FolkWorld #50 03/2013

CD & DVD Reviews

Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz "Abraxas"
Tzadik, 2012

On John Zorn’s Tzadik label -- yes yes, we all know by now it’s one of my favorite labels -- bassist Blumenkranz comes with his interpretation of Zorn’s composition Masada book two. On this album he plays the Gimbri, a three string bass kind of instrument which is common in North African Gnawa music. Together with two (electric) guitarists and a drummer he plays a great piece of Yiddish influenced free rock. Great bass lines mixed with roaring guitars and beating drums. A slight jazz-rock undertone and some roots vibes. Lots of beats per minute and for lovers of this freak kind of music a must. Not my favorite Tzadik release, but definitely a strong album with a nice controversial sound.
© Eelco Schilder

El Nino Machuca "Searching Your South"
Ozella, 2012

From Seville comes guitarist El Nino Machuca. On this new album, released on the German Ozella label, he has been part of many known and lesser known bands and now comes with a nice solo output. With his roots deeply to the Flamenco tradition, he is a lover of jazz music since he was a teenager. This results into an album with fourteen original compositions with well played, dreamy lounge-jazz. With slight influences from the Flamenco tradition he chooses the laid back way of playing and leaves the expressive passion of the Flamenco culture out of it. A strong guitarist with an album for lovers of the more dreamy kind of world-jazz.
© Eelco Schilder

Felonious Bosch "Phenomena"
Omium records, 2012

When I saw this album in my reviewing pile, I looked at the sleeve, saw the instruments and knew for sure that I was about to listen to another jazzy-folky middle of the road album. A bit bored I put on my headphones and totally unexpected the opening track woke me up and this band took me by surprise. Thanks for confronting me with my narrow minded reviewers mind, I needed that lesson I guess. Never heard of this US band, and now it’s too late… they stopped playing as a band after eight years last November and the only thing I have left is this last album and a strange kind of urge to find their other albums somehow. The opening track is great, the deep female vocals force me to listen and during the whole album she doesn’t let me escape. With creativity, passion, craftsmanship the musicians take me on a journey through Greece, plays some nice folk-rock with unexpected twists and impressed with an exploding version of the Sephardic song Shimmer a highlight on the album and one of the best songs of the past year. What an album, what a group, and what an idiot I am that I find out this band exists after they split up.
© Eelco Schilder

Rufus Wainwright "Out of the Game"
Decca, 2012

Blaudzun "Heavy Flowers"
V2records, 2012

Roosbeef "Warum"
excelsior, 2012

In my top ten over the year 2012 I have a few albums that are not reviewed in this or earlier issues of FolkWorld. In this review a brief introduction on the four albums this counts for, just to persuade you to buy them. And the good news? All four are released on vinyl so you can get them on black gold as well!
First an international acclaimed star. Rufus Wainwright is one of my favourite musicians ever since his debut album. His expressive, one of a kind voice, the wonderful compositions and his outspoken way of telling a story, it fits to some part of my personality somehow. His latest album, almost a year old now, is called Out of the game and is probably his best album yet. I have to admit that I had to get used to this one. More peace, more balance and a more relaxed Wainwright than even before. His most accessible album (just after his less accessible one All days are nights), but also his most balanced one. A must have according to my personal opinion.
Finally two Dutch artists starting with Blaudzun with his album Heavy flowers this Dutch singer-songwriter probably recorded the best album of 2012 and one of the best Dutch albums in many, many years. Mixing rock with elements of folk in a beautiful alternative sound. Sometimes dark, sometimes irresistibly rocking but of constant high level. This is such an album that creeps under your skin and slowly eats it’s way to your heart. You absolutely should buy all four album in this review, but if you have only the money for one LP or CD…get this one!
Roosbeef is the last artist in this review. This Dutch singer-songwriter impressed with her debut album, her second was nice but the new one Warum comes very close to her marvellous debut. Sung in Dutch, so might be less interesting for non-Dutch speakers as her lyrics are part of the quality of her work. Not folky, but with a great alternative-rock vibe Roosbeef sings her way through live the way only she can. Never heard her music and you do speak Dutch? Impossible not to have in your music collection.
© Eelco Schilder

