FolkWorld #58: CD Reviews
FolkWorld #58 11/2015

CD & DVD Reviews

Run Boy Run "Something to Someone"
Own label; 2014

www.runboyrunband.com

This Americana outfit hails from the hot desert terrain of Tucson, Arizona. Yet, there is more often the mirage of the Appalachian Mountains evident in their music. They have the expected guitars, mandolins, basses, and fiddles (there are no violins here), which you expect in this light, spry instrumentation. But it is the rich tone of a cello that adds a fine layer of complexity to the proceedings. The songs are all sung with fine female vocals and often the storytelling is interesting. They are able to move beyond the expected terrain with their skills, sounds, and choices and have effectively crafted a mighty fine album here.
© David Hintz


The Shanes "Road Worrier"
Sumo Rex; 2015

Artist Video

www.shanes.de

This band will grab your attention with their fantastic pace on the opening instrumental appropriately entitled ‘Blood on the Banjo’. The rest of the original songs are all snappy western styled Americana rockers that have a bit of Pogues meets Slim Cessna style to them. There is even a cover of my old friend Grant Hart’s ‘The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill’ and I always welcome a Hart song anywhere anytime. The album tapers off a bit for me on ‘Side Two’ but many people may prefer that more straight forward approach to song writing and delivery. Try this veteran band’s eleventh album out for a spin, as you will likely like a lot of this record.
© David Hintz


Baltic Sea Child "Baltic Sea Child"
SPV, 2015

Artist Video

www.balticseachild.com

Speaking of the Pogues, take those instruments and attitudes and move further over to the Baltic before landing in Germany and you get something like this. It is of course good fun if you like this sort of thing as I do. I got a chuckle when they went into a cover of Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ and I could ‘name that tune in two notes’. There is still an Irish base to this music and the playing is clean and precise with more of a barroom presence in the vocals. There are plenty of bands to choose from in this field with Baltic Sea Child offering up enough quality with their straightforward approach.
© David Hintz


Sean O’Brien & His Dirty Hands "Risk Profile"
First Cold Press; 2014

www.seanobmusic.com

This has more of a straight rock to indie rock style working than folk, yet there are enough singer songwriter moves in mid-tempo songs, so it may fit a number of genres. The quality is pretty good in song and sound depending on the song. I prefer the more rocking songs along with a nice spacey cut like ‘Torn Down and Hauled Away’. That has plenty of atmosphere and avoids falling into the ‘sounds like everybody else’ trap that some of the slower cuts do. Overall, O’Brien and his fellow northern Californians have a decent approach that is worth following for an enjoyable time now and quite probably, some fun live shows.
© David Hintz


Deena "Rock River"
Life Force; 2014

www.deena.nfshost.com

These twelve songs cover a fair amount of ground between folk, country, and lighter indie rock. The one thread tying it all together is Deena’s cute (but not precocious) vocal work. This adds just enough pop attractiveness to allow the players to vary their styles and create the varied backdrops that are more likely to hold a variety of listeners’ attention. I liked this record a bit more than I expected as a sense of fun was maintained in a laid back manner where it felt natural throughout.
© David Hintz


The Headlocks "Most Golden Goose"
Own label; 2014

www.theheadlocks.com

Pretty good blues based rock music here. It’s tough, but smooth with a nice thick production—too thick to be considered folk in any way. And even blues traditionalists will find this to be veering more toward rock. There are some Americana roots in the slower cuts. It is all pretty solid, but even more explosive in a live setting I would imagine. But for now, there is enough to enjoy right here.
© David Hintz


RXGF "Any Other Way"
Orange Allies; 2015

www.rxgf.co.uk

Goth music can be quite catchy and this band grabs you quickly and won’t let go until the end. It is ‘just’ a trio of drums, female vocals and electronics/synth/guitar. Of course, on this recording there is a whole lot of electronics/synth/guitar to thicken the sound nicely, while the vocals steer the mystery and the melody. The drums keep it danceable and strong. It is a mix of stronger rock songs along with moodier dream pieces. Everything clicks rather well, and although not a particularly obvious fit for Folkworld, I enjoyed it.
© David Hintz


