Multiple Norwegian Grammy Award winning artist Ane Brun´s new album, ‘Leave Me Breathless’ will be released on October 6th on Balloon Ranger Records. The album is her seventh studio release and most personal yet given that it consists of fourteen cover versions.
Love and romance have never been themes Ane Brun has shied away from, her songs frequently overflowing with candid, confessional insights. Nonetheless, Brun confides, “the whole project started with me falling head over heels with someone new. I recorded cover songs for this person because, quite simply, I was overwhelmed by emotions. The love story was short, but, when it ended, I continued the project. The original idea had been to interpret love songs, romantic songs, but, in the end, there are a few with other themes as well.”
‘Leave Me Breathless’ features intimate versions of classic works from Foreigner, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Elvis Presley, The Righteous Brothers, Mariah Cary, Nick Cave, Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell, Sade, Mariah Carey and many more.
Cahoone readies for first full-band tour in 5 years!
We’re very excited to announce that Sera Cahoone is heading out on tour this September! This past year has seen her touring with the likes of Tift Merrit, Son Volt and Gregory Alan Isakov but now she’s ready to strike out on with her full band in tow to support From Where I Started.
We had some wonderful press for the album including the NPR First Listen Stephen Thompson wrote up here and CBC’s First Play here. This fantastic interview on Uproxx, a glowing No Depression review, this piece on LGTBQNation referencing the interview Cahoone had with Jewly Hight for NPR’s Songs We Love, Elle Magazine’s ’10 Best New Songs’ of March and a great American Songwriter piece. Beyond that Sera’s album received high praise from the Bluegrass Situation, Saving Country Music, Curve Magazine, KEXP, Paste, The Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, Seattle Weekly and a ton more.
The world of American roots music is no stranger to Seattle songwriter Sera Cahoone. Even though her last three albums were on Sub Pop Records and she spent years at the top of the indie charts, she’s always had a streak of Americana that ran through her music, a love of the humble folk song that bolstered her art. She’s returning now to these earliest influences with her new album, From Where I Started (to be released March 24, 2017). Growing up, Cahoone first found her voice in Colorado dive bars, backing up old blues musicians at age 12 on the drums. Her father, a Rocky Mountain dynamite salesman, took the family along to mining conferences and old honky-tonks in the state. The sounds she heard there—the twang of country crooners, cowboy boots on peanut shells—have stayed with her all the way to Seattle, where she lives now, and the seminal indie rock bands she’s been a part of in the city (Carissa’s Weird, Band of Horses).
To make From Where I Started, her first new album since 2012’s Dear Creek Canyon, Cahoone traveled south to Portland to work with producer John Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson, Alela Diane). Askew brought together key Portland musicians like Rob Berger (Iron and Wine, Lucinda Williams), Dave Depper (Death Cab For Cutie) and Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) with Cahoone’s Seattle bandmates – Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray) and Jason Kardong (Son Volt, Jay Farrar). The band lays a deep bedrock beneath Cahoone’s songs, supporting her arcing vocals and innovative guitar and banjo playing. The album is driven by a strong rhythmic sensibility, owed to Cahoone’s background as a drummer for indie rock bands. “A lot of my songs start as a beat, I add guitar, then lyrics at the end,” she says. “When I write songs I usually sit at my drum kit playing both drums and guitar at the same time.”
From Where I Started plays on the rougher, darker edges of the traditional love song. Like any good country album, the songs here deal with love and loss, but Cahoone also knows how to surround loss with hope, to temper a sad song with a turn in the major key. The optimism of the love song “Up To Me,” buoyed by fingerpicked guitar and banjo, gives way to the weary resignation of “Taken Its Toll,” with its plaintive pedal steel and echoing vocal harmonies. “Ladybug,” is a poignant song that followed the tragic death of Cahoone’s cousin Tawnee.
From Where I Startedrepresents a refocusing for Sera Cahoone. It positions her as a songwriter beholden to the old country sounds she grew up with, a songwriter who’s always been able to deftly translate a personal perspective into a universal view. It’s an album about falling in and out of love, finding new hope, and learning that the best way to move forward is to remember whereyou began.
