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Folk: album review – Christina Alden & Alex Patterson ‘Hunter’

Folk singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, Christina Alden and Alex Patterson are a duo from Norwich who have been performing together about seven years now. Hunter is their debut album as a duo.

Once they got over the initial shock of an enforced hiatus from live performance, like many other artists the duo have been able to use their enforced downtime creatively, and this album Hunter is the result.

“Before the pandemic hit we had a full year of concerts booked throughout the UK and Europe. And like many other artists we saw those all fall away in a matter of weeks. This came as a big shock and was initially very hard to come to turns with; losing our work and our sense of identity. We wanted to channel our energy into something positive and so decided to record our debut duo album. We used our new found time and space to be creative; to write compose and develop music.”

“This album was made during the lockdowns of 2020/21 at home in The Folk Cellar on King Street, Norwich. Our house is in the middle of the city centre but the normally busy streets were quiet and so we were able to record everything at home. We have really enjoyed creating this album together; working on composition, returning to old instruments that had not been played for a while and revisiting fragments of song ideas written in old notebooks.”

Hunter is an impressive debut. With nine original songs and one arrangement of a traditional song (‘My Flower, My Companion and Me’) the duo demonstrate an instinctive ear for melody that’s both memorable and heart-warming, providing the perfect setting for Alden’s beautifully clear yet equally heart-warming vocals.

When I first began to play the opening song and title track ‘Hunter’ I did initially have a nagging feeling that it would be from that canon of traditional songs that are oh so beautifully written and sung but dwell on man’s strange obsession for chasing small furry animals for fun – but no! ‘Hunter’ is actually a lovely story of two normally solitary animals – the grey wolf and the brown bear – forming a magical and unlikely friendship. Many of the songs on this album celebrate the couple’s love of the natural world and their concern for its future – using that age old-gift of folk story-telling to convey a narrative that’s both charming and thought-provoking in equal measure.

Joining Alden (guitar, vocals, banjo) and Patterson (fiddle, vocals, viola, cello, tenor guitar and shruti box) is Calum McKennie on double bass. Patterson himself produces and Alden provides all the artwork.

Beautifully packaged with a hand-printed sleeve and illustrated booklet where the duo share information about the background and inspiration for the songs, Hunter really is a delightful album and well worth a punt.

Released: 7th May 2021

https://christinaaldenandalexpatterson.com/

Metal: first single from KK’s Priest out this week and debut album set for release in August

After performing a one-off gig together in November 2019 it was announced last year that three former member of Judas Priest, guitarist KK Downing, vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and drummer Les Binks, would be working together more permanently as part of KK’s Priest.

Downing, of course, had severed his long-standing ties with Judas Priest back in 2011, citing a breakdown in band relations. Owens’ own eight-year tenure in the band, came to a conclusion in 2003 when lead singer, Rob Halford, returned. Binks, meanwhile, left Judas Priest in 1979 after recording three classic albums (Stained Glass, Killing Machine and Unleased In The East) following a row over money with the band’s management.

Binks, who had already been touring with his own outfit Les Binks’ Priesthood – performing songs from his time in the band, has unfortunately had to put activities on hold due to a wrist injury. Downing and Owens, however, are now raring to go with a new single ‘Hellfire Thunderbolt’ released this week, an album Sermons Of The Sinner set for release on 20th August this year, with live dates to be announced as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Downing: “We are delighted to finally be able to release our first track to the world. It gives a real flavour of the sound and showcases the amazing players I’ve got in this band. We can’t wait for the fans to hear the record.”

Joining Downing on guitar and Owens on vocals, are Tony Newton (Voodoo Six) on bass, A.J. Mills (Hostile) on guitar and Sean Elg (DeathRiders/Cage) on drums. It is hoped Binks will make special guest live appearances when the band tours. 

Downing notes that Sermons Of The Sinner is an album that celebrates his classic metal roots and encourages us to cherish those iconic pioneers whom we still have with us. He jokes that KK’s Priest is “like a new old band. Or an old new band.”

“The whole concept is the fact that I continue proudly to be who I am and what I am and do what I do,” declares Downing. “It’s been nearly 10 years. I’m back making music.”

Downing continues: “The ultimate message is we’ve moved away from this music that we loved for so long and we’re so dedicated to, and now we’re in a situation where lots of people are actually passing away. We’ve lost a lot of great people – Dio, Lemmy, I could go on – and that’s gonna be accelerated over the coming years. Basically, enjoy everything that’s left of this brand of metal including from me. It’s not going to last forever.”

