Thank Folk It’s Friday – 13th January

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Indie folk duo Husky released their new video “Late Night Store”. Details here

– Sydney summer concert series Courtyard Sessions announced their 2017 lineup including Imogen Clark, Leroy Lee, Jordie Lane, Taryn La Fauci, Skyscraper Stan, The Cruisin’ Deuces and more. Details here

– Sahara Beck released her new single “Crack Bang Bang”. Details here

– Ex-member of The Middle East Jordan Ireland announced his new album Jordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra and beautiful new single “East Coaster”. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Jack Carty announced a tour through February, March and April. Details here

William Crighton released his new video “Jesus Blues”. Details here

– Indie-folk duo The Campervan Dancers released their new video “St⭐️rlight (Pickin’ Pears)”. Details here

– Canadian folk and trad trio The East Pointers have announced a massive Australian tour kicking off in March. Details here

– We posted the latest video from bluegrass duo The Weeping Willows, “Fallen Ring”. Details here

– Australia’s queen of country Kasey Chambers announced her new double album Dragonfly. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Kathleen Mary Lee released her video “Hey, Very Good Friend”. Details here

– Australian tour dates were announced for Billy Bragg and Joe Henry. Details here

Blog

With the new year upon us it’s time to look ahead at some of the great folk, roots and acoustic music that will be coming our way in 2017. We had a stab at picking 10 artists we think you should be keeping an eye on in the coming months including All Our Exes Live in Texas, Davidson Brothers, Fleet Foxes, Husky, Jordan Ireland, Laura Marling, Punch Brothers, Rhiannon Giddens, The Morrisons and Timberwolf. Blog here

Releases This Week

Flo Morrissey
Gentlewoman, Ruby ManFlo Morrissey & Matthew E. White
iTunes

Laws of Gravity
Laws of GravityThe Infamous Stringdusters
iTunes

The McClymonts
EndlessThe McClymonts
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Illawarra Folk Festival

Illawarra FF

Our favourite mid size folk festival kicks off this weekend with an amazing lineup including Andy Irvine and Luke Plumb, FourWinds, Tattletale Saints, The Whitetop Mountaineers, Tim O’Brien, Wallis Bird, Daniel Champagne, Echo Deer, Handsome Young Strangers, Lime and Steel, Mandy Connell, Martin Pearson, Nigel Wearne, Shanty Club, The Squeezebox Trio, Tinpan Orange, Big Erle, Jane Aubourg, Joe Mungovan, Kay Proudlove, Shelley’s Murder Boys, The Lurkers and many many more.

Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Bulli, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Áine Tyrrell
Friday 13th January – Rosny Barn, TAS
Saturday 14th January – Waratah Hotel, Hobart, TAS
Friday 20th January – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Alanna and Alicia
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Alice Terry
Thursday 19 January – Village Stage, Meriton Festival Village, Sydney, NSW

Andy Irvine w/ Luke Plumb
Friday 13th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW
Thursday 19th January – Bathurst City Community Club, Bathurst, NSW
Friday 20th January – Fairlight Folk Acoustic Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Backsliders w/ Shelly’s Murder Boys
Saturday 14th January – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW

Banjo Jackson
Thursday 19th January – Hither & Yon, Willunga, SA

Ben Salter
Thursday 19th January – The Golden Barley, Sydney, NSW

Blue King Brown
Friday 13th January – Mona Vale Hotel, Mona Vale, NSW

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s Bluegrass Picnic
Wenesday 18th January – Balls Head Reserve, Sydney, NSW

Broads
Sunday 15th January – The Golden Barley, Sydney, NSW

Cash Savage & The Last Drinks
Wednesday 18th January – Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Courtyard Sessions Presents Imogen Clark
Friday 13th January – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Courtyard Sessions Presents Leroy Lee
Friday 20th January – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Don McGlashan
Friday 13th January – Brookfields Shed, Margate, TAS
Saturday 20th January – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Mofo, Mona Foma, Hobart, TAS

eüsh, Nic Cassey & Friends
Thursday 19th January – Marlborough Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Fairlight Folk feat. Andy Irvine & Luke Plumb, Seanchas
Friday 20th January – Fairlight Folk Acoustic Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 20th January – Fanzone Performance, Tamworth, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. GG Music, Ben Camden, Julia Johnson
Wednesday 18th January – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Fourwinds
Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th January – Illawara Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Tuesday 17th January – Wauchope Arts Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Wednesday 18th January – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW
Friday 20th January – The Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW

