Tapestri – Tell Me World
Tapestri is a Welsh Folk/Americana band fronted by Lowri Evans and Sarah Zyborska and this is their debut. Both played the the Welsh Pavilion stage at the 2019 Festival Interceltique de Lorient (Lorient Celtic Festival) in France, met and decided to form a female fronted band showcasing their own brand of folk, roots and Americana. Despite pandemic and living at opposite ends of Wales, they released singles, and finally performed at the 2022 Cambridge Folk Festival.
The collection of songs look at the world from a woman’s perspective, with lyrics reflecting life experiences , infused with insight, empathy and emotion – ‘Waiting in the Background’ the story of women patiently biding their time, the complex nature and impact of domestic abuse in ‘Tell Me World’, post-pandemic world in ‘Come Alive’, the bittersweet feeling of ‘hiraeth’ (longing) and being far from home in ‘Atgofion’, the all-consuming nature of love in ‘Y Fflam’ and the personal ‘Genes’, inspired by Sarah’s daughter, and ‘She’s a Lover’ inspired by Lowri’s mother! Their music is all beautifully knitted together through their innate musicality and heartfelt delivery. Regular readers will know I like to use the word gorgeous. Well their music is. The vocals are heavenly, the music arrangements superbly sympathetic, and it is music to wallow in. And let me add another word. Sublime.
Elise Boeur & Adam Iredale-Gray – Fiddle Tunes
A founding member of indie-folk band Fish & Bird, Adam Iredale-Gray is an innovative guitarist and fiddler with deep roots in Irish traditional music. Fiddler and Hardanger fiddle player Elise Boeur draws on Nordic traditions. Usually seen in the neo-folk quintet Aerialists, this is a duo set of tunes on hardingfele, guitar, and twin fiddles.
In this worldly album, Swedish polskas and Norwegian gangars twist and turn alongside Irish jigs and reels. Adam’s vigorous guitar rhythms provide the support for Elise’s fluttering, flitting, flirting fiddle. The boundary between tune and improvisation is flirted with, and counterpoint and harmony effortlessly combine – no surprise given their longevity of playing together.An american old-time tune and piece from an Icelandic jazz band complete the worldy excursions. Fluid and expressive, yet focused on the tune. These melodies which have survived centuries across cultures and continents are in safe hands. Flirty.
Ben Bedford – Valley of Stars
On this album, Bedford sings and plays his Martin guitars with David Sinko (Yo-Yo Ma, Punch Brothers) to engineer and mix it, with Ethan Jodziewicz (Aoife O’Donovan, Maya de Vitry) on bass, Chas Williams (Nanci Griffith) second guitar/dobro and Kari Floyd with harmony vocals. Ben’s other albums are Lincoln’s Man (2007), Land of the Shadows (2009), What We Lost (2012), The Pilot and the Flying Machine (2016), and The Hermit’s Spyglass (2018). In 2020 he released a curated selection of his first three albums titled, Portraits.
Bedford didn’t set out to write a concept album. In fact, all the tracks were written as individual vignettes. After completing 30 compositions during lockdown, he realized that there were threads connecting many of the tunes and that strung together in a certain order created a story arc that he hadn’t intended. He had written an adventure story, a sort of parable. Musically, this is Bedford’s most eclectic work, to date. Many of the tracks employ odd time signatures and chord voicings more often heard in Early Music, Baroque, and Jazz. There is a deep lush sound to the album and a deep thoughtfulness to the music, the performances, the concept and the whole. It’s thoughful, it’s delicate, it’s intense. It’s deep.
Annie Capps – How Can I Say this?
Contributions from over 40 artists make this am immense all-women project, including Cynthea Kelley, Maggie Heeron, Anna Frick, The Accidentals (Sav Buist and Katie Larson), Tracy Grammer, Heather Pierson, Suzie Vinnick, Telisha Williams (Wild Ponies), Jenny Bienemann, Edie Carey, Louise Mosrie Coombe, Sue Demel & Deb Lader (Sons of the Never Wrong), and more. You can read the full list at anniecapps.com.
