Fatoumata Diawara: Fenfo Something To Say

We were never not going to like this: Diawara played with/on AfroCubism (the original idea of the Bueno Vista Social Club album) and with Benin’s Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou — two of our most-played world albums — as well as Herbie Hancock, and she combines the roots sound of the more traditional bands with […]

The Handsome Family: Through The Trees

This re-issue — it’s 20 years since The Handsome Family first released it — is bloody marvellous. Its basic sound could be 100 years old, a couple of (rather sinister) folks with beards and overalls making country music on a porch, but it’s got a modern feel and the lyrics are heartfelt; in fact, that’s […]

Finbar Furey: Don’t Stop This Now

If you’re into folk and associated genres, this is an album you must buy. Finbar Furey is an Irish legend, part of the Fureys. He toured and played hard, and life took its toll in 2013, when he had a near-fatal heart attack. He’s over it now (“A fella asked me if I had an […]

Will Varley: Spirit of Minnie

Previous releases — this is his fifth studio album — have been just Varley and guitar; powerful songs maybe (try Something Is Breaking from Kingsdown Sundown) but still acoustic. This new album has a full band and sees him up his game considerably: comparisons with the likes of Marc Cohn or even The Boss in […]

Don McLean: Botanical Gardens

Lyrically this is for those who think political correctness has gone mad, and the loss of the days when a man could walk round openly staring at pretty girls in dresses is to be lamented. The opener Botanical Gardens is, reduced to its essentials, about a man who ain’t getting any eying up girls in […]

Molly Tuttle: Rise

First the predictable joke: the opener is Good Enough but this mini-album is more than good enough. It’s marvellous. Though she plays bluegrass it doesn’t, on the surface, sound it. Bluegrass, the genre of American roots music that emerged from Appalachia but is shaped by Irish, Scottish and English traditional music, is often typified by […]

Vance Joy: Nation Of Two

Joy is a singer/songwriter, the basic format of his songs between him and acoustic guitar. He’s ok; to call him average is harsh — to write and play one decent song is too much for most of us — but he brings nothing new to the game. Noah And The Whale did something similar, and […]

Black Water County: Taking Chances

You’ve heard Black Water Country before, at least if you’ve heard the likes of The Pogues, Levellers and Dropkick Murphys; the sound is not original, but it’s so high energy it makes us feel exhausted just listening to it. We imagine that, live, they spent a lot of time jumping about and spilling beer. Black […]

Speak, Brother: Young and Brave

Just to get the negativity over first: Speak, Brother are aimed at the Mumfords market, without the world-class songs that made the latter famous. Despite the mockery that followed Mumfords for a while because of their omnipresence, they did write some very good songs. That they were nice guys and being good live also helped, […]

Stick in the Wheel: Follow Them True

This is the most likable folk album you’ll ever hear; with punk folk already taken they need a name for the genre they have created. It’s not punk in sound, but they take traditional folk and modernise it, with distorted guitar, tapes and Auto-tunes, without losing the folkiness. If wandering troubadours remained in existence, this […]