FolkWorld #48 07/2012

CD & DVD Reviews

Deluce's Patent "Deluce's Patent"
Own label, 2011

Deluce's Patent are Evelyn O'Connell (vocals), Deirdre Granville (vocals, harp, fiddle), Adrian Spillett (vocals, bouzouki, guitar, accordion) and Conor O'Sullivan (guitars, tenor banjo, vocals), all from County Kerry. For their debut album they invited Trevor Hutchinson on double bass and some well chosen guest appearances to record 3 original tracks, 2 traditional songs and 6 cover versions.
They start off with one of my favourites: Evelyn and Adrian sing the traditional song "Oh no not I" to the intoxicating percussion rhythm of Kieran O'Leary, double bass, guitar and harp create an incredible groove for their beautiful duet. Every band needs a Bob Dylan song and ours is "Man in the long black coat", they say. Bouzouki and fiddle are joined by guitar and Evelyn's crystal clear singing, they accelerate the pace slightly with double bass, slide and harp and with Adrian singing the harmony vocals they come to the hauntingly beautiful finale. The moderate paced "Burnham Set" includes the jig "Sir Walter's ruff", an original track by Deluce's Patent, and Deirdre's reel "Open the blue door" and is brought forward on harp, guitars and double bass. Conor wrote "On the road", a typical road song featuring a great 5-string banjo solo by Mick Daly, and Adrian sings "Keep me in your heart" from Warren Zevon's final album with much emotion, accompanied by mesmerizing harmony vocals, guitars, bass and harp. My absolute favourite is "Chilly Winds", a breathtaking song showcasing a brilliant a capella intro by the four singers, Conor sets the pace on the tenor banjo, bouzouki, double bass and harp join in and the guys just have fun playing this traditional "old timey" Country.
The Cork based band presents an excellent album with songs from Ireland and America. They are highly talented musicians and great singers and with Trevor Hutchinson, Mick Daly and Kieran O'Leary they have chosen first class guest musicians.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Kyle Carey "Monongah"
Own label, 2011

Singer/songwriter Kyle Carey (vocals, guitar) grew up in the Alaskan forests and started to play music at High school in New Hampshire. Last year she travelled to Western Ireland to record her debut album with 10 self crafted songs. Produced by Donogh Hennessy (guitar) the album features some of the finest folk musicians from Ireland and abroad: Trevor Hutchinson (bass), Pauline Scanlon (harmony vocals), Aoife Clancy (harmony vocals), Neil Fitzgibbon (guitar, fiddle, lap slide, harmony vocals), Brendan O'Sullivan (fiddle, viola), Rosie MacKenzie (fiddle), Cleek Schrey (fiddle), John Kirk (banjo, mandolin) and Tom Canning (percussion). The hauntingly beautiful title song is inspired by Appalachian writer Louise McNeill, Hutchinson, Fitzgibbon, O'Sullivan and Kirk create the wonderful musical background for the mesmerizing voices of Kyle and Pauline.
My favourite song is "Gaol ise Gaol i" (She is my Love), Aoife, Pauline and Kyle sing this Irish Mouth Music with incredible virtuosity to the soft pace of banjo, fiddle, bass and two guitars. Another poem, this time by Nikki Giovanni, is interpreted as a moderate paced Americana, "Resurrection", the playing together of MacKenzie on fiddle and Kirk on banjo is great. "The star above Rankin's Point" is a beautiful melancholic ballad with three guitars, viola and bass, inspired by Breton author Alistair MacLeod and "Let them be all" is a breathtaking a capella duet with Pauline. At the end old-time fiddler Schrey, Fitzgibbon and Carey bring forward a "Reprise" of the tender ballad "Adenine".
Kyle is a brilliant singer/songwriter and with these guys on her side the debut has become one of my favourite debut albums of the year. Check her out!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Cathy Jordan "All the way home"
Blix Street Records, 2012

On her solo debut album "All the way home" Dervish singer Cathy Jordan (vocals, autoharp, percussion) remembers the songs she sang in her childhood with family and friends. Together with producer Roger Tallroth (guitars, cittern, vocals) and featuring some of the best folk musicians from Sweden and the British Islands she recorded 9 traditional and self-crafted songs and two original tunes.
Cathy already interpreted the traditional song "Eileen McMahon" with Dervish, for her solo version she invited Eddie Reader to sing a hauntingly beautiful duet to the mesmerizing accompaniment by Tallroth and Gustaf Ljunggren on lap steel, mandolin and piano. "The River Field Waltz" is Cathy's tune for one of her favourite places in Roscommon showcasing Liam Kelly's virtuoso flute playing and "In Curraghroe" a poem by Patrick Devine put to a tender ballad by Cathy. "Sliabh Gallion Braes" is a traditional song about the life of the tenant farmers, Cathy's breathtaking singing, the intoxicating pace, as well as Andy Irvine on Mandocello and Michael McGoldrick on uilleann pipes make this song one of my favourites. Tallroth wrote "The Jordan Jig" especially for this project and arranged it with an impressing line-up as an up-Beat dance tune. The CD ends with her autobiographic title song, a brilliant musical performance and Cathy's family, Eddie and Roger joining in to sing the amazing chorus.
"All the way home" is a very personal collection of songs and tunes brought forward by some of the finest musicians and singers, a gem for fans of Irish Folk.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Strata-Tones "Dressed up to fess up"
Fruition Records 2012