The new single certainly captures a lot of the energy, attitude and sound of classic Judas Priest and there’s more than enough room in the classic rock and metal scene for bands to thrive. This has got to be good news for Priest fans. I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on this band as well as Judas Priest itself. Let’s make the most of them while we’ve still got them.

KK’s Priest is set to tour worldwide as soon as current restrictions are lifted. Details of touring to be announced.

Sermons Of The Sinner released 20th August 2021

Connect with KK’S Priest via:

Website – www.kkspriest.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/KKsPriest

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KKsPriest

Instagram – www.instagram.com/kkspriest

Related posts:

Album review : Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

Live review: Judas Priest at Brixton Academy 2015

Live review: Les Binks’ Priesthood at Minehead 2020

Book review: ‘Confess’ by Rob Halford

News: ‘Underworld’ new video and single from folk-rock band Green Diesel – released 14th May 2021

‘Underworld’ is the new single from Kent-based folk-rock band Green Diesel. It’s released on 14th May ahead of a long-awaited new album scheduled for release this summer.

Written by new drummer, Paul Dadswell, ‘Underworld’ builds on the band’s signature trad folk sound. Showcasing the band’s vocal harmonies, the new single gives a flavour of what fans can expect from Green Diesel’s forthcoming album: all changing time signatures and lots of twelve-string guitars – inspired by spending far too long listening to early 1970s Genesis records, the band confess!

The song itself is inspired by Philip Glass’s celebrated soundtrack to the 1982 experimental film Koyaanisqatsi.

Reflecting on ‘Underworld’ the song’s writer Paul Dadswell comments: “When you have to choose between fantasy and reality, being born, or growing up, or moving past addiction. The moment of choice between living in the past and embracing the future.  Endlessly suspended between the familiar and the unknown.”

Hailing from Faversham in Kent, Green Diesel first emerged back in 2009, taking their inspiration from the depths of English folk lore and legend, and the classic folk-rock sound of their predecessors: Fairport Convention and The Albion Band. Blending violin, mandolin, dulcimer and accordion with electric guitars and drums, Green Diesel’s sound is born from a love of traditional English music and a desire to bring it to a modern audience.

Green Diesel’s three albums to date: Now Is The Time (2012), Wayfarers All (2014) and The Hangman’s Fee (2016) have all won praise from critics and fans alike for the quality of song-writing and musicianship and the band have been a popular draw at festivals, from Broadstairs Folk Week to Beverley Folk Festival.

Green Diesel are:

Ellen Care – lead vocals, violin

Paul Dadswell – drums

Matt Dear – lead guitar, vocals

Ben Holliday – bass

Greg Ireland – guitar, bouzouki, dulcimer, mandolin, keyboards, percussion, vocals

What they say:

“Green Diesel has skyrocketed into my top few bands”FATEA

“Folk-rock in the grand manner” – R2 Magazine

“A band with roots deep in the native soil, playing their own electric interpretations of ancient English music”Shindig!

“An established band simply getting better”FolkWords

Underworld: released 14th May 2021

Website: http://greendieselfolk.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greendieselfolk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/greendieselfolk

Related posts:

Green Diesel at The Albion, Hastings 2017

Green Diesel album review – Wayfarers All

Green Diesel at Lewisham 2016

This week’s featured artist: singer-songwriter Danny McGaw – new Single ‘On the Outside’

Born in Salford and initially embarking on a career as a professional footballer until injury forced a change of career plan, Danny McGaw’s first forays into the world of music began in the pubs of Greater Manchester before eventually leaving the UK for the US.

Swapping Salford to Santa Monica, McGaw relocated to California – busking at the Santa Monica Pier and building up a reputation as both a writer and performer. Back in 2013 McGaw formed a band Wells the Traveller, who recorded two albums before McGaw relocated back to the West Coast.

His latest single ‘On The Outside’ was released on 19th April. A brooding, smouldering intro builds up in a striking guitar anthem that acts as a showcase for McGaw’s powerful lyrics. He tells Darren’s Music Blog:

“On the outside is about knowing when to move on. To have the courage to break it apart so that it can be rebuilt.”

“There are a lot of stories in my songs,” he adds.

A prolific journal his entries provide inspiration for his lyrics:

“It’s somewhat the diary of a soul. I’ve written every day for a long time. I’ve always been able to attach the emotion to the sound of the melody; I learned that pretty young. It was always about learning enough guitar to be able to support a song…that’s somewhat the rhythm of my life now.”

