Friday 22 April 2011

Folk Music Friday: 10 songs from rising stars

I'm throwing in an off-topic post for the first time - please skip if you have no interest in folk music! It's not going to be a regular thing or anything...

Ten songs from ten of my favourite newish acts - which I've taken to mean 2 albums or less, with one exception at the end. No order.

Susannah - Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts - My favourite act on a folk scene that's crowded with talent, Kat and Jamie are a stunning duo who play fantastically well (particularly Jamie's amazing percussive guitar playing) and sing beautifully. Hancock Award winning Fleetwood Fair is a superb song as well but this retelling of the classic "Oh Susanna" is my favourite of theirs.

Oceana's Lullaby - Niamh Boadle - Self-penned song by the amazing Niamh, who is fantastic both when performing by herself and when acting as lead singer/step dancer/multi-instrumentalist/chief peacemaker of the outstanding Tri, keeping the equally talented Ciaran Algar and Neal Pointon from tearing each other apart. I find Niamh consistently excellent but this just about gets the nod as my favourite because I love the chorus.

Fairy Boy - Lucy Ward - Derby's Lucy Ward is a strong contender for the most charismatic performer around today, and has a simply spine-tingling voice. Her acapella version of this tale is simply breathtaking.

Lowlands Away - Maz O'Connor - One of my favourite traditional songs and Maz has a beautiful voice. Having seen her live she's wonderful.

Caledonia - Ruth Notman - The only person on my list I haven't seen live - she doesn't play that often - I have both of Notman's albums and they're amazing. This is my favourite, a cover of the Dougie MacLean ballad, but they're all great.

Cousin Jack - Barlow Cree - The Show of Hands song is one of my very favourite folk numbers; Open Mic winners at last year's Shrewsbury Folk Festival Barlow Cree blew me away when they performed it. I love these guys - both fantastically talented.

Ploughboy's Dream - Hannah James and Sam Sweeney - A hugely dubious inclusion; they only have one album out as a duo but played together previously for nearly a decade as half of Kerfuffle. Still, my list, and I like them too much to leave out. Hannah has a very sweet voice and is great on the accordion and Sam's violin playing on the track is fantastic.

Lily of Barbary - 4Square - Pete Scrowther's song of a boy taken by pirates who grows up to become a successful merchant is outstanding lyrically, and the energy-packed young quartet 4Square are one of the best live acts on the folk scene. Stunning cover.

Wild Mountain Thyme - OK Brandy - This is a childhood favourite of mine and their performance of it (again at Shrewsbury Folk Festival last year!) was amazing. Another talented young bunch.

Past Caring - Jackie Oates - Breaking my rule here as Jackie's got three albums out but she's too fantastic not to mention. For a long time Lavender's Blue from her first album was my favourite of hers, but this one from the 2010 album Hyperboreans is even better - sad, mournful, totally beautiful, and she plays the shruti box superbly.

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