Opening track ‘My Eden’ is a vivid image of innocence before next track ‘Learning’ viscerally paints its loss. ‘Two Different Things’ looks at our distorted sense of reality and how we relinquish our power, while ‘How Can I Say This?’ seeks its return. ‘The Punch’ looks at the idea of being ‘our own worst enemy’ and ‘My Father’s House’ reveals distant, yearning childhood memories. ‘Dirty Little Secret’ and ‘The Silent’ explore the underworld of shame, while ‘Riverbound’ is the proverbial safe hand reaching into the dark. The anthemic ‘Crowded’, with large chorus, is the uplifting realisation that we are not alone. Resolve comes to the end of the album with ‘Only Sometimes’ and ‘Yesterday’ intentionally leaving the journey unfinished. It is sonically lush, emotionally charged production. It’s emotive. It’s contemplative yet with a fighting spirit. It’s deep and yet entertainingly melodically attractive. How can I say this? Spirited.
Kelly Bayfield – Wave Machine
This album is co-written, co-produced and co-recorded with David Edward Booth. The album also sees the appearance of guest musicians, including the late Paul Sartin, Phil Beer, Beth Porter & Ben Please, Toby Shaer, Nick Zala-Webb, Ruth Wall and Scott Neubert (Nashville) alongside collaborations with artists in Sweden, where the album was mastered by Joe Vegna.
Kelly Bayfield brings a perfect blend of classic Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter and folk singing traditions from both sides of the Atlantic. Her pure voice is unmistakably English, but finds itself equally at home with Americana, jazz, pop or country. The songs gathered on this album arrived at some of the most significant points of her life, beginning with the birth of her children and ending with the death of someone incredibly dear to her, her family, and many others. The subsequent recording process was particularly poignant; each song, once complete, becoming a healing life marker in the dark and uncertain personal and global landscape. Comforting.
Archie Churchill-Moss – Ph(r)ase
Archie Churchill-Moss, one half of award winning duo Moore and Moss, band member and sideman, has released his debut solo album PH(R)ASE, recorded live over 4 days. He’s a diatonic button accordion player from Somerset who grew up immersed in English and French traditional dance music. Playing a custom layout (three-row, eighteen-bass) VanderAa accordion, he challenges what most would think of as possible on the instrument. In recent years he has found himself in demand as a session player and collaborator with many acts from the UK folk scene (including Eliza Carthy, Cara Dillon, Sam Kelly, Jim Moray & more).
This is a collection of his own compositions which are the culmination of many
years playing, writing and touring and, he says, is to ‘explore the various tonal centres his accordion is capable of navigating’ – using composition for the instrument as a tool for developing new playing techniques. While Archie’s tunes often follow familiar northern European dance tune forms, they harbour serious harmonic and melodic exploration and adopt a broad aesthetic lens which builds on tradition. It is wholly modern yet bathed in history. It has the lilt, groove and joy so associated with such music. Lovely.
Polly Paulusma – When Hot Violent Pitch Words Hurt
‘When Hot Violent Pitch Words Hurt’ is the sister album to her recent release ‘The Pivot On Which The World Turns’. The album is also an anagram of the original release and includes demo, acoustic, live and alternative versions of songs from the album. So go back to my review in January and remind yourself.
John Blek – Until the Rivers Run Dry
This is the eighth studio album, recorded over 10 days in early 2022, produced by John and long time collaborator Brian Casey at Wavefield Recordings, Clonakilty, Ireland. The record features vocals by Cathy Davey and strings by Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames) as well as Kit Downes on piano, Davey Ryan on drums and Chris McCarthy playing double bass.
He paints aurally with inspired clarity and a vivid picture, and this is a substantial and sophisticated sounding record to date, filled with Boo Hewardine songwriting skill, McCartney moments, Scott Walker swagger. The soaring strings often evoke Spektor, chamber pop backing vocals full of indie spirit paired with a blend of electronic and acoustic drums. But at the heart of the record is Blek’s profound and poetic alt-folk songwriting. It is clear he is an artist who is eternally developing his impressive style with a fierce independent spirit at the heart of everything he does. Smooth.