“My music—if I may—is timeless. It spans all genres, really, and It spans all feelings. And it’s always rooted in the story of my soul, our soul.”

McGaw previously released ‘Eccles Road’ in 2012 and ‘Lion Street’ in 2015. After forging a
friendship through Danny Hutton, Three Dog Night’s vocalist, McGaw frequently tours with
Three Dog Night.

http://www.dannymcgaw.net/

On The Outside released 19th April 2021

News: new album in train for Kent-based blues rock guitarist Dave Good

Dave Good is a Kent-based blues rock guitarist who played his first gig aged just 13,  growing up on the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Stones, Peter Green, The Rev Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck and Rory Gallagher.

Blues guitarist Norman Beaker, who has played with the likes of Chris Farlowe, Larry Garner and Van Morrison, says of him:

“Dave Good manages to cross seamlessly from the down home acoustic blues through Chicago and on to Rock Blues. All played with taste and conviction.’’

Dave has been working with Charlie Creese (pictured) at Magpie Studios in Kent over the past four years. Charlie is a gifted engineer and a talented musician in his own right. Dave and Charlie have spent this last few months prepping a number of Dave’s songs at Dave’s studio, ready to record a new album in June.

Charlie Creese

Between them they have agreed a nine-track album.

Dave says“This project has taken far too long to pull together due to lockdown etc…!!”

“I’m really wanting to get it down and finished and out there.”

Dave Good

Charlie will be playing bass, Tim Robins will be on drums and Dave will be doing guitars and vocals. Dave will also be joined on vocals by Pip Bowers, an incredible vocalist and arranger.

A number of guest players will also be featured including Nick Bold and guest guitarist, Robin Burrows.

Visit: www.davegoodband.co.uk for more info

This week’s featured artist: Matt Steady – new album ‘New Buryin’ Ground’ released 27th April

Matt Steady is a singer-songwriter from Leicester. His music is most closely identified with blues and folk but he pulls in a wide range of influences. Even within the confines of those two genres, however, he traverses a refreshingly broad spectrum: on the blues front going from the blistering electric variety to the mournful acoustic type and on the folk side there’s everything from contemporary singer-songwriter to Celtic soundscapes to traditional balladry. Classically-trained, Matt Steady is a highly talented and naturally expressive player, whether that’s guitar or violin, and he’s an evocative lyricist, too.

Steady has a brand new album out New Buryin’ Ground on 27th April. Prior to that though, he released a compilation album featuring highlights from his previous six albums which he launched with a very generous and fairly unique offer. If you fancy the album, you can order it online and he’ll send out the CD to you direct to your door absolutely free of charge.

The Echoes Remain is a very fine compendium of Matt Steady’s work – eleven tracks in all – and something I’m very pleased to now have in my CD collection.

What on earth possessed him to make it completely free of charge, though, I asked him:

MS: “I’m all about the win/win. This compilation album is a win for listeners and a win for me too! Firstly, as an independent artist, the main challenge I have is getting people to listen to my music. Our attention spans on social media are so short that posting up songs, no matter how good they are, is not a strategy that works particularly well. People are unlikely to stop scrolling to listen to a whole song from someone they’ve never heard of for sure! However the people who enjoy my eclectic style of music often still have CDs player, and often love listening to music in their cars or while working. It costs me very little to have CDs made these days, and with the postage paid for I’m not generally out of pocket on them. And actually any shortfall is made up by some generous folks who either leave a tip or buy an extra CD with it. So the win for the listener is obvious – a free CD delivered to their door; a menu of tracks from my other albums to introduce them to my music. And the win for me is that more people are listening to my music, more people are messaging me and having conversations with me, more people are discovering my other albums and enjoying those too. It’s a win/win for everyone!”

“And for those evolved people who don’t have CDs … it’s available as a free download as well. I don’t want to stop anyone from listening from lack of a piece of equipment. And for streamers, this compilation isn’t up on Spotify etc., but all my albums that the tracks come from are, so that’s a way of listening too.”

You can order your free CD here

Photo credit: Frank Roper Photography

I also asked Matt to tell us a little more about the new album that’s due to be released next week:

MS: “My new album is called New Buryin’ Ground, and this time rather than releasing it under my own name, it’s being released under the band name “The Grace Machine”. Alongside my vocals and guitar work, I am frankly astounded to have playing with me two very sought-after musicians – Terl Bryant on percussion and Matt Weeks on bass. I’ve been listening to their work since I was a teen (ahem that’s quite a long time ago now), and I’m still in shock that they wanted to form this band! The music itself is rocky gospel blues. Many of the tracks are interpreting old spirituals and slave songs, bringing them up to date for a modern audience. We owe so much of our musical lives and heritage to black music, crafted under such dire circumstances, and this album is a homage to those often unknown musicians. The album is full of joy and angst in equal measure, and I can only hope that we’ve done the songs justice.”

