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Folk / Country / Singer-songwriter

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Haiku Salut
Tricolore

Derbyshire trio Haiku Salut hit us with this amazing debut ‘Tricolore’. There is a little favouritism going on here as I’m a Midlands lad myself but seriously, no messing, this is a truly stunning debut. Consisting of three girls, Gemma, Louise and Sophie, they create the most fantastical mix of instrumental folktronica you&rsq...view item »

Bon Iver
Bon Iver

Had the marketing team not gone with the whole 'recorded in an isolated cabin' schtick I wonder if 'For Emma, Forever Ago' would have quite had the same impact? That record's quiet desolation seemed to strike a chord with folks everywhere, even with the Tesco brigade (sole UK distribu...view item »

Benoit Pioulard
Hymnal

I have only a small number of things in common with our lord, our leader, our saviour Philip Leigh and one is an absolute adoration of a previous Benoit Pioulard album ‘Lasted’ which I said way back in 2010 was “where wistful songwriting meets evocative warped ‘70s Polaroid nos...view item »

The Mountain Goats
All Hail West Texas (Remastered)

Reissue of the seminal 2002 release by Californian psychobilly band The Mountain Goats. Part rockabilly, part 1960s pop, this is considered to be one of the band's most respected and lo-fi albums. Recorded with a condenser mic and a boom box, with most tracks laid down immediately after being composed. Available now remastered and as a pleasing ...view item »

Lee Hazlewood
Trouble Is A Lonesome Town

Remastered for your listening pleasure in the original mono, Trouble is a Lonesome Town was moustachioed baritone Lee Hazlewood's first ever album. Originally released in 1963, this double album features 15 whole bonus tracks and a very informative booklet. A must for anyone who loves cowboys and stories and amusing fac...view item »

Happy Jawbone Family Band
Happy Jawbone Family Band

Eighth album from Vermont mentalists The Happy Jawbone Band. The band have generally released home-recorded stuff up to now, and there was a lot of it. Previous album 'Taste the Broom' was a sort of compilation, whittled down to nine songs out of the hundreds these guys have recorded. Here though, they've been into a proper recording studio and ...view item »

Nathan Salsburg
Hard For To Win And Can't Be Won

Kentucky guitarist / producer Nathan Salsburg's follow up to the debut 'ode to racehorses' album 'Affirmed' (2011). By day, Salsburg is a curator, archiving American folklore. By night, he plays lovely acoustic guitar music. 'Hard for the win and can't be won', whilst still acoustic, has a bigger, grander sound. Available on CD (No Quarter).&nbs...view item »

William Tyler
Impossible Truth

I sort of stumbled upon this record by accident but what oh what a happy accident it was. This is a collection of multi layered guitar pieces that just sweep you away. Some have a bit of dissonance in them as the melody and song structure start to take hold. It's really amazing to watch each song unfold. If you're even the slightest fan of instrume...view item »

Chance
In Search

Chance Martin began his career as stage manager and lighting designer for his friend, the man in black himself Johnny Cash, and his first guitar was a present from the man himself. Hard to imagine a cooler start! Slightly scary and aggressive, this is the real deal from a man whose life story would no doubt make for quite a read. Vinyl LP c...view item »

Mike Donovan
Wot

Mike Donovan is back with a new album. If you don't know Mike Donovan he's been part of many bands including the great and prolific Sic Alps who had many great records. This new album is a solo one. The sound of this new album certainly has hints of Sic Alps but also has it's own sound. One of my highlights off the...view item »

Up Around The Sun
Up Around The Sun

Formally a member of Texas punk outfit The Big Boys, Up Around the Sun is a different vehicle entirely for singer-songwriter Tim Kerr. He's teamed up with claw hammer banjo-maestro Jerry Hagins and recorded a lively album of old-time songs. Loads of fiddle, harmonica and banjo and a rollicking good thigh-slapper it is. It's on vinyl and it's ace...view item »

Chris Grant
It’s You!

Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Chris Grant's debut album, out on Alan McGee (who signed Oasis)'s 359 label. Formerly a member of the group The Grants, Chris has drawn comparisons with Noel Gallagher. This is the first single taken from his debut solo album 'It's not about War'. Limited to 359 copies. ...view item »

Mike Gangloff
Poplar Hollow

Pelt/Black Twig Pickers picker Mike Gangloff has a solo album here on beautiful swirly red and green vinyl in an eye-popping Jake Blanchard sleeve. Gangloff plays fiddle and banjo and occasionally sings with the only outside contributions coming in the form of shruti box on a co...view item »

His Clancyness
Vicious

Fat Cat Records have released this full length album from Ottawan Jonathan Clancy, under his musical moniker His Clancyness. He makes cool, quirky, psyche-pop gems, recording mostly in his bedroom and then jamming out with friends. With previous releases being early cassettes of demos, it's nice to hear Clancy with decent production and a backin...view item »

Alex Chilton
Electricity By Candlelight – NYC 2/13/97

It's nice to have this little document of an intimate night in the presence of Alex Chilton. After a power cut at the gig, Chilton decided to carry on with his acoustic guitar. He improvised a few covers to a delighted crowd. it's fun, not brilliantly recorded but again nice to have. Tagged on the end is a supe...view item »

Townes Van Zandt
In The Beginning

If you don't know about Townes Van Zandt and his music then you really are missing out on of the best songwriters ever. Scion of a prominent Texan oil family, Townes Van Zandt was a high-school over-achiever with good looks, a genius IQ, and a career in high US politics mapped out for him. I...view item »

Anna Calvi
Eliza

First single from Anna Calvi's much anticipated second album 'One Breath'. Her debut eponymous album was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, and she has slowly amassed a great deal of critical acclaim since. Available, complete with slightly disturbing artwork, on Domino records on heavyweight 7" vinyl....view item »

Doug Tielli
Kerelsey

Doug Tielli lives in Toronto, where he is a well-known name on the underground music scene. Much of Kerelsey, though, was conceived in a rainy two months spent in the suburb of Coventry, England, with the same name. English folk influences are audible on the album, alongside African and Brazilian vibes. On CD or vi...view item »

BeMyDelay
Hazy Lights

Experimental, hazy folk stripped bare, with breathy female vocals and a slightly unnerving feel. Much more ambient than the previous release 'To the other side', 'Hazy Lights' is meditative, subtle and minimalistic-sounding. Slow-burning, melancholic and emotional. Vinyl LP on the Boring Machines label. ...view item »

Birdy
Fire Within

British singer-songwriter Jasmine van den Bogaerde, aka Birdy, really can't fail at becoming massively famous now. Her debut single, a version of Bon Iver's 'Skinny Love' was a huge radio hit, and she's since gone on to collaborate with some big name producers who have worked with Adele, Arctic Monkeys,Sigur Ros and Beyonce. Her debut album was ...view item »

Aisha Burns
Life in the Midwater

Violinist and vocalist Aisha Burns is from San Antonio, Texas. A former member of folk rock bands Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band, and Balmorhea, this is her debut solo release. Dealing with the themes of love, loss and the loss of feeling immortal that comes with hitting your mid-twenties. Vinyl or CD on Western Vinyl. ...view item »

Carol Kleyn
Return of The Silkie

Another lass wi’ t’harp. Done back in '83 when Joanna Newsome was still gurgling (some may say that she never stopped). Nice, folky, New Age-y harp music that had I heard it when ‘The Milk Eyed Mender’ came out would have probably led me to brand Newsome as a copycat rather than harp innovator. Nice....view item »

Ed Askew
For The World

Singer / songwriter and painter Ed Askew is considered something of a New York legend. He released his first album 'Ask the Unicorn' in 1968 and his most recent, 'For the World' in 2013. With only four albums in between, he might not be prolific but what he lacks in output he more than makes up for in admiration. Super fan Sharon Van Etten guest...view item »

