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Folk / Country / Singer-songwriter

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Laura Marling
I Speak Because I Can

"I Speak Because I Can" is Laura Marling's second album and arguably her best. Released in 2010, I view this as a massive step forward from her 2008 debut "Alas, I Cannot Swim", which did show that she had something special. I still think "Ghosts" is one of her best songs, However, she seems more consistent and confident in her performance here....view item »

Lawrence Arabia
The Sparrow

I can’t help but feel that this Lawrence Arabia (surely not his real name!) is rather in thrall to David Byrne, both with and without his Talking Heads. And I don’t mean that in a bad way either, because this guy&rsquo...view item »

Silver Jews
Early Times

Led by David Berman, the man with the blackest beard in the whole of the western world, its strange to think that The Silver Jews were pre-Pavement and even stranger to hear early ‘hit’ ‘Canada’ now with the benefit of the hindsight of what came later. It sounds like t...view item »

Sun Kil Moon
Among The Leaves

The last two Sun Kil Moon albums,the drifting Spanish guitar-led 'Admiral Fell Promises' and the lengthy devastating paean to love and loss 'April', were in my opinion the greatest two albums of Mark Kozelek's long career. And t...view item »

King Creosote
I Learned From The Gaels

Seemingly the only person in the world to actively dislike KC's collab with John Hopkins it's going to be hard for me to drum up much enthusiasm here, his music does absolutely nothing for me and this record isn't going to cha...view item »

Jeffrey Lewis
A Turn In The Dream-Songs

Everybody's favourite no wave, comic drawing, indie rock dude returns with a new album that picks up where his last “proper” LP “Em Are I” left off. This record was recorded on an analogue tape machine in England. Its' a sweet album. It doesn't have the spattering b...view item »

MV & EE
Space Homestead

Just imagining the space house on the sleeve shuffling along like Howl's Moving Castle...so easily distracted.Here's some hazy and laid back American porch folk sounds. F...view item »

yellow6
Melt Inside

New CD from Yellow 6 on Make Mine Music. This is really nice. There's much more going on than on previous releases. The first track has dreamy guitars, echo-laden piano and spoken word female vocals. And there's the major change with what has come before for Yellow 6 - the addition of vocals by Ally Todd which a appe...view item »

yellow6
Cut

I've actually had to swap to avoid getting even more folk music. This is the latest installment in the Yellow 6 canon and this is now thee 10th(!) album. The first track is absolutely beautiful. Haunting guitar explorations building up nicely with nicely effected guitars adding to the intoxicating brew.  The rest of the album follows a ...view item »

M. Ward
A Wasteland Companion

So A Wasteland Companion, at least initially, seems determined to continue the ideal of Ward as a new classicist in American pop music, deconstructing the sounds of the past and re-imagining them in the present to create something fresh. Leading single "Primitive Girl" transports you into an exciting flurry of folk/pop/rock with dazzling piano, ...view item »

Skinny Lister
Plough & Orion / If The Gaff Don't Let Us Down

Heard this vinyl single was released a year or two back for record store day. Had given up hope of finding it until a search lead me to Norman records. At a brilliant price of £1.99 I couldn't resist. It arrived having being sturdily posted & in perfect condition. The vinyl itself is packaged in a Canvas bag with the cover artwork prin...view item »

Cold Specks
I Predict A Graceful Expulsion

This is a smoky, soulful, haunting debut from Al Spx, the pseudonym of the Canadian singer behind Cold Specks. Her voice is amazing; I would love to hear her belting out some gospel, there is also a nascent fragility in her voice which makes it all the more appealing. Everything here is a quite low-key, although...view item »

Cold Specks
Blank Maps / Winter Solstice

This is kind of minimal dark soul, in fact main Cold Speck Al Spx describes it as 'doom soul'. The main track is a slow burner, her distinctive voice is underlaid by various instruments slowly building but never reaching a crescen...view item »

James Blackshaw
Litany Of Echoes

I've been thrusted James Blackshaw's new CD 'Litany of Echoes' to try & decipher for you lot into meaningless words. Elvis Costello once said that writing about music was a pointless exercise & when it comes to describing this man's extraordinary talent the old snipe was dead on. Both Phil & I are big fans so now is the time for me to b...view item »

Plankton Wat
Spirits

So this is the debut album (proper) from Eternal Tapestry man Dewey Mahood (where do they get those names?), following several limited CDr type releases on the likes of ...view item »

