Hannah White – Elephant Eye

London based Hannah White has gathered a fine crew around her for her latest album, Elephant Eye. Producer Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore, Martha Wainwright, Joan Baez) plays several instruments, Chris J Hillman adds pedal steel while Jimmy Forres handles guitar duties and Paul Beavis (Andy Fairweather Low, Sandi Thom) is the percussionist driving them on.

Together they deliver a very polished album with songs ranging from delicate country tinged ballads, political songs and harder edged numbers. White sings well, her voice high and light, at times reminiscent of Dolly Parton, not least on the single taken from the album, In It For Love. There are some fine moments here. Get Your Easy On is a tremendous performance, the band in a country rock/pop vein, locking into a groove with the pedal steel wailing away while Exactly My Choice has a hint of Byrds like guitar chiming behind White’s plaintive vocals. Please Don’t Take My Daddy Away dips into Imelda May territory with its louche late night vamp. Molly’s Drum is an evocative number with a childlike simplicity about it, the lyrics perhaps hinting that we are peeking into an autistic sensibility and there’s an element of vulnerability (physical and emotional) in the tip toeing pace of The Bells Always Toll with Hillman’s playing here just excellent, enveloping the song in a warm swoon.

There are times however when the songs become somewhat formulaic. Elephant Eye is a strong performance but it strives just too hard to be a folk anthem of sorts. Your Country Is Not At War meanwhile is a political diatribe that rarely rises above sloganeering while Where Has All The Sharing Gone is a rare stumble from the band who play a folksy shuffle which just doesn’t shuffle enough with the song sounding like a tired Christmas celebration.

The Super Saturated Sugar Strings

The Super Saturated Sugar Strings Premiere
“All Their Many Miles” on Folk Radio UK

There’s warmth to the music of Alaska indie folk band The Super Saturated Sugar Strings. It’s the warmth of friendship, good cheer, and the kind of community needed to make it through the bitter isolation and hard winters in the 49th state. Based in Anchorage, the Sugar Strings are a beloved institution there, packing sweaty bodies together in small halls under neon light to dance into the night. On their new album, All Their Many Miles (release date: March 23, 2018) they’ve managed to translate not only the high energy stomp and swing of their live shows to the studio, but also to capture some of the magic that brings together Anchorage’s music community.

Happy to send out hard copies to our friends in radio and press, just let me know!

A windswept town on the edge of the Alaska ocean, Anchorage has a remarkably robust music scene, one characterized by unconditional support among bands and wildly passionate audiences. It’s a model for other scenes and an idea that’s catching, and The Super Saturated Sugar Strings aim to bring that kind of human connection to the rest of the states, as they begin touring nationally. On stage, you see this kind of egalitarian, open communication directly among the six band members as they freely swap instruments, sometimes more than once in the same song. They gather around the drum in the center of the stage, with band members jumping in and out of the seat, joining together in harmony, swaying back and forth as they blast out their horn lines. The music they create seems cinematic at times, drenched in strings and horns and bombastic ideas. This is Alaska, where nobody does anything small, so this roots band’s take on modern Americana is full of dense, intricate, virtuosic instrumental arrangements and shout-to-the-rafter vocals.

The Super Saturated Sugar Strings at
Folk Alliance 2018 this week

Thursday 2/15
12:30am Alaska Room (rm. 722)

Friday 2/16
3:00pm Camp Ned
1:30am Camp Ned

Saturday 2/17
2:30pm Alaska Room (rm. 722)
2:00am Even More Lilfest (rm. 703)

Muddy Gurdy – French Hurdy Gurdy meets the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues.

These punchy, wonderful recordings not only propagate the blues. They enrich its character, and most importantly, its significance.

This is one of the most interesting collaborations of blues we have heard in some time.  A trio of French musicians – Tia Goutteble (guitar, voice), Gilles Chabenat (Hurdy-Gurdy – a traditional French instrument), and Marc Glomeau (percussion) call themselves the Hypnotic Wheels Trio.  Their music draws its inspiration from traditional French music and North Mississippi Hill Country Blues.  In some respects, it’s like the efforts of groups like Tinariwen from Mali – marrying their native music with American blues.  In this case the Hurdy-Gurdy is used as a second guitar.  This is the first time that music from these two cultures have combined.  So, to make this, their second album, even more authentic, the trio travelled to Mississippi and collaborated with some of the major local artists.

Without recording studios or top shelf technology, field engineer Pierre Bianchi captured these sessions with an 8 microphone preamp and a computer. The recordings took place on front porches, back porches, and historic landmarks in Mississippi. With no gimmicks the sound is not only authentic but especially engaging as you can hear train whistles and highway traffic on occasion.