Califone
Stitches

“Stitches” is more structured than previous albums. The best way of describing their sound is to say that if they sound like anyone, they sound a bit like Wilco. And on this album they sound more like Wilco than ever before. Two songs here make the album worthwhile: “Frosted Tips” is a great song, much more straight-forwa...view item »

Julianna Barwick
Pacing

Here’s the latest 7” from Julianna Barwick, coming out on Suicide Squeeze this time, with a couple of piano-oriented compositions this time round. On the first side ‘Pacing’ is all delicate tinkles and feather-light vocals layered and reve...view item »

Plankton Wat
Drifter's Temple

As always seems to happen here at Norman, we’re running out of time before we send the weekly update out and a good release just turned up to review. This one’s by Plankton Wat and it comes housed in a very cool sleeve with a big psychedelic jungle collage on it. When I set it spinning on the record...view item »

Willis Earl Beal
Nobody Knows

2nd album from eccentric Chicago artist has a fuller, more produced feel than the debut, but still puts Beal’s unusually expressive voice in the foreground as an unconventional storyteller with an insightfully twisted perspective. The music is a mix of acoustic folk, semi-smooth R&B/soul and street-corner bluesy boot-stompers—wit...view item »

Richard Buckner
Surrounded

One of the perks of this job is seeing a release come in by a favourite artist and being given (or to be honest asking for) the opportunity to write about it. Richard Buckner was initially brought to my attention years ago by my father who leant me his ‘Devotion and Doubt’ album; it’s fair ...view item »

Celebration
Old Green Village

Here’s a repress of a mythical French private press offering which first appeared in 1976 - an album which according to its press release “resulted from the one & only meeting of the group for a single overnight champagne-fueled session”, so as you would expect this is a somewhat rough and ready collection of ‘70s hip...view item »

Jonathan Rado
Law And Order

Looking somewhat like a man with Adam Green’s permanently open-mouthed face topped off with a chunk of Syd Barrett’s curly hair, Jonathan Rado looks something like a heart-throb. Also his day job is in Foxygen so there you go. The opening track plods along, a drone like affair with heavy slabs of organ. Funny I should mention Adam Gr...view item »

Various
Country Funk 1969-1975

Country music can sometimes be a bit of a hard sell, particularly in this country where we dont share that culture of wide open spaces, rednecks and hoe downs to the extent of the US where country music fits so snugly into the core of that mythical good ole america (for some at least). However, for music lovers, it really is worth dumping some a...view item »

The Love Language
Ruby Red

The Love Language, aka Stuart McLamb, recorded his first album on his own with a four-track, then went on a critically acclaimed tour with a seven-piece band, reassembling the songs as he went. 2010's 'Libraries' was also a solo affair. This time he's brought in 20 different musicians from all over the world and the result, thou...view item »

Cubs
Perpetual Light EP

Here’s a cute little 3” CD by folk pop types Cubs out on Rusted Rail Records in a hand assembled and stamped card sleeve, loosely followed on from their last EP ‘Willowfield’. ‘Perpetual Light’ is a collection of 10 songs of folky niceness influenced...view item »

Men’s Adventures
Solitary Trip EP

Here’s an EP from Men’s Adventures. Gotta say I’m loving the striking ‘80s style imagery on the cover. When I put the disc on our office record player it turns out they’re playing a heavily country-influenced version of indie rock, like somewhere between the yelpy mid-paced accessibility of bands like ...view item »

Ian Skelly
Cut From A Star

Well, much like Erland and the Carnival and Skelly's own original priority, The Coral, 'Cut From a Star's' vibe centres on the late ‘60s as a minefield of inspiration. That the birth of the ‘70s was s...view item »

Don & Stevie
Don & Stevie

Finders Keepers keep the dream alive with another collection of rare gems from back in the day. This time they’ve come up trumps with a collection of completely unheard tracks by Don Gere (most notable for his totally fucked psych soundtrack to the classic &ls...view item »