New Buryin’ Ground available from Matt Steady’s website here

Released 27th April 2021

Folk: album review – Honey and The Bear ‘Journey Through The Roke’

Honey and The Bear are folk duo and singer-songwriters Lucy and Jon Hart. The Suffolk-based couple originally met at a song-writing event, began writing and performing together and spent several years touring the folk circuit before releasing their debut album Made in Aker, back in 2019.

Journey Though the Roke is the follow-up, ‘Roke being an old East Anglian word for the evening mist that rises from the region’s marshes and water meadows. As with so many other musicians these past twelve months, many of the songs on the album were conceived during lockdown. We are presented with eleven original songs as well as the duo’s adaptation of a traditional Irish ballad.

Of the former, the beauty of their Suffolk coastal landscape and richness of its history is at the core of many of the songs, from the jaunty ‘Freddie Cooper’ celebrating the heroics of the Aldeburgh lifeboat crew to the utterly haunting ‘The Hungry Sea’ that tells the story of Violet Jessop who incredibly survived the Olympic, Titanic and Britannic maritime disasters, before eventually dying in Great Ashfield, aged 83.

Of the latter, the one non-original song on the album is a tender version of ‘My Lagan Love’. It’s a song that has been performed by numerous artists from The Chieftains to Kate Bush but fans of Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention will also immediately recognise the tune given it was repurposed for Denny’s cover of Richard Farina’s ‘The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood. ‘My Lagan Love’ makes for a lovely addition to the album, laying down some deep folk roots amongst the new compositions.

The duo meld together a range of folk, Americana and pop influences to produce a sound that’s both original and creative and very easy on the ear. Lucy Hart has a clear, distinctive voice that’s perfectly suited to such a fusion of musical influences and husband Jon’s harmony vocals are also equally suited. Unusually for a duo, both play guitar, bazouki and double-bass and there’s quite a bit of toing and froing between the two of them across the dozen tracks as they swap instruments and show us what talented multi-instrumentalists each of them are.

As well as the duo themselves, Evan Carson, Archie Churchill-Moss, Graham Coe and Toby Shaer from Sam Kelly and The Lost Boys provide additional musical backing that’s every bit as captivating as their playing with The Lost Boys.

A beautiful and highly listenable album and a wonderful celebration of the East Anglian landscape and history from an extremely talented duo, Journey Through The Roke is highly recommended.

Released 23rd April 2021

Visit Honey and The Bear website here

Book news! Coming soon: ‘The Sweet in the 1970s’ by Darren Johnson – published 30th July 2021

Followers of this blog will be aware that my love of 1970s glam icons The Sweet is pretty well documented. They’ve featured heavily on Darren’s Music Blog over the seven years of the blog’s existence. I’m therefore very pleased to be announcing the publication of my first book due out this summer: ‘The Sweet in the 1970s’.

It’s published by the excellent Sonicbond Publishing who’ve been running the On Track series, where they look at a band’s entire recorded output track by track, and more recently the Decades series, where they look at a band’s history and development through a key decade. I’d already reviewed a couple of Sonicbond publications (on Fairport Convention and Hawkwind) when I had a dream that I’d just written my own book about The Sweet. With the dream still fresh in my head the following morning I thought it might actually be an idea to see if this could perhaps be turned into reality.

I emailed Stephen Lambe at Sonicbond that morning with the synopsis that was formulated in the dream still in my head to see if they were interested. Happily, he came back and said that they were and a contract soon followed. It became my lockdown project starting last summer and after several months of feverish writing, researching and listening I completed it at the end of February.

It’s now available to pre-order direct from the publishers via Burning Shed here

Amazon are also taking pre-orders here

From the Amazon synopsis you hopefully get a taste of what’s in store:

The Sweet’s look, sound and attitude became an instantly recognisable hallmark of the early 1970s glam rock era. But the band did not start the 1970s as a glam band and certainly didn’t finish as one. This book charts the band’s journey through the decade that made them a household name, from their initial rise as purveyors of manufactured, bubblegum pop to their metamorphosis into harder-edged glam rock icons. The Sweet in the 1970s takes a look at both their successes and their struggles in their quest to be recognised as a more serious rock act in the latter part of the decade, once the sparkle of glam and glitter had begun to pale. The decade saw them score fifteen UK Top 40 singles, release seven studio albums and tour several continents. Unlike many bands of the era personnel changes were few. The Sweet begin the 1970s with the arrival of new guitarist, Andy Scott, and end the decade with the departure of frontman, Brian Connolly, and an ultimately ill-fated attempt to continue as a three-piece. This book is an unashamed celebration of the music of the Sweet and charts the lasting impact they had on many of the bands than followed them.