The Strata-Tones are a six-piece Blues and R&B line-up from California founded by Bruce Krupnik (guitar, vocals). He teamed up with singer Valerie Johnson, Rick Pittman (drums), Wil Anderson (bass), Ken Burton (keyboards) and Kevin McCracken (harmonica, vocals) to record 8 self-crafted tracks and two cover versions for their latest release "Dressed up to fess up".
The principal composer is Krupnik, but the lyrics for the intoxicating "Bebop Baby" were written by Johnson and McCracken. Johnson is a brilliant singer with a spectacular voice and her passionate singing is driven by the great rhythm section and spiced with virtuoso solos on harmonica and keyboard. McCracken also wrote the words for "Raggedy Annie", a rhythmic harmonica blues showcasing Pittman's fine drumming. "Together for some time" is a beautiful love song by Krupnik with awesome vocals by Johnson and fine playing together of harmonica, guitar and Hammond. Other highlight are "Treat your woman right" written by Valerie and the guys - the song stands out with an incredible groove, jazzy, souly, funky; Terry Lawless composed the horn section - and the only instrumental track, "T.W.F.S.", where Jazz and Blues melt together. My absolute favourite is their cover of Big Mama Thornton's "Ball and chain", a live recording. Starting off with Valerie's breathtaking vocals the guys join in and accelerate the pace showcasing their brilliant musicianship.
The Strata-Tones are certainly one of the best R&B line-ups I've ever heard. Great songs, first class musicians and a voice you'll never forget.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

JT Coldfire "Always & Never"
Own label, 2012

JT Coldfire (guitars, vocals) is based in Austin, Texas, and one of the busiest Live performers in the local Blues scene. Together with a bunch of brilliant musicians from Sweden he recorded 10 original tracks for his new album "Always & Never". The line-up includes bass, drums, piano, harp, organ, accordion, saxophone and an additional guitar.
It starts off with "Get it on", intoxicating Rock'n'Roll rhythm and Coldfire's passionate singing. "Rather die in my sleep" is a Blues-rock showcasing Coldfire's powerful Blues voice and virtuoso guitar playing, driven by the shuffling rhythm and assisted by the Blues harp. On "Let's go for a drive" he sings a beautiful duet with Anna Carin Borgstrom and "Feelin' the music" is an acoustic song in songwriter style. Another highlight is the classic Blues "Tell me Mama" with great playing together of guitar, harp and piano and with "Tired man's Blues", an up-beat Cajun, the album ends as it began with an intoxicating dance rhythm.
JT Coldfire's new album offers 34 minutes of inspired Blues music brought forward by talented musicians. He is an exceptional singer, songwriter and guitar player, check him out.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

West of Eden "Safe crossing"
West of Music, 2012

Singer/Songwriter Jenny and Martin Schaub went for a traditional Swedish "Plura" (kind of enclosure) to collect songs for their latest album. "Safe crossing" is a concept album inspired by "Shipwreck", a book by John Fowles about sunken ships around the Cornish Scilly Islands, and features 12 original songs and a traditional set.
The band includes Lars Broman, David Ekh, Kenneth Holmström and Ola Karlevo, together with the two singers they cover a wide range of acoustic and electric instruments. Most of the songs were recorded at Sawmills Studio on a deserted spot somewhere on the Cornish coastline.
The six band members sing "Haul away" and the journey begins in a new day's dawning with a hauntingly beautiful duet by Jenny and Martin. The bodhràn creates the driving pace for the ship, "On she goes", Jenny's angelic voice, Steph Geremia's virtuoso flute playing and Broman's fine fiddle work join in to perform a wonderful light hearted Folk song co-composed by Borman. Then Martin prays for a "Safe crossing", Martin Blomberg sets the pace with the banjo, the band joins in to play an intoxicating Country-Rock and flute, fiddle and accordion play some stunning variations. The guys also offer brilliant Celtic Folk-Rock with David Stiernholm on whistles and a four piece brass ensemble, "13 knots". "Wrecker's weather" is a hauntingly beautiful ballad showcasing a similar line-up and Christian Kjellvander singing a great duet with Jenny. "The Scilly Set" is the only instrumental track and therefore the musicians take the opportunity to add some breathtaking soli, accordion, fiddle and flute in the limelight and the band delivering the incredible pace. The CD ends with another mesmerizing ballad, Jenny sings "Waiting for the storm".
They're rockin' like Bono, they are folkin' like Capercaillie, but they sound like West of Eden, certainly one of today's most innovative folk bands.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