These Trails
These Trails

These Trails were a duo made up of couple Margaret Morgan and Patrick Cockett. This eponymous outing was the only material they recorded. It was recorded in Hawaii where they lived. Listening to the album, I can only imagine that this is folk music is influenced by their surroundings. It’s kind of organic, beautiful and uplifting. ...view item »

Six Organs of Admittance
RTZ

I've wanted to seriously check Six Organs of Admittance for a while now. To drown out the boss muttering curses about our supposedly slack warehouse pulling prowess & general incompetence about town, I've placed our aged, dilapidated headphones on my fatted head to indulge myself in RTZ, a lavish reissue of his 4 track demos and obscure excursi...view item »

Various
Oh Michael, Look What You've Done: Friends Play Michael Chapman

Having seen Michael Chapman play a few weeks ago I'm all of a sudden a fan of his (and it looks like I've converted Phil too!). He really is a superb performer, straddling the line between Jack Rose-like finger picking and more traditional singer songwriter type stuff. Now in his seventies...view item »

Hiss Golden Messenger
Poor Moon

According to the press release this guy/band is endorsed by none other than Saint David of Bowie himself, which pretty much doubled my expectations upon spinning this beautifully packaged platter - not to mention that he's accompanied on this record by members of just about every current ...view item »

Jack White
Blunderbuss

Still keeping himself busy then and seemingly not content with playing on, producing, releasing and personally distributing to the stores every single record made by everyone from Tom Jones to ...view item »

Hush Arbors
Alive

It's been three years since Keith Wood's last Hush Arbors release, so here's a very welcome double LP comprising two live sets. The first was recorded solo in Sheffield in '07 and was originally put out as a super-limited CDr release. It's terrifically pretty so it's nice to see that it's been pressed on vinyl n...view item »

Alexander Tucker
Third Mouth

I love this guy. Well, when I say love I don't want to have his kids or owt but... actually I'll start again. I love this guys music. I've been hooked since Old Fog and when someone finally releases that on vinyl I'll be well happy! His last album Dorwytch (his Thrill Jockey debut) was a total work of genius and if you didn't pick up a copy then...view item »

Smoke Fairies
Blood Speaks

The opening track on this much more fully realised album by the once-folk minstrels sounds so much like someone else it's driving me crazy. It doesn't rock as such but it's nicely upbeat. They now inhabit a sound which could be said to be somewhere between Sandy Denny, Kate Bush and class...view item »

Deer Tick
Divine Providence

Anyone in the mood for some raw sounding country rock? I'm new to these guys. I'm only three minutes into the first song and I'm sure that's Jools Holland playing boogie woogie in the background. Not a great start! John McCauley has one of those gravelly drawly voices that you'll love or ...view item »

Willis Earl Beal
Acousmatic Sorcery

Willis Earl Beal is hot shit, folks. He's the latest plucked from homeless obscurity dude to be marketed direct into your ears. Is his record any good? Well, it's a bit nuts, I'll give you that. I was surprised by how lo-fi the recordings were it being on XL. I was expecting some hi-fi so...view item »

Drywater
Backbone Of The Nation

I do not have the reissue, but I do have an original copy of this LP. It is a great recording, a time capsule. I was so excited to find an original pressing of this gem a few weeks ago in a charity shop in Sharon, Pennsylvania, the same town the album was recorded and released from. I will end up selling this to raise some money, but I will be g...view item »

Justin Townes Earle
Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

I've not been the most ardent follower of Justin Townes Earle, but I've enjoyed Harlem River Blues quite dearly. This here album seems very much like one of those 'point in time' records ... an artist writes some songs pertinent to his current mental state, goes into the studio with a backing band he just assembled, and knocks out a 'live in the...view item »

Mairi Morrison & Alasdair Roberts
Urstan

As Alasdair Roberts's career progresses he seems to be further entrenched in the rich history of Scotland's folk music and its Gaelic traditions. On this album he's aided by Mairi Morrison on vocals who sings in Gaelic and is from the Isle of Lewis which is miles away from here. Alex Neil...view item »

Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang
Island Brothers

Seemingly impervious to criticism despite regularly sounding like a Bob Seger B side, Bonnie Prince Billy unleashes another slab of his classic rock on my aching ears. The first few minutes is your regular countrified stagger with choral vocals, Neil Young's guitar sound and Jools Holland's piano trills which takes an abrupt ...view item »

