FolkWorld #48 07/2012

CD & DVD Reviews

La Vela Puerca "Piel y Hueso"
Universal; 2011

This is a rocking two CD set with excellent colorful packaging. The twelve songs on the first CDs are all hard rocking songs with catchy vocal lines and agreeable power chords. I was thinking it may be a little too simple and clichéd, but it won me over with the sheer determination and catchy hooks that this band employed. The second CD has six mostly acoustic songs that also employ the hooks along with strong production that includes plenty of strings. They have a singer-songwriter style that has a bit of flair from their native Uruguay as opposed Americana. This is a slick package from a very professional band. If they performed at a venue near me, I would like to see what kind of energy they could put out on a live stage. This is for fans of a more mainstream sound, I would have to say.
© David Hintz

Brock Zeman "Me Then You"
Mud Records; 2011

Zeman starts things off with a raspy, swampy, bluesy barroom rocker. But song number two goes into a cleaner yet hearty folk rock tune. From there on, he alters the form and arrangements to fit the song, but keeps it all pulled together. That is the type of diversity and variety that makes for a good album. The singing is good throughout, the lyrics seem only fair on first listen, while the music is engaging pretty much at all times. This is his ninth record, and while it clearly sounds like he knows what he is doing in a studio, he still seems to have the heart and enthusiasm of the proverbial ‘kid in the candy store’. That is what you want in rock’n’roll or in the singer songwriter style.
© David Hintz

Nico Wayne Toussaint "Lonely Number"
DixieFrog; 2011

French Canadian blues is the order of the day, when you put “Lonely Number” on your play list. It’s the blues, mostly original, and it is sung in English. It has a loose feel allowing the music to breathe and the vocals to move around a bit from lower depths to brighter fun filled moments. This variety makes for a better blues record for me, as too many other modern artists push down one lonely road and do not notice the landscape and alternative routes. Toussaint moves around, has some fun, lays it down, and mostly creates a solid listening environment. You will get a good listening experience here.
© David Hintz

Matthias Sturm "Blood and Thunder"
Own label; 2012

This album starts strongly with a modern take on classic folk. The style is akin to John Martyn or the more densely arranged Michael Chapman albums. There is even a touch of (Spiritualized) Jason Pierce’s trippy folk style in a few of the songs. Or perhaps you can go back to some of the creativity of Armand or even Boudwijn de Groot. The point is that there are a lot of intriguing sounds, styles, and structures within this music for fans of creative music to latch on to. This gets better and better as each song flows by. Whatever the style, there is care and feeling deeply within each of these songs, creating a sound that will stick in your brain long after the album ends. This is an album you should play in entirety, and not just quickly sample a song or two. It is not at all surprising to learn that this East German musician is also an accomplished painter, as the artistic nature of the songs is quite high here. I look forward to following his future work.
© David Hintz

Greg Rekus "The Dude Abides"
Own label; 2011

There has been a growing trend in folk. It has to do with aging punk rockers growing weary of playing loud music and trying to hold a band together. They have been strapping on acoustic guitars and hitting the folk stages in droves in recent years. Jesse Malin has been doing it a long time, but now there is Kevin Seconds, Greg Graffin, Kepi Ghoulie, and many many more. Even lesser known musicians from various obscure punk and rock bands hit the stages more and more. The folk style is often Woody Guthrie/Phil Ochs in lyrical intent, and the chording is punk styled, which is, well a bit Guthrie and Ochs (and not Jansch and Renbourn). I do not know exactly what Greg Rekus’ past music was light, but I do not think I am too far from the mark with the theory I present. He has a ton of bite in his guitar as he bangs out the chords. His vocals are intense and passionate and he has delivered a good strong album. The songs are mostly rousers, but he slows it down a bit and touches on personal topics, so it is far from a clichéd polemic. This is a good listen.
© David Hintz