María do Ceo "Fado con Outro Acento"
Zouma Records, 2012

‘Fado’ is the traditional singing style in several urban populations in Portugal.[47] María do Ceo is a ‘fadista’ that is considered one of the clear successors (and for some people even: “the successor”) of the great Amália Rodrigues (Lisbon, 1920-1999).[46] ‘Fado con Outro Acento’ (‘Fado with a Different Accent’) is the 10th CD published by this talented & exquisite artist, born in Portugal but whose parents moved to the Galician city of Ourense during her childhood. This explains her plural cultural background (Portuguese, Galician, Spanish) and her versatility when shifting from Fado to Galician traditional songs, or even to bolero, with a Mexican feeling. But María do Ceo’s beautiful voice & accent in ‘Fado con Outro Acento’ is clearly Portuguese. Ok, maybe with a very subtle Andalusian intonation in the song ‘María la Portuguesa’? The singer Carlos Cano (Granada, 1946-2000) wrote this song (in Spanish) as a tribute to Amália Rodrigues. The version in this CD is the translation in Portuguese language. The string instruments are skillfully played by José Manuel Neto (Portuguese guitar), Miguel Gonçalves (viola/guitar) and Daniel Pinto (viola/guitar & bass guitar). This CD is a beautiful collection of 13 songs that demonstrate that Fado in Portugal –same as Tango in Argentina & Uruguay— are vital urban music traditions, that still today keep a direct connection with the feelings and the emotions of the most rooted populations in the large cities. Songs to specially recommend are the popular ‘Alecrim’, ‘Ai, María’, ‘Teus Olhos são Duas Fontes’, or ‘A Janela do Meu Peito’.
© Pío Fernández

Pancho Álvarez "Sonche Atlántico"
Fol Musica/BOA, 2012

FolkWorld has talked in the past about Pancho Álvarez,[12][22][40] although he is mostly known for his work with the string instruments in the band of the gaita bagpiper Carlos Núñez. Now in 2012, Pancho comes back with a CD where he displays his great skills playing many kinds of instruments (acoustic & electric guitars, hurdy gurdy, 8 & 10 string bouzoukis, cuatro, mandolin, viola caipira, fiddle, viola de gamba, harp, concertina, drums,...), but also writing the music for 12 tunes, a few of them based on Galician traditional songs. The lyrics are written by Galician writers such as Suso de Toro or Antón Reixa. Pancho’s talent is no new discovery for us, but his surprising capability to create & renovate the Galician folk music seems to come from endless sources of inspiration. This time it comes from the Atlantic Ocean, and the different lands facing its furious waves: Galicia, Portugal, Ireland, Africa, North & South America,.... Although the roots of these songs are clearly Galician, the influences from the music of such other distant places are also audible. The other musicians in his band are well known companions from previous recordings : Xurxo Núñez (Carlos Núñez’s brother, drums), the Castro brothers Félix (concertina) & Cástor (wind instruments), Álvaro Iglesias (double bass) and María Solleiro (lyrics). Remarkable songs in “Sonche Atlático” are for example : the trad tune ‘Son Adicto a Ti’ keeping the style & flavour of the Galician blind travelling musicians, ‘Porto do Son’, which approaches some sounds from the Mexican music this time played with the Brazilian viola caipira, or ‘Rumba de Alí’ inspired after one of Pancho’s concerts in Morocco .
© Pío Fernández

Os Cempés "Tente Mozo"
Fol Musica/BOA, 2012

Os Cempés (The Centipede) is a traditional music band from Galicia (NW Spain) whose career started in the early 1990s, with members such as Oscar Fernández-Sanjurjo (accordion, hurdy gurdy), Antón Varela (bagpipes), Sergio Ces (clarinets, percussions, lyrics), Pablo Ces (traditional bass drum, percussions) and Beto Niebla (traditional drum). That was the line-up that released their first CD ‘¡¡Opaiii!!’ (1995), in which they settled the principles of their music style : Galician traditional music full of dance tunes, happy moods & great sense of humor.[6] Although it could appear that they were just another of the many Galician trad bands of their category, Os Cempes always had a very special connection with the audience. I can imagine that it was due to a combination of factors: the deep knowledge on bagpipes from different kinds contributed by the player and also maker Antón Varela (, the skills and innovative sounds of Oscar Fernández in the accordion & the hurdy-gurdy, but the key was for sure the restless & cheerful Sergio Ces. Their following recordings were 'Capitan Re' (1997), 'Circo Montecuruto' (2001), and finally 'Moe a Moa' (2003), which was a kind of temporary good-bye to their fans. But although their career was short and not particularly prolific, they seemed to leave a sort of empty space in the folk music in Galicia and other parts of Spain, an opinion shared by several experienced people in the local folk music world.[43] Now in 2012, Os Cempes comes back with a new line up that keeps three of their capital band members: Oscar Fernández, Antón Varela, Serxio Ces, and two new members of the band also Pablo da Lama (sax, clarinet), Ramón Dopico (percussions), and Fernando Barroso (bouzouki). Once again, Os Cempés meets and exceeds the expectations of their fans with 12 traditional songs such as: 'Mirandesa' (inspired by the song 'Las Campanitas', from the repertoire of the Portuguese bagpipes gaita mirandesa), ‘Pasodoble Lugo-Ferrol’, ‘Muiñeiras de Agra’, or the beautiful ‘1904’. Not to forget two great songs composed by the talented Oscar Fernández: ‘Muiñeiras da Noite’ and ‘Mañá’. I always perceive some influence from the music of the French bagpipe & hurdy-gurdy/accordion duets in the songs from Oscar Fernández.
© Pío Fernández