Joanna Newsom And The YS Street Band
The YS Street Band EP

JOANNA NEWSOM & THE YS STREET BAND! (good Springsteen gag) Here she is again our helium filled heroine this time with a band in tow. Sounding medieval she skips over the harp and vocals like a sprite on fast forward. It really does capture a wonderful moment in time and I'm totally sucked into the period drama. Track 2...view item »

Sore Eros
Know Touching

I had a dream last night that I owned a rabbit and I went away for the weekend and forgot to feed it. When I got back it had been forced to eat its own ears. So is it just a coincidence that I get the new Sore Eros album to review? (boom boom!). Its currently playing and what I'm thinking about is this:- isn't The Wire's so called 'hypnagogic' p...view item »

Sharon Van Etten
Tramp

Don't recall hearing Sharon Van Etten's previous two LP's though I have packed quite a few copies so it's fair to assume she's a popular young lady. 'Tramp' is her first LP for Jagjaguwar and boasts The National's Aaron Dessner as producer and Zach Condon (Beirut), Julianna ...view item »

Daniel Rossen
Silent Hour / Golden Mile

Daniel Rossen's name will no doubt be recognisable to those of you familiar with the work of Grizzly Bear or Department Of Eagles. 'Silent Hour / Golden Mile' is a six track collection that sees Rossen indulging the possibilities afforded to the solo artist. Here Rossen takes the sum of w...view item »

Luke Roberts
The Iron Gates At Troop and Newport

How many lonesome singer songwriters does it take for someone to figure out that we don't need any more of them?  I'm not sure if there is an upper limit but if there was some kind of cull then Luke Roberts would be on the right side of the cut. He peddles a kind of back porch melanch...view item »

Suborno
The Instrument

According to its press release, this LP is based around theatrical improvisational techniques. I'm genuinely uncertain as to what that means in the context of the music and what the difference is between those and musical improvisational techniques but what I can tell you is that this alb...view item »

Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon
The Trees, The Sea in a Lunar Stream

Here's a long overdue new thing on Ireland's super Rusted Rail label (or maybe I just haven't been paying attention). In lovely handmade arigato packaging and containing a 12 track bonus CD (I mean what else could you ask for?). The music is mysterious home spun folk music. Long drawn out dusty distant songs that at times recall a more p...view item »

Yva Las Vegass
I Was Born In A Place of Sunshine

Apparently Yva is a motherfucker says the press release. Bit harsh possibly when you're trying to get folks to buy the record? Who wants to buy a record by a motherfucker? Well this particular MF used to be in Sweet 75 with Krist Novoselic of Nirvana fame. They never took off as you well k...view item »

Barzin
Notes to an Absent Lover

Barzin have a rather splendid and lovely new long player out on Monotreme on LP and CD. 'Notes To An Absent Lover' really grabbed my attention when we played the promo copy. Now my personal tastes are often light years away from singer songwriter stuff but every now and then something will come along and stand out. This is one of those records. The...view item »

Liam The Younger
Clear Skies Over Black River

Is there a mid-point between Jeffrey Lewis and Will Oldham? If there is then this guy surely inhabits it.  He has that sorta nerdy narrative style of Mr Lewis at times but seems to be more at home singing about rivers and rural back porch worries than city and social anxiety.  It...view item »

Portraits
Portraits

Phil described this as a star studded supergroup. I mean how can a record that features not only the guy from Tarentel but also some Barn Owl and Date Palms people be described as anything but? The first track opens with a kind of didgeridoo noise that sounds like its been created with th...view item »

Mike Wexler
Dispossession

On first listen, this is very lovely stuff - we'll see, over time, whether its pleasures are passing or permanent. For now, though, Wexler's sounds to me are not too unlike, say, Nick Drake taking the vocal spotlight on a John Martyn album circa 1973. But more than either of thos...view item »

Bowerbirds
The Clearing

Bowerbirds are a band I've paid scant attention to in the past. This is no reflection on the quality of music produced by the group, more it's a case of there's only so many hours in the day. Now on their third album for Dead Oceans, Bowerbirds purport to have produced their most conside...view item »

Cass McCombs
WIT'S END / Humor Risk

If you've heard the past album, then trust me that this one is just about as good, but you may find the listening experience different. It's a little quieter and dirge-like, not as hook-laden, and the average song is longer, the last one being over nine minutes. I did find the vocal lines to get repetitive in many parts, as they often followed m...view item »