The Reptile Palace Orchestra "Songs and Dances of Madisonia"
Omnium; 2012

The Omnium label has long specialized in modern ancient world music. They have released records for this 18-year old band for much of their run, as they are a perfect fit for Omnium's 'mission'. Madisonia is apparently a mythical neighborhood in their hometown of Madison, Wisconsin that has traditional, gypsy, Macedonian, Bulgarian music filling the streets (or at least the clubs). If you like klezmer, lounge jazz, gypsy dance tunes, Arabic torch songs, or are just feeling a bit creative, you should give this record a spin. There is a fine mix of instrumentals and vocal numbers, with jazz and rock intermingled with various traditional sounds. There is a sense of fun with it all (check out Skeleton Dance) and half of the enjoyment for the band was probably arranging modern sounds from synthesizers with ouds, reeds, and strings. I also enjoyed the emotional vocals and interesting reeds and violin on “Sev Kardesim”. There is nice focus on the core themes that stay steady throughout this record, making it an easy one to put on for the full distance. You may be distracted elsewhere, but take notice of your foot tapping as this music will easily penetrate into your sense of rhythm, no matter where your brain is.
© David Hintz

Boiled in Lead "The Well Below"
Omnium; 2012

It was a nice surprise to get new music from one of my all-time favorite bands back in 2008 with their album, "Silver". And it is great to see they still have more songs in them. There are only four of them here, but the quantity matters little, when they still have the quality and invention that they are famous for. It's 3/4 of the classic line-up with a newer drummer and another guitarist that has been with them in recent years. But let's proceed to each song:

Wedding Dress - This is a classic folk number that I have heard from at least three different artists, and probably more. I love this version with Todd Menton's fine vocals atop good guitar work and a surprisingly distinct violin part that varies between bowing and percussive plucking. The bass and drums also create undulating currents that bring nice life to this lovely classic.

The Well Below the Valley - Todd Menton brings his Irish stylings in the vocal work on this traditional number. The band creates great droning sounds with subtle drumming punctuation. It sounds like a hurdy gurdy played through a didgeridoo, if that were possible. Another strong number in this extensive BiL catalog.

Western Borders - This is a cover of a John Van Orman song and shows the more heartland stylings of this Minnesota band.

Transylvanian Stomp - But what would a Boiled in Lead record, even a short EP, be without a nice gypsy worldbeat song. This one has the exotic flair we all come to expect from this band and leaves off with a twisted, worldly rocker.

It is always a pleasure to have new/old Boiled in Lead music. If for some reason you have not heard them, yet, these four songs effectively show off their range. But head to their back catalogue quickly.
© David Hintz

Marissa Nadler "The Sister"
Box of Cedar; 2012

Article: Ethereal as Ever

From the very beginning, Marissa Nadler was an important artist. At least to those of us looking for sincere practitioners of personal psychedelic folk music. She creates powerful heart tugging music that balances both aloof and personal, chill and warmth, along with delicacy and strength. It is not a tightrope walk, but more of a composed routine on a balance beam--Full on art in the control of a master craftsman. Nadler has presented eight songs in just over 33 minutes, which is plenty to dig in and digest. As with her live sets, the focus is on her magical voice and delicate acoustic guitar. The musical additions here are perfect choices with backing female and male voices, percussion, keyboard and synthesized touches, and a bit of strings. Ultimately her voice still is the fulcrum to it all. She reminds me of the vocalists from the Dutch band, Chimera or the Welsh band, Pererin. They have more full band sounds, but also work the same haunting territory somewhere off in the stratosphere. The only criticism is that this album is simply too good in the beginning. The songs taper off a bit on 'Side 2'. And if that's the only thing I can come up with, you can believe this one will get steady play in this household.
© David Hintz

