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Acoustic

New album from Adam Cohen: We Go Home

Adam Cohen's We Go Home - album cover
Adam Cohen's We Go Home - album cover

Album release: “We Go Home” by Adam Cohen

Release date: 15 September 2014

Label: Cooking Vinyl 

Listen on: Adam Cohen website

“I thought I’d learned my lesson on the last record. Apretty towering lesson.That what’s most important to me are my roots, my family, my home and ultimately ‘knowing thyself’.”

Three years ago and three albums into a career that began with his 1998 self-titled debut, Cohen decided that he and the music business should call it quits. Talked into giving it one last go, he released his best and biggest album to date. Like A Man (2011) was an elegant, intimate beauty. His songs, performed on a nylon-string guitar, both had a deep connection and engaged in deep personal conversation with one of his greatest musical influences, Leonard Cohen. Adam’s father. As MOJO said, this was an album in which Adam Cohen “set about a quiet rapprochement with his DNA.” It was also, as Leonard Cohen said, an album of “world-class love songs.” A critical and commercial success, it brought Adam a gold album, a long world tour and great anticipation for the follow-up.

In a break between concerts, he went into the studio and emerged with a new album, which he scrapped. It didn’t feel honest. “I realized that I needed desperate measures to keep me honest and also to relieve me of the anxiety of following up the only successful record I’ve ever made. However deliciously I had been in orbit, touring with that record, I needed to tap into something more terrestrial, more rooted and real.”

We Go Home, Cohen’s fifth album, is by all definitions homemade. He recorded his songs in rooms as familiar to him as his name. Since the band was playing in Europe, Adam decided to set up shop in the little white house on the Greek island of Hydra where he had spent much of his childhood. “Making an album in the comfort of home on makeshift equipment with this band of touring musicians who had become my family immediately offered a beacon of hope that no studio, or session players or priceless gear ever could.” They continued recording in Montreal, where Adam was born, in the house where he spent his earliest years. “I knew I was painting a target on my back, making my album in the so-called homes of Leonard Cohen, but they’re my homes too. These are the walls that saw me grow up the most and that I needed to come back to. My muse is my home”

Some of the themes on We Go Home continue the conversation that Like A Man began. “I want the songs to speak for themselves”, says Cohen, “but what I can say is that the songs on this record mostly chronicle conversations I’ve either had with my old man, or want to have with my boy”, Adam’s seven-year-old son Cassius, “and a few conversations I’m having with myself. And, of course, there are love songs.” What’s different is the tone—richer and fuller this time, more diverse, making the most of the three-piece band and three-piece string section from his tour. The nylon-string guitar is still there, but there are also piano songs - the title track’s tenderness and self-mocking humour recalling one of Cohen’s other great musical influences Randy Newman.

“My last album was about me finally claiming my belonging to a tradition and finding my voice within that tradition. My new album,” Adam Cohen states, “is about me raising my voice.”

We Go Home is released in September. Adam Cohen’s European tour, featuring the band and string section, begins in Denmark, culminating in a concert at London’s Bush Hall on 15th October.

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New acoustic album from Richard Thompson out on July 14

Richard Thompson: Acoustic Classics

Album release: “Acoustic Classics” by Richard Thompson
Release date: July 14, 2014
Label: Proper Records
Listen on: official Richard Thompson website 

“Acoustic Classics” is a collection of newly recorded, timeless Richard Thompson songs, featuring 14 tracks culled from his 40 plus years in music. The new album contains reimagined and refined versions of some of his best work as a songwriter including “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, “Dimming of the Day,” “1952 Vincent Black Lighting” and “Beeswing.”

“I really wanted to have something that would reflect the acoustic shows,” Richard explains,  “But we didn’t have anything like that.  Just some old, slightly scratchy recordings of solo sets that I wasn’t really happy with.”  His last proper solo acoustic release was the live Small Town Romance, and that was more than 30 years ago! In the meantime, the acoustic shows have evolved as a full parallel to his band tours.

Richard Thompson will be touring the UK solo this summer and – like the new record – will display his incomparable guitar playing and his great songs. You can view tour dates on the Serious website.

Thompson was named by Rolling Stone Magazine’s as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of all time and considered one of the UK’s most outstanding songwriters and musicians.  The recipient of a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, Mojo’s Les Paul Award and curator of the prestigious Meltdown Festival at the Southbank in 2010, Thompson was most recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting by the Americana Music Association.

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New album from Mary Gauthier, 'Trouble and Love'

Album release: Trouble and Love by Mary Gauthier
Label: Proper Records
Release date: June 9
Listen on: official Mary Gauthier website 

“With songwriting as powerful as hers, there’s no need to go looking for qualifiers…She’s a unique, intrinsically valuable musical voice. And there’s never a surplus of those.” — Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times

A Louisiana-native turned Nashville-resident, Mary Gauthier (it’s French - pronounced Go-SHAY) has had an extraordinary life. A teenage runaway who found her first shelter among addicts and drag queens, struggled with drug addiction and became a chef/owner of three restaurants in Boston before selling them in 2001 to become a full time songwriter.

She has subsequently received countless accolades for her six studio albums. The New York Times music writer John Pareles picked 2001’s Filth and Fire as the #1 indie release of the year, 2005’s Mercy Now earned her the Americana Music Association’s New/Emerging Artist of the Year title and 2011’s The Foundling was named as one of the Records of the Year by the LA Times.

Mary’s songs have been praised by both Bob Dylan and Tom Waits and recorded by Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Boy George, Tim McGraw, Candi Staton amongst others.

After years of measured success in the world of record deals and major labels, Gauthier has now taken the reins to her business.  “I am now happily and successfully working with my own team outside of the major label model,” she says, “Taking back and claiming my power is the underlying theme of this project, and of my life.”

Trouble and Love, her first studio CD since 2010, was co-produced by Mary with Patrick Granado (whose credits include Grammys for a Delbert McClinton record he produced and a tribute CD to Stephen Foster), recorded in Ricky Skaggs studio outside Nashville and features the support of Darrell Scott, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Ashley Cleveland.

One track from Trouble and Love, “How You Learn To Live Alone”, co-written with Gretchen Peters, was chosen for Season II of the hit TV show Nashville. On the record, the legendary Duane Eddy plays guitar on this song.

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Simon Fowler's Merrymouth to release second album

Album release: Wenlock Hill by Merrymouth
Release date: 5 May 2014
Label: Navigator 
Listen on: Merrymouth official website 

Wenlock Hill is the new release from Merrymouth, the three piece folk-orientated band formed by Ocean Colour Scene’s frontman Simon Fowler along with long time OCS band member Dan Sealey and acclaimed keyboard player Adam Barry. Wenlock Hill is the follow up to their critically acclaimed debut, Merrymouth, and will be released through Navigator Records on May 5 2014.

The 11-track album sees a diverse range of songs with inspiration coming in many different forms. The title track was inspired by the series of poems A Shropshire Lad by AE Houseman, though “I’m not sure Wenlock Hill actually exists!” remarked Adam.  

The melodious first single, Without You, is a love song about being apart and the loneliness of a long-distance relationship. He Was A Friend Of Mine is a tender, melancholic song about the murder of John Lennon. “Dan introduced us to Roger McGuinn’s version concerning the death of JFK and we wanted to relate that loss to our generation. So, we sat down and wrote the song to reflect Lennon’s death,” recalled Simon.