Lynn Jackson & Chris Boyne "The Acoustic Sessions"
Busted Flat; 2014

www.lynnjackson.net

As advertised, this is an acoustic affair and although these are supposedly stripped down versions of previously released Lynn Jackson songs, they have density as well as heart. Her collaborator Chris Boyne and other musicians layer on crisp guitars, strings and bass to give lots of flourish to accompany Jackson’s exquisite vocals. The songs are hearty and warm with lots of resonance that will stick to you for a long time afterward.
© David Hintz


Jan Rørdam "Stardust in your Hands"
Own label; 2015

www.janrordam.dk

If you enjoy the more gentile folk of Harvey Andrews, you may want to try out Jan Rordam. He has an easygoing voice and shares the stage with female vocals as well as a host of musicians to round out his nice acoustic guitar work. The instrumentation is solid, and although the songwriting is unspectacular, it is effective in creating a relaxed environment to focus on a few simple points to consider while drifting away to the music.
© David Hintz


Various Artists "The Finest Noise — Der Sampler Vol. 31"
Finest Noise, 2015

www.finestnoise.de

If you want to know what this German label is about, this sampler will give you a clue and then some. Nineteen different artist and they vary from indie rock to nu-metal to punk to crossover death metal-hardcore to… well, something heavy. Nary a folk chord in sight, so not terribly appropriate for Folkworld readers (aside from Ashbury Park vocalists bearing an uncanny resemblance to Mellow Candle). But as a reviewer, I need heavy and loud music to break things up so every acoustic record doesn’t start sounding the same. This did nicely. Palate cleansed, so back to the folk.
© David Hintz


Pi Jacobs "Hi-Rise Ranch"
Own label; 2015

www.pijacobs.com

Despite only six songs on this EP, you get a good taste of the Pi Jacobs sound. It is rich and fulfilling—indie rock with thick roots showing, but still with a smooth glossy delivery. All songs are original aside from the blues cut ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ which does have some of the Zeppelin moves noticeable in this version. Pretty fine songs and a solid little record we have here.
© David Hintz


Jonathan Edwards "Tomorrow’s Child"
Rising Records; 2015

www.jonathanedwards.net

I always had a certain amount of respect for the long and successful career of Jonathan Edwards. Yet aside from being a major fan of his first obscure band, Sugar Creek, I have not owned any of his music. The radio supplied some of his friendly singer songwriter folk-rock material over the years, so he was always near by. It is nice to hear a quite decent album well into his career and life. His golden voice has aged a bit, but still connects emotionally with just a breathy rasp working its way into his tones. The music is nicely varied between spirited songs and more thoughtful folkier material. All in all, this is a fine record that older folk fans will relish and younger ones should be able to enjoy as well.
© David Hintz


Janne "Is it My Time to Go and other Folk Songs"
M’Gill Hill; 2015

Artist Video

The accent, such as it is, is quite nondescript, yet the music and songwriting will take you to the winds and snows of Scandinavia. Janne is a singer songwriter from Helsinki who also plays in Transkaakko. He has crafted a strong folk album with stark guitar landscapes and pointed vocals that bear down yet flow smoothly beyond reach. This is a real gem from start to finish. Even if you do not think yourself a folk song, you may want take this one out for a spin. You just may be as transfixed as I am.
© David Hintz


Barry Kerr "Boy in a Boat"
Own label; 2015

Artist Video

www.barrykerr.com

Barry Kerr sound like an experienced player who knows his way with song construction. He has a smooth voice that has heart without being overbearing. The arrangements are nicely varied with flute, Uillean pipes, and bouzoukis all adding to usual stew of sounds. At times the music is universal in nature, while other songs take you through the rugged Irish coastal lands. Kerr knows how to convey the themes musically and with a turn of the phrase. This is a fine record.
© David Hintz