Mark Davis "Eliminate the Toxins"
Own label; 2011

Speaking of haunting, although this record begins with immediately quiet yet intense folk music, a haunting feeling slowly works its way inward as it continues on. There are modern electronic sounds, percussion, and a variety of rock and folk moves employed, but the haunting vocals really hit home. There is the occasional misstep of making something a little too light and frothy, which just does not seem to fit. However, after a couple decades of music making, Mark Davis has earned the right to experiment with form. Still, it passes quickly and his intense music steadily moves into my brain. He employs some of the same alchemy that Richard Buckner and Iron & Wine are capable of. This is one excellent record and makes me wonder where he has been hiding all my life.
© David Hintz

J. C. Cinel "The Light of a New Sun"
Andromeda Relix; 2011

This starts out nicely as a good rocking album, but soon descends into REO Speedwagon early 1970s territory. When Cinel focuses a little more deeply into the Blues and achieves a real assertive guitar sound it works. When not, which is too often the case, this reminds me of mediocre radio fare from that era. But there is a fanbase for that; just not one I am apart of. I doubt many Folkworld readers are, either.
© David Hintz

Sava "Labyrinth"
Banshee Records; 2012

This German band seems to contain folk elements of Germany, the Netherlands, and France. They combine this with a little of the Enya/new age style to play a beautiful easy listening brand of folk music. It is ultimately about 50% too spritely and new age for me, although the songs with vocals were admirable. This is awfully easy to listen to and is a good tonic for too many ripping rock albums and down and dirty blues numbers. So there is always some room for this music in my world, and probably most listeners would agree. It will not push it is way beyond Dead Can Dance, Piirpauke, and other intriguing hybrid bands that are routinely a part of my listening line-up, but I will give it a few more spins and probably will end up liking it more than I am willing to admit.
© David Hintz

Jack McNeill & Charlie Heys "Two Fine Days"
Fellside Recordings, 2012

I should not be at all surprised when I get an absolute gem of a folk album from Fellside Recordings. They have been doing it for a long time, and did not let me down with this release. In fact, they really impressed me more than usual as this duo balances classic folk feeling from the 1960s era with a modern touch. The duo plays acoustic guitar and violin, but they are augmented with harp, bass, and percussion. Jack McNeill handles all vocals with a warm feeling that has just a small amount of intensity when needed. His acoustic guitar skills are excellent and he trades some nice finger style runs with fiddler, Charlie Heys, who is up for the challenge. The songs resonate quickly and never lapse into anything too tedious. The year is 2012 and you will not find anything else released this year as classically folk-based as this record. No tricks, just songs that are delivered by master musicians with passion and skill.
© David Hintz

Lylac "By a Tree"
Home Records, 2012

With a first line of “Suddenly beauty put me down on the island of my soul”, one might drop what they are doing and really focus in to these songs. And if you can envision hearing a powerful voice that is a softer version of Tim Buckley or Antony Hegarty, well, this is music to focus in on. The inventive guitar work and dreamy cello both work wonders in shaping the songs into interesting and slightly varied structures. This is modern, thoughtful folk for folk lovers of all ages, as it does not go off on to the odd tangents that many other modern folk artists will often take. Amaury Massion is the Belgian artist who has masterminded this project. He has been in some European bands that I am not familiar with, but he clearly has a great presence in a more personal setting like he presents here. One key aspect is the repetitive striking of the acoustic guitar stings in delicate droning patterns that allow the cello to soar and the vocals to dig in. There is great skill in making a simple structure sound complex, and Massion succeeds brilliantly here.
© David Hintz

Andi Neate "Flying Full Circle"
Own label; 2012

This Scottish singer is able to balance folk, rock, blues, and jazz throughout the thirteen songs on this, her sixth album. She could hold her own on any stage with any of the strong female singer songwriters working both sides of the Atlantic. Neate handles modern sounds and style, but does show some Scottish roots in here. That helps as there are a lot of singer-songwriters out there that all have their stories to tell. The production is solid and it is all easy to listen to without being ‘easy listening’. I enjoyed the final song, “Toy Aeroplanes”, the most, as it was an excellent a cappella folk song that harkened back to distant times.
© David Hintz

Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls "Packed for Exile"
Still Small Recordings; 2012

This one starts out like a hundred other Americana albums. But, as is often the case in any genre you hear way too much of, just stay with the whole album. It does not take long before this quintet delivers some hearty songs with crisp arrangements and soulful rock power. “#1 with a Bullet” lives up with its audacious title, as this can top my play list just about any time. “Devil Ain’t Talkin’” has a bluesy beginning worthy of its title, but makes way for a flowing little rocker that has some sneaky complexities within a smooth rhythm. Some songs follow a safer track, but keep on listening. Some real gems will still pop up regularly like the sharp folk-rock number, “God’s Name in Vain”. I will be listening to that one many times over as it has a biting lyric and sweeping musical accompaniment. This is a very good album packed with some great songs.
© David Hintz

The Agnostic-Phibes Rhythm & Blood Conspiracy
"Campfire Tales"
Shoutin’ Abner Pim Recordings; 2012

Take a long-time Calgarian garage punk singer songwriter and put him with deep woods, twisted rootsters and what will you come up with? Obviously, this album is the resultant evidence of this collaboration. I was actually friends with some punk rock musicians from Calgary that even pre-date Jackson Phibes, and found that barren snow-bound scene to be quite hot with some great musicians. So it is not at all surprising this works, and these cross-genre collaborations are not so uncommon anymore. This band really retains a bite in their bluesy, swampy rock music. There are some folk touches, too (“Butcher, Maker Undertaker), but there is a thickness throughout that is lip-smacking good. If you want a word, try Mudhoney. Try listening to “Who Fears the Devil?” and tell me you are not imagining you are hearing Mark Arm wail away atop a slide guitar. There is also some of Sweden’s Graveyard in here, because like I say, this is being done a lot more than some may think. Which does not make this album any less excellent. Fun tunes for the more adventurous souls out there.
© David Hintz

Jon Brooks "Delicate Cages"
Borealis Records, 2012

This is a highly appropriate album title, as Jon Brooks wraps a delicate folk style around some sharp, steely lyrics. He covers a wide variety of topics, but has a rather seasoned outlook on life. That should be no surprise considering he spent 1997 in ravaged Bosnia-Herzegovina. But he can hit on personal topics as well, and his voice is flexible enough to handle the emotions of a variety of topics. The experience comes through at all times. This is a good solid album here and well worth a listen. I have a feeling each listen will make me even more likely to keep listening.
© David Hintz

Brad Belt "Some Stories Need Tellin’"
Own label; 2012

This is clearly a homemade album, which in these days does not necessarily mean a lo-fi effort. Belt begins with bluesy rock tunes, which are competent enough and show some skill in arrangement as they have a nice swing to them. The third song, “Cold, Cold Ground”, offers up a stronger folk effort with a classic feeling throughout. After that it is a mix of blues, rock, country rock, and instrumentally a bit of bluegrass now and then. The vocals are good and the recording is strong enough so you do not think of this as a homemade project. But skilled musicians everywhere are proving that. Ultimately, Brad Belt does himself proud with this fine collection of songs.
© David Hintz

The Deep Dark Woods "The Place I Left Behind"
Sugar Hill, 2012

Have a heaping plate of hearty folk-rock from Nova Scotia. It will do your soul some good. The thirteen courses of Deep Dark Woods consist of deep dark music that should satisfy. But there are plenty of rays of the new dawn creeping in through the branches. Specifically, the vocals achieve a slightly optimistic tone amidst the deep dreamy melancholy from Ryan Boldt. Musically, the guitars, rhythm section, and keyboards create familiar sounds, comfortable enough to float away with, but occasionally will provide an edginess to keep your alert up. “Never Prove False” is the course worth sampling first as it provides a beautiful understated intensity. Some of the songs fade a bit as the album moves on, but there are enough strong moments to sustain one’s appetite. That is a minor complaint of a band that has great command of their sound and songwriting. I dug it, so dig in.
© David Hintz