George & Noriko
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

Gregory Page
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

Handsome Young Strangers
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Friday 20th January – Botany View Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Hat Fitz & Cara
Thursday 19th January – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Thredbo Blues Festival, Thredbo, NSW

High and Lonesome feat. Katie Crane, Scott Collins, John Woolhouse
Saturday 14th January – The Bellingen Brewery & Co., Bellingen, NSW

Hinterlandt
Thursday 19th January – Alpha House Artist Co, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Mofo, Mona Foma, Hobart, TAS

HONK! Oz
Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st January – Wollongong, NSW

Hootenanny feat. Mark Lucas and The Dead Setters
Sunday 15th January – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Illawarra Folk Festival
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Bulli, NSW

Jenny Biddle
Thursday 19th January – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Joe & Harmony’s Trippy Hippy Band
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Josh Pyke & Bob Evans
Friday 13th January – Esk BeerFest, Launceston, TAS

Kenta Hayashi
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Wednesday 18th January – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 20th January – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW

King Arthur
Thursday 19th January – The Rooks Return, Melbourne, VIC

Kirsty Bromley
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

Kyle Taylor
Friday 13th January – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 14th January – The Exeter, Adelaide, SA

Lake Street Dive
Friday 13th January – Sydney Festival, Sydney, NSW

Lime & Steel
Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th January – Illawara Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

MANE
Sunday 15th January – Hither & Yon, Willunga, SA

Matt Henry
Thursday 19th January – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Matt J Ward & The Rising Sons w/ Alana Jagt, Sam Newton
Sunday 15th January – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA

Melody Moko, The Wayward Henrys & Andrew Swift
Thursday 19th January – The Stag & Hunter, Newcastle, NSW

Missy Higgins
Sunday 15th January – Australian Open Sessions, Melbourne, VIC

Mofo
Friday 20th to Sunday 21st January – Mona Foma, Hobart, TAS

Nigel Wearne
Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Friday 20th January – Mountain Mumma, Sheffield, TAS

Numeralla Folk Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Numberalla, NSW

Passenger
Friday 20th January – Riverstage Theatre, Brisbane, QLD

Pierce Brothers
Friday 13th January – The Grand, Morngington, VIC
Saturday 14th January – Westernport Hotel, San Remo, VIC
Thursday 19th January – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 20th January – The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD

Roesy
Saturday 14th January – Salt Contemporary Art Gallery, Queenscliff, VIC
Sunday 15th January – Long Play, Melbourne, VIC

Sahara Beck
Friday 13th January – The Rhythm Hut, Gosford, NSW

Sharon Shannon
Friday 13th January – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Saturday 14th January – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 15th January – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Shelley’s Murder Boys
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW
Saturday 14th January – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW
Thursday 19th January – Mr Falcon’s, Sydney, NSW

Tamar Valley Folk Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Georgetown, TAS

Tamworth Country Music Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 29th January – Tamworth, NSW

Tattletale Saints
Friday 13th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

The Outside Track
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW

The Porch Sessions On Tour feat. Stu Larsen, Luke Thompson, Tim Moore
Friday 13th January – Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 15th January – Bacchus Marsh, VIC
Wednesday 18th January – Wollongong, NSW
Friday 20th January – Sydney (Croydon Park), NSW

The Snakemen
Sunday 19th January – Wayward Brewing Company, Sydney, NSW

The Weeping Willows
Sunday 15th January – The Standard Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The Whitetop Mountaineers
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Wednesday 18th January – Yinnar Community Hall, Yinnar, VIC
Thursday 19th January – Valencia Creek Hall, Brigalong, VIC
Friday 20th January – Harvester Moon Café, Bellarine, VIC