Quempallou "Vellas Novas"
Zouma Records, 2012

Just like the veteran musicians from the band ‘Os Cempés’, the Galician ensemble Quempallou are some young Galician fellows of contagious happiness.[42][46] After the departure of two musicians, the five remaining members --still with Guillerme Ignacio leading the band— present their new 11 (mostly dance) tunes. Nothing completely new to find in this ‘Vellas Novas’ (‘Old News’) CD, not even Quempallou’s determination to fight back any kind pessimism (something that nowadays keeps flourishing all over Spain), while still nicely writing & performing Galician traditional & folk music. Music with Galician gaita bagpipes & hurdy gurdy (Guillerme Ignacio), accordion (Roi Maceda), guitar & bouzouki (Isaac Millán) and percussions (Roi Adrio & Xosé Maceda). Good examples of Quempallou’s attitude are the songs : ‘Foliada do Viño’, ‘O Tresvello de Murias’, ‘Unha de Xotas’ or ‘Bailemos con Xeito’, some of them showing a fusion between Galician trad songs and the sonorities of South American and Caribbean music.
© Pío Fernández

Los Hermanos Cubero "Los Hermanos Cubero 7" [EP]
Carajillo Records, 2012

The Cubero brothers that FolkWorld thoroughly interviewed in 2011[46] are now back with their second record. This time in an old fashioned style : an EP with 4 songs edited by the label from Barcelona Carajillo Records, specialized in rhythm & blues, rockabilly, etc... Los Hermanos Cubero remain loyal to their initial concept: Traditional music from central Spain meets American bluegrass to develop something unique, with acoustic guitar, mandolin and Castilian trad singing. The first tune in Side 1 of the shiny 7 inches diameter vinyl disk is ‘La Calle Abajo’, a Castilian ‘seguidilla corrida’ folksong with a binary measure played on the guitar. It is followed by ‘La Mandolina Castellana’, a typical 3/4 ‘jota’ dedicated to the Castilian mandolin players from all times. Then you have to carefully pick up the EP from the turntable, flip it, smoothly remove dust particles with a special cloth, and start listening to the other two songs on Side 2: ‘No Quiero Soñar Nunca Más’ and ‘Paloteo de Abril’. In this new record from ‘The Cuberos’, the balance is slightly more shifted to the Castilian trad music side, although you can still find some well recognizable American bluegrass in many instrumental parts of their music. For sure the quality of recording and the vinyl support that they have chosen reinforces the flavor of the old style sound from the 1940s & 50s, that can bring your imagination to the wheat fields of La Alcarria in central Spain, or to some farming area along the banks of the lower course of the Kentucky river.
© Pío Fernández

Ana Alcaide "La Cantiga del Fuego"
Own Label, 2012

Ana Alcaide goes on with her successful fusion between the Nordic sonorities of the nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed fiddle), the Sephardic (Spanish-Jewish) music, and the traditional sounds from several places around the Mediterranean Sea.[42] This CD is her 4th creative exercise and it is still inspired by the history & the musical legacy of the Jews that in the 15th century were massively forced to leave Sepharad (Spain in Hebrew). ‘La Cantiga del Fuego’ (‘The Song of the Fire’), is a Sephardic trad song about the big fire that in 1917 destroyed two thirds of the Greek city of Thessaloniki. Once again, Ana’s delicate musical taste is present, not only when performing 5 traditional tunes (from the gypsies of East Europe, and from Greece, Bulgaria & Iran), but also in the composition of the other 7. This can be enjoyed in songs such as: ‘Baila donde el Mar’, ‘Khun Caravan’, ‘En el Jardín de la Reina’, ‘El Agua del Rio’, or ‘Ay Que Casas!’. The list of instrument musicians that join Ana in this culturally diverse project is quite longer than usual : starting with the American Bill Cooley (psaltery, ud, santur, medieval lute, tar, frame drum), Josete Ordóñez (Spanish & acoustic guitars), Rafa del Teso (bouzouki, mandola, guitar), Jaime Muñoz (conventional & Turkish clarinets, Turkish ney, kaval, gaida, pipe & tabor, furuluya, diatonic accordion), Renzo Ruggiero (acoustic & electric guitar, hurdy gurdy, santur), Diego López (frame drums, davul, tombak, riq, kanjira, tinaja), Sergey Saprychev (darboukas, frame drums, riq, tombak, tabla), Ido Segal (hansa veena), Dimitris Psonis (Greek lyra), and ending with Ana’s former teacher, Reza Shayesteh who sings the tune ‘Mikdash’, with lyrics based on two ancient Persian poems. Ana sings with her beautiful voice while also playing: nyckelharpa, moraharpa, violin, and Celtic harp (this is a pleasant innovation!). We could imagine that some part of Ana’s evolution in her latest work is due to her recent first time motherhood. In an artist with such an exquisite level of sensibility, this might be a factor to be perceived in the future progress of her fruitful career.
© Pío Fernández

