In recent times “folk music” has had something of revival in both commercial and critical terms, folk light bands such as Mumford And Sons, The Lumineers and the likes of singer-songwriter Laura Marling, have perhaps helped fuel the resurgent interest in a more stripped down, rootsy sound and the success of the likes of (the all-conquering) Bellowhead and Oysterband’s collaboration with the legendary June Tabor (the critically acclaimed Ragged Kingdom), have both consolidated and widened the appeal of folk as a genre of genuine interest.
The aforementioned Ragged Kingdom received numerous plaudits from everyone from Radio 2 (winning three R2 Folk awards) to mainstream music press such as Mojo, whilst an appearance on Jools Holland propelled the veteran band’s profile even further, enhancing an already impressive fanbase.
Diamonds On The Water is The Oysterband’s follow-up to Ragged Kingdom and where that album was something of a re-immersion of traditional song, the new album see’s the band flex their songwriting muscles, their first set of originals in seven years and perhaps the band’s finest to date.
The album opens with A Clown’s Heart and instantly showcases the band’s close harmonies with a gorgeous, short acapella introduction before a combination of shuffling drums and acoustic guitars join the mix, to create a subtle, rock tinged folk complete with instantly infectious vocal hooks and a beautiful burst of mournful violin. As opening numbers go, A Clown’s Heart grabs the attention from the of and entices the listener to embrace the album further.
The aforementioned violin opens the second track and an early album highlight, A River Runs, the track opens in an almost stripped down Levellers manner before developing into a stunning, melody infused rocker, with frontman John Jones delivering a warm croon that urges repeat spins.
Highlights come thick and fast during the duration of the twelve track affair, from Spirit Of Dust with it’s soulful, soaring female vocal harmonies to the stripped down, country tinged hushed beauty of Lay Your Dreams Down Gently to the fuller, rockier sound of Palace Of Memory, with it’s galloping rhythm and powerful guitar riff laden verses and the upbeat No Ordinary Girl that once again features an instant punchy riff and a big hum-a-long chorus.
Diamonds On The Water is a fabulous album from start to finish, showcasing a band very much on the top of their form in both songwriting and performance, if you find kinship with anything on the rockier side of folk you owe to yourself to purchase the latest by Oysterband.
Rhythm & Booze 9
Emily Smith is a Scottish based singer-songwriter and traditional folk interrupter of the highest standard, since her formative years she was highly regarded, named as BBC Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician Of The Year back in 2002 as well as winning and being nominated for numerous other awards throughout her career to date.
Emily’s previous four albums have all been critically acclaimed and on the back of those successes, see has been seen gracing stages across the world taking in prestigious slots at the likes of Cambridge Folk Festival along the way.
In recent times Emily has also been seen on television for her part in the esteemed Transatlantic Sessions, BBC’s songs of praise and on a sky arts program dedicated to Emily.
After releasing a best of compilation last year, Ten Years, she returns with a brand new album that also see’s Emily returning to her love of traditional song. The album also see’s a number of high profile collaborators join to help realize Emily’s vision, with the likes of Jerry Douglas, Kris Drever and Aoife O’Donovan complimenting the gorgeous tones of Emily. Together they’ve helped form an album that weaves a majestic rootsy album that hints at both Emily’s obvious Scottish roots and perhaps more surprisingly a Nashville country twist.
The album opens with the stunning, understated Reres Hill, a beautiful yet somewhat dark ballad that instantly showcases Emily’s mesmeric vocals over a sparse, stripped down mix of plucked and sawed strings, all complimented by a distinctive country flavoured twang and half-murmered male vocals. As opening gambits go, Reres Hill is a simply jaw-dropping, intoxicating track that sends tingles down the spine and urges the listener to fully embrace the full depth of Echoes.