Al Rose "Sad Go Lucky"
Monkey Holding Peach; 2012

Chicago’s Al Rose sings his songs in a bit of a gruff talking manner at times, while other times squeezing out more intense feelings. Musically, the banjo work here is quite good and there is some nice interplay with the acoustic guitar. Add some steel guitar, rhythm section and other sounds, and you have a nice homey Americana vibe cooking here. However, the lyrics and vocal deliver leave me a little cold at times. There is some clichéd moves of the ‘angry old guy’ and other lyrical phrases that have me focused on the awkwardness of it, rather than the sentiment. It is a mixed bag, which has enough quality for some, just not enough for me.
© David Hintz

Rusty Shackle "Was Away these Nights"
Kissan; 2012

Interesting music here. It’s got that indie rock/folk rock feel with a real Decemberists vibe in the vocal style, if they had gone more in a power pop direction that is. Actually the first song had a few Fleet Foxes shifts in it, too, but this is distinct enough. The second song took a strong turn reminding me of the Pogues “Turkish Song of the Damned”, one of my favorites and an odd song for the Pogues. “Cold Hearted Town” is a snappy number that should resonate with rock music fans of all types and even a few folkies, with its heartland feel. The rest of the album continues nicely in these established areas with a distinct Colin Meloy-esque touch in many of the songs. This band sounds like they would be a blast live and the record crisply presents some gutsy accessible songs. It kept my interest throughout.
© David Hintz

Thomas Schleiken "Beech Mountain Hill"
Own label; 2012

A picture may not be worth a thousand words all of the time, but when an album cover features a guy walking on a rural road with a resonator guitar over his shoulder, my guess is that most people can write half of the review right then and there. But you will only be half right if you simply talk about Schleiken’s blues skills. Yes, he has a gravelly voice that can deliver the blues. There is also a guest harmonica on four of the songs that leads you straight into the blues. But the guitar style is NOT a bottleneck creating searing, echoey acoustic runs, but instead a classic folk finger style technique. This record reminds me a lot of someone like Stephan Grossman who has made a career out of using both blues and folk techniques. Everything is sung in English, although his vast live calendar appears to be in his native Germany. So like his lovely closing song, I hope I can catch a gig “Further on up the Road”.
© David Hintz

Tim McMillan "Angel"
T3 Records; 2012

This is a bit too much toward new age guitar music for my taste, but there is something interesting going on. It has a progressive fusion feel, but the sound is so delicate in vocal and acoustic guitar. This band of musicians with Mr. McMillan can really play. And a composition like “Denson’s Bend” has a surprising edge to it that has is it sound like John Renbourn playing with Chick Corea’s band. I am glad I was patient listening to this record as there are some intriguing rewards within. There are ‘safer’ records that I may turn to before this one, but I will respect this record more for taking some chances.
© David Hintz

Jamie Kent "Navigation"
Own label; 2012

This music hearkens back to a classic singer songwriter era that incorporates, folk, rock, and even funk. There is a confident voice at work here, both musically as well as an excellent singing voice. However, I would have preferred something deeper or more rocking to break things up a bit. It does go a little lighter on “Lover’s Lost” but that sounded more like beach music. There were some interesting moments like the bassline on “So Bad” with its deft speed laying a foundation for several Isaac Hayes moves by the rest of the band (horns, too).
© David Hintz

Dry the River "Shallow Bed"
Sony Music; 2012

Is this band the next Mumford & Sons? Maybe. They are in that camp, but do not exactly sound like them. Dry the River smooths out the area between UK style Americana and well produced rock. This is hearty roots music and it is also well-produced rock music. This band may be comparable to Mumford & Sons in the manner that Muse is comparable to Radiohead. I rather like the strong production and the slight warbling quality to the otherwise firm lead vocals. This band has been at it for a few years with only eps available prior to this debut album. It was recorded in the USA with a producer that has worked with Interpol and the National. The high sonic achievements for those bands are certainly evident here. Ultimately, Dry the River’s mature sound and highly accessible songs could make them a name you will be hearing about for some time to come.
© David Hintz