Ciara Sidine "Shadow Road Shining"
Own label, 2012

Dublin based singer/songwriter Ciara Sidine has released a brilliant debut album recorded with some highly talented musicians including Conor Brady (guitars, banjo, percussion, engineering) and produced by Martin Clancy. Justin Carroll (keyboards, Hammond organ), Steve Wickham (violin), Dave Hingerty (drums, percussion), Paul Moore (bass, double bass), Christine O'Donnell (bouzouki) and the harmony vocals of Paul Byrne complete the fantastic line-up.
Sidine starts off with the traditional Americana song "Riding home", the only not self penned song. Her powerful singing and her hauntingly beautiful voice as well as the breathtaking sound of the band capture the listener instantly. "Take me down" is a mesmerizing slow Blues driven by organ, bass, drums and guitar and "The road" an intoxicating Folk-Rock song with breathtaking vocals; each song is a musical jewel. One of my favourites is the powerful Blues-Rock ballad "Mercy moon", Sidine's passionate singing and the fantastic band gives you the heebie-jeebies. She also sings melancholic songs like "Quicksand", her soulful singing accompanied by virtuoso guitar playing, or romantic Country ballads like "Constellations high" featuring a lovely duet with Jack L. With the delicate sound of "Sleepy eyes", a classic lullaby, Ciara leaves the listener enchanted and breathless.
Ciara Sidine's song writing is strongly influenced by Americana and roots music as well as her Irish soul and together with some great musicians she creates a stunning and innovative sound beyond comparison.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Gathering Time "Red Apples and Gold"
Inspireline/TrebleG Records, 2012

Glen Roethel (guitars, piano, mandolin, bass, ukulele, percussion, vocals), Hillary Foxsong and Stuart Markus (acoustic guitars, percussion, vocals) are the mostly acoustic harmony folk-rock trio Gathering Time. The new release of the three New York based singer/songwriters is a beautiful collection of 16 songs all about American traditions.
They start off with a couple of original Roethel songs including the playful title track in moderate tempo. The three lovely voices harmonize perfectly and are accompanied by fine playing. "The family tree" is a drum (Tripp theLight) and bass driven folk song and a perfect showcase for Hillary's powerful voice supported by her two friends and then Roethel tells the story of folk legend "Johnny Appleseed", a hauntingly beautiful heart-rending piano/string ballad. Hillary wrote "Sincerely Yours", a mesmerizing Americana song with Pat Wictor on slide guitar, or the melancholic ballad "If it would only rain" featuring Mike Agranoff on concertina. Their a Capella version of the traditional Native American hymn "Shenandoah" is amazing and "Old crows" is an up-beat Bluegrass from New York based singer/songwriter Amy Soucy featuring Deni Bonnet on fiddle. Stuart's "The path that's right for you" is a lovely piece of song writing, soulfully brought forward by himself and as a hidden track they added some stunning singing sessions accompanied by ukulele.
Gathering Time is a little bit of rock, spiced with jazzy flair, a little bit of Americana and it is a breathtaking vocal trio writing songs beyond comparison, one of the most innovative folk bands I came across recently.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Matraca Berg "Love's truck stop"
Proper Records, 2012

Nashville Tennessee born singer/songwriter Matraca Berg has released a brand new album with 11 original songs, recorded with some of the finest musicians of the local country scene including multi-instrumentalist Jason Goforth and co-producer David Henry (cello, violin, vocals).
They start off with the fantastic title song, a mid-tempo Americana showcasing Matraca's hauntingly beautiful singing supported by David. My favourite track is "Black ribbons", intoxicating guitar rhythm coupled with virtuoso singing create an irresistible groove. Then Matraca sings the lovely melancholic ballad "We're already gone", the bluesy "I buried your love alive" brings forward some fine cello playing and Emmylou Harris joins her to sing a mesmerizing duet with Matraca on "Magdalene", an inspired and tender song about the life of prostitutes. With the sad piano ballad "Fistful of roses" the fantastic CD ends in a quiet mood.
Matraca Berg's fifth solo album is a stunning mix of songs featuring breathtaking vocals and brilliant musical arrangements. I really love this CD.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Tripping Lily "Summer"
Own label, 2012

