Virtuoso guitarist, founder member of Pentangle
Virtuoso guitarist, founder member of Pentangle
Lorraine by Lori McKenna ...well, what can you say? Yet another brilliant album from a brilliant artist.
Plainsong by Susan Enan...the second track in is 'Bring On The Wonder' which I thought was an excellent cover of a Sarah McLachlan song...but it turns out that hers is the cover and Susan Enan is the original...a pretty high standard and more than met by the rest of the album - 'Bird' in particular is wonderful, and I love her English accent. Brilliant.
The Long Surrender by Over The Rhine for me makes up for Trumpet Child which I just couldn't like no matter how I tried. I was dreading that the new album would follow suit - it's not an instant 'like' but there are brilliant tracks like 'Rave On' to hook you into the album as a whole and it gradually grows on you.
Good Things Happen Over Coffee - Edwina Hayes...if you've heard anything by Edwina Hayes you know what to expect...simple, intimate recordings of great songs, and this is up to the standard of 'Out On My Own' and 'Pour Me A Drink'. All three CDs would be an asset in any collection.
Looking down the page I seem to have forgotten to mention 'People In The Hole' by Catherine Feeny. A great album very much in the same vein as Hurricane Glass. My personal favourite is 'Junk Queen' sung at a hundred miles an hour with brilliantly wicked lyrics...you have to hear it.
The very excellent 'Doghouse Rose' by Sara Petite has just come to my attention although it's been out since last year. Much more country that would normally appear in my CD collection, it contains some real jewels like 'Shouldn't Be Doing This'.
Lissie should need no recommendation from me. Fantastic voice, fantastic arrangements...Lissie just grabs any song and makes it her own. I really can't understand why everybody hasn't got 'Catching A Tiger' on their players at all times...try it!
It's been a bonus week around here - a third album to recommend: The Floe - 'No Looking Back'...I started off listening to 'Heatwave' on their MySpace page and while that is completely addictive the rest of the album is quite different and equally good. Superb stuff!
'Traces' by Peter Bradley Adams has been out for a few months now, not something I would have bothered to listen to because I never 'got' Eastmountainsouth. Fortunately 'Darkening Skies' was used on an episode of 'The Mentalist' and I very much enjoyed it. It turns out that this is a great album, great vocals, great songs with a smooth groove...excellent! It's on Spotify...have a listen.
I heard 'Summerfield Avenue' by Chris Wood a couple of years ago and I thought it was pleasant but not earth-shaking. I picked up 'The Lark Descending' and 'Trespasser' and got to quite like them. Now we have 'Handmade Life' and it's really excellent. The standout track has to be 'Hollow Point' which tells of the last few hours of Jean Charles de Menezes building in intensity as it goes on...brilliant and evocative. This is not to say that the rest of the songs on the album are anything apart from outstanding... somehow Chris Wood is putting folk music back on the map again.
I would never, ever, buy a Christmas album, ever....but I'm about to wholeheartedly recommend one...Thea Gilmore's 'Strange Communion'. There's the lush and beautiful 'Sol Invictus', there's the witty 'St Stephen's Day Massacre' and a bunch of the intelligent, beautifully crafted songs we have come to expect from a world class songwriter. Don't miss out on this just because it's a Christmas album!
I borrowed 'world class songwriter' from the sleeve of the new album from Jann Arden. 'Free' is a departure from the norm and while the songs are no more upbeat than we have come to expect, there is certainly more of a beat. It's good to have a new selection of original songs (wasn't too keen on the covers album) and this is certainly worth listening to.
These days I play all of my music on a media center computer so I know exactly how long it's taken for Jane Taylor's 'Compass' to grow on me - seven weeks. I was initially captured by the rhythm of 'Cracks' which reminded me of Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five' but when I listened to the whole CD it just didn't work for me. I don't give up, though, and after the tracks popped up a number of times on my mp3 player they began to take hold. Now I'm finally converted.
If you're missing John Martyn you can fill the gap with the latest album from Sean Taylor, 'Calcutta Grove'. You don't have to take my word for it - there are lots of tracks to listen to on his site seantaylorsongs.com.
I've been waiting SO LONG to say this.... Stephanie Lambring's "Lonely To Alone" is out. If you aren't immediately captivated by the title track then there is something wrong with you. This is the most achingly beautiful album and your collection is not complete without it!
