Roxanne De Bastion is a Berlin born, London based young singer-songwriter, who to date has already seduced the likes of Tom Robinson (6 Music), John Kennedy (XFM), Q Music and MTV with her stunning blend of acoustic folk and raw bluesy charms.
The Real Thing is Roxanne’s debut album, all recorded live in her native Berlin with the help of acclaimed producer Gordon Raphael (Strokes, Regina Spektor, etc) and it’s a stunning showcase people are beginning to fall at her alter and pay homage to one of the best up and coming singer-songwriters treading the boards.
The album opens with 1964, a beautiful acoustic folky number that frames Roxanne’s evocative and emotive voice in such a sparse yet welcoming setting, whilst lyrically her couplets are interesting and fresh as opposed to the more typical woe is me or tales of unrequainted love. From there Roxanne moves the album on with the bewitching blues of Some Kind Of Creature again accompanied with just the acoustic, the track is an infectious little romp with a delightful vocal hook that’ll instantly have your toe-tapping. The former single Red And White Blood Cells brings to mind the aforementioned Regina Spektor, it’s kooky and has an explosive finale of over driven electric guitar, shout out loud vocals and a torrent of drums. Whilst, The Life I Lead has something of an Americana feel with it’s shuffling drums and comtagious guitar licks. The album concludes with the jaw-dropping, spine tingling, emotion fuelled title track completing the proceedings with a lovely slice of finger-picking guitar and a beautiful restrained vocal that yanks at the heart strings and leaves the listener in a state of awe.
Throughout the duration of this album, Roxanne showcases a maturity and sincerity, in both her stripped down arrangements and her passionate delivery that far exceeds any expectations and indeed her fellow singer-songwriter peers. The Real Thing is somewhat aptly name because put in laymons this is the real deal, a stunning album from start to finish.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 10
Steve Folk (aka Blabbermouth or Steve Thompson) is something of the a typical singer-songwriter travelling troubadour, he regularly performs as a busker, played for a number of different charities and last summer took his boat along the canals of Kennet and Avon to play at a number of venues from London to Bristol in a bid to promote his then current album Ramble (ok to be fair most traveling troubadours don’t have a boat, but perhaps the romantic notion of the nomadic performer is not quite so rare).
As well as all that he’s found time to perform alongside the likes of Seth lakeman, Show Of Hands and the Magic Numbers to name but a few, whilst also taking in numerous festivals along the way.
Steve’s obvious passion for songwriting and performance resonates on the releases of his delightful new single Urban Fox, a lovely folky lament that not only showcases Steve’s dexterous finger picking guitar work and calming vocals but also his obvious ability as an arranger and producer to boot. Both Urban Fox and the B-side (and follow up) Home come complete with an infectious melody, whilst his upbeat deliver is somewhat invigorating in a time of dour faced, down on their luck performers, whilst the short sing along non verbal scat of the title track is a real treat.
If you fancy some upbeat, pleasant summery folk to lighten the mood you could do a lot worse than tracking down this delightful little ditty.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 7
Rose Redd is an eighteen year old singer-songwriter originally hailing from Eastbourne but now based in the West Midlands, she was raised on a varied and heady mix of music from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald to Iron Maiden via Kate Bush and soaked up every morsel to help create her own stunning mix of heartfelt pop and soul stirring roots.
Interestingly, at the tender age of twelve Rose discovered Depeche Mode and Martin Gore’s lyrics were the first to speak to her directly and inspire her to pick up a guitar and explore songwriting as a form of expression.
With this variety of influences and the help of acclaimed producer Gavin Monaghan (Editors, Scott Matthews, Robert Plant, etc) Rose began to create her vision, with debut single Perfectly Useless being the first fruit of this labour. The track is a big radio-friendly slab of pop complete with it’s infectious beats and near electronic dance synths, however unlike the majority of plastic pop crap that dominates the charts Rose possesses a couple of weapons that make Perfectly Useless stand head and shoulders above music of this ilk.