Lilt "Onward"
Lockhouse Records, 2011

German CD Review

Here is something I often do not get a chance to review for DC Rock Live, a local Irish folk duo. If I am wearing my Folkworld hat and digging into my pile of CDs, I might expect something like this. But it is refreshing to hear such crisp modern performances on mostly traditional Irish reels, jigs, and folk songs. The two musicians known as Lilt play flute offset by a stringed instrument such as cittern, banjo or mandolin. They have guest fiddles and a bodhran which add more flash when desired. The production is clean and the playing is sharp and with enough pace to make it interesting enough for those that learned their Irish music from the Pogues and not their father's favorite crooner braying away at "Danny Boy". If you enjoy De Dannan, Planxty and the many bands that do this sort of thing, you'll easily enjoy this as well. The key that makes this stand out for me is that little bit of extra sharpness in the way they hit their notes and pace they maintain. And they play around the DC area often enough, that a live show seems like it would be well worth the effort. You can certainly expect to read about it here when next I get them on my calendar.
© David Hintz

Norma MacDonald "Morning You Wake"
Own Label; 2011

This Canadian singer songwriter presents eleven intricate songs that have a certain sophistication without losing simple accessibility. The sophistication may be more in the arrangements, so the many accompanying musicians and the producer, Phil Sedore, may also deserve some credit here. But MacDonald’s songs with their country folk mix have a warm tone that will reach most listeners on first the listen. “Canada Day” shows this well with nice guitar work along with horns working fading in and out along with almost jazzy keyboard strikes. Lush vocals are on top of it all and the melody glides along with grace. The country touches sometimes become repetitive, but the arrangements keep things interesting over the full course of the album.
© David Hintz

Danjal "The Bubble"
Peregrina Music, 2012

If you have a yen for the exotic, this record should tantalize your taste buds. Immediately, a gypsy klezmer song gets things off to a roaring start. After several snappy numbers, the songs go in a deeper direction with dark urban backdrops conjured up with strings, tinkling piano strikes and clean powerful vocal work. There are some odd lounge elements as well with vocal lines that remind me of a strange hybrid of Ray Davies and Devandra Banhart. This is quirky, but it flows smoothly as opposed to being overly jarring. It certainly keeps the mind at work, but my foot was tapping plenty. The musicians may be Scandinavian, but the music is worldlier still with a great universal heart to grab on to.
© David Hintz

Ron Spielman Trio "Electric Tales"
Grund Sound; 2012

Guitar, bass, drums and vocals comprise the sounds coming out of this trio. And yes, it is electric. The style is 70s-80s mainstream rock with a touch of R&B. The sound is good such as the throbbing instrumental touches in “Seventh Slice” and the rocking “Matchstick”, but too much of this reminded me of music I left alone such as Robert Palmer and Hall & Oates. These guys rock a bit more, but it is not quite enough to get me excited. The lyrics were also best not closely listened to.
© David Hintz

Daniel Bustone "Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear"
Own label; 2011

German CD Review

I have to admit I was not terribly hopeful of this record as it began with a loop of a child’s voice over the introductory passages, but thankfully that passed and Bustone’s decent songs took over. It has a lo-fi homemade feeling, but there is enough interesting guitar work going on along with keyboards and simple rhythms (mostly mechanical I would say). “Lost to the Ages” is a strong song that could fit on a lot of albums. There is a rock feeling with touches of progressive, but handled in a light manner focusing more on the singer/songwriter style. Bustone’s voice is unique and may not be for everyone, but I like his stretched vibrato effects that he gets as he pushes the tones forward. It is a little like Howard Devoto of Magazine. This is not a bad effort at all.
© David Hintz

