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fRoots 57 : your free album

Our pick of the very best new stuff. Load it onto your iPod or computer or burn it to CD. Go get it!


ere’s the latest in our long series of carefully crafted and sought-after compilations that are designed to let you hear the best music –mostly on

small independent labels – that our writers get enthusiastic about in the pages of fRoots. Listen, then buy the original CDs!

One has every right to be suspicious of ‘fusion’ and forced pairings, but the recent collaboration between Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin – the son of Malian legend Ali and a fine experimental Ameri- can singer/songwriter – is a fabulous excep- tion to the rule of doubt!

Tymon Dogg – living legend! The orig- inal ‘fiddle singer’ has a career that began recording singles for the Beatles’ Apple, includes some classic ’80s solo albums, and a long association with Joe Strummer includ- ing the fabulous Mescaleros. A true one-off national treasure!

Don’t we love it when artists make a Great Leap Forward? The Rheingans Sis- ters’ first album was lovely, but their second is absolutely exceptional. Only just released at the time of our Critics Polling, it still made it to No 6 in the year. Just imagine if it had got round a bit more by then…

We think that Sahra Halgan is the first artist from Somaliland – the self-declared state in the north west of Somalia which is still internationally unrecognised – to appear in our pages. But her sensational voice and funky trio put her up there with the best from around the planet.

The Ballads Of Child Migration is an all- star folk project put together by Smooth Operations to tie in with an exhibition at the V&A Museum Of Childhood. From it,

John Doyle’s song featured here has all the makings of the sort of classics that the Radio Ballads of yesteryear sometimes produced.

And talking of projects, Songs Of Sep-

aration brings together ten of the UK’s leading folk artists, who assembled on the Hebridean island of Eigg to explore in song the subject of ‘separation’ in its many forms. The track we’ve selected here features the lead vocal of Karine Polwart.

We’re relatively used to great long-lost

West African bands coming back to surprise us all, but nothing matched the pleasure of knowing that one of Mali’s legendary women singers, Kandia Kouyaté, had recovered after a decade-long absence fol- lowing a stroke, and is back on top form.

Dimitris Mystakidis’ previous album showcased rembetika for solo guitar: this time he’s gone one step further and assem- bled a dream team of Greece’s great singers to accompany, including Eleftheria Arvani- taki, Alkinoos Ioannidis, Eleni Tsaligopoulou and here, the legendary Eleni Vitali.

Readers with long memories will recall a cover feature back at the turn of the cen- tury on Spaccanapoli, the Italian band signed to Real World. Now, two members of that great outfit are to be found in the trio Vesevo, with a modern take on traditional forms like pizzica and tarantella.

It seems like barely a year since the inspired teaming of Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron put out the first Leveret album – because it was! – but now there’s another one about to arrive. A band at the cutting edge of the new English instrumental folk music.

United Bible Studies are somewhere out there in that strange weirdlore hinter-

land between fRoots and The Wire, occa- sionally emerging into the reality of one or the other. Their latest intriguing album is probably as folk-focussed as they get: think sonic parallels to Sproatly Smith…

The press release with Polish band C ci ˇaˇ

Vorba’s latest album describes them as “a virtuoso fusion of ethnic music, Roma swing, Romanian blues, Balkan pop and Mediterranean timbre, performed on tradi- tional instruments,” and praises singer Maria Natanson’s voice. That’ll do nicely!

Rhona Dalling is in her early twenties, grew up around the folk scene of North East England (her father is Tim Dalling of the New Rope String Band) and her quite extraordinary debut mini-album popped up on Bandcamp this year and knocked us all sideways. More about her next issue!

Bareto are the most successful Peru- vian band of their generation, twelve years and five albums into their career. Influenced by the Peruvian cumbia tradition but thor- oughly modern and adventurous, their lat- est album was mixed in Colombia by Richard Blair of Sidestepper.

Glasgow-based (Northumberland

raised) singer, songwriter and multi-instru- mentalist Sarah Hayes has been late mak- ing her first solo album, distracted by work- ing with Admiral Fallow, Wildings and oth- ers. The clichés ‘long awaited’ and ‘worth the wait’ definitely apply.

Swedish/Norwegian band Rim – fid- dles, nyckelharpa, melodeon, vocals on other tracks – formed at Finland’s Sibelius Academy. Their music is dynamic and subtle with lots of tight-knit groove and colourful rhythmic variations: another fine example of 21st Century instrumental folk.

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