Jeff Larson "The World Over"
Red Bell Recordings; 2012

What starts out as a nice sort of homage to Al Stewart, Poco or Dave Mason begins to move into some more interesting territory. “Approaching Midnight” and “Midhaven Getaway” have some interesting folk-rock hooks that remind me more of REM than middle of the road radio fodder (now there is a throwback concept). Throughout the ten songs here, it is a bit back and forth as to the mood and quality of each song. But at his worst, Jeff Larson is capable of penning a nice agreeable song. He has a band that adds some nice highlights as well. And when Larson succeeds, he is capable of writing a rather stirring folk-rock song that bears repeated listening. This one may be low key, perhaps, but never becomes boring, and has quality playing and production.
© David Hintz

Richie Kaye "Fire & Fall Back"
Own label; 2012

This record is not for everybody, which is an utterly useless and banal thing to say, as there is not a record on this planet that is. Let us just proceed with the point that this record is for a certain type that is a little on the daring side. There are terms like ‘outsider art’ or ‘real person music’ or ‘cult folkie’ that can work for a record like Richie Kaye has released. Whether you think Daniel Johnston, Billy Childish, Cosmic Michael, or Perry Leopald, there are many examples you could choose. The exact sound is not as important as the attitude. With Richie Kaye, you get both an intriguing personal approach to the songs, but a very cool style in his playing and singing. He has a rich baritone that has a little vibrato to it. He twists it around nice little guitar runs that go to the beat of his choosing. It is dynamic and powerful material that has a few ounces of Scott Walker mixed with plenty of Johnston/Leopald style there. There are 22 songs here covering over 69 minutes and with titles like “The Bones of Lieutenant Jones” and “You, You with your Head”, you are in for some interesting interpretations. This is very clean talented work here, not anything obtuse or atonal by any stretch of the imagination. It is just that different and personal. His website says he is a modern day troubadour. In the same way, Robin Williamson is a modern day bard; I believe this is quite accurate. Geeze, and from the cover, I was expecting another average blues album. Speaking of banal, I guess it proves you should never judge a book…
© David Hintz

Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons "White Lighter"
Own label; 2010

This is sort of a blues Americana hybrid. Fletcher’s vocals are world-weary at times, but he can breathe some life into them as the music kicks up a stir. The additional female vocals and twangy guitar work to great effect on “Every Heartbroken Man”. There are a few nice songs, but some gems emerge as well. “The Drowsy Surgeon” has a brisk pace with brush drumming, toe tapping melody, story-telling vocals, and two guitars taking secret pokes at each other just when you look away. I like the way the album is tracked with a lot of variation from song to song. This creates depth and interest, yet the changes are from radical and are in keeping with the band’s overall approach. Smart music and heartfelt--good listening to be had.
© David Hintz

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

Atwater Donnelly "The Weaver's Bonny" (Rabbit Island Music, 2009), "Each Other's Story" (Rabbit Island Music, 2011). Rhode Island husband-wife duo Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly are travelling for 25 years and browsing through the archives for traditional American and Celtic folk music, making their concerts a both enjoyable and educational experience. Their 11th recording, "The Weaver's Bonny", is an awesome collection of traditional ballads, with the additional feature of a beautiful songbook. "Each Other's Story" on the other hand features original songs written and recorded over a quarter century.

BraAgas "Fuerte" (Indies Scope, 2012). After some tapas bites[42] the female Czech quartet takes us on another journey from traditional Balkan and Jewish music to medieval Sephardic and Galician songs. Once again fuerte (i.e. strong in Spanish).