Jennifer Castle
Castlemusic

The signs aren't good on opener 'Summer (for PLC)' which drifts along with the word 'summer' in every line which grates on these ears, as does Castle's voice on 'Neverride' which just a little too Newsom for me but things really come together on 'Powers' which is a gorgeous slice of atmos...view item »

Palace Music
Lost Blues & Other Songs

It's difficult to imagine anyone starting to listen to Will Oldham's work with this collection of singles, rarities and live recordings. There is some feeling of flow to the arrangement of songs but it feels like a collection rather than an album. This all probably sounds like a criticism but it's not, it just means that this is more of a fan re...view item »

Yair Yona
World Behind Curtains

Think we've had a 7” in by finger-picking super genius Yair Yona before. This guy is an absolutely killer guitarist and it's all the more surprising due to the fact that he's an Israeli-born composer who seems to have mastered what I'd consider to be a strictly American style. Inspire...view item »

CocoRosie
La Maison De Mon Reve

RECORD OF THE WEEK . Oh God almighty its here. I forgot all about this  - CocoRosie on Touch and Go. This is fecking incredible. Its two ladies from Brooklyn, New York one of whom apparently kisses Devandra Banhart. Obviously some saliva has passed through or something because she sings just lik...view item »

Ali Whitton & The BrokeRecord Players / Sarah Williams & The So Called Friends
Split

Ali Whitton & The Broke Record Players have a split with Sarah Williams & The So Called Friends. This is acoustic singer songwriter gubbins with a very slight country element that may well appeal to fans of The Young Republic and that sort of thing. 12" on Wakey's Louder Than Bombs. ...view item »

Immigrant
No Refuge

The new album from Immigrant is quite a gentle offering...which is exactly what I thought it was gonna be like. After all I do know about every artist working in the UK at the mo.Which comes in handy as Immigrant doesn't seem to exist on the old interweb. I typed in Immigrant and the only band called Immigrant th...view item »

Karl Culley
The Owl

Oh, I do like a nice owl, me. Always a sucker for the owls. On this CD, Karl Culley offers up 11 tracks of his relaxing singer-songwriter outpourings, with his fairly high-pitched voice kind of reminding me of Dave Brock from Hawkwind in their folkier moments, weirdly enough. That aside t...view item »

Jim Johnston
Voyage Of Oblivion

Funny the things you come across when you work at Norman Records. Jim Johnston used to sing in Bristol's sorta trip-hop pioneers Monk And Canatella whose 'Who's Who?' single for some reason became part of my life for a brief period around the end of the 90's - probably due to their associ...view item »

Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny
Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose

If Willy Wonka was from Newcastle and like, changed gender this would be the first album- Yours truly, cellophane noise is akin to being inside a circus tent while its raining outside .There are musical tumblers jugglers and High-wire acts with Beth Jeans Houghton as Ring-mistress - very much in control but now and again letting the more...view item »

King Creosote And Jon Hopkins
John Taylor's Month Away

Try as I might, I'm just not overly keen on this King Creosote and Jon Hopkins album that has been lauded by everyone, everywhere it seems. I certainly can't hear the Talk Talk influences that have been bandied around. This is not at all to say its awful, Quite the opposite - its very pl...view item »

Wilco
Wilco (The Album)

Wilco the band's 7th studio album is "Wilco" the album and it opens with "Wilco" the song. It's an almost "Lady Madonna" style stomp. This is not their best and there aren't a great deal of outstanding moments, but to my mind, as it's a Wilco album it is naturally of a decent standard. There's a nice 1970s warmth to the whole thing. "One Wing" a...view item »

The Asa Hawks
Roadkiller EP

The lead track on this EP from Leeds alt-country types Asa Hawks is really reminding me of the Pretenders. They have that same kind of melodic straightforwardness to them. After that they strip things back down to more of a country feel, with added banjo (and I think I hear a bit of under...view item »

Barry Adamson
I Will Set You Free

There is a lot to like on I Will Set You Free. Barry Adamson does not disappoint with this eclectic group of mostly hard-charging tunes. My favourite cut is The Sun and the Sea, but I also like the driving, grinding Get Your Mind Right which is at times evocative of the Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man; The Power of Suggestion with it's thump...view item »

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