Pekko Kappi & K:H:H:L "Sanguis Meus, Mama!"
Gaea Records; 2015

Artist Video

www.pekkokappi.com

This Finnish record has some fascinating qualities to it. There is an easygoing intensity at work, as shown with a relaxed vocal style atop an edgy, earthy music. There are blues and western Americana moves, but definitely European touches in the native language and some of that magical Scandinavian air of mystery that hangs over so many fine records. There is some strange brew afoot, sort of like the ethnic diversity of War, but more in a down and dirty psychedelic blues direction. Whatever they have chosen as a base, their explorations are quite vibrant and worth a listen for the more adventurous. Another fine record from one of my favorite countries.
© David Hintz


Andy Shauf "The Bearer of Bad News"
Tender Loving Empire; 2015

www.andyshauf.com

Andy Shauf kind of snuck up on my on this album. It started simply enough with a lounge folk style that showcased on interestingly odd voice, warm but spacey. I was not thinking much when slowly the songs enveloped me with a slightly uneasy feeling even as there was much comfort within. The key word is ‘slightly’ as overall there is a good feeling with this album, but in its own quiet way, it may keep you on the edge of your seat.
© David Hintz


Sean Taylor "The Only Good Addiction is Love"
Own label; 2015

www.seantaylorsongs.com

I rather prefer my chocolate addiction, but Sean Taylor makes a good point, too. Actually he makes several good points over these eleven songs all with his smooth, slightly edgy vocal manner atop all manners of guitar moves, be they acoustic or electric. The rhythm section is top notch as arrangements are far more interesting here than on many albums. Danny Thompson is on bass for two songs—need I say more? And the guitar work shows great skill, which is sadly unusual when there is also good songwriting at work as well. All too often it is either one or the other, but Sean Taylor has it all going on for at least the best of these songs (and that is the majority of them).
© David Hintz


Mr. Love & Justice "News from Nowhere"
Homeground Records, 2015

www.mrloveandjustice.com

This started off with some dazzling instrumental flourish and a snappy folk-rock song. It ended the same way. And it is obvious where I am going with this. It is the in between… fortunately nothing bad here, just a more straightforward folk rock outing that has pop moves and gentle cuts. I should point out that this is a band from Swindon and has nothing to do with Billy Bragg, who had an album with this title. It is well worth a listen and there will be plenty of people that enjoy this from start to finish. But for me, the wonderful highlights at each end will be getting the replays.
© David Hintz


Christopher Paul Stelling "Labor Against Waste"
Anti; 2015

Artist Video

www.christopherpaulstelling.com

Those looking for excellent finger style guitarists may want to tune in to this album. But this is no basic guitar skills competition, rather an album of throaty folk songs and folk rockers, with mysterious Americana vibes aplenty, not too far removed from 16 Horsepower at times. Stelling has violins and banjos cooking up a storm as well, and there are even some complex string arrangements as well. With all of this going on, the heart of the song could get lost, but never does. And there are quieter arrangements that offer a nice variety to this album. All in all, this is one great album of 2015 and beyond.
© David Hintz


Kumbia Queers "Canta y no Llores"
Horario Invertido; 2015

www.kumbiaqueers.com.ar

There is something not quite settled about this record. The female vocals have the effect of sounding like they are not recorded at the right speed, and with the pace of the band, it is all a little fast. Musically, that is good and fun, but the vocals remind me more of the Chipmunks than the Go-Gos at times. Fortunately they take just a little time to get used to. The band is reggae based and there is plenty of their Argentinean roots in here as well. Their cover of Miserlou is quite fun and if you are looking for a new take on fun time party music, this record may be worth exploring.
© David Hintz