One year of work was necessary to sort out all of the details of traveling in the United States and getting familiar with the countryside of North Mississippi.  The results were:  four tunes with Cedric Burnside (vocal, acoustic guitar) at Sherman Cooper’s in Como, three with Sharde Thomas (fife, vocals) under the front porch of Moon Hollow Farm in Como, two with Cameron Kimbrough (guitar, vocals) at the same location, and two with Pat Thomas (guitar, vocals) at the Highway 61 Museum in Leland.  The trio themselves perform three tracks on their own at Dockery Farms in Cleveland (2) and at B.B. King’s Club Ebony in Indianola.

Burnside, Shade Thomas, Kimbrough, and Pat Thomas are all descendants of their prestigious elders (RL Burnside, Otha Turner, Junior Kimbrough, James Son Thomas).  None of the four approach the project with a “take charge” mentality.  Instead, they give humble, passionate performances, immersing themselves in the music. And, these musicians certainly passed on that North Mississippi Hill County feel to the trio.  Listen to Cedric Burnside leading “See My Jumper Hanging on the Line” or Sharde Thomas leading “Glory” and then catch the trio doing Mississippi Fred’s “Shake ‘Em On Down.”  No doubt, they got it.

Winter Wilson Far Off on the Horizon not so far off now.

Two years ago Kip and Dave released  Ashes to Dust  by far the best folk album of 2016,  13 excellent songs which highlighted the couples skills.

This year they have disappointed  us  with their new release “Far Off on the Horizon”.

Only 12 gorgeous,luscious,timeless songs. If they spent less time strolling on the beach we could have had 13 or even 14, you can never have to much of a good thing.

Once again we have a variety of songs that people can actually relate to, emigration with “The Ship it Rocked” made even more special with the fiddle of  Marion Fleetwood who appears on the title track too and what a title track it is. Poetry as good as Mr Cohen gave us.

“Another night and sleep won’t come;
I’m staring at the ceiling.
Just my thoughts for company
And the sound of my own breathing.
There’s a battle raging in my head,
The saints against the sinners.
Oh restless night, oh restless night,
The ghost of you still lingers.”

 

Love makes an appearance with the song Grateful for the Rain (Billy Boy), I thought I had put an Avett Brothers track on until Kips voice finally joined in. A track to play again and again.

I Cannot Remain sends out a message about the 21st century that every MP should listen to very carefully, Kips  accordion adding just the right touch to the words.

I could go on describing all the songs but why bother you can listen them on TME.FM Radio.

“Far Off on the Horizon” will be our ALBUM of the MONTH for February so you will get plenty of chances to catch the 12 songs.

The reaction of the listeners around the world has been excellent,with almost all at a loss how Winter Wilson are not “famous” are almost unknown “outside the UK” and “Lacking the recognition they fully deserve for the musical skills and songwriting brilliance”.

I would personally like to thank Kip and Dave for sending the album for airplay and reviewing before the 25th January release.

Oh and they are over the moon to be going on tour with the legendary Fairport Convention. They have been invited along as their special guests to play twenty eight shows across England between January 25th and February 25th 2018.

The tour will coincide with the release of “Far Off on the Horizon”. See the dates here.

For me “Another night and sleep won’t come;” because I want to listen to more Winter Wilson.

 

 

 

We are enjoying The Early Mays.

We have been playing Chase the Sun for a couple of months and it has been brought to our attention that we have not posted anything about the band, so here goes.

With Appalachian-inspired harmonies, masterful songwriting, and a sweet old-time sound,  The Early Mays burst on to the scene with a #2 debut on the National Folk-DJ Charts in 2014. Watertight three part vocals won these women a loyal following in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and their growth as a band has carried them to the national arena with a 1st place win at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in 2016 and a feature performance on NPR’s Mountain Stage in 2017. On their latest release, signature harmonies are central, but The Early Mays have upped their game with first-rate instrumental arrangements grounded in old-time styles. Chase the Sun is a fine collaboration on all fronts with songs that range from traditional to modern in style, and from contemplative to barn raising in spirit.

On “Chase the Sun,” Emily Pinkerton, Ellen Gozion and Rachel Eddy showcase their song and tune-writing talents, as well as the debt they owe to North American musicians who have inspired them.  In the title track, Emily paints a picture of a dry, cracked earth where two people slowly begin to emerge from destructive patterns. Sinuous harmonic progressions, edgy fiddle and clusters of vocal harmonies bring the harsh dreamscape of the lyrics to life. Little Pink, a beloved old-time song collected by Gerry Milnes, becomes a fiddle tune in the hands of the Mays, built around sweet vocals and stellar banjo by Ellen.  Though simple in form, the lyrical and rhythmic detail of the song will have you listening over and over.  Mannington #9 tells the story of one of the worst coal mining disasters in West Virginia history that took place outside of Morgantown where Rachel grew up.  It is a such an important part of her repertoire, that when she asked songwriter Keith McManus for permission to record it, he said there was no need to ask because “it was already hers.”  The recording features Rachel’s powerful clawhammer style, droning harmonium (a pump organ used in Indian classical music) and solid, stacked vocal harmonies from the group.