As spring flashes in, this album heralds the season with astonishing power. Lisa Knapp has long been a fascinating folk artist: an ex-raver and Radio 2 folk award-winner who makes traditional songs sing, even as she experiments wildly with the sounds and textures around them. On her third album, Knapp takes 12 tracks on dazzling, occasionally frightening journeys. Hooting owls and Radio Ballad-like descriptions of rituals give opener The Night Before May a sinister edge, while Staines Morris’s thundering rhythms are full of lust, earth and glee (aided by a mischievous cameo by Current 93’s David Tibet). A tender, sparse duet with long-time folk-lover Graham Coxon, Searching for Lambs is another highlight, while Knapp’s voice throughout is a relevation, both pure and wild, springing free. Cuckoos, whirring clocks and buzzing flies add extra layers to this fascinating soundworld, on an album overflowing with warmth, light and waywardness.
Lisa Knapp was hailed as one of Brit folk’s brightest new young stars when she appeared as if from nowhere with her stirring, passionate debut album, Wild and Undaunted, in 2007. Yet by then Knapp was already over 30 and married with a small daughter, having discovered folk music relatively late after spending her teenage years going to raves and dancing to hip-hop records. A distant relative of Boris Karloff, she was raised in South London by a single mother, took violin lessons as a child, and played in the school orchestra. She discovered folk music in her early 20s after discovering Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Shirley Collins and the Waterboys through a friend’s parents’ record collection, and started attending the Court Sessions folk club in Balham, South London. She also started trawling second-hand record shops for old folk records, dug out her old violin from the loft, had lessons from Peter Cooper and joined the folk club’s local house band. She became immersed in the London-Irish session scene and, inspired by hearing Irish “sean nos” singers, started singing floor spots in folk clubs. Successful spots at Redditch Folk Festival encouraged her to take her music more seriously. She was contemplating a professional career when diagnosed with a non-functioning pituitary adenoma. After various scans, specialists decided only to operate if the tumor grew. Around the same time, Knapp met Gerry Diver, a versatile Irish musician who’d previously played with the band Sin E. Knapp sang two songs, “The Blacksmith” and “Bonnie at Morn” on Diver’s solo album, Diversions, in 2002. They married and in 2003 their daughter Bonnie was born. The combination of motherhood and health worries put her music career on hold again until producer Youth heard her version of “The Blacksmith” and asked if he could remix it to include a compilation album he was working on called What the Folk.
On the back of it Youth asked her to record an album of contemporary songs, but Knapp had been totally immersed in English traditional music since attending a residential course in Gloucestershire run by Chris Wood and had her own ideas: she wanted to make an album of traditional songs. With Gerry Diver as co-producer, engineer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist, the end result was the Wild and Undaunted album. Predominantly comprising traditional English material, with a couple of original songs of her own, the album had an immediate impact and a series of enthusiastic reviews. Knapp’s unusually charged singing was redolent of old singers like Shirley Collins and Anne Briggs, yet the modern arrangements and subtle use of technology also hit a chord with young audiences. Equally impassioned live performances fronting a trio and switching from fiddle to banjo and autoharp enhanced her reputation further.
PHOEBE LEGERE fronts a family-friendly ensemble that blends elements of Americana, Cajun, New Orleans jazz, country, folk and blues into a spicy gumbo. A standard bearer of the Acadian-Cajun renaissance, Legere is descended from one of the original Acadian families in North America. Phoebe Legere plays seven instruments. She is an award-winning accordion player, virtuoso piano player, a rural folk blues guitar stylist, and an award-winning songwriter.
Phoebe Legere has released fifteen CDs of original and traditional music. Legere’s 2015 ACADIAN MOON was added to over forty radio stations in Canada. Her new full length album is called Heart of Love. It ships to college radio this week.Legere blurs the lines between music composition, visual art, performance, community organizing and political activism. Legere has appeared on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, ABC, NBC, PBS and Charlie Rose.She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and at the Congrés Mondial Acadien. In 2014 Phoebe, received the prestigious Acker Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2015 Legere appeared on HBO’s documentary IT’S ME HILARY which was produced by Lena (Girls) Dunham. Her original song Hip Hop Frog, a humorous but deeply serious environmental song,was licensed by HBO and will be on her new album.
