Mackenzie Shivers “Living in My Head” (Independent, 2016)

mackenzie-shivers-2016“Living in My Head” is the six track EP follow up to Mackenzie Shivers’ debut album “Neverland”. Citing her influences as, amongst others, The Chieftains, Elton John and Joni Mitchell, the songs on the EP have a richness and maturity to them. The opening track “This River” is minimal, built around an emphatic and hypnotic beat, with a distinctly Celtic feel. Shivers’ voice carries the song, with some interesting and unexpected harmonies which raise it above the ordinary and take a side road from the mainstream that you might otherwise expect. Continue reading “Mackenzie Shivers “Living in My Head” (Independent, 2016)”

Ben Abraham “Sirens” (Secretly Canadian, 2016)

ben-abraham-2016Ben Abraham first released Sirens in Australia in 2014; it has now been picked up for world-wide release and promotion by Secretly Canadian. Its thirteen songs have been described by Abraham as “a roadmap to my awkward and naive twenties”, and it’s clear from the first listen that these are more than randomly selected songs. Often under three minutes in length, occasionally under a couple of minutes, they are like chapter synopses or the soundtrack to a slightly off-kilter rom-com. Continue reading “Ben Abraham “Sirens” (Secretly Canadian, 2016)”

Sophia Marshall “The Paper Thin EP” (Independent, 2016)

sophia-marshall-2016Best known as one half of the acclaimed and much missed Havenots, Leicester’s Sophia Marshall has been absent from the music scene for some time.  She’s recently dipped her toe back in and the results are a few gigs and this five track EP.  Live, her delightfully delicate and fragile vocals, shown to such good effect in the Havenots, sometimes struggle to be heard above the full band she gigs with.  In the studio of course such things aren’t an issue and the light, summery pop feel of her music whirls the listener along on a gossamer trail that delights and entrances. Continue reading “Sophia Marshall “The Paper Thin EP” (Independent, 2016)”

Jon Boden “Painted Lady” (Navigator Records, 2016)

jon-boden-2016Folk superstar Jon Boden has always had itchy feet. Not content with an acclaimed partnership with box ace John Spiers and fronting Bellowhead, the eleven piece big band that he founded with Spiers which went on to become probably the biggest star in the UK folk firmament, he also released a concept album “Song From The Floodplain”, that he toured with his band the Remnant Kings and before that, he put out his solo debut, “Painted Lady”. Continue reading “Jon Boden “Painted Lady” (Navigator Records, 2016)”

Paul McClure “Songs For Anyone” (Rutland Troubadour / Clubhouse Records, 2016)

"Paul McClure - 2016"So it’s roundly acknowledged that McClure is one of the nicest men in music, and my experience is that’s difficult to disagree with, the Rutland Troubadour returns here an album of exceptional quality, which is nice. McClure is a terrific Ray Davies style songwriter, I love the female vocals that are all over the album as well, and the Eagles feel, a bit of a lazy analogy but it is so true, it is that West Coast, Laurel Cannon feel, sun drenched road music.  ‘Unremarkable Me’ couldn’t be further from the truth, wonderfully structured as a record, the kitchen sink nature of the themes in his songs and deftly record mean this should be pn many a listeners best of 2016 list. Continue reading “Paul McClure “Songs For Anyone” (Rutland Troubadour / Clubhouse Records, 2016)”

Heidi Talbot “Here We Go, 1, 2, 3…” (Navigator Records, 2016)

For aheidi-talbot-2016nyone who has heard Talbot’s voice, its power and expressiveness are givens – it is a thing of beauty, it sparkles, it could elevate the works of Jilly Cooper towards art. It is one thing to possess something beautiful and another to put it in the right setting, imagine casting Ingrid Bergman in an Adam Sandler film. Luckily for Talbot she has taken more control in this fifth release. It was recorded at her and her husband’s John McCusker, newly built home studio and she was involved in writing eight out of the ten songs which reflect a period of upheaval and show a growing maturity. Continue reading “Heidi Talbot “Here We Go, 1, 2, 3…” (Navigator Records, 2016)”

Jinnwoo “Strangers Bring Me No Light” (GFM Records, 2016)

Jinnwojinwoo-2016o (Ben Webb) dabbles in the kind of outsider folk that at one time would have been snared by the anti-folk brigade; it’s a mix of Lou Barlow (in Sebadoh and Sentridoh low-fi obscured by the process mode) the naivety of Daniel Johnson, some Viking Moses, R Stevie Moore and heap of Danielson’s off-kilter playfulness. He’s gathered a host of collaborators to provide or add vocals, or produce, his own voice is a pronounced witter and when it is stirred into an obfuscated fog of clanging instruments – it can be rather hard going. Continue reading “Jinnwoo “Strangers Bring Me No Light” (GFM Records, 2016)”