The Mays have felt a burning need to share the new sound of the group since Rachel came on board in early 2016.  Her strong voice and rock-solid instrumental chops have fused so well with Emily and Ellen’s songwriting and long-time love of traditional music. For Chase the Sun they returned to Broadcast Lane Studios in Pittsburgh to work with Lurch Rudyk (Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards) and send their songs through his vintage analog gear they’ve come to love.

In The Early Mays, you won’t find a lead singer.  You’ll find a trio that enjoys lifting up each member’s work, putting the best of themselves into every song.  You won’t find harmonies that fall into a clear category—like old-time or bluegrass—but you’ll find yourself transported as you listen. There is an unsurpassed magic that springs from entwined and entrancing vocal harmonies. The Early Mays love the camaraderie of the studio, the road, and rehearsals, and you can feel the gratitude radiate from whatever stage they are on.

TME.FM Radio’s Top Songs Of 2017.

Below is the playlist of our 20 favorite songs of 2017.

Yes I know there are 42 but without declaring war among ourselves we could not make the list any smaller.

We had to use dirty tricks,back stabbing,bribery,coercion and  payment of favors but the 7 of us finally agreed.

We apologize to all the artists who have not got a song on the list , it does not mean they were not good enough we could not make a decision.

This list in no way reflects the TOP ALBUMS OF THE YEAR list which is being compiled in a much more democratic way. No bribes will be accepted from artists or PR companies I can assure you.

Now press play and listen to the best of the best of the best songs played on TME.FM Radio in 2017.

Chris Wood – So Much to Defend

Former BBC 2 Folk Singer of the Year Chris Wood is something of a national treasure in folk music circles. An inveterate collaborator, he has appeared alongside Martin Carthy, Oysterband, French fiddler Jean-Francois Vrod and, most notably, melodeon maestro Andy Cutting. He is often seen as a champion of traditional forms of music and dance, but in recent years his own songwriting has come to the fore on a series of excellent albums including Handmade Life, None the Wiser and now So Much to Defend.
Wood’s approach is that of the impassioned troubadour, and his success comes from the way he meshes the personal with the political in a way that is subtle but often astonishing. Like all the best protest singers he humanises his subjects’…

…suffering and joy for maximum emotional impact. The title track, which opens the album, is a case in point. It is a lengthy series of character studies, captured with warmth, wit and a poet’s eye for detail. It is so wide-ranging that the song itself acts almost like a city through which a listener can travel, meeting a huge variety of people along the way. The one thing that links the narratives of these disparate characters is hope in adversity.

This track also marks possibly the first time that Ebbsfleet United Football Club has been mentioned in popular song. This may seem like a slightly obscure choice for a football team, but it is an interesting one – the man in the song is ‘Ebbsfleet till he dies,’ which is a telling turn of phrase given that the football club in question is barely a decade old, and Ebbsfleet as a place does not even exist. It’s an insightful observation on Wood’s part, a way of using apparently mundane detail to track change in its subtlest form, and a comment on the transience of apparently immutable institutions.

This Love Won’t Let You Fail tackles adversity of a more personal type: that very specific kind of loss felt by parents when their children leave home. Wood conjures the imagery of loneliness, melancholy and, again, hope. That it never becomes mawkish is testament to the verbal dexterity of its creator, and also to his musical skill: the gentle acoustic guitar that underpins this and many of the album’s other songs is a lesson in restraint, in how to let a song breathe. Gary Walsh’s Hammond organ somehow gives the song an even greater feeling of space.

The world of lower-league football gets the full treatment on Only afy Friendly, which takes clichéd pitchside talk and turns it upside down to create something surprisingly poignant: a song that both transcends and satirises its subject matter. Once again the characterisation is key. Wood’s forte is putting real human beings in real positions and drawing some kind of universal truth out of those positions.

The Flail is altogether more abstract, but no less impressive: a reminder that history is always constructed from a distance, and not always fair. 1887 continues the historical theme. It is an adaptation of AE Housman’s poem, set to music by Martin Butler, who also provides the piano accompaniment. Its examination of the ambivalence of patriotism makes it a natural choice for Wood, whose own lyrics often knowingly tread the line between localism and internationalism, irony and sincerity, with similar opacity.

Dan Michaelson – First Light

On the evidence of First Light, Northampton’s Dan Michaelson isn’t the sort who leaps out of bed to greet the day. His seventh album (two solo, five with the Coastguards) concerns itself with that first moment of consciousness, and his weary voice sounds suitably hypnopompic. Indeed, there are echoes of Bill Callahan in his delivery, the sense that his measured baritone could imbue even the most mundane line with emotion. Arnulf Lindner’s orchestral arrangements are a subtle delight, meanwhile, violins, cellos and violas beautifully framing Michaelson’s at times almost positive lyrics. If there’s a criticism, it’s just that too little distinguishes one song from another.