Tripping Lily are Monica Rizzio (vocals, ukulele, fiddle) hailing from Texas and Nashville and three native New Englanders, Alex (vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo) and Demetrius Becrelis (vocals, guitar) and Laird Boles (upright bass, vocals).
They start off with an original up-beat Americana, "We don't need time to know"; Monica's lovely voice is driven by an intoxicating Bluegrass rhythm. The four musicians have recorded brilliant cover versions as well, an old time country version of "Sitting on top of the world" (Walter Jacobs Vinson) or Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans". Their original songs range from jaunty Country songs like "Tennessee" to hauntingly beautiful ballads like "Make your way back". Their music is exclusively acoustic and accompany the three wonderful singers with mesmerizing harmonic playing. Another highlight is the final song "Falling", Monica sings the Blues, while banjo, guitar and ukulele play their sentimental tune.
The second release of the four talented musicians and singers is a beautiful collection of songs between Americana, Folk and modern jazzy sounds. Visit them on their homepage and enjoy some samples from their debut album.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Marimba Mama "Horizons"
Own label, 2012

Marimba Mama is a six piece ensemble from Prague featuring an extraordinary instrumental line-up: differently scaled marimbas, played by Anjani Mahabir, Tereza Kerle, Lucie Glajcová and Filip Drsek meet percussive instruments from all over the world including djembe, congas, bongos as well as jew's harp, talking drum or a drum set (Tomás Kerle), add Martin "Mat'a" Debricka on saxophone, the brilliant voices of Anjani and Tereza and some special guest musicians and you get that unique sound of Marimba Mama's debut album.
They start off with "Zendekaiwa", a traditional song from Zimbabwe, driving afro-beat, saxophone and rhythmic African choir singing. The following "Ancestor song" is Marimba Mama's musical setting of a traditional proverb from Somalia, jazzy saxophone, marimbas, drum set, jew's harp and beautiful voices. Another highlight is the traditional ritual song from Mali "Koreduga", Tereza on djembe, Filip on congas, Martin on saxophone, two marimbas and different percussion instruments create a breathtaking groove. Guest saxophone player Byron Asher wrote "Midnight express", Alex Asher on trombone and Tommy Levecchia on trumpet bring some brass sound in and the band keep the pace going with marimbas, djembe and other rhythm instruments, a breathtaking jazzy instrumental track. Tereza sings "Dark glasses", an original song, funky, groovy pop music. "Moonzone ants" is another brilliant instrumental track featuring Lucy Fillery on violoncello and Ondrej Komárek on double bass, Martin on saxophone, drum set and four marimbas, jazz meets world music. Intoxicating remixes of "Midnight express" and "Dark glasses" enrich the CD with modern beats.
Unfortunately their homepage is not yet translated in English besides a short profile of the band, but you'll find samples of their unique sound on
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Sweet Alibi "Sweet Alibi"
Own label, 2012