Dyl "Folk Off"
Patch Records; 2008

Tex-Mex music, tremolo guitars, punchy rhythms, Tom Waits vocals, accordions, the kitchen sink… You get the idea. There is fun to be had figuring out all the sounds weaving their way in and out of these infectious melodies. It never sounds overly busy or too thick, as an undulating rhythm is maintained throughout the various paces of each song. This is the junction where continental Europe meets the western United States. This record may have been out a while, but I am happy a copy of it found its way onto my player. It is definitely going to get further plays, as it is quite addictive for both the folk and rock sides of my musical brain. The singing style gets somewhat tedious on occasion (aside from seeing if it is more Tom Waits or Dire Straits), but with music this good, it is not much of a problem. There are a number of covers scattered among a few originals, but none is as brilliant as the cover of the Sonics 60s garage hit, “Strychnine”. I did not think it possible to make this song more mind bending than the original, but this version is amazing. Dyl is not quite Woven Hand, but they would be a powerful opener for one of the best bands playing this style and would easily pull in a huge audience if they get the right exposure.
© David Hintz

Richard Koechli "Howlin’ with the Bad Boys"
Nation Biztribution; 2011

If you missed the fine print on the cover stating ‘dedicated to the pioneers of Afro-American Folk Blues’, you would still know what you were getting with the resonator guitar on the cover. All the usual blues moves are here. The sound leads to full band rock and it is nice to see 15 original songs. That said, it is pretty much classic blues that you have heard before. At least the musical skill on display makes this more of an enjoyable listening than most. But as with most newer blues albums I like, I would recommend going to see him play in his native Switzerland or around Europe and pick up a CD from the merch stand if you enjoyed the set. From this evidence, I am guessing you will enjoy Koechli’s live set. There are some highlights such as the keyboard/guitar tradeoffs on “Won’t You be my Savior” and the spacey Peter Green like parts in “Small Talk in Blues Heaven”. You know, maybe a couple more listens will show more originality than I was initially hearing. Bottom line—this guy can play blues guitar.
© David Hintz

Allan Thomas "Deep Water"
Black Bamboo; 2011

This is pretty much a straight-ahead singer songwriter album. Thomas writes and sings all the songs. And much of the guitar work is also his, but he has over a dozen musicians here and there on several tracks. Notably, there are a couple of guys named Crosby and Nash providing some backing vocals on “The Longest Ride”. And although Thomas was born in Brooklyn, his many years in Hawaii where he now resides are what seem to influence this record most. This is easy going, ever so relaxing music from paradise. I have enjoyed several days on the beach in Hawaii, among hiking on lava fields and other fun things and I am afraid I have to admit I would rather be doing any of those activities in lieu of listening to this rather bland overly nice and predictable music.
© David Hintz

Daniele Dall’Omo & Antonio Stragapede "Bologna tra le Corde"
Sheherazade; 2011

At first listen, it appears to be two guitarists playing highly dexterous flamenco guitar duets. But there is something not quite in that genre which eventually makes sense as one realizes these are two Italian guitarists working with their local traditions. Of course, it is still southern Europe and has that distinct flavor throughout. The guitar playing is extraordinary as these eight fingers really fly about the two fretboards. For fans of Werner Lammerhirt, John Renbourn, and the like, this album is worth a listen. Just don’t expect any northern or UK folk staples.
© David Hintz

Brathanki "Graja Skaldow"
Jeynka; 2011

From Poland, comes this gutsy little rock album. Little is not the word, as there is a big classic rock sound throughout. The first cut was surprisingly close to Jethro Tull with a female vocalist. Sure the flute was a comparable, but it was the rhythm guitar, which sounded more like Tull’s Martin Barre than just about anything I have ever heard. The solo had a bit more shredding, but the rhythm sound was amazingly close. The subsequent cuts varied into a more Eastern Europe folk base, although the music varied from agreeable mainstream rock to a classic hard rock sound. There was also some violin and plenty of flute along with the usual rock sounds. At its heaviest it got close to a Scandinavian folk-metal hybrid band called Hagen whose album I found fascinating a number of years back. In fact, “Juhas Zmarl” with its metallic guitar moves and rhythm could fit on that album. But the rest of the eleven songs balance rock and worldliness in a more unique manner. This is a very interesting listen. If they drift a bit further away from mainstream production sound, they could really interest me further.
© David Hintz

Mike Stevens & Matt Andersen
"Push Record – The Banff Sessions"
Borealis Records, 2011

The Banff Sessions are one days worth of recordings with Mike Stevens on harmonica and Matt Andersen on vocals and acoustic guitar. They were recorded live and featured songs that Andersen wrote in the previous five days. So, basically this is raw straight up music with no overdubs. The recording is clean and much better than it would be if microphones were merely picking up music from a blues club. And blues is what this is, more folk blues with the acoustic and some of chording. “The Mountain” is one of those classic folk melodies with quick strumming and sharp harmonica work. After that, it is somewhat hit or miss, but the hits were well worth coming back for. “That Girl is like a Train” is a hot little blues number with nimble instrumentation and gutsy singing. I have to admit that I was skeptical as it seemed to wear a certain lo-fi extemporaneous badge a little too ostentatiously, but ultimately this record won me over.
© David Hintz

