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1 Janet Dowd Home (Blue Cow Records JMBCR0005). Co Armagh singer’s third album delivers a pleasing, heartfelt, equable collec- tion consisting of classy covers, one trad-arr and three affectionately nostalgic originals, all cradled in genial, folky-country-styled acoustic settings. No surprises, but equally no disappointments.

2 Devils Water Treading The Marches (Osmosys OSMO CD 065). Firm thumbs-up for latest offering from Richard Ridley and Ray- mond Greenoaken with Patrick Walker, this one somewhat folk-rockier with its heavy- weight guests (Kemp, Nicol, Hutton). Songs and ballads from chiefly Northumbrian sources, cannily arranged and most attractively pack- aged and presented.

The albums – good (2), adequate (1) and bad (@) – which didn’t get the full-length treatment, contributed individually by a selection of our various reviewers cowering under the cloak of collective anonymity.

2 Natalie Merchant The Natalie Mer- chant Collection (Nonesuch 7559-793645-2). A beautiful ten-CD box collection for Mer- chant completists with all of her solo albums from 1995’s Tigerlily to her most recent studio recording, the string-drenched, heart-on- sleeve Butterfly (2017) and Rarities, a solo career collection of rare and previously unre- leased tracks. Exquisite as ever, and with a full photographic and lyrical booklet alongside.

@ Jupiter & Okwess Kin Sonic (Glitterbeat GBCD050). Patchy second album from Con- golese rockers. Damon Albarn and a member of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds guest. 3D from Mas- sive Attack designed the album cover. Lots of crunchy guitar and big production. Just give me some straight up-soukous any day. glitter-

2 Davy Graham Folk, Blues & Beyond…/ Large As Life & Twice As Natural (Bread & Wine BRINECD-1/2). This pair of seminal, reve- latory albums (dating from 1965 and 1968 respectively) by the master maverick guitarist unquestionably contain his most ambitious and groundbreaking work. No bonus materi- al, but otherwise these latest reissues will do just fine.

2 Mark T From Blues To Rembetika (Circle of Sound COS330CD). Long-term stalwart journeys between taxim and Son House and back again on this engaging album. Fiery bouzouki and neat blues slide, topped by T’s distinctive, clear English vocals and good choice of songs.

1 Dante & Eros Faulk Beirt (Green Mon- key GM1043). Brothers fifteen- and thirteen- years old from Olympia, Washington State, play Scots, Irish and American tunes on a range of instruments, mainly fiddle and cello. Clearly they are going to be very good indeed but there are suggestions that this album is a little premature.

1 Chris Fox Loose Ends (Chris Fox Music). A cool, low-key, unpretentiously soulful and gently rolling eight-track mostly-vox-and- guitar record from Cambridgeshire singer- songwriter – seven originals plus a gently reflective, better-than-makeweight Lord Franklin. chrisfoxmusic,org

2 Dan Walsh & Alistair Anderson Right At Home: Live At Mount Hooley (White Meadow Records WMR 2017CD). Sparks real- ly fly from this cross-generational pairing; the musicians prove literally right at home on a programme taking in old-time, Northumbri- an tunes, jazzy surprises, bluegrass and origi- nals. Nifty fun with bags of wow factor, recorded at house concerts chez-Ali. alistair-anderson/

2 Lucy Kitchen Sun To My Moon(Bohemia Rose BHRR0002). Lucy’s second collection delivers a gently mesmerising sequence of intimate reflections and confessionals; rare and precious, but in the right way. Delicate backings, involving pedal steel, piano and strings, complement Lucy’s voice, building a compelling, ethereal, and often beautiful aura.

1 Michael Wright Sleeping Pedlar (Inch- worm INCH-1). Jews-harper on a mission to prove the versatility of the jews-harp beyond novelty twang, here performing songs as well as tunes with that instrument either integrat- ed naturally into the instrumental tapestry or taking centre stage where appropriate. Mis- sion generally accomplished.

@ Banda Magda Tigre (Verve). New York- based band with members from Greece, Argentina, Japan and Colombia playing a light mix of pop, chanson, Latin American and other global influences. Far too tasteful for its own good and the little girly vocals start to grate in next to no time.

1 Eoin Dillon Pondelorum (Buda Musique 860312). A European domestic release for the third solo album from Kíla’s uillean piper Eoin Dillon. A rich mix of effervescence and inge- nuity, the tunes are well thought-out and suc- cessfully articulate works rooted in tradition- al idioms.

2 Eljuri La Lucha (Manovill 70026 14445 43). Right out on the fRoots fRinges, this has some terrific bits in a Joe Strummer-meets- Santana in a reggae rock in Español sort of way. Guitar-spanking Cecilia Villar Eljuri has a power trio featuring a drummer who has worked with Youssou and Bowie, a bassist from Debbie Harry, and a strong political com- mitment. Check out BangBang in the Novem- ber fRoots Radio.


2 Robbie Bankes Foothills (Robbie Bankes 741533761272). Astonishingly assured debut album by Canadian singer, songwriter, gui- tarist and banjo player, currently studying folk music at university in Norway. Pedal steel, bass and drums provide contemporary, muscular accompaniment to autobiographi- cal songs and new settings of Geordie and Seven Gypsies.

1 Sergio Beercock Wollow (800A Records 800A/015). A multi-talented Anglo-Italian musician, singer-songwriter and actor in the Johnny Flynn mould. Polite but pleasantly atmospheric original compositions precede the traditional The Barley And The Rye, before he goes full-on musical theatre with the closing Jester.

1 Hickory Signals Noise Of The Waters (Hickory Signals). Promising Sussex duo Laura Ward and Adam Ronchetti bring strong vocals and accomplished multi-instrumental accompaniment. Original songs, a setting of a James Joyce poem and some inventive reworkings of traditional songs – including a six/eight Irish Ways featuring berimbau.

1 Los Feliz Ancestry (Union Music Store UMS012). Brighton-based singer-songwriter Lucy Powell sings nine confessional and cathartic songs, frequently accompanied with solo electric guitar, with some sparse addi- tional piano and percussion. Suffused with religious iconography befitting recording in a Welsh church built by her ancestors.

2 Sally Barker & Vicki Genfan In The Shadow Of A Small Mountain (Small Mountain CD001). The fifteen-year transat- lantic friendship between two highly-regard- ed singer-songwriters has spawned this new project, where they perform nine mostly jointly-penned new songs with extraordinary togetherness. Tasty Appalachian, pop, African and jazz flavourings infuse this seduc- tive, yet deceptively laid-back collection.

2 Bill McKay Esker (Drag City DC976CD). Ten beautifully crafted compositions, flaw- lessly performed by McKay on guitars, glass slide, piano, bass and percussion. Highlights include the ragtime picking of Candy and the cinematic quality of Clementine.

@ Stephen Wade Across The Amerikee (Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40223). 21 tracks of Wade singing, talking, playing banjo and guitar is really not much fun. His singing voice is just not convincing and there are so many superior versions of these songs to discover.

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