As a teenager Legere was signed Epic Records as a songwriter. She opened for David Bowie on his National Tour in 1991. She led highly influential downtown bands, from Monad to 4 Nurses of the Apocalypse to her nine piece swing-punk outfit Swingalicious. After the spectacular college radio success of “Marilyn Monroe” (Island Records), and her appearance in numerous underground films Legere turned her attention to avant-garde classical music. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her work with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. Legere has had six of her original plays with music produced in New York City. She has two upcoming commissions: Theater for the New City (2017) and Dixon Place (2018)
Ms. Legere studied jazz with John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Phoebe graduated from Vassar College, studied composition at the Juilliard School, studied piano at the New England Conservatory, and film scoring, orchestration and jazz arranging at the NYU Graduate School of Music Composition. She studied composition with John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Morton Subotnick, Wayne Oquin and Dinu Gezzo. She also studied jazz arranging with Ira Newborn and Rick Shemaria.
This highly regarded “musicians musician” has said that the death of the record business is a much needed correction. “Right now musicians have a golden opportunity. For the first time we can shape our own careers. Musicians are no longer the slaves of music corporations. We are free to invent the music we hear in our hearts today, and invent new ways to deliver it to the listeners of tomorrow.”
The New York Times raved: “Legere plays the piano with enormous authority in a style that encompasses Chopin, blues, ragtime, bebop and beyond, and she brings to her vocal delivery a four octave range, and an extraordinary palette of tonal color and meticulous phrasing.”
This “multi-keyboard, vocal wizard” (CBS) has been compared to “Beethoven” (Paper Magazine) “Edith Piaf” (Stephen Holden, NY Times), “Frank Zappa” (Billboard) “Dorothy Donegan” (John Wilson,NY Times) “Dorothy Parker” (Ruddy Cheeks, The Phoenix) “Jerry Lee Lewis” (Proctor.Lippincott, NY Times) and “Bobby Short” (LIz Smith, NY Daily News). Washington Post called Phoebe Legere “Mick Jagger with an accordion.” and Timeout called her “the Sexiest Accordionist on the Planet.”
Sweat flies and floorboards tremble – Union Duke is a Toronto folk quintet with an explosive live show. Bridging soulful indie rock with bluegrass and country, the group belts out soaring harmonies with three, four and even five voices. The songs are irresistible, the perfect fit for the heatwave of the dance hall or the cool breeze of the park. These five guys have been making a commotion in one way or another since they were kids, and years of making music together have brought them to this: a heartbreak of twang and a bootshake of rock and roll. Union Duke is two fifths city, two fifths country, and one fifth whiskey.
For their third record, Golden Days, Union Duke recorded live off the floor to capture the raw, joyful energy of their concerts. Then they brought in Grammy award-winning mix engineer Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Basia Bulat, Timbre Timber) to bring the mixes to life. Golden Days will take you back to your warmest memories: nights by the lake, passing a bottle around the fire, or singing with your friends at the top of your lungs. It also looks forward, reaching for those long, lazy summer days that will keep you going through the winter. It’s a record of pain and struggle, lessons learned – and of laughter between friends, tenderness between lovers. One minute you’re following banjo music rambling down a country lane. The next minute you feel the pulse and pound of the amplifiers.
The band works hard, travelling back and forth across the country playing to fans young and old from coast to coast. They’ve played sold out shows where crowds know all the words. They’ve performed at countless festivals including TURF, Mariposa, and Summerfolk, topping the list of must-see acts. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and they leave every audience smiling – maybe the golden days aren’t so distant after all.
We are very excited to announce that The Reasonant Rogues music video for ‘Long Way to Galway’ premiered today on The Boot! The song was inspired by a train trip the duo took through Eastern Europe and eventually all the way to Galway.