Eliza Rickman "O, You Sinners"
CRN; 2012

Eliza Rickman is walking a tightrope on this album. She is clearly a modern folkie with a penchant for equal parts playful vocals and charming arrangements. The successful tightrope walker avoids falling into twee and overly cutesy stylization. Thankfully, Rickman easily makes it across the wire with no nets required. Her attractive voice has just enough heft underneath so the roots take hold. The vocal lines are still on the cute side and the arrangements are playful, not quite circus or bright lights of Broadway, but fun. “Through an Aquarium” had a nice lilting feel with good heart. Some of the quirky arrangements almost became routine and I longed for some thick rock sounds to break things up or even a clean acoustic guitar. The sound remains layered vocals, pianos, toy piano, simple percussion, I do confess that the simple vocals and metronome arrangement of “Big Love” was mesmerizing. Her voice is the star and it is quite moving. Fans of Fursaxa, Joanna Newsome, and PJ Harvey may want to take a listen.
© David Hintz

Sheila Mac Donald "Half Light"
Own label; 2011

This is a lovely album. My mind played tricks on me as even though I knew the spelling was different, I kept thinking back to the mysterious and lovely Scottish folk chanteuse, Shelagh McDonald from the early 70s. And this does sound similar to her version of “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”, but there are no rock moves on this album and only the lightest of accompaniment for the most part. And although MacDonald is American, the style is more similar to that of Anne Briggs, Jancis Harvey, or Joan Mills. And that is a welcome sound to any true folk fan. This is delicate and deep. Even the lighter songs have consistent depth and clarity. If there is any criticism here, the songs do not always elevate the album as a whole into something extra special. But it never ceases to be a lovely listen, so this is one that any folk fan should try out for themselves.
© David Hintz

Kate Reid "Doing it for the Chicks"
Own label; 2011

Energized country music with plenty of folk and rock moves afoot. It’s a full band sound with Kate Reid’s fine voice and story telling. Sounds a bit on the familiar side, but I am not sure even a more hip Nashville scene is quite ready for Reid’s gutsy lyrics on sexual preferences and whatnot. Frankly, the stories are great and rich with imagery (they are indeed pleasantly verbose and are occasionally spoken). There are plenty of songs that are more symbolic and universal in lyrical content. The album is richly produced and arranged and it all plays nicely. You may really want to follow along with the enclosed lyric sheet, as there is a lot to dig into. I am guessing she would be a vibrant firecracker at a live show and although, from Vancouver, it appears she covers the world. You may see me at one of those shows.
© David Hintz

Paul Benoit "Ragpickers"
Zebadiah Records; 2012

Benoit presents ten songs in a manner that balances rock, folk, blues, and almost a jazz feeling at times. He reminds me a bit of Bill Fay with his vocal work and rich arrangements. The title cut is a fine example of the full band sound and is quite moving. I also enjoyed the up-tempo kick of “But Not You” which had a great blues, western swing, folk rock, Americana thing going on. It is hardly a surprise that this is a quality release as Benoit has been around 20 years and has recorded numerous albums as a solo artist and with various bands. If you are like me and late to his work, it still is not too late to dig in and enjoy.
© David Hintz

Dennis Warner "Seeds"
Main Trail Productions; 2012

This album is from familiar territory, but the quality is thankfully high. At first glance/listen, this is nice mostly acoustic singer songwriter folk material. But when you can craft fine songs like Dennis Warner can, a full-length album like this will pull you in with each passing song. He employs an emotive voice that never goes over the top, yet adds the appropriate touch to the lyrics. I like the positive tone that is present in these songs. I believe that is something we all need more of. The acoustic guitar is strong throughout and the fellow musicians add a bit of color when needed. I particularly liked “Crossroads” with Warner handling all vocals, guitar, bass, and flute. He sounds like an American Dave Cousins on this song and in a few other places on this album. That is a good thing in my book and if you don’t believe me, just try to count the Cousins/Strawbs songs in my ITunes inventory.
© David Hintz