It's a good week this week because Maria Taylor's 'Lady Luck' has arrived, too - great voice, great sound and catchy lyrics - hugely enjoyable. As heard on the soundtrack of 'Bones'
I hadn't heard of Alela Diane until I was uploading the playlist for the Bob Harris Saturday programme but before the track was even halfway through I was ordering a copy. I don't know how you would classify them but the songs are deliciously unusual as is Alela's voice. Highly recommended.
I've bought pretty much everything that Heather Nova has done but it's never been as much of a struggle as it has to get The Jasmine Flower. It's available as an mp3 download but even if I was to give up and buy a download it wouldn't be a 'lossy' format - I'd want flac or ape or even wav. Anyway I finally managed to buy a physical CD by negotiating through the German-language Amazon.de site - probably something relating to the specification on her website that the mp3 download isn't available in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
This week's rave review is for Paper Skin by Kendall Payne...an absolutely wonderful CD bought on the back of hearing 'I Will Show You Love' in the background of Grey's Anatomy. Sounding like Dar Williams this is a selection of powerful songs beautifully performed. It's has been pretty much playing continuously since it arrived.
South of Graceland by Lizanne Knott is finally here. It seems to have been an age coming, possibly because I've been looking forward to it so much. It's exactly what you would expect from Lizanne...a beautiful voice, great songs, a lot of love, a little sadness and a little laughter.
I know absolutely nothing about Carell Casey or Peace! (that seems to be the name of her band). Her album is called 'A New Day' and can be heard in full at the Internet Archive and you can buy the CD at CDBaby.com. I do know, however, that it's a brilliant album - great voice, great lyrics and great backing.
Edwina Hayes has made a fine new CD. Pour Me A Drink is a collection of beautiful songs simply recorded. Her previous album 'Out On My Own' is also worth listening to, especially 'I Can't Believe'.
Well, this week's favourite has got to be Ruth Notman's 'Threads'. I heard 'Roaming' on the Bob Harris show and before the track finished I was on Amazon's site ordering a copy. I was certainly not disappointed by the rest of the album. This is folk fare, but after thirty or forty years of listening to traditional songs they get a little tired. Ruth Notman does them with just enough of a twist to make them interesting again. Excellent! (Buy it from Fish Records)
I put Unglamorous by Lori McKenna into the machine with great trepidation. Bittertown is such an amazing album and Pieces Of Me is almost as good and I knew the only way was down. I was prepared for disappointment. I'm so happy to report that it didn't happen - Lori McKenna has done it again! If you like songs that are keenly observed glimpses of real life beautifully performed this is the album for you.
Sometimes you just don't get what somebody is doing. That happened to me when I first heard Yasmin Levy on the Charlie Gillett show. He was absolutely captivated by her live performance and I just didn't understand what he was on about. Years later I picked up a copy of 'Romance and Yasmin' and it was some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. I can't really say what happened in the intervening years to change the way I listened but it may have something to do with the music of Loreena McKennit which in places shares the same Middle Eastern roots.
I didn't pick up on Mari Boine for years either. This time it was because I hadn't heard anything by her - it seems that the Scandinavian music scene is a bit isolated from the rest of Europe - you won't be surprised at me saying that if you've ever tried to buy a CD from a Scandinavian web site...they seem to entirely disregard the rest of the world. So far I have managed to lay hands on Balvvoslatjna, Gávcci jahkejuogu, Gula Gula, Idjagiedas and Leahkastin and they are all excellent. Mari doesn't have her own web site but you can find her on MySpace.
I also missed Over The Rhine until I happened to hear a song in the background of a TV programme. It's great that you can use the Internet to figure out what is being played on the TV these days and I quickly found that it was 'Latter Days' from Good Dog, Bad Dog. Since then I've picked up Ohio, Discount Fireworks, Films For Radio and Drunkard's Prayer. They have a new release that you can hear in full on their website - it will give you a flavour of their music but if your taste is like mine I'd start with Good Dog, Bad Dog.
At least I didn't miss Catherine Feeny. Bob Harris played a track in May and I was instantly captivated - you can hear the album on her site. They're playing Mr Blue on the TV adverts - that track doesn't sit well with the rest for me so make sure you hear 'Shape You're In' before you decide if you like her music.
If you're looking for something a bit more bluesy and powerful I can heartily recommend the Black Keys. Once again it took me some time to see what they were trying to do but Magic Factory is certainly a great album.
Chantal Kreviazuk, who I have previously recommended, has a new album called Ghost Stories. It's not an earth-shaker and I'd choose Colour, Moving and Still as a starting point if you haven't heard her music before, but it's well worth buying.
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OK, you've heard the music on the Scottish Tourism commercial...there's much more to it
Once a street musician, a classical composer who designed his own instruments