Flat Ed
Clapped Out

Decidedly eclectic collection of songs by mystery singer-songwriter Flat Ed (mystery because there is barely anything about him anywhere on the internet -- which makes our job writing this description, er, interesting). A veritable concoction of different styles and flavours, sounding almost like a compilation album of ...view item »

Mark Mulcahy
Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You

It seemed to be a general view of the music press, and a view that I shared, that Mark Mulcahy hadn't really reached his potential on his seven albums prior to "Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You" but now he was showing signs of the singer/songwriter he had promised to be. This is certainly his best album and finds his voice sound not dissimilar t...view item »

Salvia Plath
The Bardo Story

Salvia Plath is Michael Collins, who has previously recorded under the name Run DMT, and on this album he’s making some deeply psychedelic pop with a pastoral folk twist. By the looks of the cover he’s got quite an expansive band together for this but for the most part they’re quite restrai...view item »

Sarah Johns Music Party
Sarah Johns Music Party EP

Having achieved a 'record of the week' on 6 music, as well as a 'best unsigned' accolade on Radio 1, the stripped-back soulful sound of Sarah Johns is gaining a fair bit of attention. Laid-back, yet occasionally unnerving, the 'Sarah Johns Music Party' EP is available on CD from Pyschic Healing Network. ...view item »

Daughn Gibson
Me Moan

Formerly of thinking man’s rockers Pearls & Brass, Daughn Gibson’s solo debut ‘All Hell’ last year was a revelation, introducing a brand of tragic Americana-tinged darkpop which we’d never heard from him before. Myself and our ...view item »

Darren Hayman & The Short Parliament
Bugbears

Former Hefner fellow Darren Hayman is back with an album of seventeenth century folk songs that follows on from his critically acclaimed album ‘The Violence’. Available in a deluxe packaging featuring a lush booklet of Darren’s notes, lyrics, and image...view item »

The Child Of A Creek
The Earth Cries Blood

The Child of a Creek (who is known, internet-wide, simply as The Child of a Creek) is a one-man supergroup who doesn't have any mates. Well, he might have mates but they weren't invited to play on his CD. Covering vocals, guitars, strings, organs, woodwind instruments and synths by himself (he even did the artwork) this is a solitary lament abou...view item »

Hebronix
Unreal

Here’s a slow-burning by Hebronix, led by 23-year-old ex-Yuckite Daniel Blumberg. His new band offer up a dreamily psychedelic and weary-sounding take on indie rock, taking the time to jam out their songs into unexpectedly spacey territory which is always anchored by a clear love for by-the-book ‘90...view item »

Tunng
Comments On The Inner Chorus

What is it about Tunng? Why are they soooo good? They have the magic that's why. Precious few bands achieve what they do. Simple, beautiful & lovingly layered songs that take you to another place. A land carpeted with woodland creatures, the finest wine, the prettiest girls, all imbued with a quietly sinister spirit, no...view item »

Beau
Twelve Strings to the Beau

There is a nice story within this release. Beau was a singer songwriter who released the very first record on John Peel’s Dandelion label, releasing two further records before losing interest in the music industry. Then few years later the guy from fellow travellers Tractor got in touch asking him ...view item »

Tom Odell
Long Way Down

I was first captured my the original sound of tom odell when I came across the track "another love", and needless to say this album fails to disappoint! Tom Odell seamlessly blends a melancholy pop and alternative sound, with a range of depth through vocal and instrumental layering, giving utterly beautiful tone a...view item »

Tunng
Turbines

This is the fifth album from those folktronica masters Tunng, ‘Turbines’ is the fruits of a heady 3 years work what with their last album being 2010’s ‘...And Then We Saw Land’, it’s certainly great to see them back doing what they do best. The cover features art from longtime friend and collaborator Vanessa d...view item »

