British Folk Navigators

Various Artists – Navigator Records Sampler
Various Artists

Navigator Records Sampler (Navigator Records, 2012)

Navigator Records, one of the leading British folk music labels is finally available in North America thanks to an agreement with Compass Records. To get a taste of its most recent releases, Navigator Records has released this 10-track sampler. The budget priced album features tracks from Navigator recordings released in 2010 and 2011.

The album opens with ‘Muddy Water’ by renowned singer-songwriter Boo Hewerdine, a former member of The Bible. The laid back song from the album God Bless The Pretty Things has Americana influences, including slide guitar. Musicians on the album include Justin Currie (Del Amitri), Berlin based multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunngren, Ewen Vernal, Roy Dodds, Kevin McGuire and Alan Kelly (all from Eddi Readers band) and label mates John McCusker and Heidi Talbot.

Next comes one of the highlights of the album, ‘Superfly’ from the CD Origins by Glasgow-based contemporary Scottish folk band Treacherous Orchestra. They skillfully combine traditional Scottish music and musical instruments with an energetic rock band rhythm section, strings and tasteful electric guitars.

Treacherous Orchestra features John Somerville on accordion, Ross Ainslie on pipes and whistles, Ali Hutton on pipes and whistles, Bo Jingham on flutes and whistles, Kevin O’Neill on flutes and whistles, Adam Sutherland on fiddle, Innes Watson on fiddle, Eamonn Coyne on banjo and mandolin, Michael Bryan on guitar, Spad Reid on guitar, Fraser Stone on drums and percussion, Martin O’Neill on bodhran and percussion and Duncan Lyall on double bass.

The dazzling energy of Treacherous Orchestra leads to the acoustic guitar and Celtic accordion sound of the expressive Bella Hardy. The singer songwriter grew up in Edale, in Derbyshire’s Peak District. In her teens, she formed the popular 12-strong band The Pack. The group rapidly became a fixture on the British folk musi circuit. Bella earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from York University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Newcastle.

Bella’s piece ‘The Herring Girl’ comes from her latest album Songs Lost & Stolen. The album presents twelve original songs with themes that range from fairytales to English working class history, through childhood nostalgia, legends, murder and the human condition.

“Tom Padget’ is a passionate song by one of the best known English folk duos, Spiers and Boden. They are founders of the groundbreaking folk big-band Bellowhead. Spiers plays melodeon and concertina and Jon Boden performs on fiddle. Their most recent album is ‘The Works’, which includes guest appearances from Martin Carthy, Maddy Prior, Eliza Carthy, Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, Martin Simpson, and Fay Hield.

‘Alice in the Bacon Box’ is by young singer-songwriter and guitarist Lucy Ward, from Derbyshire. The rising star of English folk has one of the best voices in the current folk scene. She combines traditional and contemporary folk music arrangements. Her latest album is Adelphi Has To Fly.

Another artist with tremendous appeal is folk orchestra Bellowhead, a popular act in Europe that needs more recognition in North America. Their piece Two Magicians appears on CD for the first time having previously only been available on the iTunes exclusive bonus edition of their critically applauded “Hedonism” album.

Bellowhead is one of the best live acts in the UK. It is an 11-piece group that blends folk, funk, rock, world, jazz, music hall, and classical music. Bellowhead’s most recent studio album include Matachin (2008) and Hedonism ( 2010). Bellowhead are: Jon Boden on vocals, fiddle and tambourine; John Spiers on melodeon and concertina; Benji Kirkpatrick on guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and banjo; Rachael McShane on cello, fiddle; Paul Sartin on fiddle and oboe; Sam Sweeney on fiddle and bagpipes; Pete Flood on percussion; Ed Neuhauser on Sousaphone; Justin Thurgur on Trombone; Brendan Kelly on Saxophones / Bass Clarinet; and Andy Mellon on Trumpet.

Award-winning duo, Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, are skilled instrumentalists and expressive vocalists. Both musicians come from well-known folk families in the UK. They present the evocative song ‘Dolerite Skies’ that features outstanding vocals and fine instrumental work. ‘Dolerite Skies’ refers to how Tasmania shares the same mineral that is found in much of Britain’s coast. The song appears on their 2010 album Twice Reflected Sun.

English folk singer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Boden is represented several times in this compilation. On ‘We Do what We can’ included in the album Songs from the Floodplain, he presents his solo format, with a dramatic folk-rock sound.

Alyth McCormack is one of the most recognizable voices from Scotland. Although she often sings in Gaelic, here she presents a radio friendly folk-pop titled ‘People like me’ from her album People like Me.

The last piece is ‘Scoundrel clouds’ by Inge Thompson, from the album Shipwrecks & Static. Thompson is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist from the tiny, isolated Shetland island of Fair Isle. She performs an ambient side of folk music, with groundbreaking vocal harmonies and background drones.

Buy Navigator Records Sampler

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