There is a remarkable ‘folked-up’ version of The Stone Roses’ I Am The Resurrection. “It was really interesting to strip this tune down to a piano, strings and three part harmony,” Adam described. “We have always felt that although Ian Brown is never associated with folk, there is an influence in his vocal and melodies. Since songs are kept alive by different singers interpreting them, we wanted to add our own touches to this tune.” For a similar reason, their inspired reworking of The Stranglers’ track Duchess was because “it too had a great melody and could almost be a Ray Davies song,” he added.

Guest appearances include the legendary Chas Hodges on Salt Breeze, and award winning violinist John McCusker assisted on several further tracks, both artists having been of great influence on Merrymouth.  Also guesting were Catherine Harper (cello), Andy Derrick (trombone), Hugh Thomas (clarinet), Anthony Jones (muted trumpet) and Nick Lyndon (double bass).

The album was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire and was produced by Dan Sealey and Adam Barry.

Merrymouth tour

Merrymouth will embark on a UK tour to support the release of Wenlock Hill - see the band’s website for latest dates.  

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New single from Rupert Stroud

Single release: Morning Light by Rupert Stroud
Release date: 31 March 2014
Listen on: official Rupert Stroud website 

Displaying strong-hearted, beat driven acoustic rock, inspired tracks. Rupert Stroud possesses fantastic vocal ability. Having been compared to Richard Ashcroft, Jim Morrison and Nick Cave with a hint of Elbow, Stroud has already attracted significant attention from music media. New single ‘Morning Light’ is the first offering from an upcoming brand new album.

Rupert’s working with eminent British producer Will Jackson (The Kaiser Chiefs, Embrace, The Cribs). It was his work with Will that produced Rupert’s second album ‘Chasing The Night’. This was a breakthrough project for Rupert and saw him dubbed as one of Yorkshire’s hottest young artists.

Reaction

  • “Chasing The Night 4/5” - Acoustic Magazine 
  • “Twisted Games is an amazing new tune from Rupert Stroud” - NME 
  • “His songs have that strum along/ sing along quality that in itself is a gift 4/5” - Guitar Techniques

The plaudits kept coming, and Rupert was soon performing with his band on the festival circuit, sharing the stage with artist such as Gabrielle Aplin, Ocean Colour Scene, Chris Helme (Seahorses) Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Marcus Foster, ASH , The Dunwells, Mark Morris (Bluetones) and Scars on 45 to name a few.

Rupert’s career has gone from strength to strength and his most recent release “Never Back Down” has caught the ears of national radio, receiving radio play and plaudits from the likes of BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary, Whispering Bob Harris, BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson and Hattie Pearson at XFM. This led to Rupert and the band being invited by BBC Radio London for a live session and interview. Rupert also received his first US radio airplay on KX 93.5FM Laguna Beach California. His music video for ‘Never Back Down’ won “People’s Choice Award 2013” at The 27th Leeds International Film Festival, beating 31 other artist entries and gaining 25% of the votes cast.

As a “Champion Spokesperson” for Alzheimer’s Research UK, a cause close to his heart, Rupert has raised over £6000 to date through various campaigns and events including his charity single ‘Always’. The single was written in memory of his grandmother who suffered with Alzheimer’s. As a media spokesperson for the charity, Rupert was recently interviewed by The Guardian newspaper talking about the tragedy of the illness and why he became involved. Rupert was also interviewed on Al Jazeera International News programme “Inside Story”, where the video for his charity single ‘Always’ was broadcast.

Rupert is back in the studio with Will Jackson working on his third album due for release in 2014. You can hear some of the new unreleased material here.

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Beverley Martyn's 'The Phoenix and the Turtle' out 22 April

Beverley Martyn's The Phoenix and the Turtle

Album release: The Phoenix and the Turtle by Beverley Martyn
Release date: April 22nd 2014
Label: released by Les Cousins (distributed by Proper)
Listen on: official Beverly Martyn website 

Beverley Martyn started her musical career at just 16 with the jug band The Levee Breakers and recorded her first single Babe I’m Leaving You in 1965. In 1966 she was chosen to launch Deram Records and released a single, Happy New Year written by Randy Newman. She contributed to the Simon & Garfunkel album Bookends, toured America with the duo and later appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival on 16 June 1967.

In 1969 she met John Martyn, whom she later married. As a duo they issued two albums, Stormbringer! and The Road to Ruin. Although she was spending more time with her children, Beverley continued to contribute to John’s solo projects until the breakdown of their marriage.

At various times, Martyn has worked with Levon Helm, Jimmy Page, Dave Pegg, Richard Thompson, John Renbourn, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham, and Sandy Denny. She appeared in the photograph on the album sleeve of Bert Jansch’s 1965 album It Don’t Bother Me; where she can be seen lounging in the background. In December 2013, Beverley appeared at the Royal Festival Hall as part of a celebration of Bert Jansch, alongside friends and contemporaries such as Donovan, Martin Carthy, Pentangle and Robert Plant. Her powerhouse performance of When The Levee Breaks was described by Mojo as ‘sounding almost Janis Joplin-esque’. A film of the event is due to be shown by the BBC in the spring.

In 2004, Fat Boy Slim sampled Beverley Martyn’s song Primrose Hill for the track North West Three which is on his album Palookaville. Beverley still performs the song live along with Auntie Aviator, also from The Road The Ruin.

April 2014 will see the release of her new album entitled The Phoenix and the Turtle. Described by Beverley as a very personal album, it features songs written throughout her entire career, from her very first song, Sweet Joy, to the previously unrecorded Nick Drake & Beverley Martyn song Reckless Jane which was started in 1974 when Drake lived nearby Beverley in Hampstead. “We started writing the song as a bit of a joke,” she says, “I couldn’t look at it for a long time after he died, but then finally I decided to finish it.”

When The Levee Breaks and Going To Germany are songs Beverley used to sing with The Levee Breakers. Another song, Women And Malt Whiskey is, in part, about John Martyn and other friends from the scene back then.

The Phoenix and the Turtle is Beverley’s first album in fourteen years and was recorded in Wales with guitarist and producer Mark Pavey; it also features contributions from bass player Matt Malley, ex-Counting Crows and drummer Victor Bisetti, ex-Los Lobos which were recorded “by the magic of computer” in California. The album “still has that in-a-room feel,” said Beverley recently, “it sounds like an old style analogue record. It’s very me, very transatlantic.”

Beverley Martyn and her full band will be playing Bush Hall, London, April 29th, 2014.

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New video from Ghost Maps

Video release: Vanilla by Ghost Maps
Label: Casino Gravity (www.casinogravity.com) 
Video release date: 4 November 2013
Album Release Date: 15th November 2013
Listen / watch: on Youtube or on official Ghost Maps site

Ghost Maps is a new project from Jeff Martin. The debut album 'The Ocean From The River' is released on November 15th 2013; and the video for lead track ‘Vanilla’ is out now - you can watch it on Youtube here.

Previous projects

Jeff Martin is a founding member of Irish band Halfset, who have released two albums to date, the acclaimed debut Dramanalog and Another Way of Being There – the latter being The Irish Independent's 'Irish Album of the Year' and a Choice Music Prize nominee (The Choice Music Prize is the Irish equivalent of The Mercuries).