March to May "The Water’s Edge"
Own label; 2015

www.marchtomay.com

There are only six songs here, but that is more than enough to let you succumb to the spell of March to May. The male and female vocal combination reminds me a bit of the Balladeers, although the music is more of this era, yet there is still that deep ambiance developed. There is a light rhythm section that stays well behind the acoustic guitars and of the instrumentation gives plenty of room for the vocals to speak to the listener. The cool, wet climate of Seattle has been a backdrop for many fine bands, and March to May expresses it well in their folk and folk-rock songs.
© David Hintz


Svjata Vatra "Vabadus Svoboda (Freedom)"
Own label, 2015

Artist Video

www.svjatavatra.com

From Estonia comes this fun filled ethnic folk album. It never gets quite to the intensity and pace of gypsy punk, but it is spirited and will have you moving. The vocals have a lot of punch and the music is active and mobile. The instruments dance around each other well such as in ‘Zillja zelenen'ke (Green buds)’ with the usual accordion, guitar, bass, and drums and a wild whistle making everything even crazier. The combination of winds and string and a ‘airy’ keyboard is quite stirring and vibrant. There is also brass and other instrumentation that adds a lot of variety to the core sound. This is great toe tapping or energetic dancing fun that should move any fan of music, no matter what genre you prefer.
© David Hintz


Robbie Basho "Rainbow Thunder - Songs of the American West"
Grass-Tops Recording, 1981/2015

www.robbiebasho-archives.info

Of all the sadly out of print music, I really don’t understand why Robbie Basho’s full catalog is not out for the masses to discover and rediscover. And he’s not just a one-off oddity, as his releases number in the teens (depending on how official you want to be), starting off on John Fahey’s Takoma Records. Thanks to Grass-Tops Recordings, a treasured part of my vinyl collection is now being reissued (and my Basho vinyl ALL sold quickly). This is one of his final releases and has a balance of his traditional and esoteric moves with a leaning to the western Americana roots as the title implies. Although not quite my favorite Basho album on the whole (I would put this in about the middle), there are brilliant songs and even the Basho albums of less interest than this, blow away most of their peers. Robbie Basho was a very special artist that was able to form a stirring voice (through vocals, guitar, and piano even) that is almost impossible to replicate, yet is easily accessible and understood. Buy this and everything else you can get your hands on. Next, go after ‘Zarthus’, one of the finest albums ever and finally reissued in 2014.

www.robbiebashofilm.com
The world premiere screening of the independent documentary Voice of the Eagle: The Enigma of Robbie Basho took place as part of the Raindance Film Festival. Voice of the Eagle takes viewers on an entrancing journey into the heart of an artist's lifelong struggle. Featuring interviews with Basho's former students, contemporaries and few close friends, including Pete Townshend, William Ackerman, Henry Kaiser and Country Joe McDonald, the documentary integrates new information and anecdotes on Basho with previously uncovered visual material, alongside the majestic and spiritual landscapes that informed his work.

© David Hintz

Marian McLaughlin "Spirit House"
Own label, 2015

www.marianmclaughlin.com

As long term readers know, I have been a Marian McLaughlin fan since the early days of this blog. As a psychedelic folk and progressive folk fan, I gravitate quickly to highly original folk songwriters like Marian McLaughlin. But as an extensive collector of the genre, most do not have the originality and staying power to continually resonate with me as much as Marian has over the years. She has the ability to balance creative musical moves and song ideas with comfortable settings and extraordinary arrangements. Ethan Foote has collaborated with her on the arrangements for some time now and their partnership keeps getting better and better. There are so many memorable moves with complex string arrangements at one time, and then with lighter touches at others. At no time, does anything seem extraneous and the clarity of each song shines through. Every passage has me sitting at attention in anticipation of the next phrase or musical move. It is time for the world to share the discovery.
© David Hintz


David Celia "Double Mind"
Seedling Music; 2015

www.davidcelia.com

This is much more a classic rock album than a folk outing. There are also singer songwriter moves and ballads that are in the direction of folk from this Toronto musician. But the vocals are strong and the guitars are rocking atop a thunderous rhythm section. This simply has a big rock sound and lyrically has as much to link to the olden days of rock as well. It is also awfully clichéd, but I just can’t seem to help liking this on some level. Folkworld readers should be cautious, unless they want to rock to that old FM radio of the mid-1970s from a band that can also integrate a few indie rock moves, too.
© David Hintz


