M G Boulter – With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie

wolves

With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie is the latest release from singer-songwriter MG Boulter, it’s being nearly three years since I blogged about his previous album the excellent The Water Or The Wave, this time around the Thames Delta troubadour moved north to the Peak District to record this collection of 12 original songs with award winning producer Andy Bell (Bellowhead, Seasick Steve, Teenage Fanclub) and a supporting cast of players including Toby Kearney (drums, percussion & vibraphone), Ben Nicolls (electric & double bass, AceTone), Thomas Lethal (keyboards, accordion and vocals), Neil McSweeney (vocals) and Lucy Farrell whose vocal contribution shines on my favourite track on the album the rather lovely Love Trees.

The understated beauty of this track and the closing song Let Light In left this listener in a mellow and thoughtful mood,  with my mind already heavily influenced by the opening two tracks, in respect of their melody and tempo they are anything but mellow – but the stories they tell have a brooding sadness , both these songs are accented with Boulter’s pedal steel playing to great affect, but it’s  the lyrical refrain, sung by Lucy Farrell, “ bury my bones so I may see the sky” that  remains in ones thoughts long after the album ends, I’ll not spoil the stories, you can listen yourself here.

Throughout the recording there are some wonderful instrumental flourishes, for me the tendency to focus first on the lyrics (particularly the interpretive ones) resulted in the albums minutiae being only revealed after repeated listening and there’s a clear definition between the first half of the album and the second, though I don’t (yet) have a copy on vinyl I’d like to think it’s linked to flipping the LP over as it clocks in at a vinyl perfect 45 minutes, whether you choose analogue or digital you’ll not regret investing in this album – CD and Long Player are available now at Harbour Song Records,

MG Boulter hi res 1

MG Boulter / Facebook / Twitter

Beat Surrender : Best of 2013

It’s that time of year again to try and break down this years favourites into some kind of order, truth be told the #1 choice was the easiest I’ve had to make in recent years, separating #2 through #5 was a little more difficult – they are all great albums, stylistically very different but all have outstanding songs, from #6 onwards the degree of separation reduces and to be honest if I sat down with the final list next week the order could shift significantly, in the tradition of never doing it exactly the same way year-on-year this time around I’ve gone for a more straight forward chart and the number 33 seemed an appropriate choice given the top ten all found their way into my collection on vinyl (no doubt this influenced the final choices). Having already seen a number of fellow bloggers best of’s it evident there are some big name Americana acts missing from the Beat Surrender run down, as ever too much music and not enough time.

1. Jason Isbell – Southeastern

2. Camera Obscura – Desire Lines

3. Danny & The Champions of the World – Stay True

4. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

5. Caitlin Rose – The Stand In

6. Lindi Ortega – Tin Star

7. Holly Williams – The Highway

8. Sturgill Simpson = High Top Mountain

9. My Darling Clementine – The Reconciliation

10. Austin Lucas – Stay Reckless

11. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart

12. Chris T-T & The Hoodrats – The Bear

13. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

14. John Moreland – In the Throes

15. Frankie & The Heartstrings – The Days Run Away

16. Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo – Dear River

17. Star Anna – Go To Hell

“For Anyone” by Star Anna (official music video) from Coalter Digital on Vimeo.

18. Thee Spivs – The Crowds & The Sounds

19. Doc Feldman & the LD50 – Sundowning At The Station

20. Israel Nash Gripka – Rain Plans

21. Shona Tucker – A Tell All

22. The Lucky Strikes – The Exile & The Sea

23. Laura Cantrell – No Way Here From There

24. Possessed by Paul James -There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely

25. Amanda Shires – Down Fell The Doves

26. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

27. MG Boulter – The Water Or The Wave

28 Annie Keating – For Keeps

Annie Keating – All Gone

29. The Handsome Family – Wilderness

30. Paper Aeroplanes – Little Letters

31. Wynntown Marshalls – The Long Haul

32. Slaid Cleaves – Still Fighting The War

33. Lloyd Cole – Standards

Neil McSweeney – Cargo

Neil McSweeney - Cargo

Have mentioned the work of Sheffield based troubadour Neil McSweeney a couple of times already this year on BS leading up to the promised release of his latest album Cargo which is available on Harbour Records from today. The Irvine born singer-songwriters has produced another excellent set of original songs with a seasonal melancholia to stir the emotions, the eleven tracks are imbued with contemporary British folk stylings and presented beautifully with a supporting cast of contributors including Lucy Farrell, Sam Sweeney and the BS favourite Matt Boulter on who’s Harbour Records label Cargo is released, the album was created by Neil and co-producer Andy Bell over the course of 2013 and recorded using live takes in a variety of locations including kitchens, on a stair landing and the more conventional studio setting, Cargo is Neil’s third album following Remember To Smile (2006) and Shoreline (2009) and his best yet with a soothing vocal with a gentle brooding that deliver the songs wonderfully well, an album perfectly suited for the shortening days and contemplative nights of the season.

Neil McSweeney – Snow Blind

Neil McSweeney

The Lucky Strikes – The Exile & The Sea

The Lucky Strikes - The Exile & The Sea

The Lucky Strikes are back with their fourth album The Exile & The Sea, cementing their place as one of the UK’s best bands, in contrast to the their previous two albums The Chronicles Of Solomon Quick and Gabriel Forgive My 22 Sins which were concept albums based on stories of the Southern US this time the band have drawn inspiration from the history of their origins in Southend and The Thames Delta to create a songbook based on the stories they have uncovered and re-imagined from fragments in the archives of the local media and tales told in working mens clubs and pubs of their hometown, tales of events from the recent past and those veiled in local folklore, with the change of focus on the material from US to the UK the band have adopted a sound built on the roots music of their homeland blending it with elements of Celtic folk though the albums doesn’t settle into one genre or another with the bands wider influences evident throughout the eleven track collection.

The album opens with a stormer of a song To Be King which kicks things off with a Celtic swagger driven by fiddle and accordion, track two is one of the albums highlights a story based the near destruction, by fire of a prominent local landmark Southend Pier in 2005 The Beast Burnt Down, the Celtic elements also pervade through several other tracks on the album but cede on the albums title track a dark foreboding folk track and on the lamentation to a tarnished childhood Ballet Shoes another highlight from the album.

The Lucky Strikes – Ballet Shoes

The band are fronted by a Beat Surrender favourite MG Boulter (who’s recent solo album I praised on Beat Surrender in June) with Paul Ambrose (bass), William Bray (drums) and David Giles (piano & accordion), additional studio guest appearances come from Wild Jim Wilson (fiddle & banjo) and Rees Broomfield (percussion) who also mixed the album for the band at The Broom Cupboard studio in Raleigh, the album is released on their own Harbour Song label and available from 30th September on CD from the label website or to download at Bandcamp.

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