FOLK

TRACES - KARINE POLWART  [from the BBC review]  In one song here the Scottish haar descends, and the actions of the man ready to “tear these dunes asunder” are obscured. Polwart's approach to Donald Trump's takeover of this coastline for a golf course never sounds earnest or needy, however, but funny and sweet, before it packs its devastating punch. This is an approach Polwart excels at, and one that underpins this album's excellence.  Traces reveals Polwart's talents as a writer, above all. Rather than sounding like a simple collection of songs, it plays like a book of short stories set to music, full of stunning nuances and depths. She paints personal memoirs in some, but always with a subtle brush.  Salter’s Road is a more sentimental eulogy to her elderly neighbour Molly, where “the cold north wind gathers her into his arms once more”.  The music lifts these stories, too. Polwart's gorgeous Stirlingshire vowels are those of a strong singer, but she lets her subjects speak for themselves, as good folk singers always intend to.  The musical landscape behind Polwart is also broader and more inventive than before, with wheezing Indian harmonium, floor percussion and field recordings adding new levels of atmosphere. It all adds up to an album that will live long, an album to live with, and live in. (Hegri Music, 2012). Click this link to see a promo...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d63Qsw_Ia0&feature=player_detailpage

CUILIDH - JULIE FOWLIS  Julie Fowlis from North Uist has a truly exceptional voice; crystal clear and capable of conveying restrained emotion in such an engaging way.  Combined with her top notch band that includes Eamon Doorley of Danu fame on Irish bouzouki, the results tend to be spine-tingling.  I first saw Julie in the Avalon tent at Glastonbury in 2008 soon after this, her second album came out, and the spell has not been broken for me since.  All the songs are in Gaelic, and on this 3-disc version of her second album range from the energetic Hug air a' Bhonaid Mhoir  to the tender Biodh an deoch on the live disc. For good measure, this traditional singer is an incredible whistle player too. (Shoeshine Records, 2008). Hard to describe the synergy in the band in words, so please enjoy this link... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgTgledCjOI&feature=player_detailpage
 

DIAMOND MINE (JUBILEE EDITION) - KING CREOSOTE AND JON HOPKINS [from the BBC review] First, a little background. Kenny ‘King Creosote’ Anderson is a Fife-based singer-songwriter and patriarch figure of a loose conglomerate of folk-inspired musicians, the Fence Collective. Architect of a good three-dozen records since 1998, mostly self-released, but some appearing on bigger labels – see 2005’s KC Rules OK and 2007’s Bombshell, which saw the light on 679 Recordings – his style is so intimate, low-key, but often surprisingly affecting songs that accrue a real emotional weight. His collaborator here on Diamond Mine is one Jon Hopkins, a graduate of London’s Royal College of Music.  Both share a taste for a rather languid tempo, that of small-town life and the more tender, bittersweet emotions; and theirs is a pairing that’s complementary, Hopkins colouring in the spaces around Anderson’s wearied voice, guitar and woozy accordion.

It starts with a splash of such colour in the shape of First Watch, a field recording of a bustling café, spare piano slowly picking its way round the clink of cutlery and the counting out of change. This segues into John Taylor’s Month Away, which ponders the sorry lot of a sailor, "With shattered boyhood dreams / And not much sleep," and it’s rendered beautifully, strummed guitar and droning accordion slowly subsumed beneath watery ambience.Aging, and its effects, is a common theme here: Bats in the Attic sees Anderson contemplating his greying temples over sparse drum pads and piano, while Running on Fumes finds him asking "So why do we bother with all this fighting / Especially at our age?" as Hopkins’ choral synths call a troubled note. You sense, though, that Anderson is the sort to sing a sad song to make himself feel better, and it all concludes with the serene Your Young Voice, which fits a familiar King Creosote mould: a paean to his daughter, sung
tenderly and gently, to fade. (Double Six Records, 2012).

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