Jeff Martin has also released three solo records under his own name, Still, Spoons and Spoons Remixes/Collaborations. The remix album saw musicians rework their chosen tracks, contributors include David Pajo (Slint, PapaM), Mice Parade, The High Llamas, John Parish (PJ Harvey) & Minotaur Shock. This release gained Jeff US distribution. To date Jeff Martin has opened up for Lambchop, Tortoise, The National, David Grubbs and The High Llamas to name a few.

Jeff Martin has also played live guitar for acclaimed Irish songwriter Adrian Crowley as part of his touring band.

Ghost Maps

The Ocean From The River is Jeff Martin's first release under the Ghost Maps name. The 13 track album was written and arranged by Jeff Martin over a 12 month period, and was recorded in Dublin and Chicago. The Ocean From The River features long-time collaborator John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake) on drums and a guest piano appearance from Tony Crow (Lambchop).

The emphasis is on real instrumentation, with virtually no electronics, sequencing or programming. The result is rich and organic tones throughout the album. Intimate guitar and voice songs contrast with panoramic full-band tracks, occasional brass flourishes and textured string arrangements.

Drawn from various musical genres, The Ocean From The River is a diverse piece of work - complex, multifaceted, and one that reveals a new layer with each listen.

Video / free MP3 download

You can watch the video for the track 'Vanilla' on Youtube - where you’ll also find the embed code.

You can download a free MP3 of 'Vanilla' from the band's Facebook page.

Formats

The Ocean From The River is out on November 15th, 2013 and will be available on Digipak CD, vinyl & digital download. The heavy-weight vinyl version comes with a die-cut sleeve and includes a free original CD copy of the album. You can buy from all good shops nationwide, directly from the bands website (both physical & digital), iTunes and Bandcamp.

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David Bronson: 'The Long Lost' out 14 October 2013

Album release: The Long Lost by David Bronson (Part 2/2 of The Long Lost Story)
Release date: October 14th
Listen on: official website

‘What stands is a decent recording from a reflective soul, one who’s purging his innermost feelings for all to see.’ - 7/10 Drowned in Sound

‘If you like well-produced, catchy, decent guitar playing and solid vocals then you’ll like this. It’s clear that he takes what he does very seriously and puts a lot of thought into things.’ – Gold Flake Paint

‘There are dreamlike qualities to several songs and, even without the aid of hallucinogenic substances, you can join David in a world of poetry, imagery and unrequited love.’ - No Depression

Early this year David Bronson released his debut album Story, the first instalment of a deeply cathartic 22 track opus, yet chronologically the second half of his narrative. Prequel, The Long Lost is now set for UK release in October and promises to draw closure to The Long Lost Story project, completing what is in effect a sonic summation of an emotional development process travelled through by each and every one of us who has loved and lost, and survived.

With a number of years of writing, producing, and recording in NYC as an indie musician with a tight budget, Bronson let nothing get in the way of the album’s large and expressive scope. Beginning with a young man’s loss of hope and identity following the end of first love, a project came to life to continue through the prolonged, arduous, and life-changing journey to re-find them. Originally meant as one record, it became obvious to Bronson that the album represented growth itself: ‘It became a metaphor and conduit for everything I was feeling in my inner life, and I put everything into it,’ he explains. “I indulged myself to get everything the way I wanted; the art of it became the only thing that mattered.”

"The Long Lost is exactly that: a piece of my history, somewhat ancient history actually, but certainly a piece that informed much of my life that followed, in various important ways,” explains Bronson. “This album documents the most difficult period I can remember. There was a lot of darkness, which I think is reflected in the music; both in the lyrics as well as in the makeup of the songs themselves. The title refers, on the one hand, to exactly what was going on; it really is a picture of someone who's almost completely lost.”

The multi-faceted project, however, reveals itself to have numerous levels of meaning, with metaphors in artistic creation. He achieves a long-sightedness beyond the breakup towards a detached retelling as well as an attempt at a self-prescribed 'remedy': “There was another, extremely positive aspect to the whole thing. It was unquestionably during this period of my life that I first found some clear sense of myself as an artist. So amidst all that discomfort I also have this extremely fond memory of being truly, undeniably alive, and moving for the first time very deeply into an area of internal meaning, which was, for me, the first real step toward healing, growing, and becoming an adult. This album, to me, represents the starting point of everything else I've ever wanted to do as an artist.”

You can hear the scope of Bronson’s intense desire to produce a full-bodied exploration of his inner life as the album ranges in influence, from guitar driven rockscapes to raw simplicity, showcasing delicate instrumentation and chord sequencing as well as potent and poignant lyrics. There are numerous influences on the record, from the glossy classicism of Scott Walker, Neil Young and George Harrison, to a looseness and experimentation of modern converts to the folk-rock sound, such as Phosphorescent, Grizzly Bear and Iron & Wine. Growing up on a diet of 70s psychedelia has also lead to progressive fusions on a contemporary American sound, with a garage and pedal steel fuzz.

To introduce audiences to this new album, the track ‘Living In Name’ is available to stream and share on Soundcloud.

"In some ways, Living in Name is the quintessential song on The Long Lost,” says Bronson. “It's the most minimal song on what is generally a much quieter, more internal album than its counterpart, Story. It was also recorded within a matter of days from when I wrote it, so there's that level of immediacy in there as well. Like a lot of songs, it came as a very quick reaction to something that happened. Both emotionally and structurally it's maybe the purest distillation and statement of meaning for the whole record as well as the actual process of creation for the entire Long Lost Story.”

Although the entire chronicle stems from an extremely personal trajectory, the resulting accessibility of Bronson’s music and the abundant creative community of the surrounding NYC has sparked industrious collaborations. The overriding example would be legendary producer and mix engineer Godfrey Diamond, known for his work with Lou Reed, Aerosmith and Sparks, who assisted David with the production and finishing of both albums and mixed both records.

Throughout the promotion of his debut, David also saw opportunity to work with New York Producer NESIMO and Brooklyn beatmaker Silk Lung to electronically revamp some tracks. With a personal taste for electronic stylings of the likes of Kavinsky, CSS and Vangelis himself, further remixes for ‘The Long Lost’ are to be expected on the horizon.

As any body of work which considers art as the defining element, aesthetics also play an important role for Bronson. ‘I’ve always had a deep love and appreciation for illustration, from a very young age being obsessed with comic books’ says David. This explains the boldly idiosyncratic and technically beautiful line-drawn, graphically-oriented themes prevalent not only in the album artwork (most of which was created by David's twin brother Jeremy, also the records' drummer) but also in an extensive back catalogue of music videos. These have involved collaborations with visual artists including Johnerick Lawson (who has previously worked with TV On The Radio) as well as a host of independents.

David’s dedication and meticulousness in making his ideas come alive has resulted in emotional and sonic opulence, and rather than being a heavily foreboding or overly moody project, The Long Lost Story is wholly an uplifting affair.