Firstly there’s the aching lyrics, an emotional tour de force that makes you really sit up, soak up and listen to every word delivered and secondly there’s Rose’s voice, a powerful and passionate delivery that simply oozes from the speakers from the very first word.
Perfectly Useless is a stunning, stirring and soulful single that literally shakes you to the core from the very first spin, as debut’s go this is jaw-dropping and it’ll be intriguing to hear what else Rose manages to deliver when the full album drops, I for one can’t wait to hear a few stripped back acoustic laments to really showcase that spine-tingling voice.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
Ron McElroy has apparently been blazing a trail, live for a number of years, performing thousands of shows collaborating with the likes of Isabella Summers (Florence And The Machine), Sian Evans (Kosheen) and Juliette Lewis among others, whilst also playing in bands such as Trouble Over Tokyo and playing guitar for Amber Bella Muse.
Somewhere along the way Ron also found time to busk across France and Spain as well as taking in numerous squats, free festivals, bars and parties.
Now after such a heavy workload as a sideman, Ron has decided to go it alone and deliver his debut single, with an album to follow later on in the year, as introductions go, World At War is solid without really grabbing you by the lapels and screaming for attention. The track is a guitar based rocker with a funk edge, whilst Ron’s vocal delivery is passionate and heartfelt, just without the necassary wow factor.
I suppose to sum up World At War is one of those tracks that you could find yourself happily nodding away to when it comes on the radio without ever finding the need to pull over, scribble down the name and download as soon as you hit home. Ron will have to really up the ante on All Her Kisses to elevate his current status as solid side man.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 6
Back in March of this year, multi award winning, singer-songwriter, Seth Lakeman performed live with the renowned BBC Concert Orchestra at the Plymouth Pavillions in Devon, the concert was recorded that night and mixed by Richard Evans and now five tracks spanning Seth’s entire back catalogue have been chosen to form a live EP.
Now anyone who has the slightest interest in folk will know all about (fiddler, songsmith extraordinaire) Seth Lakeman and how he wrote, recorded and self-released an album called Kitty-Jay, a stripped down release that instantly grabbed the attention of the public as well universal praise from all the major music media outlets, (the album went on to grab a Mercury Music Award nomination) helping establish Seth as one of the rising stars on the folk scene. Since those formative years Seth has continued to flourish as one of the must see/hear artists of the acoustic, singer-songwriter genre with subsequent albums such as the gold selling Freedom Fields and Hearts & Minds receiving all manner of plaudits.
Last year (Nov 2011) saw Seth release his sixth album, Tales From The Barrelhouse, originally as a limited run available exclusively to his fans via website, however on the opening day of release the demand was so high for the new album the site crashed and by Christmas the CD was completely sold out, so to meet demand the album was given a national release April of this year.
The new five-track affair pens with Blacksmith’s Prayer lifted from the aforementioned recent album and sets the mood wonderfully for the EP, Lakeman’s intelligent and thought provoking lyrics expressive vocal delivery and inspired musicality is complimented by the stunning, swelling sounds of the Matthew Coorey conducted orchestra, who add drama to an already compelling and contagious track. As the EP continues with the likes of Lady Of The Sea and King & Country (both from Freedom Fields) the assembled ensemble add further sweeping strings and horns to the mix whilst still managing to retain that lovely warm homely feel that weaves into each tune.
Kitty Jay concludes proceedings with a glorious multi-stringed take, on the previously stripped down rootsy affair taken from that self-made debut, the Anne Dudley arrangements and Seth’s own delivery take the track into new punchier territories assisted by thunderous omni-present percussion that just leaves you drawing breath and picking your jaw from the floor.
This live EP is an intriguing affair where we see Seth, the poet and master craftsman in a new guise as the big band leader and he manages to pull it off with some style, the expansive, powerful arrangements are mesmeric throughout, whilst Seth’s stirring delivery compels and seduces in equal measure, leaving the listener baying for more long after the five track duration.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 10
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