Carl Cleves "The House is Empty"
Vitamin; 2012

When a Belgian-born musician from Australia makes an effort to mail me his latest CD, it is with some trepidation when I first pop it in for a listen. I am hoping it was worth his expense and effort to get me something that I will find above average and be able to write with some enthusiasm. In this case, I had heard Carl Cleves previously with Greek singer Parissa Bouas on a wonderful record, so I was fairly optimistic before putting this one on. And Carl Cleves has indeed provided me with an excellent record that I am quite happy to add to my collection. He combines some excellent folk moves with a touch of the blues and even a bit of Jacques Brel (not too hard to detect that as he covers “La Chanson des vieux amants” superbly with a spacey psychedelic tone). “Lost in Leipzig” starts like a nice finger style folk song but adds great lounge elements and some haunting backing vocals. “Way Down in the Mines” starts off the same way but instead stays steady on course as a great folk song like something you would hear from Wizz Jones or Pierre Bensusan. A majority of the songs have this basic acoustic guitar and voice folk formula worked to near perfection. This is a refreshing folk album with enough variety to appeal to those seeking some creative arrangements, while providing some original high quality folk music. I am so happy to have discovered this ‘missing link’ to the classic UK folk scene from the 1960s. Folkworld readers should read his biography at his website and take in some of this excellent music.
© David Hintz

Jeff Beam "Be Your Own Mirror"
Own label; 2012

Following a fine Velvet Lounge performance, I have the privilege of consuming Jeff Beam's recent solo effort. Although he plays with a band called Milkman's Union, he has found time to record this fine album. He gets a little help from his friends here and there, with a bit of emphasis on strings. Reviewing his live performance, I made the main point of saying that I really liked this 'real person' gutsy brand of psyche-folk a bit more than the 'finding your inner hippie' stylings of Devandra Banhart or Joanna Newsome. I should explain that I think those two have done some great things, but their style has been aped far too frequently by lesser talents fiddling about with their twee and overly cute variations. The free folk movement got a little ahead of itself and seemed to recede as quickly as it came about. Thankfully, there are additional ways to relive some of the great psyche-folk sounds of the past with newer artists like Jeff Beam who by no means are merely copying the Incredible String Band or Stone Angel. Beam has plenty of jarring electric guitar that cuts through the spacey rhythms and ethereal falsetto vocal work. There are twists and turns along this pleasantly paced trip through folk and rock paths that will have you coming back for several relistens. Even if psyche-folk is not as deep in your DNA as it is with me, you should still find great melodies and plenty of style to keep your attention.
© David Hintz

Mr. Jones "I Thought I Was Already There"
Dollar Bill Records; 2011

This is a mostly acoustic album recorded live in a ‘kitchen studio’ in Germany. It balances both the clean studio sound with an immediate live feel, which is exactly what they were shooting for by recording in this manner. The eighteen songs are virtually all cover songs from many well-known songwriters like Springsteen, L.Wainwright, Van Zandt, Gaughan, etc. It is all agreeable material and plays well. Although there is a personal touch to it, records like this are hardly essential to my way of thinking. But it would make a nice item to buy off the merch table if you happen to catch a live show from Mr. Jones.
© David Hintz

Jenai Huff "Transitions"
Own label; 2011

This is an interesting little record. Jenai Huff was a singer many years back, but took off a couple of decades to manage bands. She has now decided to step back behind a microphone and present us these eleven songs. I really like her relaxed, moderately deep voice. The clarity is crystalline, as the instrumentation balances things nicely in the background. The maturity would be evident even without knowing the back-story. And all the time spent on and off stage in the music business certainly is a great foundation for her lyrics. The style is folk with Americana/country/bluegrass touches here and there. The musicians are as smart as the lyricist as everything stays together throughout the album.
© David Hintz

Adam Arcuragi "Like a Fire that Consumes All Before it"
Devil Duck, 2012

Death Gospel? This a new sub-genre for me, but it does fit what I am hearing. The gospel is there with rich gospel based backing vocals that remind me of what Jason Pierce does in Spiritualized in a more psychedelic-folk-gospel manner. Adam Arcuragi’s voice is out front whether it is quiet and introspective or roaring atop the chorus and rock instrumentation on “…riverrun”. This is powerful material with exquisite arrangements that offer the needed variety while keeping a core theme at play throughout the twelve songs. The emotional impact is immediate, but there are additional layers to uncover with each listen as well as a further connection with the intensity of the lyrics. This is as good a record as you will likely encounter this year. Fans of the Low Anthem, Decembrists, Tim or Jeff Buckley, Iron & Wine, etc., etc. will all be interested in the songs here. You may as well learn this name now, as it is likely to be a name you will be hearing regularly in many places in the upcoming years.
© David Hintz

Lonely Drifter Karen "Poles"
Crammed Discs, 2012

With a spacey sun/moon/robes/pyramids cover, I was hoping for something in the psyche-folk world. Instead, there are lush layers of danceable pop rock music with a lighter touch at times. Although I am not familiar with their older material, this Brussels based (with varied European origins) band does shift their sound around. That is a good thing and some of this is very smart and catchy modern pop music. It may not be for every Folkworld reader, but there is a large audience for this when it works. And Lonely Drifter Karen has the smarts and delicacy in both voice and arrangements to garner a nice audience with this album. “Appetite” is particularly moving. If I were in a folk mood, I would certainly go hundreds of other places before this. But if the modern pop muse is calling, I would follow it here.
© David Hintz

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