Churchfitters "Amongst the Green" (Churchfitters Records, 2012). Founded way back in 1978 with frequent changes of its line-up, Chris and Rosie Short play fiddle and flute against the driving and rocking background of Topher Loudon's and Boris Lebret's bouzouki, guitar, bass and percussion. Songs include Rosie's and Chris's, traditionals such as "The Dark-Eyed Sailor" and the classic "Over the Rainbow".

Mary Coughlan "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Single, 2012). Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan[38] turns Joy Division's early 80s electro pop anthem into a Billie Holiday-like jazz ballad. This is the first single release from her greatest hits album "The Whole Affair".
Available from iTunes!

The Crooked Fiddle Band "Overgrown Tales" (Own label, 2011). Overgrown Tales - like finding a folk tale deep in the forest, rooted in tradition but with the newest of shoots (and a few thorns) ... Australian fiddler Jess Randall and his groovy post-punk rhythm section play a mix of Celtic, Nordic, Klezmer and Gypsy music with the intention to get everybody on their feet and drive them into ecstasy.

Johnny Dickinson & Friends "For Johnny" (Download, 2012). Benefit album for the diseased guitar player Johnny Dickinson, at the time being unable to work, featuring fellow musicians such as Tommy Emmanuel, Jan Akkerman, John Renbourn, Wizz Jones, Tony McManus, Joscho Stephan and many more donating a song or tune.
Download "For Johnny" @!

Neal Hellman "Emma's Waltz" (Gourd Music, 2007), "Dulcimer In the Mix" (Gourd Music, 2012). Neal Hellman is a California based performer and teacher of the Appalachian mountain dulcimer, being active for three decades. "Emma’s Waltz" is a gorgeous selection of traditional and contemporary tunes from Europe and America, featuring 17 artists such as harpist Kim Robertson,[48] Irish accordionist Sean Óg Graham[46] and Swedish nyckelharper player Olov Johansson.[33] "Dulcimer In the Mix" is a download only collection of 25 dulcimer tracks recorded over a quarter century.

Heritage Blues Orchestra "And Still I Rise" (in-akustik, 2012). An old art form and a novel idea - take African-American country blues and put a jazz-infused horn section on top. At the core vocalists Junior Mack and Bill & Chaney Sims, around them harmonica players Vincent Bucher and Matthew Skoller, plus said tuba, trumpet, trombone and saxophone arranged by Bruno Wilhelm.

The Honey Dewdrops "Silver Lining" (Own label, 2012). Husband and wife duo Laura Wortman (clawhammer banjo) and Kagey Parrish (guitar) from the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, offer a nice selection of original songs based on folk and country music and delivered with other-wordly harmonies. The white gospel song "Bright Morning Stars," the only traditional song on the album, makes a haunting finale.

Article: Tom's Night Shift

Wolf Janscha "Sulfur" (Wolfsonium/Verlag der Spielleute, 2009). The Austrian artist Wolf Janscha, who just published the first volume of a Jew’s harp tutorial (in the German language),[48] demonstrates his technical abilities. It's Jew's harp pure and solo, but Janscha made up tunes and arrangements that tell a story - performed on an underrated instrument!

Jenny & Tyler "Open Your Doors" (Own label, 2012). For I am with thee, for I am thy God, and I will strengthen thee. Fear thou not, fear thou not ... Nashville-based husband-and-wife duo Jennifer und Tyler Somers[47] sing of the Kingdom of Heaven: spiritual lyrics wrapped up in cozy acoustic music and delivered with beautiful vocals.
They also released a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" on iTunes, with the proceeds supporting organizations that combat human trafficking:!

Lera Lynn "Have You Met Lera Lynn?" (Floating World, 2011); Lera Lynn "Ring of Fire" (EP, 2012). After a promising debut album, the Athens-based Americana singer-songwriter follows up with an EP, featuring a dark and haunting take on the June Carter classic "Ring of Fire". It never sounded that psychedelic, authentic and true - and the words really become alive (which the uptempo Cash/Carter version never managed ...)
Download "Have You Met Lera Lynn?" for free from!

