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CD Reviews

Red June - Beauty Will Come (Red June Records)

With roots firmly planted in the Appalachian tradition and branches reaching defiantly into the fresh and lively breezes of contemporary Americana, North Carolina trio Red June are surely about to enjoy a veritable autumn of success, dropping their leaves into many a contented ear with the release...

Empirical - Elements of Truth (Naim Jazz)

There's a lot to be happy about in British jazz at the moment. We Brits have produced some of the finest, most adventurous and industrious jazz outfits of the last few years: The Neil Cowley Trio, Kairos 4tet, Polar Bear and Portico Quartet have all produced some outstanding music, but ask this...

Bruce Kaphan Quartet - Bruce Kaphan Quartet (Wiggling Air Records)

Like the crumhorn, the kettle drum and the pipe organ, the pedal steel is one of those strange instruments that you rarely see at your local jazz club. Unlike the crumhorn, however, the pedal steel is a mainstay of the blues - a genre so closely related to jazz that you'd expect to see many more...

Pat Metheny - Unity Band (Nonesuch)

Over the last century, Jazz has drawn a varied map of adventures for the guitar. From Django Reinhardt to Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell to John McLaughlin, Herb Ellis to John Abercrombie, the guitar has been handled by just about as many innovators, technicians, wizards and eccentrics in jazz as it...

Sean Taylor - Love Against Death (SGO Records)

With the inclusion of Herbert Mason's memorable photograph of St Paul's Cathedral taken during the blitz on the back page of the accompanying booklet, we are instantly reminded of London's resilience during difficult times. Sean Taylor's fifth album to date demonstrates the same sort of resilience...

Star rating: 
4

Hatful of Rain - Way Up On The Hill (Union Music Store)

Possibly named after Fred Zinnemann's 1957 movie or Del Amitri's record forty years on, this Sussex-based Bluegrass outfit's music couldn't be further from either. Recorded in a barn in Fulking, Sussex, WAY UP ON THE HILL features ten original songs and the one traditional, an arrangement of...

Star rating: 
4

Mary Chapin Carpenter - Ashes and Roses (Decca)

The singer songwriter Sarah McLachlan once said of sadness that it is "a great place to get songs from". Indeed, Sarah has been shopping there for years and has brought home bags and bags of melancholic songs in her time. It is one of the great ironies that every artist inevitably encounters: the...

Chris Helme - The Rookery (Little Num Num Music)

Chris Helme casts aside his earlier collection of acoustic songs that formed ASHES (2008) to make way for what he considers to be his first bone-fide debut album, which features ten original songs and the one instrumental that opens the album. Despite this whimsical opening mellotron-led...

Star rating: 
3

Emily Levy - Lost and Found (Self Release)

Evocative debut solo album from London-born singer, songwriter and composer Emily Levy, whose songs are suitably reflected in the brooding cover shot, which depicts a young girl tentatively peering into the darkness of the mysterious forest. Now based in Yorkshire, Emily creates her own specific...

Star rating: 
3

Anna MacDonald - Paper Flowers (Self Release)

Although the sleeve to Anna MacDonald's new EP states that all five songs are written by the Glasgow-raised singer-songwriter, I'm hoping the inclusion of Matty Groves is an oversight despite a touch of re-writing by the singer. Here, Anna re-tells the familiar story with much of the drama...

Star rating: 
3

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