Thompson Springs w/ Maia Marsh
Friday 13th January – The Front, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 15th January – Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 16th January – Cherry Bar, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 17th January – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 20th January – Club 54, Launceston, TAS

Thredbo Blues Festival
Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd January – Thredbo, NSW

Tim O’Brien
Friday 13th to Saturday 14th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 15th January – The Quarter Deck, Narooma, NSW
Thursday 19th January – The Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

TinPan Orange
Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

Vanishing Shapes
Sunday 15th January – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 16th January – Camp Davey, Lismore, NSW
Wednesday 18th January – Phoenix Rising Café, Nimbin, NSW
Thursday 19th January – Treehouse on Belongil, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 20th January – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD

Wallis Bird
Friday 13th and Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW

We Lost the Sea w/ The Crooked Fiddle Band
Saturday 14th January – Northcote Social Club, Sydney, NSW

William Crighton
Saturday 14th January – Quarterdeck, Narooma, NSW

Winter Wilson
Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, Bulli, NSW
Thursday 19th January – Braidwood Folk Club, Braidwood, NSW
Friday 20th January – Humph Hall, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“The Bonny Ship, The Diamond” – Beoga

English superstar Ed Sheeran dropped details of his upcoming album ÷. The album will include collaborations with Irish trad band Beoga so we think it’s time you got acquainted.

Watch the New Video From The Campervan Dancers “St⭐️rlight (Pickin’ Pears)”

Campervan Dancers
Image Courtesy of The Campervan Dancers

After successfully crowd funding early last year indie-folk duo The Campervan Dancers have been hard at work putting the finishing touches on their upcoming five-track EP.

To give us a taster the duo have released their new single and video “St⭐️rlight (Pickin’ Pears)” which was written all the way back in 2012.

Check out the video to “St⭐️rlight (Pickin’ Pears)” below:

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 23rd December

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– We picked our top 25 albums and EPs of 2016 including releases from Applewood Road, Mumford & Sons with Baaba Maal, The Very Best & Beatenberg, Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, Bon Iver22, A Million, Burrows, Eagle & The Wolf, Foy Vance, Gregory Alan Isakov, Imogen Clark, Jack Carty, James Kenyon, Melody Pool, Michael Kiwanuka, Oh Pep!, One Up, Two Down, Passenger, Paul Kelly, Radical Face, Rowena Wise, Seth Lakeman feat. Wildwood Kin, The Company, The Staves, The Weeping Willows and William Fitzsimmons. Details here

– We reached out to the Timber and Steel community to get them to pick their top albums of the year. The results are wonderful with well over 100 artists contributing. Details here

– Our Editor In Chief Gareth Hugh Evans picked his top 25 tracks of 2016 including songs from Ariela Jacobs, Bon Iver, Burrows, Eagle & The Wolf, Emmy The Great, Fanny Lumsden, Foy Vance, Gretta Ray, Imogen Clark, James Kenyon, Laura Marling, Matthew And The Atlas, Melody Pool, Michael Kiwanuka, Mumford and Sons with Baaba Maal, The Very Best & Beatenberg, One Up, Two Down, Passenger with All Our Exes Live in Texas & Luke Thompson, Paul Kelly with Alice Keath, Rowena Wise, Sam Newton, Seth Lakeman with Wildwood Kin, Sian Evans, The Campervan Dancers, The Weeping Willows and William Fitzsimmons. Details here

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Woodford Folk Festival

Woodford

Tuesday 27th December to Sunday 1st January – Woodford, QLD

Gigs Next Week

Áine Tyrrell
Tuesday 27th December to Sunday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, QLD

Amerrycana Christmas feat. Catherine Britt, Gregory Page, Katie Brianna, Adam Young, Brielle Davis, Arna Georgia
Friday 23rd December – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Get Folked 2016 New Years Eve Eve feat. Peter ‘Blackie’ Black, Dan Kemp(UK), Jim Mongrel, Whiskey Jeff Larson, James Seymour, Sooze, Jim Lynch
Friday 30th December – Lazybones Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Eddie Boyd
Friday 23rd December – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