And of the author, Amazon has this to say:

After acquiring a second-hand copy of Sweet’s Give Us A Wink album from Action Records in Preston as a teenager in the early 1980s, Darren Johnson has been a dedicated fan of the band ever since. A former politician, he has written for a number of UK national newspapers but after stepping away from politics, he has been able to devote more time to his first love: music. A keen follower of both rock and folk, he maintains a popular music blog Darren’s Music Blog and has reviewed albums and gigs for a variety of publications. He lives in Hastings, East Sussex, UK

Other outlets:

A number of other retailers are now also taking pre-orders including: WH Smith, Waterstones, and Bookshop.org

Alternatively, the book (and all others in the series) will be available from ‘all good bookshops’ and via Sonicbond’s own online shop at Burning Shed here

‘The Sweet in the 1970s’ by Darren Johnson – published by Sonicbond 29th July 2021

Folk / Americana: album review – Wren ‘Pink Stone: Songs from Moose Lodge’

Writer, artist and singer-songwriter, Laura Adrienne Brady, performs music under the name Wren. Pink Stone: Tales From Moose Lodge is Wren’s third album, inspired by a stay at a remote cabin in the woods at Methow Valley, Washington State, where she was invited to house-sit while recovering from a mysterious but debilitating illness.

The resulting album is a sumptuous ten-track journey through Americana-infused, Celtic-inspired folk. Wren’s pure, emotive voice, intimate lyrics and melancholic, rootsy playing – ably assisted by a talented bunch of guest musicians and additional layers of harmony vocals.

Wren says of her latest album:

“The years I was writing these songs were some of the loneliest years of my life, but they were also imbued with a palpable magic, and I’ve spent the period since obsessed with how to transport the listener to the warm cocoon of a cabin where I felt free to move at my own pace for the first time. Though I was often alone, I wasn’t unattached. My relationships merged with this greater experience of place and led to a collection of songs about the paradoxes of love and intimacy, where the land and the river often become other characters in the story.”

Pink Stone: Songs from Moose Lodge follows in the tradition of her two previous albums which were largely also inspired by a specific geographical place: her lifetime love of the Salish Sea, Canada, her year in Galicia, Spain and, now with her third album her journey to Washington’s Methow Valley.

The album was produced at Airtime Studios in Bloomington, Indiana by David Weber and features Jason Wilber (guitar), Krista Detor (piano, organ, accordion and harmony vocals and Gary Stroutsos (American Indian cedar flute).

To accompany the album, Wren has also published a 98-page Companion Book of essay vignettes, journal entries, illustrations, photos, and lyrics born from her time in the Methow.

Check out the album and embark on this emotive journey with her.

Released: 20th February 2021

wren-music.com

This weeks featured artist: singer-songwriter duo O’Neil & Jones – new single ‘Broken Shoes’

Manchester-based duo O’Neill & Jones have just released their second single. ‘Broken Shoes’ released on April 2nd follows debut single ‘No Excuse’ which secured airplay in both the UK and US when it was released back in February. The duo are Mat O’Neill and Sophie Jones.

Relatively new to the singer-songwriter scene they had previously been building up a rapport with audiences as an acoustic covers duo. Their own songs soak up folk, Americana and rock influences with a strong emphasis on sweeping harmonies and strong melodies.

Announcing the release of ‘Broken Shoes’ they say:

“This one is a gently upbeat, folky song about coming to the end of a long journey, The trails we take while we’re able, and the relationships that remain once we settle down. We had such a great time writing and recording her last month and couldn’t be happier to be releasing our second single!”

The years spent performing covers proved to be a useful primer in song arrangement, catchy hooks, they tell us, and not least lessons in how to grab the attention of the listener.

And if you’re impressed with their productions skills in putting together the video for ‘Broken Shoes’ they’ve also given us a sneak glimpse behind the scenes showing us how it all came about.

With an ear for catchy melodies, lovely harmonies and beautifully-crafted lyrics I suspect we’ll be hearing quite a bit more from O’Neill and Jones.

Broken Shoes’ released 2nd April 2021

https://www.oneillandjones.com/