Spanish Dance Troupe
La Muerte Del Amor En Andalucia

Spanish Dance Troupe (named after an album by Welsh rockers Gorky's Zygotic Mynci) is the alter-ego of half-south American, half-Japanese musician Ricardo. Now residing in Cardiff, Ricardo has, as you would expect, picked up a lot of international flavours. La Muerte Del Amor En Andalucia is a conc...view item »

Ignatz
Can I Go Home Now

Named after a violent brick-throwing mouse in the comic Krazy Katz, Ignatz is the alter-ego of Belgian acoustic singer-songwriter and artist Bram Devens. Can I Go Home Now is his fifth home-recorded album (the previous four being self-released). Acoustic, effect-driven songs recorded on a four-track and computer. On vin...view item »

Lily & Madeleine
The Weight of the Globe

Signed to Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty label, prodigiously talented teenage sisters, Lily and Madeleine will undoubtedly attract comparisons to Swedish Folk/Country/Pop sisters First aid Kit and from the opening track of their debut EP "The Weight Of The Globe", "In The Middle", it's easy to see why: similar harmonies, similar style, similar ...view item »

Peter Delaney
Witch Bottle

Mixing traditional Irish folk songs with vintage Hawaiian melodies, Limerick singer-songwriter Peter Delaney has already cooked up a storm in his native land. Having completed touring supports for The Swell Season and Mercury-nominated song-bard Fionn Regan, Delaney also finds the time to make s...view item »

Ralfe Band
Son Be Wise

Ralfe Band’s warm and evocative soundtrack to quirky Boosh-related surreal comedy ‘Bunny & The Bull’ was my introduction to the band and still gets pretty regular spins at my house, although I’m sorry...view item »

The Occasional Orchestra
22 Arches

Ex Home and Abroad frontman Darrell Mitchell's current ensemble The Occasional Orchestra release their third album '22 Arches' on Big Untidy records. Indie folk with an array of unusual stringed instruments, expertly handled by guitarist Jon Taylor. A vinyl release is in the offing, allegedly. Get the CD here now though. ...view item »

Lloyd Cole
Standards

A strange thing I’ve found out recently is that people of a younger generation to me have no idea who Lloyd Cole is.  Everyone has heard of The Smiths and many The Go-Betweens and Echo and The Bunnymen...view item »

The Baptist Generals
Jackleg Devotional To The Heart

The Baptist Generals’ debut album ‘Dog’ was a John Peel favourite, back when Denton, TX seemed to be centre of the universe. Chris Flemmons’ blood- and wine-soaked voice could have quite easily been from a long-lost Lomax recording and was the definite highlight of Dog’s ultra lo-fi swamp spirituals. Sub Pop...view item »

Scout Niblett
It's Up To Emma

Here’s the sixth album from confessional indie songstress Scout Niblett, who has always provided value for money in the past with her intimate fingerpicked guitar and bold, raw vocal delivery. She’s taking things down a notch on this latest record, with most songs forgoing any kind of percus...view item »

Sam Amidon
Bright Sunny South

Putting on a singer-songwritery type record you never know whether it will be another bland piece of rubbish or something that you will enjoy and connect with. Thankfully this record by Sam Amidon veers very much towards the latter. He does nothing special, nothing so innovative you will never heard it be...view item »

The Handsome Family
Wilderness

Husband and wife duo Brett & Rennie Sparks aka The Handsome Family have been making mournful, melancholic yet beautiful music for twenty-one years now. “Wilderness” is their ninth studio album. “Wilderness” is a concept album about nature (really?) with every track nam...view item »

The Memory Band
On The Chalk (Our Navigation of the Line of the Downs)

Stephen Cracknell has been making folk inflected acoustronica (sorry!) for quite some time with The Memory Band, The Accidental and others and his records have been pleasant affairs, if at times a little straight laced. I’m pleased to see then that this reco...view item »