James Thomson & The Strange Pilgrims w/ Magpie Diaries
Friday 23rd December – Stag and Hunter Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Justin Bernasconi
Saturday 24th December – City Sounds, Brisbane, QLD
Tuesday 27th December to Sunday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, QLD

PJ Michael & The Banditas
Thursday 29th December – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA

Steve Poltz
Friday 23rd December – The Govenor Hindmarsh, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 24th December – Flying Saucer Club, Elsternwick, VIC

The Whitetop Mountaineers
Tuesday 27th December to Sunday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, QLD

Woodford Folk Festival
Tuesday 27th December to Sunday 1st January – Woodford, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“The Wexford Carol” – Yo-Yo Ma & Alison Krauss

Gareth Hugh Evans’ Top 25 Tracks of 2016

2016

To round out our week of “best of” lists our illustrious Editor in Chief Gareth Hugh Evans once again whittles down the ton of releases that crossed his ears this year to pick his 25 favourite tracks of 2016.

We’re going to get out of the way and let Gareth throw some music your way – enjoy!

1. Foy Vance – “She Burns”
Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance has always been on my radar but when he released his album The Wild Swan earlier this year I was floored. The standout track, I think most people would agree, is the wonderful “She Burns”, with its pizzicato guitar, slow build percussion and choral backing vocals. Foy Vance is a singer-songwriter at the top of his game.

2. One Up, Two Down – “Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie”
It seems almost unfair that I would choose a traditional song as my favourite from a band that are not only accomplished songwriters in their own right but also amazing musicians whose instrumental tracks are incredibly special. But I challenge you to listen to Dan Watkins singing “Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie” and not melt into a puddle. His voice and guitar, combined with George Jackson and Andrew Small’s long bowed fiddle and bass, turn this cowboy ballad into something more. Simply beautiful.

3. Burrows – “Falling Apart”
When I saw Burrows play at this year’s Summer Hill Folk Festival I was floored. Every song they played was a piece of harmonic brilliance, enhanced by the acoustics of the Summer Hill Church. When they came around to “Falling Apart” I murmured “that’s the song” – and I still maintain that this track is near perfect. I love Sam King’s understated vocals and the harmonies in the chorus are just divine.

4. Eagle & The Wolf – “Mama, Son and the Holy Ghost”
The pairing of Kris Morris’ dirty blues and roots with Sarah Humphreys’ big folk voice, “Mama, Son and the Holy Ghost” was the perfect introduction to Eagle & The Wolf. Individually Kris Morris and Sarah Humphreys are firm favourites of Timber and Steel but Eagle & The Wolf is greater than the sum of its parts and “Mama, Son and the Holy Ghost” is the epitome of their collaboration. This is rootsy blues done right – all crunchy guitars, clipped percussion and keyboard and big, bluesy voices.

5. Bon Iver – “22 (OVER S∞∞N)”
With its glitchy opening, distorted Mahalia Jackson samples, saxaphone solos and weird lyrics it would appear on the surface that Justin Vernon has well and truly moved on from the acoustic folk of For Emma, Forever Ago and embraced the more electronic elements of the self-titled Bon Iver. But at its core “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” is still classic Bon Iver with Vernon’s double-tracked, falsetto voice coming through loud and clear. Strip back all the beeps and bops and “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” could sit alongside any of the classic Bon Iver folk tracks.

6. Melody Pool – “Love, She Loves Me”
Since first seeing Melody Pool perform at the Gulgong Folk Festival back in 2013 I’ve been predicting big things for her. To say that her new album Deep Dark Savage Heart was highly anticipated in the Timber and Steel bullpen is an understatement and when it dropped earlier this year it was on solid repeat for ages. “Love, She Loves Me” is definitely a standout track on the album (although “Black Dog” is a close second), perfectly demonstrating Pool’s skill as a songwriter and singer. What a voice!

