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f30 Physical Attractions


You can’t beat a proper CD with great production values, and in the field of folk, roots and world music the physical album still rules supreme. Our panel pick the best of 2015 in the 30th annual fRoots Critics Poll for Albums Of The Year.


ast year’s fRoots Critics Poll For Albums Of The Year didn’t include many new names in the top choices. 2015’s was quite different: a bit of a sea change with the first album by Stick In The Wheel – last year’s Editor’s Choice for an earlier EP – making the coveted top spot.


L Two previous winners make the top


ten – Bassekou Kouyate (2007) and Sam Lee (2012). Leveret and Simpson, Cutting & Kerr are new teamings of well known names (including Andy Cutting in both cases – a good year for him) while Can- zoniere Grecanico Salentino are a genera- tion change of line-up in a band who have been going for many decades. But else- where in the Top 10 (and indeed 20) there’s an abundance of new or relatively recently established names. It’s also worth mentioning that only one of the top 10 (Leveret again) is an all-male line-up, a massive and positive difference to the world of mainstream popular music.


Over in our ‘compilations, re-issues and historical’ category it was neck-a-neck between the re-issue of an iconic English traditional classic, a massive retrospective of an American folk blues legend and a great, previously unreleased archive recording of Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour and his band in full flight back in 1987. The latter gets that prize, but the giant, lavishly assembled Folkways set of Lead Belly recordings managed to win our award for ‘Best Packaged’ album.


Stick In The Wheel


We have the biggest and most widely sourced – locally and internationally – independent panel of experts of any annu- al poll in our fields of music – nearly 300 of them. We ask them to nominate six new single artist albums; four re-issues, histori- cal issues or compilations; and three albums that they consider to be the best packaged of the year. We give guidance as to what’s eligible – basically, any music that falls into fRoots’ loose remit of “any- thing from anywhere with roots in a tradi- tion” – that has been released since November the previous year. This process produces a shortlist of ‘nominees’ which we announce in early November to help them all get a bit of extra mileage. Over the next two pages, in detail, are the placed final results – the nearest thing to a definitive guide to the best folk, roots and world music releases that there is.


And finally, your Editor’s Choice. Not- ing that a tendency of many other maga- zines and websites was to have only one or two people making their picks, he didn’t see why he should be left out! This award is designed to give a deserved leg-up to the smallest of independent imprints, often artist-run labels that many of our big panel won’t come across. And this year it goes to a mesmerising band from Oxford who we were proud to put on our October cover and feature – as did our main Album Of The Year winners – in one of our fRoots curated events as part of Sidmouth Folk Week 2015.


T


his, dear readers, is our 30th annual fRoots Critics Poll for Albums Of The Year. We’d like you to help pick the best folk, roots and world music album of


those three decades! There have been some truly amazing albums selected over those years, so we’re conducting a public on-line poll to pick the one you think is the best of all. All you have to do is go to frootsmag.com/bestofthe best where you can pick just one album from the long list of the winners and runners up for every year of our poll since 1986. Do it before 31st January and we’ll reveal the winner in our April 2016 issue!


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