Grayson Capps – Scarlett Roses

Apart from 2013’s self-titled collective Willie Sugarcapps album, with Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes, and Sugarcane Jane, we haven’t heard new material from Grayson Capps since 2011. Of the illustrious bunch on that record, only Hughes remains, wrangling guitars and co-producing here with Trina Shoemaker and Capps. Recorded over two days in as many studios, these nine songs are chock-full of Capps’ poetic lyricism, and raw, rumbling grooves that meld Gulf Coast country, edgy garage rock (think Crazy Horse in their prime), folk, and blues.
The title track offers martial snares and interwoven electric guitars in a lament for love and the long-gone time that birthed it. “Hold Me Darlin”…

…is a jaunty, Piedmont-style blues rocker that’s also rooted in New Orleans R&B. Its tender lyric is road weary but celebratory. “Bag of Weed” is a rolling country rocker that actually makes room for Capps’ earthy lyrics. The medications listed in the refrain, pot, George Dickel, and a case of beer, aren’t for drowning sorrows, but for celebrating the survival of life’s trials. The strolling groove eventually ratchets up to explode in rockist glory. The syncopated blues-rock in “You Can’t Turn Around” is a manifesto of perseverance. Hughes burns in his lead break while Russ Broussard’s snare drum kicks up a ruckus. Topically, Capps shifts to gratitude for the stomping roots rock of “Thankful” with its snare breaks, wound-out guitars, and a stomping 2/4 roll affirmed by Shoemaker’s backing vocals. The tune takes everything in, good and band, day by day, and accepts it all as the spokes in the wheel of personal transformation. He builds on that with “New Again,” a lithe, languid, beautiful Americana ballad where Capps (and Dylan LeBlanc on backing vocals) shares hard-won worldly wisdom: “I take the gold from the sun/Hold it close when the day is done/Keep the fire inside me until the dawn…Remember Coco Robicheaux/He said I had a real young soul/Many lives to lead until the end/I’m getting old, my friends have died/I never got to say goodbye/They’re dead, they don’t miss you when they’re gone….” “Hit ‘Em Up Julie” is a ripping, slide guitar and harmonica blues stomp, while “Taos” is a droning, eight-minute psych-inflected rocker with screaming six strings. Closer “Moving On” is a proper bookend; it turns the record back on itself to reflect the title track but takes it further down the road emotionally and physically. It’s lucid, relaxed, and pointed, as the band builds a foundation under gorgeous layered vocal harmonies. Its lyrics reflect a time that, while eternally present, has been all but left behind.

The conflicts and dangers it depicts are global, archetypal, and personal, refracted in a psychic mirror as warning signs against complicity and ignorant contentment. Knowing how closely these are all tied together is, after all, wisdom, and makes for great songwriting. Scarlett Roses is the roots rock record we’ve been waiting for from Capps.

Chris Thile – Thanks for Listening

Released a little over a year after Chris Thile took over as host of the public radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion, Thanks for Listening collects ten Song of the Week features from his inaugural season. Each song was an original written for that week and premiered live on the show. Finding a common theme among personal, societal, and political topics in some of the songs — namely, the art of listening — Thile headed to the studio with producer Thomas Bartlett to record selections for a cohesive album. On these versions, the mandolin virtuoso covers stringed instruments except bass and viola, and sings lead, though he’s joined on some songs by guest vocalists Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan, and Gaby Moreno, all Prairie alumnae under Thile.

One of the album’s flashier mandolin performances can be found on the spare “Balboa,” whose multicultural wanderlust receives intricate and nuanced accompaniment. By and large, though, Thanks for Listening puts a premium on songs over chops, not that there’s any lack of instrumental proficiency here. An atmospheric track like “Feedback Loop,” for instance, uses a slow tempo, keyboards, and echo along with acoustic instruments. After setting an intentionally lethargic tone, lyrics get at our ability to filter unwelcome opinions on social media and elsewhere (“Feedback Loop, I play you to soothe my closed eyes/Closed mind/Open wounds/Open hate for anyone out of the Feedback Loop”). Later, the poppier “Falsetto” grapples with the constant derision, real and imagined, from a post-election Donald Trump, including what he might have to say about an activist musician. Other songs address fatherhood, family gatherings, and friendship in the context of the time’s technology and politics.

Despite its more collaborative origins, Thanks for Listening plays like a singer/songwriter album from Thile, one with moments of humor, poignancy, dread, and playfulness. Particularly “for anyone trying to hear through the din of a boorish year,” it captures the Zeitgeist of the first half of 2017 with a very human touch.