The three hauntingly beautiful voices of Jessica Rae Ayre (guitar, harmonica), Michelle Anderson (guitars, banjo) and Amber Rose Nielsen (guitar, ukulele, triangle) are the core of Sweet Alibi, a folk-roots band from Winnipeg. For their brilliant debut album they recorded together with Alasdair Dunlop on bass, Mitch Dorge on drums and Phil Collins on trumpet 14 self-crafted songs.
"Pick me up" is a mesmerizing song with much Blues timbre in their harmonic singing, "Cry baby" a melancholic ballad in moderate banjo pace and "Trial" an up-beat Country with banjo and harmonica. Dunlop and Dorge accompany the three girls on all songs, Collins joins in on "Tortuguero", a romantic song with Latino flair, or on "Suddenly", Dorge creates an intoxicating pace, Dunlop and Collins add some jazzy grooves and the ladies' singing is brilliant. The diversity of styles is significant: They are equally virtuoso singing and playing Old Time Jazz ("Something good" or "Carry on") as lovely Blues ballads ("Not the same" or "Phoebe's song"), 51 minutes of first class musical entertainment.
The music of Sweet Alibi is full of beautiful harmonies, brought forward by six great musicians and three wonderful singers. Just visit their homepage and enjoy the sound.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Frankie Mulcahy "The Way of the Dreamer"
Own label, 2012

In his home studio in Kerry Frankie Mulcahy (accordion, drums, synthesizer, percussion) recorded together with his brother Tom (vocals, guitars) and some fine guest musicians 12 original songs and tunes.
They bring forward instrumental tracks by Frankie like the "March to Clontarf", a beautiful accordion tune inspired by King Brian Boru (1014), or "The wolf hour", a fantastic tune about the Swedish Vargtimmen, the night hours just before dawn. Frankie is an accomplished accordion player and he dominates the instrumental tracks, while Tom's lyrical singing stands in the limelight of the mostly co-written songs. "I'll sparkle for you" is a romantic song with acoustic guitar, violins and the accordion and "Strawberry moon" written by Tom is a rhythmic song with a catchy tune. My favourite tunes are "Tatanka Yotanka" (Chief Sitting Bull) and the up-beat set "Antarctica/drastic plastic", both by Frankie and Tom; Frankie's accordion is driven by intoxicating drum rhythm and Tom's electric guitar adds some rock sound to "Tatanka Yotanka".
Frankie Mulcahy's comeback album is a collection of intriguing accordion tunes and nice songs, all of them self-crafted but well posed in the Irish tradition.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Big Walker "Root Walking"
Own label, 2011

Derrick Roy Michael Walker, aka Big Walker, was born in Oklahoma and has European, Native American and Afro American roots, he followed the trail of his ancestors and recorded an album with 12 Afro American poems, original as well as traditional, set to music by himself. Derrick sings and plays saxophone and harmonica and invited some brilliant Blues musicians on drums, bass, guitars, piano, mandolin and percussion.
Big Walker starts off with the original poem "It's hard", shuffling Blues rhythm, piano and rocking guitar sound accompany his cool low-pitched singing and virtuoso harmonica playing. "Raise a Ruckus" is a folk poetry from the 1700's, brought to music as an up-beat gospel song with Nevada Cato and Derek January as background singers. "Run Nigri Run" is a folk poetry from the 1800's with some additional lyrics by Big Walker, harmonica, intoxicating Rap singing and stomping Blues rhythm, a brilliant song. Hoodie Ledbetter's Rock'n'Roll "Midnight Special" is the only cover version of the CD. Other highlights are "Thirteenth full moon", an original Blues-rock with amazing playing together of guitar, piano and saxophone, and "Slave", another original poem with breathtaking Soul singing by Derrick, James Bradley Jr., Paris Renita and Consuelo Del Pilar.
Big Walker's Americana Blues & Roots album is an exceptional collection of songs brought forward by first class musicians, a must for Blues fans.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Lindi Ortega "Little Red Boots"
Last Gang Records, 2011