Denison Witmer
Denison Witmer

My initial impression of Denison Witmer's eponymous 9th studio album was that it was an okay, fairly run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter album and I was a bit surprised to find him signed to Sufjan Stevens' Asthmastic Kitty label. I'd heard stuff by him before that hadn't really grabbed me. I decided to...view item »

The Marquis De Tren and Bonnie Prince Billy
Get On Jolly

Will Oldham, or Bonnie Prince Billy, gets about like a newly-divorced alcoholic.  On Get on Jolly, his EP with The Marquis De Tren otherwise known as the Dirty Three’s Mick Turner, we once again get his wonderful delicate trembling voice alongside some recognisable base and beautiful guitar and organ....view item »

Akron/ Family
Sub Verses

Perennial live favourites and some-time Gira backers Akron/Family are back this week with their seventh album ‘Sub Verses’, yet another strident collection of loved-up psych rock, bounding in on a high note with ‘No-Room’ recalling some of their ...view item »

Colleen
The Weighing Of The Heart

The most immediately striking thing about Colleen’s new album is the new-found use of vocals. Opener ‘Push The Boat Onto The Sand’ is a gorgeous affair, the vocals joined by beautifully picked nylon strung acoustic guitars culminating in a sound which could be a feminine counterpart to the m...view item »

Barn Owl
V

Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras are pretty reliable chaps, now five albums strong as a duo they’ve yet to unleash a turkey. Yes, the title is indeed a reference to the fact that this is their fifth album and sadly not a wink to the popular 1980s television se...view item »

The Sandman's Orchestra
Nocturne

Pierre Laplace was the singer in a cool French band called Vera Clouzot. Between 1994 and 2004 they played alongside the likes of Smog and Jeff Buckley, before disbanding. Laplace then holed himself up in a home studio and taught himself to play loads of different instruments until, in May 2010,...view item »

Nicholas Chim
Forgiefan

Second album from Singapore singer/songwriter Nicholas Chim is a forlorn collection of indie/folk love songs, from the opener ‘In The End’ you can tell he wears his heart on his sleeve. Initiated by a difficult end to a relationship, Chim pours out his heart through his lyrics but the music is surprisingly upbeat. Other acoustic folk...view item »

Harper Simon
Division Street

On his eponymous debut Harper Simon sounded a lot more like his dad (that’s Paul Simon, in case you were wondering) than he does here with the exception of “Just Like St. Teresa” and “Leaves of Golden Brown”. On “Division Street” he goes for a mid-fi-on-purpose sound,...view item »

A Hawk And A Hacksaw
You Have Already Gone To The Other World

It’s a last minute rush this week getting all the reviews done and I’ve only just found out the new album from A Hawk And A Hacksaw has come in so I thought I’d write a few words about it otherwise it’d get lost in the juggernaut of releases thrown at you by the music indust...view item »

Billy Bragg
Tooth & Nail

I was surprised to find that I enjoyed Billy Bragg's "Tooth & Nail" as much as I did. It was much more my thing than I had come to expect. There are a few differences between this an his previous albums: It was recorded in the US and the lyrics are more personal than his usual political themes and therefore, musically it's more folk/country ...view item »

Devendra Banhart
Mala

Mala is great from start to finish, although for Devendra fans it's different. This represents Devendra's first effort with a high level of production. It's not folksy by any stretch of the imagination. So hardcore Banhart fans might be disappointed, but give Mala a chance. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Devendra produced this album with...view item »

Directorsound
I Hunt Alone

Sufferers from aulophobia need to be aware that there is a lot of flute work in the opening tracks to this album. Likewise if you also have fear of accordions and carefully plucked acoustic guitars, I’d stand well clear. The album is a series of complex instrumental pieces which waver in and out of focus. ...view item »

Soley
We Sink

So there we are, another Island artist. Effortless pretty, naturally savvy, and immensely talented. Sóley. She used to play piano for Seabear and the follow up project of Seabear- head Sindri Már Sigfússon, Sin Fang. And we get what we expect: lightly lingering mystic piano based tunes with an unusual voice singing a...view item »

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