Island Girls – Beach Daze
Karen Tweed is a multi-faceted Piano Accordionist, Artist, Teacher, Musician and Creative and Composer who lives her inspiration through living in Orkney. Margaret Robertson is a multi-award winning Fiddle player and Pianist, Teacher, and recipient of the MBE who is inspired by her native Shetland and its people. Together they are Island Girls, and this is their debut album.
The album contains 12 self-penned tunes largely inspired by their respective islands and its inhabitants, both human and animal. Diversely presenting as jaunty or emotive, there is a joy in the upbeat that sets the toes tapping and lifts the heart. And at the same time, there are subtle and reflective moments to add depth and breadth to the album. A joyous album composed and recorded by 2 long standing and talented friends inspired by a shared love of nature, life, love, music, islands and people. A force of nature. Natural.
Dom Prag – Needle & Thread
Dom Prag has been steeped in the traditions of the classical guitar since childhood. His Dad taught him to play but he stopped having lessons at about 12, learning to play blues and composing songs of his own. The style evolved into folk music but Dom’s playing is basically classical guitar and he has never yet swapped his nylon strings for steel. His playing exploits the instrument’s bass opportunities and ranges from mellow and lyrical, to thunderous.
He delivers a challenging repertoire of songs that show a desire to fight injustice and help bring people through dark times. This second album, produced by Phil Beer was much interrupted by lockdowns but with some contributions recorded remotely and some socially distanced sessions. There are seven traditional songs and three originals written by Dom on the album. While some are solo singer-songwriter mode, several of the tracks see him joined by other musicians. Rousing, rhythmic, haunting, melodic, it’s a solid album with much to enjoy. Folkish.
Johnny Coppin – River of Dreams
Since Decameron hung up their boots in 1976, Johnny Coppin has followed the path of the classic singer/songwriter. On this collection of songs, he has help from the likes of old friend Paul Burgess on fiddle and John Broomhall on keyboards, among others, but at the heart of all this is a man with a guitar or piano singing his heart out.
Johnny has a real knack for producing memorable tunes and singable choruses, as evidenced by ‘Break Free’. A sad song with a jolly melody. While his voice has changed a little over the years, his range seems to have increased, particularly in the lower register, and there seems to be something of an edge to his voice that lends real character to his storytelling style. I doubt you will find a better writer and singer of songs that tell stories with a sense of place. Johnny is a man of Gloucestershire and proud of it. Thoughtful.
Kevin Buckley – Big Spring
Multi-instrumentalist, producer, and singer-songwriter Kevin Buckley displays the honeyed melody of his fiddle playing on this debut solo album, Big Spring. Having released 4 original albums under the name Grace Basement since the mid-2000’s, this marks Buckley’s first release to feature the fiddle, as well as original arrangements of traditional folk tunes and beyond.
Big Spring is a cross-genre fusion album featuring elements of Irish Traditional folk, Bluegrass, Tejano and Swing. Buckley’s glimmering fiddle weaves through vibrant soundscapes on tracks like ‘Sweeney’s Wheel’, ‘Hardiman the Fiddler’ and ‘Marcelle et Marcel’, tactfully threading the assorted genres in a sonic masterpiece. His buttery vocals shine on tracks like ‘Never Tire of the Road’ and ‘Miss Bailey’, where listeners find him more than at home in his folk background. Buckley’s crooner voice on ‘The Blackest Crow’ intertwines with the bouncy twang of his acoustic guitar. Sparkling.
Pawn Shop Saints – Ride My Galaxy
Jeb Barry (writer, lead vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, resonator) is the driving force behind this 10 year old band. His more recent songs have been compared to Steve Earle, Jason Isbell and Townes Van Zandt…sparse, weary songs of the darker side of life… for want of a better description …simple, fine Americana. Jeb also handles most of the band’s production and recording duties.
The goal was to create as live a sounding album as possible, aiming for spontaneity with rough edges retained to maintain that feel. Opting for a slightly fuller, more expansive sound at times, with a bigger drum sound and psych-influenced electric guitars on the likes of ‘Chevy Nova’ and ‘Wicked’, while still plying their recognisable acoustic vibe on ‘I’ll Be Missing You Again’. Mixed in with the power pop influenced ‘diane’ to the simple acoustic punk country number ‘Half Ton’, what you end up with is an eclectic mix of engaging contemporary Americana. Punkish.
Katie Spencer – The Edge of the Land
“For years, I have been fascinated by our relationship with the land and this felt like the perfect opportunity to explore that theme through music. Our essential and natural affinity with our immediate environment should not be understated or disregarded. I think that living by the edge of the land, and witnessing the tidal power of the North Sea with the constant movement of the Humber, not only moulds our dramatic landscape, but I also believe that it continues to shape the people who live there too. This is what I explore in The Edge of the Land.”
Recorded over two days, with Kate on guitars/vocals and co-producing, Tom Mason (double bass), Arran Ahmun (drums), Nathan Bray (flugelhorn) and Spencer Cozens (Steinway piano, keyboards, production). A wordsmith, her instrumental skill and the feeling she brings, together with delightful band arrangements create a sound world or journey across jazz and European art music, with respectful nods to Zep (Poor Tom), Nick Drake, Bruce Cockburn, John Martyn and Pentangle. Talented and homely.