Toronto based Lindi Ortega (vocals, acoustic guitar) gives a strong sign with her terrific voice on her first full album „Little red boots“. She recorded 12 self-penned songs together with a bunch of great musicians, featuring Davide Direnzo (drums, percussion), Dave Piltch (Bass), Kevin Breit (guitars) and Ron Lobata (keyboards).
Lindi starts off with an intoxicating up-Beat Country Rock, “Little Lie”, brilliant rhythm section, rocking guitar and powerful singing. The title track is a dramatic and mesmerizing song, a perfect showcase for Lindi’s breath taking singing. “All my friends” is another irresistible Country Rock with driving rhythm, brilliant double bass (Drew Briston) and great harmonica solo by Carlos del Junco. But Lindi also sings dramatic rock ballads like “Fall down or fly”, together with Andrea Koziol, melancholic Americana like “Black fly” with Justin Abedin on lap-steel or tender Blues songs like “So sad” featuring Chris Gale and Rich Underhill on horns.
In the meantime Lindi Ortega moved to Nashville to record her follow-up album “Cigarettes & truckstops”, here you can listen to some samples of this excellent singer.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Franka De Mille "Bridge the Roads"
Own label, 2009

Singer/songwriter Franka de Mille hails from London and presents her brilliant debut album with 9 self-crafted songs. Her powerful singing is accompanied on all songs by Dorota Gralewska on cello and together with a bunch of excellent guest musicians they recorded a fantastic collection of songs.
Multi-instrumentalist Christian Fontana creates the intoxicating pace on acoustic guitar and bongos and Franca sings with her hauntingly beautiful voice, Christian adds some slide guitar and bass and Mannie Mazzeo joins in on drums, “Come on”. Dorota on cello and Chris Stone on fiddle play the Blues when Franka sings the melancholic “Fallen”, Cyriel Diels on double bass and Christian on guitar provide the groove. “You’ll never know” is a rhythmic song with incredible playing together of Dorota and Steve Morrison on guitar and the title track a dramatic rock ballad with Paul Tkachenko on piano, up-beat rhythm guitar, great string arrangement and Franca’s breath-taking singing. The guys recorded two versions of “Gare du Nord”, the studio version is dominated by Paul’s accordion, Deborah Gruman’s virtuoso violin playing and Christian’s piano and results to a mesmerizing French chansons like finale, while the unplugged version only features Steve on guitar, Deborah on violin, Dorota on cello and Franka’s angelic voice.
Franka De Mille sings about personal experiences, losses, failures, mistakes and finally about bridging the road and ride on. Her music is innovative, her songs diversified and innovative and the musicians are inspired, everything to produce a wonderful album.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Thea Hopkins "Lilac Sky"
Own label, 2013

Boston singer/songwriter Thea Hopkins (vocals, acoustic guitar) releases her brand new EP “Lilac sky”. Together with Paul Kochansky on upright bass, Mike Piehl on drums and guests on electric guitar, mandola, ukulele bass and piano she recorded 4 self-crafted songs and two cover versions.
Hopkins has a rich alto voice and inspires the listener with up-beat Country Rock like on the title song, assisted by Susan Cattaneo’s harmony vocals her beautiful singing is driven by bass, drums and the electric guitars of Peter Parcek and Cameron Peterson. Linda and Teddy Thompson wrote the melancholic “Do your best for Rock and Roll”, Thea sings with great emotion, accompanied by Tim Ray on piano. “Down by the water” is another intoxicating Country Rock with Andy Hollinger on electric guitar. My favourite track is “Watcha gonna do?” showcasing Hollinger playing mandola, bass ukulele and brilliant singing together with Hopkins to the incredible acoustic pace.
Unfortunately there only 6 songs, I would have loved to listen to some more, Thea Hopkins is a great singer and songwriter and works with excellent musicians.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Heidi Talbot "Angels Without Wings"
Navigator Records, 2013

