rock out their rootsy moves into a highly interesting territory. The vocals will send a shiver up your spine, even in their subtlety as the music keeps coming at you. This record has great strength within and should warrant a listen for any music lover from the widest array of interests.
© David Hintz

The Dolmen "Battle of Cape Clear"
Own label; 2014

Irish music always gets my feet tapping and if you rev it up to Pogues level, all the better. The song quality and vocal work aren’t quite up to the Pogues, few bands hit those heights, but the spirit is here. There is a fine Dubliners’ dedication with their cover of “The Rocky Road to Dublin”, which is one of the finer efforts here. The fiddle playing helps carry these tunes and keeps things fresh and lively throughout. This should bring pleasure to any fan of up-tempo Irish music.
© David Hintz

Adam Cohen "We Go Home"
Cooking Vinyl, 2014

Artist Video

Eleven more Adam Cohen songs should be welcome to any folk, folk rock, singer-songwriter fan. Cohen has a way with a phrase and in addition to being clever also provides some thoughtful lyrics. Musically, it is all agreeable at worst and very engaging at best. He can rock out or pull back into more folk forms as well. This is another classy release that I will be listening to for some time to come.
© David Hintz

Police Dog Hogan "Westward Ho!"
Union Music Store; 2014

Westward Ho, indeed. This London band has a long way westward to get to where they want to employ their Americana folk and bluegrass moves. But they get there well enough with these songs, as there is nary a trace of anything British here—maybe a wee lilt in the vocals. The music has a steady and not overpowering energy to keep the toes tapping without driving it into Pogues or Gogol Bordello territory. More often they pull back to more traditional folk songs, with a western American slant. There are some slick modern touches such as a rap in ‘Home’ which will turn off some listeners, but if you like a slicker modern approach, this band is worth checking out.
© David Hintz

Alex Hodgson "The Brig Tae Nae Where"
Greentrax, 2014

Alex Hodgson’s album is a fine addition to my folk collection. He spans traditions of many eras and spins great stories in his songs. The arrangements are smart with just enough players to bring some musical excitement to the proceedings without distracting from the fine vocals and song qualities. Hodgson’s phrasing is top notch and really stands out. Sure, the Scottish accent is an embellishment all its own, but he has a special knack for timing his lyrics to enhance the drama of the song. The musicians also keep up with him and all in all create some of the finer songs you will hear in 2014.
© David Hintz

Berdon Kirksaether & the Twang Bar Kings "Latenighters Under a Full Moon"
Roller; 2013

This is an instrumental blues album that veers a bit too much toward lounge jazz for my liking. But when they add some south of Texas rhythms to the mix, the music is spritely enough to get interesting. There is plenty of quality playing throughout and even a couple of hot electric guitar solos that stand out. Still, it is likable music that would be more fun live, unless you are a fan of this style.
© David Hintz

Kati Salo "Kati Salo"
Taajuusvarjostin; 2014

From country to folk to lounge jazz to singer songwriter light rock, Kati Salo covers quite a range. It may be a bit much to some, but her voice is expressive enough and a strong enough presence to tie it all together. There is even some modern progressive sounds in ‘The Wolves’ which is a deeply moving song that completely won me over. Salo is from Finland and although there are icy tones in the music, there is much warmth in her voice, making the contrasts exhibited here quite exciting and worth coming back to.
© David Hintz

Victor Camozzi "Cactus & Roses"
Volco; 2014

This record is pretty much straightforward country styled folk with leanings in either direction depending on the song. There is a little too much country leaning in more of the laid-back ballad style than the more up-tempo honkytonk rocking. There is some hard rocking and that nice ringing California electric guitar to give it some variety. The voice is rich and smooth and should appeal to a lot of people. I just can’t quite differentiate this enough from music I just don’t listen to very much anyway.
© David Hintz

Anna Aaron "Neuro"
Two Gentlemen; 2014

This album looks like it is going to be electro-pop and there are elements of that there. Fortunately there is a lot more evident with even some deep singer songwriter moves that regular FolkWorld readers will take to. Aaron’s voice can cover a number of styles with a clean precision that wrings out the emotion as well as forming the melody. This is quite exciting at times and is highly engaging throughout. It helps to have a sense of adventure, but ultimately the music is quite agreeable and does not take a love of the avant garde to enjoy.
© David Hintz

Casey Black "Lay You in the Loam"
Cat Beach; 2013

The real star of this album is Casey Black’s rich vocals. His voice could work in a lot of areas, although he sticks here to a fully arranged singer songwriter heartland rock style. There are some more ballad country-esque folk numbers that work quite well. Everything has a strength to it and comes off slick and well laid out, but with enough quality so that is a compliment. Although Nashville born, he transcends the predictable geographical distinctions and limitations--nice job.
© David Hintz