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David Rotheray's "Answer Ballads" is out on October 14 via Navigator

Album release: Answer Ballads by David Rotheray
Release date: October 14, 2013 
Label: Navigator Records
Featuring: Lisa Knapp, Eliza Carthy, Kris Drever, Kathryn Williams, Gemma Hayes, John Smith, Josienne Clarke, Naomi Bedford, Mary Coughlan, Jackie Oates, Bella Hardy, Alasdair Roberts, Julie Murphy
Listenon official website

Acclaimed songwriter David Rotheray returns with his beautifully crafted new solo album Answer Ballads, a collection of songs in which Rotheray, and his collaborators, take twelve classic pop songs and attempt to formulate an ‘answer ballad’ for each one. Taking existing fictional characters, from The Police’s Roxanne to Elton John’s Daniel, who are well-known but simultaneously unknown, Rotheray picks up the story from their perspective, using complete artistic licence.

As with his debut, The Life of Birds, Rotheray has created an album with a strong core concept. The idea for the project came in the summer of 2011, inspired partly by watching Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead, “having always wondered what Jolene, for instance, or Roxanne would have to say, given the chance, I hit upon the notion of a collection of ‘answer songs’” he explains, “however, rather than writing ‘what happened next’ scenarios, these ‘answer songs’ tend, mostly, to be psychological portraits”.

The roll call of collaborators on Answer Ballads is truly impressive, with a number of familiar names, who worked with Rotheray on The Life of Birds, returning for the new album. Former Mercury Music Award nominee Kathryn Williams co-wrote and sings on Roxanne’s Song whilst “wonderfully quirky songwriter” Alasdair Roberts takes Dino’s Song off on an atmospheric tangent, “he surprised me by eschewing the axework, and coming up with a piano-based tune vaguely reminiscent of Werewolves Of London. Radio 2 Folk Award Winner Eliza Carthy takes the reigns on Maggie’s Song “I turned up with the lyrics, and Eliza and I bashed out a tune together, eye-to-eye over a guitar. All the other songs I either wrote by myself or simply sent the lyrics to someone and asked them to write the tune.”  

Although she does not sing on the album Eleanor McEvoy, who has performed and recorded with Paul Weller, Nick Cave and Joan Baez, brought ‘Lucille’s Song’ to life “I had the words but could get the tune so sent it off to Eleanor knowing she’d come up with a knockout melody in no time”. McEvoy suggested that Mary Coughlan sing the track for the album, a perfect fit with the distinctive Irish tone of Mary completely suiting the character of Lucille and the piece’s jazz piano melody.

Bella Hardy, an established folk singer who featured on several of the tracks on The Life Of Birds, and BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award finalist Jackie Oates provide the vocals to Sylvia’s Song and Mrs Avery’s Song respectively which both provide “answers” to the 1972 hit from Dr Hook “Sylvia’s Mother”.

Mojo Folk Album of the Year winner Lisa Knapp’s delicate vocals on opening track Mrs Jones’ Song paint the picture of a woman heartbroken by love lost long after the love affair from Billy Paul’s 1972 hit Me and Mrs. Jones ends. On the more up tempo track of ‘Bobby’s Song’, Naomi Bedford’s rich timbre helps illustrate the story of Bobby’s youthful adventures as she looks back on them as an entertaining but misguided phase.  

Kris Drever, who has previously worked with John McCusker and Kate Rusby, is one of the few male vocalists on Answer Ballads lending his beautifully warm voice to Daniel’s Song whilst English folk guitarist John Smith brings an Americana flavour on the easy going Billy-Joe’s Song.

Marie’s Song tells how Marie’s father from the Chuck Berry song Memphis, Tennessee never made it home to her. The song was written with Josienne Clarke – one half of the award winning duo Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker – whose voice Rotheray describes as “sweet, young-sounding, yet some ‘knowing’ and suites Marie perfectly.

In contrast, for Pearl’s Song Rotheray, having unwittingly written the melody whilst writing the lyrics, was looking for a singer whose voice was strong yet with a hint of vulnerability. Eleanor McEvoy suggested Irish singer Gemma Hayes whose vocals flawlessly portray Pearl’s story having been a winning singer and has left music behind “They say being somebody is hard, and being nobody is worse”.

The album concludes with Jolene’s answer to the Dolly Parton hit, arguably one of the most famous fictional characters in music. Julie Murphy’s ballad superbly complements Rotheray’s somber lyrics of a woman who has endured both male attention and female jealousy.

Track Listing

  1. Mrs Jones' Song (featuring Lisa Knapp)
  2. Maggie's Song (featuring Eliza Carthy)
  3. Daniel's Song (featuring Kris Drever)
  4. Roxanne's Song (featuring Kathryn Williams)
  5. Pearl's Song (featuring Gemma Hayes)
  6. Billy-Joe's Song (featuring John Smith)
  7. Marie's Song (featuring Josienne Clarke)
  8. Bobby's Song (featuring Naomi Bedford)
  9. Lucille's Song (featuring Mary Coughlan)
  10. Mrs Avery's Song (featuring Jackie Oates)
  11. Sylvia's Song (featuring Bella Hardy)
  12. Dino's Song (featuring Alasdair Roberts)
  13. Jolene's Song (featuring Julie Murphy)

Rotheray’s career began in the late 1980s when he formed The Beautiful South with songwriting partner Paul Heaton. Over the next two decades the band went on to release ten albums plus various compilations before finally going their separate ways in 2007.  Whilst with The Beautiful South Rotheray formed his critically acclaimed acoustic side project Homespun and released three albums on his own ‘Homespun Recordings’. In 2010 Rotheray released his highly praised debut solo album The Life of Birds, a series of autumnal, rustic reflections on life collaborating with some of the UK’s finest folk singer-songwriters. Throughout his career Rotheray’s name has become synonymous with music that mixes the melancholy with dry humour to great effect.

Praise for ‘The Life of Birds

  • **** - The Scotsman
  • “A warm, collaborative affair tinged with the Beautiful South’s droll humour” – The Observer
  • “Passionate, funny, unbearably moving and deeply addictive record” – Mojo
  • “I can’t recommend this highly enough” – g3
  • “Strangely English and quite old fashioned it’s definitely one to explore” – Daily Express

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Fabian Holland: self-titled debut album out on 7 October

Fabian Holland

Album release: Fabian Holland (self-titled)
Release date: 7 October 2013 (single Home will be released on August 26)
Label: Rooksmere Records
Listen: on official site

Fabian seems to have sprung fully‐fledged from nowhere though he’s been playing music and performing live since a youngster. He grew up in an artistic household where performance and artistic expression were part of everyday life, listening to blues guys such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters. His early influences (drawn from his father’s record collection) were Muddy Waters, R.L Burnside, Son House, Howlinʼ Wolf, Chuck Berry and Skip James (the last’s classic Hard Times Killing Floor Blues is rendered subtly and hauntingly on Fabian’s début album). He started playing guitar at the age of seven, taught by his father who also played harmonica. Fabian later attended the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, studying under the watchful guidance of the sadly missed guitar virtuoso Eric Roche. After his studies he moved to the mountains of the Abruzzo Region, Italy, where he spent four years developing his musical style, busking, gigging and composing. He later returned to the UK to pursue his music career; he now lives on his narrow boat on London’s canal network.

Fabian plays two Lowden guitars, a 1994 Lowden O10 (which he currently uses as his main instrument) and an old Lowden S22 that was bought from a luthier in Scotland who claimed it once belonged to a member of Steeler’s Wheel. ”Lowdens in general are just lovely to play”, he confirms. Whatever the model or make, Fabian plays guitar with a subtlety of touch and great fluency. His creativity is a joy to hear.