American folk music has always had a populist perspective, a vision of music made by the people, for the people. Asheville, North Carolina roots band The Resonant Rogues know this well, for they’ve traveled the byways and highways of America, even crossed the water to Europe and the Mediterranean with instruments and songs in tow. Anchored by the songwriting duo Sparrow and Keith Smith, the Rogues have shared songs with train-hoppers in New Orleans, busked on the streets of Budapest, learned Turkish Romani dance in Istanbul, and marched in protest in the hills of Appalachia. Throughout, the stories they’ve heard and the people they’ve met have fueled their music, which abounds with influences like Eastern European Romani brass bands, New Orleans street jazz, old-time stringbands, Woody Guthrie anti-fascist folk, French jazz manouche, and Middle Eastern rhythms. It’s not easy to pull off such a bold combination of genres, but The Resonant Rogues learned this music in person from the people who created it, so they have a tie to each tradition and a working knowledge of what this music means to the ordinary people that make this music every day. It’s a tintype view on the modern world, a cracked image that reflects the past through a prism of the future.
The most satisfying Old-time sounds are the ones that hit you straight as an arrow. It’s the fervently rendered tune that transports you to another time and place, but doesn’t allow you to forget that the players are fashioning a deep groove right here and right now. It’s the honest, uncompromised blending of voices in harmony, never watered down by flashy production or a motivation beyond breathing new life into old stories and songs.
This purity of presence is the bread and butter of straight-shooting stringband The Bucking Mules. On their new full-length album “Smoke Behind the Clouds” (April 2017, Free Dirt Records), the Mules treat 17 mostly traditional tracks with their characteristic throw-down groove. They traverse the traditional musical landscape of the Cumberland Plateau, the Tennessee River Valley, the Blue Ridge, and beyond, weaving together a meditation on the region.
Recorded at an old farmhouse in the rolling hills of Floyd, Virginia, “Smoke Behind the Clouds” was self-produced by The Mules with band member Joseph DeJarnette at the helm in the studio. Recorded live—face-to-face in one room—the album unfolds in real time; listeners can trace each spark and hear the band remap familiar ground. “Smoke Behind the Clouds” serves as a mission statement on the organic collaboration and creative process that The Bucking Mules hold dear in their performance of Old-time songs and tunes.
The Bucking Mules consist of some of the finest players on the Old-time scene today: Joseph Decosimo (fiddle, banjo, vocals), Karen Celia Heil (guitar, vocals), Luke Richardson (banjo, harmonica, fiddle, vocals), and Joseph “Joe Bass” DeJarnette (bass). The band cut their teeth in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, paying their dues with elder master musicians and old 78s. Dedicated to teaching the music, they are in-demand at workshops and music camps around the world. Decosimo, a folklorist, specializes in Old-time music.
The result is a group of well-studied musicians with a deep, scholarly understanding of the region’s musical traditions. Yet they distill this reverence for the past into a driving, heartfelt sound—one tailored for contemporary fans of folk, bluegrass, Americana, and more. The Bucking Mules are a backbone in the Old-time community, known for their joyous force in conveying the spirit of this music, but their powerhouse performances continue to win over audiences far beyond that niche. They know how to bust down on a fiddle tune, belt an old song, and move square dancers just as well as they know historic origins and intricacies.
On “Smoke Behind the Clouds,” the group is in conversation with one another, effortlessly trading fiddle, banjo, and harmonica lines like banter between old friends. After all, The Mules are a band born from sitting knee to knee at traditional music gatherings and sharing music, lives, and laughter together deep into the night. This connectedness–to one another, and from the present to past–makes “Smoke Behind the Clouds” an exuberant listen. Favoring joy and simplicity over pretense, The Bucking Mules remind us why this music should never be cast aside as they carve out their place in making sure that it isn’t.
When Maria Quiles (vocals and guitar) and Rory Cloud (vocals and guitar) met in 2011, both were adrift. Maria had quit her job, given up her San Francisco apartment, and moved in with her uncle in order to pursue music full-time. Rory had left behind a stable schedule of gigs and music lessons in Southern California to seek a new music community elsewhere. He eventually wound up living out of his Toyota Corolla in San Francisco, where he first heard Maria at an open mic. “As a lead guitar player, I could immediately hear myself in her songs.” Rory remembers.
Several years of touring and spending nearly every day together allowed Quiles & Cloud to develop a unique sound—one that is characterized by soulful melodies, close harmonies, and interweaving guitar lines that owe as much to jazz and classical music as to folk and bluegrass. The addition of Oscar Westesson (upright bass) in 2013 pushed them even further as songwriters, resulting in darker, more complex, and more dissonant arrangements.