J. R. Shore "State Theatre"
Rawlco; 2013

Although blues based, this record addresses country music, rhythm & blues, as well as other forms of rock and a touch of folk. The vocals are good and the band cooks up reasonable music to accompany these original songs. It is a bit too slick for me and I cannot quite get a full connection with the album. There is a lot to choose from here as the first of two discs contains twelve original songs, with the second containing covers. Of the originals, the folkier ‘146’ worked best for me. Of the covers, well, any John Prine cover usually works for just about any decent artist and “The Late John Garfield Blues” is well done here.
© David Hintz

West My Friend "When the Ink Dries"
Grammar Fight; 2014

Artist Video

This is a brilliant modern folk album from the western reaches of Canada. This band is a combination of spritely and deep with vocals that dance delicately atop crisp melodies with guitars, accordions, and various other instruments filling out the arrangements. There is as much baroque pop quality here as there is folk and it is an utterly fascinating combination. The producer here has worked with the Cowboy Junkies and that is a pretty comparison in style and quality. If you like anything like that or just want to soak in something fresh and invigorating, give this album a listen.
© David Hintz

Andrew Corbett "Moments of Grace"
ACMuse; 2014

Andrew Corbett has a gentle grasp of the folk singer songwriter style. That is balanced with the style of the older legends as well as the more modern well produced troubadours. His biography mentions that he believes that spiritual elements and scientific method do exist together and I think that is a concept worth keeping in mind as I listen to this album. He sounds intelligent and thoughtful about emotional needs and spiritual yearning. The title cut pulls this altogether nicely and is worth a careful listen. Other songs are lighter in scope, but all have an elegance in the music and thoughtfulness in the writing.
© David Hintz

Swampcandy "Midnight Creep, Noonday Stomp"
Own label; 2014

I am not sure there is much to add description-wise when the band name and album title paint as good an audio picture as a paragraph or two could. But I will say that this is a good album full of fun stomping songs, gnarled vocals that sound born out of New Orleans style blues. Yet they operate right near me in the mid-Atlantic area, playing the Ram’s Head in Annapolis, a venue I get to semi-regularly. Clearly, this material can only work all the better live as there is a raw heart to the music that is simply that much more fun in person with the musicians teetering on the edge of going off their nut. But this is a fine record to experience as they mix arrangements from raw lo-fi rants to well-produced use of violin and other strong instrumentation.
© David Hintz

Mandolin’ Brothers "Far Out"
USR; 2014

Be careful with this band, mandolin lovers, as there is only one mandolin in use some of the time. It fights for sonic space with a rhythm section, plenty of guitars, barrelhouse piano, bluesy vocals, and more. This is a crisp recording of quite hearty barroom country blues rock with plenty of folk touches. It kind of fades in the background for me for some reason, even with the quality playing. There is something with the vocals and songwriting that just does not move me to like this a bunch. But give it a listen, as this Italian Band should click with plenty of people out there.
© David Hintz

Linq "Disconnect"
Own label; 2013

This album has a significant disconnect between the music and the album cover. If I saw this on a shelf, I would think it an electronic band of some sort. Yet, immediately a classic singer songwriter folk style grabs hold and does not let go. Linq is Diane ‘Linq’ Lincoln, singer songwriter and guitarist leading a steady folk rock band here. Her voice takes me back to Mandy Morton (Spriguns), although her songs are more topical in a Phil Ochs manner. This is a fine record that perfectly fits within the walls of the Folkworld loft and will satisfy many a listener. I was left fully moved by the steady quality of songs coming forth.
© David Hintz

Stephen Brandon "Floating on a Limb"
Timezone, 2014

Stephen Brandon works a well-worn singer songwriter path, balancing folk, blues, and rock’n’roll from different eras. He has a welcoming voice and the band cooks up an undulating rhythm underneath that occasionally goes into a rocking mode that is rather interesting. This is all quite likable and has a general appeal to music fans who appreciate fine music with a touching style at the heart of it.
© David Hintz

Ange Hardy "The Lament of the Black Sheep"
Story Records; 2014

Artist Video

This is one of the most charming old world folk albums I have heard in some time. This takes me back to the times of Raven&Mills, Tickawinda, Faraway Folk, and many of the other greats from the UK in the late 60s and 70s. Hardy is from West Somerset and she knows her craft well, both in songwriting and singing. This album flows by with that imperceptible kind of magic that you sense, but just can’t quite place. This is a great record, so I can’t imagine a FolkWorld reader not completely wanting to dig into this. There is little more to say, so go listen to it already.
© David Hintz

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