His eponymously titled, début album is produced by Mark Hutchinson (who also produced recent albums for the likes of Blair Dunlop, Walsh and Pound, Spiers and Boden and the Albion Christmas Band). “I think Mark and I both agreed from the start that simplicity would be the key to this album,” says Fabian ”with guitar and vocals being the main focus. We decided on a concise album and picked the tracks carefully. Most of my songs are stories influenced by people I've met along the years and I've travelled about a bit so I've met all sorts of interesting people. There are two traditional tracks in the album, ’Banks Of The Dee’ and ’Dr Price’. These are not widely known trad songs; I like that because it offers people something they may not have heard before. Through the whole album the guitar and vocals were recorded at the same time and I think this produces a very real and immediate sound, rather than something contrived through studio trickery.

That reliance on the performances themselves, his vocals and guitar stylings, produces a most compelling début album. In its simplicity and directness, it harks back to the folk of an earlier golden age, but it has no need to reference specific musical influences or iconic performers. Fabian Holland is indeed a singular new talent.

“He’s not good, he’s bloody good! We can’t wait to hear more!” - Folk Radio UK

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Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left - reissue out on July 29

Album reissue: Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake
Release date: July 29, 2013
Label: Island / USM 

Poverty stricken students of 1968 rolled their own – not for them the cigarette temptations of a pack of 10 Embassy, no, their tobacco thrills came hand rolled, usually in Rizla papers which kindly reminded the participant that they were about to run out, with a yellow interleaf paper with bold red type stating ONLY FIVE LEAVES LEFT.

Nick Drake’s bucolic autumnal shades in his debut album of a similar name, heralded a new signing for Island Records: not traditional enough to be folk, not weird enough to be psychedelic, Drake avoided the pitfalls of what was expected and collaborated with producer Joe Boyd, orchestrator Robert Kirby and recording engineer John Wood to make a singular and almost unique record released to a largely indifferent media.

A few leaves fell in the right place and Nick’s reputation grew, despite his early death at 24 in 1976, escalating into the world-wide fame he enjoys today. Released initially only on vinyl and cassette, these formats became redundant with the dawning of CD and downloads - leaving a gaping hole that was filled by high collectors prices for original pressings and the inevitable poor quality bootlegs.
Island Records now complete the ReDISCovered vinyl set on Nick Drake with this boxed faithful replica of his debut album. As before, it was remastered from the original un-eq’d quarter inch master tapes by John Wood at Abbey Road Studios and pressed using wholly analogue processes onto 180 gsm virgin vinyl. The sleeve is an exact replica of the first edition of the album and is coupled with a period shop poster, lyrics to two of Nick’s songs and options to download the tracks in MP3, Hi-Res FLAC files or the new DFD (dubbed-from-disc) files for that authentic listening experience.

Key Features

  • Mastered from original master-tapes at Abbey Road Studios by original engineer John Wood 
  • Analogue Pressing onto 180GSM audiophile virgin vinyl
  • Gatefold sleeve, inner sleeve, paper labels
  • Original shop poster
  • Reprint of Nick's handwritten lyrics to two songs
  • Digital download/ card- 3 Formats: lo and hi res plus Dubbed-From-Disc

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Will Varley to release new album on 2 September - "Powerful, political and pertinent" (The Independent)

Album release: As The Crow Flies by Will Varley
Release date: 2 September 2013
Label: Smugglers Records
Listen: on official Will Varley website

July 2013 will see the release of As The Crow Flies, the second album by fiercely independent folk singer, novelist, and filmmaker Will Varley. The album was recorded in the old smuggling tunnels that riddle the basements of the cottages beneath the seaside town of Deal, Kent. It is released on DIY label Smugglers Records that Varley runs alongside a co-operative of fellow southeast based musicians. Over the last five years Smugglers has helped a plethora of artists further their musical endeavours, as well as organising their own sell-out festival deep in the Kent countryside.

The 26 year old plays an explosive brand of contemporary British folk music which scales the full spectrum of storytelling, from farcical ‘shaggy dog stories’ about the self checkout machines at the supermarket, to beautifully-crafted allegorical songs such as the real life tale of Khulekani Khumalo, a South African folk singer who supposedly rose from the dead in 2012. His live shows dance effortlessly between sharp humour, scathing social commentary and raw heart-breaking emotion.

Varley moved to the seaside from London in 2010, seeking like-minded musicians, cheap rent, and a new way of doing things. After releasing his politically charged debut album Advert Soundtracks in 2011, he set out on the road and walked a hundred and forty miles with a guitar and tent on his back. Starting his walking tour at London Bridge he headed southeast, strolling through the rolling hills and towns, singing songs to whoever would listen. This began to build a fan base that has since grown to sell out the first album and seen festival tents bursting with followers. The record received a number of excellent reviews, and his self-directed music video for ‘King For A King’ has enjoyed almost 20,000 views on YouTube.

After self-publishing his first novel in the winter and almost two years of relentless gigging, including shows at the Occupy London protests & The Bank of Ideas, the young troubadour has recorded his second album with the help of David Hatton Jnr. (Cocos Lovers). Though still littered with his trademark humour, As The Crow Flies is a darker, more mature album which sees Varley’s poetry take centre stage, from the brutal honesty of the album’s title track, to the swaying cynicism of Weddings and Wars in which he attempts a history of the world in under four minutes. 

Reaction to date

“Certain to turn ears his way… Varley feels very much a voice for what could soon become the 21st Century’s lost generation” Folk Radio UK

“Powerful, Political & Pertinent” The Independent

“A simple line like “the big bang doesn’t care if I pray” is laden with the kind of meaning other artists would take whole albums to say.” Rock Kent

“It's the antithesis of all that Simon Cowell creates, and it's fantastic” Contact Music 

More information

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Winter Mountain to release debut EP 'Find, Follow' on Charcoal Records

EP Release: Find, Follow by Winter Mountain
Release date: 20 May 2013
Label: Charcoal Road
Listen: on Youtube

They have an extraordinary backstory straight out of a movie screenplay for which their songs would make the perfect soundtrack. How Joseph Francis and Martin Smyth met and were discovered is remarkable and goes a little like this...

An Englishman and an Irishman step onto the same train at Chicago's Union station and meet for the first time. Both singers, both songwriters...both broke, but intent on making their way by rail to Memphis, TN, the birthplace of Rock n Roll.

That night, the two strangers began a conversation that lasted until the early hours. A conversation centered on their mutual love of the sounds of the 60s and 70s, of great albums and great artists, and great harmony singing: The Band, Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were all discussed. By morning they had named themselves Winter Mountain and committed to travel together, swapping stories, exchanging lyrics and singing together in the bars and clubs of the deep south. From their first performance it was impossible to ignore the rare magic of their natural vocal blend as heads turned whenever they sang.

On their return the guys spent a fortnight songwriting in Ireland which led to a chance entry in a Battle of the Bands competition. Winter Mountain competed against the best unsigned talent in Northern Ireland, and won! It was enough to capture the heart of a local theatre owner who booked them to open for Irish singing luminary Cara Dillon. After hearing Joseph and Martin’s performance Cara and husband/producer Sam Lakeman immediately signed Winter Mountain to their independent label, Charcoal Records and set about assembling a team of experienced musicians who could help realise the vision that Joseph and Martin had for their music.