Anna MacDonald "Paper Flowers" (EP, Own label, 2012). Glaswegian singer-songwriter Anna MacDonald (she's a member of Gillian Frame’s[20] singers group The Hidden Lane Choir) delivers three original folk-like songs plus the classic "Matty Groves" and "Banks of Inverurie". Gentle and fragile music, featuring fiddler Mike Vass[42] and piper/saxophonist Fraser Fifield.[31]

na-mara "Songs of the Spanish Civil War" (EP, Own label, 2012). British folk duo Rob García and Paul McNamara[45] have released a concept EP of self-penned songs about the Spanish Civil War to remember all those who volunteered to fight against Fascism in 1930s Spain:[26] re-recordings of "The Bite" and "Only For Three Months" (about the 4,000 children evacuated from Bilbao and brought to the UK after the Guernica bombings), plus two new ones.

The Other Europeans "Splendor" (Kikiyon, 2011). More than a dozen Yiddish klezmer and Roma lautari musicians, directed by Alan Bern,[40] joined forces to recreate the common music of Jews and Gypsies - same repertoire but different style - before these groups were torn apart by war and holocaust from Bessarabia (present-day Moldova). Deeply emotional music, featuring cimbalon player Kalman Balogh,[21] clarinetists/saxophonists Matt Darriau[41] and Christian Dawid.[33]

Lucie Redlová "Křižovatka" (Indies Scope, 2012). Singer, guitarist and mandolinist Lucie Redlová (guest on Žamboši's "To se to hraje" album[32]) arrived at the crossroads (křižovatka in the Czech language) turning from folk singing towards rock roots without looking back. US shape-note singer and former punk rocker Tim Eriksen[44] produced a relaxed, yet rock-like selection of songs, featuring Lucie's backing band Garde, some veteran musicians from Wallachia.

Richie Syrett "Good Morning Midnight" (Own label, 2011). The musical home of Mancunian singer/songwriter Richie Syrett is not by the River Tame but on the shores of the Mississippi: raw lo-fi Americana, strong vocals, idiosyncratic lyrics; imagine kind of Roy Orbison with a modern twist.

Mariel Vandersteel "Hickory" (Own label, 2012). California-born Boston-based artist, who studied traditional fiddle in Dublin and moved to Norway to study the Hardanger fiddle, aims to bridge both worlds and look for the common ground between the fiddle traditions of Scandinavia and American old-time music. Haunting tunes, featuring Scottish harpist Maeve Gilchrist, bassist Sam Grisman (Deadly Gentlemen), fiddler Tristan Clarridge (Crooked Still).

Rosa Zaragoza "A la luz de la risa de la mujeres" (Karonte, 2011). Catalan singer Rosa Zaragoza can be regarded as one of the pioneers of bringing Sephardic songs - as well as medieval songs from the Muslim and Christian traditions of Spain - back to life. Since then she gradually opened up her repertoire. "In light of the laughter of women" is an exuberant and emotional selection of songs from Al-Andalus delivered with passion and grandeur.

Various Artists "Радио России - Folk Album" (Sketis Music, 2012). Radio Russia (Радио России) introduces the traditional music of some of the country's 200 nationalities, taken from recordings that were represented at the European Broadcasting Union folk festivals and projects. 17 tracks featuring Sergei Starostin,[44] Yat-Kha,[26] and Oktay,[44] among others.

Various Artists "Rounder Records - Best of 2011 - New in 2012" (Promo CD, Rounder Records, 2012). Well, the title says it all: promotional album with songs from the Rounder Records catalogue, featuring tracks by Kathleen Edwards,[47] the New Multitudes Woody Guthrie Project,[48] and many others.

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