Their sound has struck a chord with audiences all over the country. Folk Alley has lauded the group’s “continued ability to combine subtle precision with stark grit and creative exploration.” Acoustic Guitar has called them “a compelling new voice on the Americana scene.” Quiles & Cloud have now played hundreds of shows, won the 2014 FreshGrass Duo Award, and caught the attention of GRAMMY Award-winning banjo player Alison Brown—who produced their third album SHAKE ME NOW, which comes out on Compass Records 3/17/17.
SHAKE ME NOW is stripped-down, yet dense. There are musical and lyrical traces of the blues, bluegrass, folk, rock, soul, and classical music. Their songwriting stands out on the title track, “Shake Me Now” as well as the upbeat and hopeful “One My Way Tonight”. In addition to their original songs, there are reinterpreted versions of the traditional blues number “Deep Ellum Blues”, the traditional folk tune “Worried Man Blues”, and Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”. One gets the feeling of being on a widescreen road trip through America’s past and present, with multiple eras and traditions folding in upon each other. The result sounds familiar and roadworn, yet completely new—a quality that Quiles & Cloud share with some of American music’s greatest innovators.
Quiles & Cloud have already traveled far. As they see it, though, this is only the beginning of a lifelong journey—one of exploring connection, deepening their partnership, and examining the threads that tie us all together.
Rayna Gellert grew up in a musical family, and has spent most of her life immersed in the sounds of rural stringband music, heartfelt gospel songs, and old ballads. After honing her fiddle skills playing at jam sessions and square dances, Rayna fell into a life of traveling and performing. Her fiddle albums are widely celebrated in the old-time music community, and she has recorded with a host of musicians in a variety of styles – including Robyn Hitchcock, Tyler Ramsey, Sara Watkins, Loudon Wainwright III, John Paul Jones, and Abigail Washburn. From 2003 through 2008, Rayna was a member of the acclaimed stringband Uncle Earl, with whom she released two albums on Rounder Records and toured like mad. In 2010, she met songwriter Scott Miller, and they began performing and recording together. In 2012, Rayna released her first vocal album, Old Light: Songs from my Childhood & Other Gone Worlds, on StorySound Records. She lives in Swannanoa, North Carolina.
It’s taken Rayna Gellert some time to follow up on that album, though, but this new seven-tracker, Workin’s Too Hard, has clearly been worth the wait.
While accepting the importance of her role in conserving and protecting the old-time tradition, Rayna didn’t want to fall into the same trap as her father in becoming obsessed with traditional music to the exclusion of finding her own voice. “Eventually I realised that my job is to play music I love, which is bigger than protecting any one concept of tradition. I realised I was an artist, and I wanted to claim that.” The light-bulb moment came with the creation of the Old Light album, where Rayna showed that deep immersion in our musical past can bring a collision between cultural and personal memory, giving rise to a new tradition of her own devising. As evidenced in the disc’s title song, where her imagination is triggered by the memory of lyric snippets from a 1937 Kentucky field recording. One of the disc’s standout tracks for me is the wistful waltzer River Town, where the collision of heartbreaking personal memories is at its most haunting. It’s one of two songs which turn out to be jointly penned by Rayna Gellert and her co-producer Kieran Kane – the other being Grey Bird, which draws additionally on traditional lyrics for its expression of timeless yearning. Strike The Bells poignantly explores old age, and both complements and contrasts with Perry, which simply but powerfully distills the essence of a universal truth.
Perry is the disc’s other major triumph in a whole disc of high points, and, coincidentally, it’s one of only two songs to include the sound of the fiddle in its instrumental backing. Here, it’s joined by just a lone piano in a distinctive departure from the muted, largely guitar-and-soft-keys-based scoring of the rest of the record. Its primitive, yet slightly eerie retro signature sound owes much to the low-key, intensely live real-time feel of the recording (all credit due to engineer Charles Yingling) and the empathic playing of long-time musical friends Kai Welch, Jamie Dick and Kieran Kane. As well as three of Rayna’s own compositions and the two aforementioned co-writes, the album also contains two traditional songs, Oh Lovin’ Babe and I’m Bound For The Promised Land; the former is given a mysterious, almost reverential aura with gentle supporting vocal harmonies, whereas the latter, rather intriguingly, comes across like darkly grungy and surprisingly dirty rockabilly and sports a raw, grinding fiddle solo.