Co. Kildare's singer/songwriter Heidi Talbot has been member of New York's Irish-American super group Cherish the Ladies between 2002 and 2007, back in Europe she started working solo and this February she released her brand new solo album. Together with her band, Ian Carr (guitars), Phil Cunningham (accordion), Boo Hewerdine (acoustic guitar) and half of Scotland's super band Capercaillie, Michael McGoldrick (flutes, whistles), James MacKintosh (percussion) and Ewan Vernal (bass) she recorded 11 original and traditional songs.
The title song from Hewerdine is a beautiful romantic ballad, featuring great accordion tunes and showcasing Heidi's angelic voice. One of my favourites is the traditional "Dearest Johnny", Heidi's hauntingly beautiful singing is driven by an incredible acoustic groove. Heidi wrote the lyrics to Kenny Anderson's melody, "Button up", an all acoustic love song with a brilliant duet, and Hewerdine's "New Cajun Waltz" is a melancholic ballad featuring virtuoso singing voices. Another highlight is "Will I ever get to sleep?", an up-Beat Pop-Folk song with McGoldrick adding his inspired flute playing to the driving pace created by bass, guitar and percussion. There are some intriguing guest appearances like on the traditional Americana "When the roses come again", Mike Knopfler on guitar and a mesmerizing duet with American Bluegrass legend Tim O'Brien.
Talbot has been working solo for years, even during her time in New York, since 2010 she started to write her own songs and delivers a fantastic album, exceptional songs spiced with skilful playing of some of the best musicians from the British Isles and abroad.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Gallon House "Gallon House"
Own label, 2013

Singer/songwriter Matthew Price teamed up with singer and fiddler Christiana Zollner in 2012 to form Gallon House. One year later the Oregon based singers release their debut album with 10 original songs, recorded together with producer Rob Stroup on percussion and Brian Bergstrom on bass.
They start off with “Only in my mind”, a rhythmic folk song with beautiful singing together. Matthew sings “Lemon”, Christiana’s fiddle and the band create the intoxicating pace and “Bigger fool” is a melancholic ballad featuring a romantic duet and beautiful violin playing. My favourites are “Revolution”, the bluesy song is a perfect showcase for the brilliant singing together of Christiana and Matthew, and “Gold” an up-Beat Country song with a pinch of Bluegrass.
Matthew writes beautiful songs, ballads as well as rhythmic songs, and the simple arrangements by Christiana and Matthew make them a perfect platform for their lovely voices.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Iain Morrison "To the horizon, Sir"
Own label, 2012

Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Iain Morrison comes from the isle of Lewis, the most northern isle of the Outer Hebrides. He wrote ten brand new songs for his fifth album and recorded them with a bunch of great musicians in Vermont, Glasgow, Greenock and Lewis.
Accompanied by guitars, double bass, drums and cello Morrison sings with whispering tenor voice "Stones & matches", starting off moderately and accelerating the pace to an intoxicating finale, or "Homeward", a romantic ballad with stunning playing together of cello and guitar. "Psalm" is a hypnotic hymn, brought forward on piano, guitar, cello, synthesizer and featuring some brilliant vocal arrangements. The title song is an up-beat rock ballad with twangy guitar and passionate singing and "Dream of the bear" begins with epic vocals and only guitar and cello playing a simple tune, while it ends with the sound of multiplied vocals.
Iain Morrison has created a very significant style, his songs are sometimes a little bit sombre and his voice is rather small, but the arrangements and the musicians are first class.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Iain Morrison "To the horizon, Sir"
Own label, 2012

Iain Morrison has that timeless folk quality in his songs, even with the modern arrangements. The quality and flexibility in his voice is the real key to the success here as he ranges from quivering solitude to soaring confidence over light folk rock to fuller rock arrangements. The album plays through cleanly and comfortably and your favorite song may be indicative the degree of rock and folk you prefer. But for me, “Psalm” is one of the more magical songs I have heard in this short year or last. It absorbed me fully to where I put everything else aside and re-listened to every evocative note. Although the title cut with its drone qualities also transports me to levels not felt since I first heard Malicorne or Agincourt (see the video of his song at his web site). Strong, strong material here—Indulge!
© David Hintz