Jens Hausmann "Precious Moments"
Timezone, 2015

www.jenshausmann.de

This album contains sixteen original instrumental guitar pieces for finger style acoustic guitar. Hausmann’s skill in playing is a bit more impressive than in the writing. Nothing bad here, just good basic melodies with a touch of jazz at times, but well in control with nothing too daring. I would recommend this more for guitar purists than folk fans, but if you like the acoustic guitar, you will get that and pretty much only that here.
© David Hintz


Dawa "Psithurisma"
Las Vegas Records; 2014

Artist Video

www.dawa-official.com

Despite the exotic album title, this is quite warm folk-rock. There are delicate contemplative songs with effective male and female vocal harmonies and a few more rousing numbers more in the rock vein. The contemplative numbers worked extremely well and I would be happy listening to this many times over, especially with the droning strings sign-off after ‘Owe You’, which I had kind of hoped would go on for another twenty minutes. Interesting album, this.
© David Hintz


Andy Dale Petty "Frick’s Lament"
Voodoo Rhythm Records; 2015

www.facebook.com/...

I had to do a double take on this album title to make sure I got my spelling right, if you know what I mean. Petty is pictured on front with a banjo and back with a 12-string. Along with his voice, that is pretty much all you get here and it is all you need. He does some old timey songs along with his originals, which sound part old-timey with enough modern technique in there as well. He plays quickly and cleanly with a lovely style and even adds a touch of psychedelic feeling as well, in the manner of Jack Rose more than Ben Chasny. There should be something on here that will interest nearly everyone who is a fan of the genres covered here. Give it a listen.
© David Hintz


Blueflint "Stories from Home"
Jorock; 2015

www.blueflint.org.uk

This record works a territory between folk and country music. Instrumentally it is not terribly country, but some of the songs follow that major scale safe conclusion-seeking patterns. Instrumentally, it can go the way of a more controlled Pogues (or any decent Irish style band) with banjos and violins bringing out some interesting textures. The vocals are good and more songs are good than not. Not bad at all once you spend some time with it.
© David Hintz


Hungrytown "Further West"
Listen Here; 2015

www.hungrytown.net

Isn’t it great when an album grabs you with the first note? Well, maybe the first passage anyway, but the really great thing about this album is that it just may keep you with it through each and every song. This Vermont duo worked its magic on me with their brilliantly restrained and stylistic female vocals and male harmonies. Then there are the haunting acoustic guitars supplemented by violin and cello. Rebecca Hall sings with a classic British folk style, part Mandy Morton, part Jacquie McShee, and she nails every single line, digging deep in your psyche. There are twelve songs here and any Folkworld fan who is a true fan is going to want to listen to all of them, whether you prefer British, European, or American style, and whether you are traditional or modern. This has it all working.
© David Hintz


Jim Singleton "8 O’Clock in the Afternoon"
Own label; 2015

www.jimsingletonband.com

Jim and his band cook up the blues here. There is a bit of variety, as he will slow it down to folk ballad standards now and again. The band has a soulful touch and his guitar has that stinging sound you want in full band blues (and maybe solo blues for that matter). His voice resonates with experience and is easy on the ear. There is even a decent version of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ here. All in all, this is another decent blues record.
© David Hintz


Ray Goren "Save my Soul"
RJ Ray; 2014

www.raygoren.com

Just a five-song EP here, but that is plenty of time to realize that Ray Goren in a serious blues rocker. There is a blues base, but it is also has plenty of heavy rock action, like that kind that was going full force in the late 1960s. There is a mainstream musicality and vocal style here, but that is not altogether too bad, as some of the songs are catchy even as others are ferocious. We shall see what more becomes of Mr. Goren, because he is all of fifteen years old?! There should be plenty of fans for this.
© David Hintz



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