Workin’s Too Hard is a warmly inclusive and rather special record, with a feeling of back porch intimacy that at times recalls (but nowhere apes) Gillian Welch’s landmark Revival sessions. But Rayna’s vision has its own unique perspective and atmosphere. The distinctive and memorable music and songwriting on Workin’s Too Hard sure left me wanting much more, and I do hope Rayna can get it all together again soon.
Torgeir Waldemar took the Norwegian people and music press by surprise with his eponymous debut album in 2014. Who had thought that the black-clad, longhaired and bearded man would deliver an album that captivated and moved us as much as it did. An acoustic masterpiece that sounded like it came straight from the rehearsal room of a young troubadour from Laurel Canyon in the seventies.
While his previous album cultivated a pure, acoustic sound, we get more rock music this time, and for Torgeir Waldemar nothing is more natural. With his background as a guitar hero in various rock bands, it was only a question of time before distorted tones would assert themselves in his solo career. «No Offending Borders» is a gloriously composite work with both dead honest acoustic laments and grandiose rock songs.
But the record is so much more than that, and for Torgeir this is a document that shows the seriousness we meet in our everyday lives. Both on the personal level, with relationships that falls apart and the loss of loved ones, but also on a national and global level, with refugee crises, suicide statistics and the weakest members of our society. You may have guessed it already, but this is a solemn record.
If you’re afraid that Torgeir Waldemar has turned away from what he presented on his debut album, you can relax. Here we get acoustic folk songs like «Falling Rain (Link Wray)», «Island Bliss» and «Souls on a String», but the album also contains more intense rock songs like «Summer In Toulouse», «Sylvia (Southern People)» and «Among the Low». A complete album, you might say … and we’re saying it.
Aesthetically, it’s also consistent from beginning to end – nothing at all is done by chance here. The historical lines that are drawn in the cover design, are also meant to point back to ourselves and to make us conscious of our past, so that we won’t make the same mistakes again. The cover of the single «Souls on a String» featured a photo of the decorated carrier pigeon from World War I, Cher Ami. It saved a whole British company during the war, when the British were caught in a battle, without any food or ammunition. Cher Ami was sent away, and taken under fire by the enemy, but finally delivered the message that saved the British troops.
The chair on the cover of «No Offending Borders» is from Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand. This is the chair that Wilhelm II, the King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany, was sitting in when he was told that World War I had started. Wilhelm II was a friend of Norway and spent much time on the west coast in the early 1900s. What would you have done if you were sitting in that chair and received that message? Sit down, think thoroughly about it, while you’re listening to «No Offending Borders».
It’s hard not to love an album that blows away your expectations, and the latest release from this award winning Norwegian singer/songwriter does just that. His acclaimed eponymous debut was an introspective and wistful acoustic affair, whereas No Offending Borders sees him treading new ground. Often the changes are subtle; the dark lament of ‘The Bottom Of The Well’ wouldn’t sound amiss in a classic western movie and the gorgeous gentle melody of ‘Island Bliss’ really lives up to its name. ‘Among The Low’, the album’s most experimental offering, mixes celtic folk with subtle eastern tinges, interspersed with feedback fuelled southern rock riffs. With these tracks we find a diverse and interesting folk record, and a worthy successor to his debut.
The big talking point of this album however is not in those subtle changes, but in the two big powerhouse tracks. ‘Summer in Toulouse’ and ‘Sylvia (Southern People)’ are both sprawling Americana epics that could have come straight from the golden age of Neil Young. They just don’t make them like this anymore! Both tracks are the perfect template of how it should be done and I’m sure at least one of them will find its way into my list of top ten songs at the end of the year. These hulking behemoths of southern rock splendour would be enough to make this an excellent album just from their own merit. When I factor in the fantastic folk alongside them it seems clear that this is the first truly great album I have heard in 2017.