Wanda Jackson "Unfinished Business"
Sugar Hill, 2012

Wanda Jackson has spent many of her 75 years known as ‘the Queen of Rockabilly’. And although there are only ten songs on this record, she showcases country, rock’n’roll, and even gospel here. It probably did not hurt to have Justin Townes Earle on production, as he has long been comfortable pushing through genres on his own material. Jackson’s voice sounds quite amazing as her raspy resonance is a nice touch that she can push or pull back on depending on the song. She retains much of the clarity and power that has made her such a legend. And of course, the players are top notch as they crisply punctuate the beat and solo at all the right times (she has also worked with Jack White recently). This is a quality record that is far more than just for the fans.
© David Hintz

Annabelle Chvostek Ensemble "Rise"
Borealis Records, 2012

Annabelle Chvostek may have an ‘ensemble’, but her personality, voice, and instrumental skill is all over this album. She is accompanied by a rhythm section and a lot of guest guitarists, but she handles all lead vocals, guitar, accordion, mandolin, violin, and tuba. She has some guy named Bruce Hornsby among the guests, so you can envision the quality here. But not only are the folk rock sounds good, she creates great atmosphere with her songwriting. It is wordly, deep, and even introspectively psychedelic on some cuts. There are lounge moves as well and there certainly is something to appeal to most anyone here, provided you accept her tart and pointed lyrics. She was a member of the Wailin’ Jennys, so she has toured well beyond Canada and spent enough time in the studio, so this is not a complete surprise. Again, the quality of the songs brings this up to a loftier status over other good albums.
© David Hintz

Jeff Powers "Jeff Powers"
Own label; 2012

This was all of the blues-rock I expected, but the gutsiness present exceeded what I had hoped for. Powers indeed shows off plenty of power, while not losing his touch on the guitar. Even as he moves to acoustic, his phrasing is excellent. The songs have a folk rock quality to them with far more than the standard blues themes present. The sound is crisp and this is a fine example of a high quality independent album. This is all quite pleasing and should attract a lot of music lovers out there. Hopefully he will be playing in a town near you (and even more hopefully… me).
© David Hintz

Hadrian’s Union "In Your Own Time"
Fellside, 2012

I have fairly high expectations for Fellside Releases and Paul Adams productions and this record happily lives up to them. This is a violin/acoustic guitar duo with vocals in the manner of Mowrey and Watson or the Dransfields among others. The style ranges from the gutsy Ron Kavana folk to the classic blues to more introspective folk. The sound is crystalline and the violin consistently creates enough action to keep the interest level high. And when the songs are sharp, like “Are We There Yet?”, this hits the excellent level.
© David Hintz

Dale Boyle "Throwback"
Factor; 2012

This Canadian folkie has a nice homespun style evident by the extensive sound of mandolin and banjo on the opening cut. The title cut is a real gem with a nice folk base and a reverbed guitar dancing around the male and female duet (Wailin’Jennys Anabelle Chvostek). Many of the songs are nice, but sort of settle into comfortable and familiar territory where there are already thousands of similar songs in my head. Ergo, I think I would enjoy the live show a little more (and the tenth track is a live cut that shows his blues stylings). Still, he throws a few curveballs to keep this album interesting such as the instrumental “Spin”. This is a likable record at the end of the ten songs, and some would find it to be one of their favorites if they like the laid back style a little more than I did.
© David Hintz

Gwyn Ashton "Radiogram"
Proper, 2012

This record is clear-cut. It states its purpose immediately and varies nary a beat. This is classic rock, in all its electric blues based glory. Some songs are bluesier, others more rocking, balanced by a ballad or two. All feature Australian guitar blaster, Gwyn Ashton roaring away on his strat. He also plays bass and works with a drummer and many guest stars. I recognize Deep Purple’s keyboardist, Don Airey, and there are guys from the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Robert Plante’s band as well. If you like this genre, you will like this record as it is done well and guitar playing is plenty hot. It is all original aside from a reasonably unique take on Willie Dixon’s “I Just Wanna Make Love”.
© David Hintz