With contributions from Robbie McIntosh (guitarist with McCartney, The Pretenders, John Mayer), Audrey Riley (string arranger for Coldplay, Nick Cave) and Leo Abrahams (guitarist for Brian Eno, Florence And The Machine), the songs were recorded in a host of vintage studios which echo the authenticity of their sound and the resulting EP, Find, Follow, blends exquisite melodies, heartfelt lyrics and above all else, compelling harmonies.

The final, perhaps most striking touch to the EP was made when the highly acclaimed Mike Crossey (Ben Howard, Jake Bugg, The Arctic Monkeys), stepped up in the midst of his hectic schedule and mixed all three tracks.  

There have been the obvious comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel, The Fleet Foxes and The Everly Brothers and when you hear and see them perform you’ll understand why. Yet Winter Mountain bring something new to their vocal delivery, echoing  those legendary harmony acts, but adding a vital, contemporary edge that is uniquely their own. Their vocals blend as if they’ve been harmonising for a lifetime. And although Martin’s from Donegal, Ireland and Joseph hails from West Cornwall, you get the impression they were born to sing together.

Winter Mountain’s debut EP Find, Follow is now due for release on iTunes and other online outlets on 20th May 2013 on Charcoal Records.

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Nick Drake's 'Bryter Later' is reissued by Island Records

Album reissue: Bryter Later by Nick Drake - remastered and boxed vinyl edition
Release date: 13 April 2013
Label: Island  

Continuing the ReDISCovered boxed vinyl series of Nick Drake’s albums, Island Records presents Nick Drake's second album, Bryter Later, in a format similar to that used for the release of Pink Moon in 2012. The album itself is a near exact replica of the original 1970 release, pressed on heavyweight audiophile vinyl, and remastered at Abbey Road from master tapes by the album's original engineer John Wood.  Although the first generation master tapes were found to be unusable, Wood had made a safety copy of the album in 1970 and it is from this that the new album has been struck.

The vinyl comes in an Island card inner bag in a single pocket textured sleeve, just as the original release would have done. In addition it is housed in a box containing a copy of the original shop poster, a smaller 'Live' poster/brochure and a reprint of Nick's handwritten set list together with reproductions of the master tape reel and tape box lids.

The album also comes with a selection of downloadable electronic formats, including either high-resolution files, the usual MP3 files or unique Dubbed-From-Disc files for an authentic playback experience.

About Bryter Later

First released in November 1970, Bryter Layter expands on themes introduced by Drake in his debut album Five Leaves Left (1969). Principally featuring Nick on vocals and guitar performing his own original material, and using the same production team of Joe Boyd, John Wood, and orchestrator Robert Kirby, Bryter Layter is unusual in that it contains three instrumentals. Musicians on the album include members of Fairport Convention, The Beach Boys and John Cale. Fresh from producing former Velvet Underground bandmate Nico, Cale played on and arranged two songs, including Northern Sky – the song described by NME in 2004 as “the greatest English love song of modern times”.

Though Bryter Layter met with an indifferent set of media reviews when it was released, it went on to be included in the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time and reached 23 in Q magazine’s 100 Greatest British Albums Ever chart.

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The Webb Sisters release new EP, tour with Leonard Cohen

EP release: When Will You Come Home by The Webb Sisters
Release date: 1 April 2013
Label: Proper Records 
Listen: on official site 

Hattie and Charlie Webb - The Webb Sisters - are an English duo who are currently in the midst of a very long Leonard Cohen tour. 1 April sees the release of their new EP, When Will You Come Home, which features some new songs from them plus two versions of Cohen’s Show Me The Place. They are available for interview by phone, skype or e-mail.

Born into a family of musicians in Kent, England, Charley and Hattie are dynamic performers with expressive voices and plangent harmonies; they are also are multi-instrumentalists and songwriters of originality and intelligence. Ingénues yet thinkers, the Webb Sisters create enthralling live performances.

The duo's singing and playing (harp, guitar, mandolin, piano, drums) draw from the folk and pop traditions of Britain and the United States. They have recorded three albums, building a following on their travels, achieving album, single and record of the week on iTunes and BBC Radio Two. Charley and Hattie have performed twice for Princess Anne and once for Queen Elizabeth.

Two DVD and audio albums have been released documenting the musical performances of the Leonard Cohen tours, Live in London and Songs from the Road. On the DVD Live In London, Charley and Hattie are featured on the song If It Be Your Will.

Charley and Hattie received an invitation to sing on Sting's album If On a Winter’s Night… and on Natalie Maines’ (of The Dixie Chicks) version of God Only Knows, which was featured on the series finale of HBO’s Big Love. The Webb Sisters have toured with Jamie Cullum, Rufus Wainwright, Jason Mraz, James Morrison, Kubb, Katie Melua, Leya and Joe Echo. 

Reaction

“There's a reason Leonard Cohen, for whom Charley and Hattie Webb sing backup, refers to them as "the sublime Webb Sisters." Instant converts cheered and whistled for their spine-tingling, deadly-precise harmonies.” - Montreal Gazette

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New single from acclaimed Irish folk singer, Heidi Talbot

Single release: Will I Ever Get To Sleep? by Heidi Talbot
Release date: 18 March 2013
Label: Navigator
Listen: on Myspace 

Will I Ever Get To Sleep?, the lead single from Irish folk singer Heidi Talbot’s latest album, Angels Without Wings, is a beautiful modern day folk song. Written with husband and producer John McCusker and performed with King Creosote, Will I Ever Get To Sleep? observes the normal day to day life that exists whilst a loved one is away and the inability to sleep without them by your side “But you’re not home for weeks, And I wonder if I’ll ever get to sleep”. Heidi’s enchanting vocals with King Creosotes rich harmonies supported by the traditional instrumentation see the track soar and brings the lyrics to life.  

**** - Q Magazine
“Enchanting, inspiring and musically refreshing from beginning to end” – Maverick
“There isn’t a weak track in sight” – Acoustic
“A nicely judged blend of the sweet, sad, stately and sassy” – The Scotsman

‘Angels Without Wings’ is an album of original compositions glowing with special guests from the worlds of folk, pop, rock and bluegrass. Featuring collaborations with Mark Knopfler, King Creosote, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Karine Polwart, Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow), Julie Fowlis and more. 

Subtlety is Talbot’s magic ingredient – from her gossamer voice to the delicate re-working of traditional and contemporary material that earned her rave reviews for her 2008 breakthrough In Love And Light. The girl from Ireland’s Co. Kildare, who spent several years in New York as a member of the Irish-American supergroup Cherish The Ladies, slips effortlessly between musical worlds but retains a personal modesty rooted in traditional folk.

Talbot began writing songs on her 2010 album The Last Star. In just two years she’s become a master of the art, sometimes composing alone, sometimes with McCusker and Boo Hewerdine (who form her touring band). Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) became a new creative foil after the pair discovered a mutual admiration:

“He was asked to pick his fantasy band for The Independent and he picked me and Morten Harket from A-ha on joint lead vocals,” Heidi laughs. She conceived the melody for Button Up – a brooding, urgent acoustic love song – with Anderson in mind, and he sent back his own lyrics.

