Album reviews

There is such a wide variation in English Folk which I have to admit with one finger in my ear, I absolutely love.

I love the stories that they tell and the musical athletics of the musicians that are often overlooked because they’re not loud and lary.

Some of my favourites include the well known bands such as Steeleye Span (Although I don’t connect with all of their stuff) and Fairport Convention (Who I know and adore their music) with and ‘American’ taint in their music. I’ll go through some Fairport stuff later.

The Albion Band – Real old English stuff. A reaction against Fairport’s American influence in British Folk. Ashley Hutchings was the guy who made the move from Fairport to Albion and now his son is taking over the business.

Recently, I’ve come across the Owl Service. Really nice stuff. It’s more traditional sounding with a more modern twist.

The Imagined Village – absolute folk brilliance with the gorgeous Eliza McCarthy and her Dad. It incorporates foreign influence into the British culture and does it so well, it’s possibly the future imo for British Folk Music. (Although I don’t like the politics, it’s the reality of modern Britain so this is a landmark imo for British Folk)

More recently – the gorgeous, ‘The Urban Folk Quartet’. Originating from Birmingham but the vibrancy and rhythmic twists they put into their stuff is really addictive. This group have produced ‘The Urban Folk Quartet’ which isn’t a great album title and ‘Off Beaten Tracks’.

Their music is addictive, highly rhythmic and very well recorded. The recent album was sent to me to have a jiffy and it is superb. I think it’s been released – it’s well worth having a listen if you’re into folk.

If you’re not into folk, try ‘The Imagined Village’ first. Modern stories about the past incorporating a ‘black’ element with that famous black poet Zepheria…. something or other and the use of a sitar in English folk music, but wonderfully integrated. It also incorporates the sharp edge of Billy Bragg.

The Imagined Village

The Imagined Village (Photo credit: petemaskreplica)

One thing about folk – you MUST take in the words to follow what they’re going on about, so you need a headphone with good vocal clarity. Well worth the effort. Some of the stories really get to me.

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