Bethel Steele "Of Love & Whiskey"
Trespass Music, 2012

This Boston based folkie reminds me a bit of Cheryl Wheeler and many other heartland styled folkies. It’s more great plains, than Cambridge in these arrangements with nice acoustic guitar picking and atmospheric violins. Her voice is spot on, if not a bit clinical at times, but the guitar work is much sharper and more impressive than on many of the records I hear. There is a certain jazzy flair to some of the songs which offers a nice contrast to the folkier numbers and Steele and her band have the skill to pull the listener into the groove. There is a slick professional approach to this record, but it retains its warmth well enough that many music lovers will find something to enjoy here.
© David Hintz

Folklaw "The Tales that They Tell"
Own label, 2012

This is folk-rock with a dash of punk attitude within, in the manner of the Levellers or Ron Kavana, but not quite into Pogues territory. The deep throated, breathy vocals with an anglo accent are warm and familiar, while the music is energetic, even somehow even in the quiet moments. The pace is good, but it is not all blazing guitar, galloping drums and such, but more of a moderate affair with limited percussion on occasion. If interested, take a listen to their spirited interpretation and traditional arrangement of “Dublin City”. This one reminds me of Boiled in Lead’s finer Irish traditionals. I hear a lot of this music, but Folklaw seems to have a layer of warmth among the passionate pace of their brand of folk-rock.
© David Hintz

Ahab "Live in London"
Ahab; 2012

Although somewhat derivative of the many energetic Americana-styled bands like Old Crow Medicine Show, this London band has the energy and the background to be able to carve out space in this genre. They were buskers who have put together a live show for club stages and have only recorded live albums to this point. It is certainly not for lack of songs, as thirteen of the fourteen are original here, and have nice melodies, again if not derivative in the meeting of expectations. The playing is rock solid and the pace is nice. Perhaps the key to why they deserve a wide listening audience is the quality to their harmonies. Few bands do it any better and this gives them a real personality. Stay tuned for their first studio album, but in the mean time this is enjoyable if you don’t get to see the real thing on a stage or subway entrance near you.
© David Hintz

Sons of Noel and Adrian "Knots"
K&F Records; 2012

If there is post-rock, there must be a post-folk genre out there waiting to be uncovered. Perhaps this is just that as this a brand of progressive folk music that takes some intriguing angular turns at many unexpected points. At the core is the musicianship and voice of Jason Richardson. But there are many sounds coming from orchestration, rock instruments, and backing vocals that enlarge the music significantly, but not altering the basic form. I like the edgy tremolo of his voice, although it may not be for everyone. And the music is rich and vibrant, always keeping interest high as it calmly moves you downstream in a calmly zigzag pattern. Any folk fan who is the slightest bit daring, will want to give this a listen or ten—especially if you like someone like Richard Buckner. And rock fans can let me know if “Big Bad Bold” fails to match the intensity of a metal band, even in a more mannered structure. There is plenty of magic here for everyone.
© David Hintz

Uriba "QB"
Folk Club Ethnosuoni, 2012

I do have some folk music from Italy in my collection, although the Italy in the 1970s probably yielded 25 progressive albums for every folk or folk-rock record. With the Italian Uriba, the pattern continues as we do not get quite close enough to call this folk. There is a folk element at work, but it is more worldly. And the production is slick, but not the arrangements are not as progressive, and more to strengthen the sound. There are some evocative songs that combine eastern and western moves all in traditional, modern, and even jazz frameworks. Others sound more like exotic club music. It is all well done, but only for the more modern ears. Adventurous people may enjoy this, although it was kind of solid middle of the crowd, yet with occasional high interest.
© David Hintz

Andreas Kümmert "The Mad Hatters Neighbour"
7us Media; 2012

The vocals here remind me a lot of Tim Rose and the music does hearken back to days of old where blues and soul were merging with rock music. The music shows some quality, although lyrically it follows even more expected patterns. Kümmert’s heart is in the right place and there is enough skill to make this listenable and intriguing as to what the live show would be like. However, it does not quite lift me above the classics or some of the better contemporary artists of this ilk.
© David Hintz

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