When Mark Knopfler and Jerry Douglas offered to play on Heidi Talbot’s new album, they thoughtfully recorded their parts in several different styles – some were instantly recognisable, others more low-key. Talbot’s husband, producer and bandmate John McCusker joked, “you’ve got the best guitar players in the world and we’re blending them in?” But both musicians knew that for Talbot, the song always comes before the name.

And while the timeless language of traditional folk will always be an inspiration, there are traces of Americana in ‘When The Roses Come Again' (feat. Mark Knopfler), a delicate country-tinged duet with bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, and Parisian romance in the unforgettable title track by Boo Hewerdine, laced with vintage accordion.

Talbot and McCusker were keen to capture the spontaneity of performance: the album was recorded live in Glasgow’s new Gorbals Sound Studios with her regular team Ian Carr (guitars), Phil Cunningham (accordion), Michael McGoldrick (flutes/whistles), James Mackintosh (percussion), Boo Hewerdine (acoustic guitar) and Ewan Vernal (bass). “If people made mistakes we’d just keep going,” says Heidi. “On some of the tracks you can even hear the harmonium creaking. These guys are friends, they all give their opinion. They’ll say, “that’s it! That’s the take!’” 

Talbot’s close-knit creative environment has fostered her confidence as a songwriter while allowing her to welcome in surprising new collaborators. These ever-evolving musical relationships can be heard on this, her most sophisticated and vibrant recording to date. 

Upcoming UK Tour Dates 

  • Sat, 26 Jan 2013 Tolbooth, Stirling 01786 274000
  • Sun, 27 Jan 2013 Angels Without Wings Album launch @ Celtic Connections festival
  • Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow with special guests 0141 3538000
  • Fri, 15 Feb 2013 The Buccleuch Centre, Langholm 01387 381196
  • Sat, 16 Feb 2013 The Kirkgate Centre, Cockermouth 01900 826448
  • Sun, 17 Feb 2013 Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton 0845 127 2190
  • Tue, 19 Feb 2013 Exeter Phoenix, Exeter 01392 667080
  • Wed, 20 Feb 2013 Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd. 08000 147111
  • Thu, 21 Feb 2013 Cecil Sharp House, London 0844 8889991
  • Fri, 22 Feb 2013 Royal Native Oyster Stores, Whitstable 07895 683567
  • Sat, 23 Feb 2013 Forge at Anvil, Basingstoke 01256 844244
  • Sun, 24 Feb 2013 Subscription Rooms, Stroud 01453 760900
  • Mon, 25 Feb 2013 Artrix, Bromsgrove 01527 577330
  • Wed, 27 Feb 2013 Sheffield Cathedral, Sheffield 0114 263 6951
  • Thu, 28 Feb 2013 The Barn, Baston 01778 560497
  • Fri, 01 Mar 2013 The Met, Bury 01617 612216
  • Sat, 02 Mar 2013 Hepworth Village Hall, Hepworth 07845 921527
  • Sun, 03 Mar 2013 Darwin Suite, Derby 01332 255800
  • Mon, 04 Mar 2013 Rodewald Suite, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 0151 7093789
  • Tue, 05 Mar 2013 Pocklington Arts Centre, Pocklington 01759 301547
  • Thu, 07 Mar 2013 Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline 01383 602302
  • Fri, 08 Mar 2013 Eden Court, Inverness 01463 234234
  • Sat, 09 Mar 2013 Eastgate Arts Centre, Peebles 01721 725777
  • Sun, 10 Mar 2013 The Woodend Barn, Banchory 01330 825431

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Faustus: new album and tour from the award-winning supergroup

Faustus

Album release: Broken Down Gentlemen by Faustus
Release date: 11 March
Label: Navigator Records
Album tour: 11-27 April 2013 – including The Green Note, London 
Listen: on official website 

‘Frill-free folk music, superbly and tastefully performed . . . a folk essential’ **** Sunday Times
‘A considered album of exceptional class’ ***** Daily Telegraph

Nominated in the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, the Faustus triumvirate are three of the leading lights of English folk music of their generation: Saul Rose (Waterson:Carthy, Whapweasel), Benji Kirkpatrick (Seth Lakeman Band, Bellowhead) and Paul Sartin (Bellowhead, Belshazzar’s Feast).

Specialising in powerful delivery, faultless harmonies, inspired arrangements and a sprinkling of some of the earthiest songs in the folk cannon, they are men on a mission to banish all that is anodyne and fey in the delivery of folk music. Their plethora of experience is brought together in a virtuosic display of musicianship and testosterone.

Faustus came together in 2006 as an evolution of the award-winning band Dr. Faustus.  They made an eponymous debut album in 2008, produced by Stu Hanna (also of Megson) and released by Navigator Records, which saw them nominated as the Best Group in the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.  Subsequent touring saw them headlining at festivals, as well as playing sell-out concerts at arts centres and clubs.  Rooted deeply in the English tradition, in 2007 they received a 75th Anniversary Award from the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

The band members:

Benji: Scion of a noted folk dynasty, and very firmly rooted in the tradition, Benji Kirkpatrick is a key member of folk big band and BBC Award winners Bellowhead.  Member of the Seth Lakeman Band who shot to fame when 'Kitty Jay', featuring Benji, nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2005, Benji has also performed with numerous other noted artists including Oysterband, John Jones and Maddy Prior (Steeleye Span), and has found time to release three acclaimed solo albums.

Saul: Saul Rose was a long time member of Waterson:Carthy, winning two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards with the album 'Broken Ground' and forming a duo with Eliza Carthy.  The double album Red Rice, of which Saul was an integral part of the 'Rice' half, was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 1998.  More recently Saul has joined Whapweasel, played in Ruth Notman's and Jim Moray’s bands, and re-launched his own duo with hammered dulcimer player, Maclaine Colston. In demand not only as a touring band member, but also an incredibly popular session musician, he has played on numerous albums, including Jackie Oates's album Hyperboreans, Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy's album The Gift and the soundtrack for the film Morris - A Life With Bells On. He was nominated for the Musician of The Year award in the 2010 BBC Folk Awards and in 2011 took the part of Songman in the West End play War Horse.

Paul: Paul Sartin is also a member of Bellowhead, as well as BBC Folk Award-nominated duo Belshazzar’s Feast and is a BASC nominated composer. He is Director of the Andover Museum Loft Singers, consultant for the charity Live Music Now and is a composer of note with recent works including The Hartlepool Monkey for Streetwise Opera, Anthony and Cleopatra for the Central School of Speech and Drama, and ‘Changing Landscapes’ for Broadstairs Folk Week.

In Autumn 2012 Faustus returned to touring after a two year break to enthusiastic reviews while simultaneously putting the finishing touches to a brand new album, working once again with producer Stu Hanna. 

March 2013 will see the release of the album Broken Down Gentlemen on Navigator Records followed by an album tour in April.  For full tour dates see the Faustus website.

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BBC Folk Awards 2013 - compilation of tracks by nominees released on 28 January

BBC Folk Awards 2013

Album release: BBC Folk Awards 2013
Release date: 28 January 2013
Label: Proper Records
More info / tracks: on Proper Records website 

This year, for the first time, the Folk Awards will take place in Glasgow during the Celtic Connections festival. It will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and streamed via the BBC Red Button service on Wednesday 30 January 2013, 7.30pm - 10pm.