From such glorious beginnings, the album continues in the same rich vein with The Sower’s Song which sees delicate acoustic guitar blend effortlessly with tender heart felt vocal harmonies to bewitch the listener further. King Orfeo showcases that traditional folk/country crossover further with Emily taking a traditional song and giving it an original twist with shuffling drums and lap steel twangs creating a dustbowl Nashville feel.
The album continues on the roots trail with a murder ballad of sorts in the shape of Twa Sisters, that despite the subject matter, has quite an uplifting feel, with it’s hum along melody and effortless vocal refrain. Whilst The Open Door and the piano led, Clerk Saunders are both gorgeous slices of stripped majestic beauty, both showcasing Emily’s heart-wrenching and passionate vocal to full effect, over the spellbinding yet never obtrusive musical arrangements.
Emily Smith’s fifth album, Echoes is a bewitching album from start to finish that should become a firm favourite of roots lovers the world over, whether it’s folk, country or just a love of stripped down acoustic music there’s a great deal to embrace here.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
ANNOUNCES DEBUT UK TOUR
NEW SINGLE ‘WATER IT’ OUT 10 FEBRUARY 2014
Taken from the album Sleeping with a Stranger – UK Impact date February 24
‘Sleeping with a Stranger does all the right things in all the right places’
Tim Merricks – Americana UK.com
Christina Martin has been developing her reputation in Canada for strong song-writing and timeless story-telling via her melodic Americana/Country-pop songs over the last several years. Winner of the 2012 ‘Female Recording of the Year’ at the Nova Scotia Music Awards and an East Coast Music Award Winning artist, her song-writing reflects the emotional highs and lows that we all experience as we travel the road of life. Christina’s vocal style is romantic yet ultimately wistful, reminiscent of the music she grew up with including Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawks and Wilco.
Water It, is the lead single from her award winning album and the perfect song to introduce UK audiences to one of Nova Scotia’s most beloved musical exports. Water It reflects on the light and shade of loving relationships in its lyrics and is typical of an artist who makes observations of life her stock in trade. It’s also the perfect song to inspire us as we head into the new year with its message of ‘Come On, Step Up’ Telling us that we ‘can do anything we want to in this life!’
Christina lives out the inspiration offered in her music too, by stepping up and taking her music around the world independently. As Americana UKrecently noted, ‘she is in demand – increasingly noticeable this side of the Atlantic.’ Christina has really earned her stripes with tireless touring across Canada and more recently in Europe where audiences and publications such as Rolling Stone (Germany) have taken to her alt -country inspired kitchen table confessions.
The UK gets its first chance to see and hear Christina Martin live in concert early in 2014 when she tours in England for the first time including aLondon show at The Slaughtered Lamb. Travelling with her on this run of dates is respected guitar and lap/pedal steel player Dale Murray (The Guthries, Cuff The Duke). Murray’s playing can be heard throughout Martin’s recordings and he is an acknowledged virtuoso of the guitar as evidenced by his playing and a sponsorship from Dusenberg Guitars.
The February dates will be an ethereal acoustic/electric affair taking Christina Martin to Brighton, Cambridge and Sheffield along with other dates – 11 shows in all.
UK Tour Dates:
Wed 05-Feb Slaughtered Lamb London
Thu 06-Feb The Latest Bar Brighton
Fri 07-Feb The Stables Milton Keynes
Sat 08-Feb The Dolphin Hotel St Ives – Cambridge
Sun 09-Feb Farnham Maltings Farnham
Tue 11-Feb The Old Ship Inn Lowdham
Wed 12-Feb The Fishpond Matlock Bath
Thu 13-Feb The Met Bury
Fri 14-Feb The Launderette Durham
Sat 15-Feb The Square Chapel Halifax
Sun 16-Feb John Peel Centre Stowmarket
- Swingamajig Festival Bringing The Best Of Electro Swing To Birmingham
- Latest Line-up Announcement For Sonisphere 2014
- The Selecter/Talisman-Gloucester Guildhall 27/2/14
- Maverick Festival 2014 Announces First Names
- Haarts-Seasons Change
- No results.