28 January 2013 sees the release of an annual compilation featuring the nominees for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards plus bonus disc of the 10 semi-finalists in the BBC Young Folk Awards. This is the most comprehensive collection of the current favourite, rising and, as yet, unsung stars of the folk world. See below for track listing.

CD 1: Bellowhead - Roll The Woodpile Down / Hannah James & Sam Sweeney - The Farmer's Cursed Wife / Anaïs Mitchell - Tailor / Duncan Chisholm - Unknown Air / Kathleen Macinnes - Tha Sneach'd Air Druim Uachdair / Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts - Doctor James / Nic Jones  - Texas Girl's Lament At The Funeral Of Her Father / Emily Portman - Hatchlings / Rura - Mary / Kathryn Tickell - Small Coals 

CD 2: Lau - The Bird That Winds The Spring / Maz O'connor - Caw The Yowes / Ross Ainslie -- Lullaby For Mel / O'hooley & Tidow - Gentleman Jack / Luke Jackson - Last Train / Karine Polwart - King Of Birds / Blair Dunlop - Billy In The Lowground / Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman - The Ballad Of Andy Jacobs / The Unthanks - Black Trade / Sam Lee - Wild Wood Amber / Treacherous Orchestra - Sea Of Okhotsk 

CD 3: Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar - Working On The New Railroad / Thalla - St. Andrew's Flight / Last Tango In Harris / Luke Jackson - More Than Boys / Graham Mackenzie & Ciorstaidh Beaton - Father Eugene's Welcome To Cape North; St Kilda's Wedding / Mae Bradbury - Shiver / Jack Pout - Breaking Of Old Branches / Matt Tighe - Were You At The Rock?;  The College Groves / Rosie Hodgson - Liverpool Lullaby / The Crosstown Trio - My Heart Is Holding Up A Shield / Hugh Sheehan & Jack Mccaugherty - The Night Before

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David Bronson Celebrates Release of 'Story' with 2 new videos and free downloads

‘If you like well-produced, catchy, decent guitar playing and solid vocals then you’ll like this.’ – Gold Flake Paint

After a number of years of writing, producing, and recording, David Bronson officially releases the first instalment of a 22-song cycle project, The Long Lost Story, in the UK. Story is the first album, out now, to be followed by The Long Lost later in the year. To celebrate the occasion, Bronson gives away two free downloads of tracks from the record, accompanied by beautifully intimate new videos.

Bronson on the tracks

"Easier is a very reflective kind of song, roughly narrating some of the story of the record, in a hopeful, if kind of wary way. It's a detached retelling of what had happened that was painful, as well as a kind of attempt at a self-prescribed 'remedy' on how to proceed forward.

Since the song is an extremely internal one, even moreso than the rest of the record, I wanted a very intimate feeling for the video, so I thought "what would be more intimate than shooting it by myself, at home?" So that's what I did. I also realized the other day that it's kind of a funny play on words - it was after all, from a technical standpoint, a much 'easier' video to make than some of the other ones. I like when things like that happen.”

Momentary has a chorus that to me is a universal message, a message that I acutely needed to hear when I wrote it. It was essentially me telling myself that things would get better, but also acknowledging that they’d likely worse again too, and that’s just how it is (and that that’s not necessarily a bad thing). On another level, it’s ultimately an acknowledgement of death, and as such is an implied admonition to really value and be supremely grateful for all of it – that it’s all part of it, and all beautiful and meaningful, both in spite of, and because of, its impermanence. It’s also a special song to me personally because it’s the one song on the two records that was co-written by my brother Jeremy (who’s also the drummer).

As far as the video is concerned – I’ve always had a deep love and appreciation for illustration, from a very young age being obsessed with comic books. So I wrote out a few rough, sort of allegorical outlines and began looking for illustrators. I literally came across David Sparshott by googling ‘Illustrator’. I was really drawn to his style, as I was looking for a somewhat particular line-drawn, monochromatic kind of thing. His pieces were cooler and more boldly idiosyncratic and technically beautiful than I had imagined. I’m thrilled with his interpretation.”

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New album from Heidi Talbot

Album release: Angels Without Wings by Heidi Talbot
Release date: 18 February 2013
Label: Navigator Records
Listen: Official website 

‘Angels Without Wings’ is an album of original compositions glowing with special guests from the worlds of folk, pop, rock and bluegrass. Featuring collaborations with Mark Knopfler, King Creosote, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Karine Polwart, Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow) Julie Fowlis and more

“A voice that’s both awestruck and tender” - The New York Times

US Indie Acoustic Award, twice BBC Folk Awards nominee

When Mark Knopfler and Jerry Douglas offered to play on Heidi Talbot’s new album, they thoughtfully recorded their parts in several different styles – some were instantly recognisable, others more low-key. Talbot’s husband, producer and bandmate John McCusker joked, “you’ve got the best guitar players in the world and we’re blending them in?” But both musicians knew that for Talbot, the song always comes before the name.

Subtlety is Talbot’s magic ingredient – from her gossamer voice to the delicate re-working of traditional and contemporary material that earned her rave reviews for her 2008 breakthrough In Love And Light. The girl from Ireland’s Co. Kildare, who spent several years in New York as a member of the Irish-American supergroup Cherish The Ladies, slips effortlessly between musical worlds but retains a personal modesty rooted in traditional folk.

Talbot began writing songs on her 2010 album The Last Star. In just two years she’s become a master of the art, sometimes composing alone, sometimes with McCusker and Boo Hewerdine (who form her touring band). Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) became a new creative foil after the pair discovered a mutual admiration:

“He was asked to pick his fantasy band for The Independent and he picked me and Morten Harket from A-ha on joint lead vocals,” Heidi laughs. She conceived the melody for Button Up – a brooding, urgent acoustic love song – with Anderson in mind, and he sent back his own lyrics. 

“At home we listen to Belle And Sebastian and Teenage Fan Club as much as we do The Fureys and Mary Black,” she says, of her song-writing’s broad appeal. The best modern folk music gets right to the heart of human drama while remaining oblique about time and place: Wine & Roses is a poignant contemporary reminiscence about young lovers “holding hands and rubbing noses”; I’m Not Sorry is a mini-psychodrama written from a single moment of reflection – “I felt it so it can’t be wrong to sing about it.”

And while the timeless language of traditional folk will always be an inspiration, there are traces of Americana in When The Roses Come Again (feat. Mark Knopfler), a delicate country-tinged duet with bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, and Parisian romance in the unforgettable title track by Boo Hewerdine, laced with vintage accordion.

Talbot and McCusker were keen to capture the spontaneity of performance: the album was recorded live in Glasgow’s new Gorbals Sound Studios with her regular team Ian Carr (guitars), Phil Cunningham (accordion), Michael McGoldrick (flutes/whistles), James Mackintosh (percussion), Boo Hewerdine (acoustic guitar) and Ewan Vernal (bass). “If people made mistakes we’d just keep going,” says Heidi. “On some of the tracks you can even hear the harmonium creaking. These guys are friends, they all give their opinion. They’ll say, “that’s it! That’s the take!’”

Talbot’s close-knit creative environment has fostered her confidence as a songwriter while allowing her to welcome in surprising new collaborators. These ever-evolving musical relationships can be heard on this, her most sophisticated and vibrant recording to date.

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