7. Rowena Wise – “Then We Met”
Rowena Wise owns the quirky indie-folk genre this year this this wonderfully catchy track from her 2016 self titled album. I love the twisted, bluesy finger-picked riff throughout this track and that chorus is a definite ear worm. I’ve been watching Rowena Wise cloesly since she launched a serious solo career and it’s songs like “Then We Met” that will see her successfully straddle the folk and indie worlds in the coming years

8. Matthew and the Atlas – “Elijah”
I love Matt Hegarty’s voice. “Elijah” is probably the most stripped back, acoustic track on Matthew and the Atlas’ latest album Temple and is easily my favourite as well. I love the finger-picked guitar over the swelling piano and orchestral elements and the subtle backing vocals. But most of all I love Matt Hegarty’s voice – I just can’t get passed that.

9. Paul Kelly feat. Alice Keath – “Sonnet 73”
To be honest I could have chosen any of the tracks from Paul Kelly’s marvelous album Shakespeare inspired Seven Sonnets And A Song. The reason I finally settled on “Sonnet 73” is two fold: Firstly it has a wonderful, folk-country feel with Kelly’s strummed acoustic guitar over a plucked pedal steel; And second the backing vocals from Alice Keath (Sweet Jean) are pitch perfect. Who knew you could improve on The Bard?

10. Seth Lakeman feat. Wildwood Kin – “Meet Me In The Twilight”
More than any other song on this list “Meet Me In The Twilight” gets lodged in my head and refuses to leave. Lakeman’s percussive guitar work coupled with an instantly singable (or yellable) chorus are what makes this song so catchy. Wildwood Kin add an extra level of sophistication to this track as well as the rest of Lakeman’s album Ballads of the Broken Few. I have a feeling that this track would be amazing to see live and have the crowd foot stomping and singing along.

11. Mumford & Sons, Baaba Maal, The Very Best, Beatenberg – “Wona”
This collaboration between Mumford & Sons, Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, Swedish-Malawian electronic band The Very Best and South African afro-beat masters Beatenberg is just pure joy. All afro-beat goodness and nu-folk bombast, you can’t help but smile when listening to “Wona”, it’s such a breath of fresh air. I know that liking Mumford & Sons is definitely no longer “cool” but when they’re collaborating and producing music like this then you’ll still find me first in line for their next release.

12. James Kenyon – “The Motorbike Song”
I feel like James Kenyon might be one of the most underrated singer-songwriters in Australia right now. Songs like “The Motorbike Song”, with its rootsy groove and Paul Kelly-esque lyrical style, should see Kenyon a firm favourite amongst music lovers everywhere. I also have to give props to the wonderful video from Ed Bracey – it even makes Melbourne’s Docklands look stunning.

13. Michael Kiwanuka – “Black Man In A White World”
Michael Kiwanuka has always deftly woven together elements of folk, gospel, blues and old-school R&B and his single “Black Man In A White World” is the epitome of that sound. I love the gospel clapping accompanying the disco-like string stabs and R&B guitar. This could well have come straight out of the 70s – one of those songs that sound immediately timeless.

14. Fanny Lumsden – “Land of Gold”
At the time of writing Fanny Lumsden had been nominated for an ARIA award, has 4 Golden Guitar nominations and has gone to number one on the Country Music Channel charts twice. Incredible work for a singer-songwriter from the Riverina. One of those top charting songs is the nostalgic “Land of Gold”, a deceptively simple storytelling song with a big heart that has quickly become one of my favourite Fanny tracks ever. Whether she’s playing with a full band or with just her bassist Dan, “Land of Gold” always pops live. I really love this song.

15. Passenger feat. All Our Exes Live in Texas & Luke Thompson – “Caravan (Live)”
It’s a bit cheeky choosing a live version of a track that’s seven years old as one of my favourites of 2016 but this video has been on serious high rotation since it was posted earlier this year. When you take possibly my favourite Passenger track of all time and throw a collaboration between All Our Exes Live in Texas and Luke Thompson into the mix you strike pure gold. Just listen to those harmonies on the choruses – magic stuff.

16. Imogen Clark – “You’ll only Break My Heart”
Imogen Clark has had a pretty big year built on the bedrock of her debut album Love & Lovely Lies and its two lead singles “Take Me For A Ride” and “You’ll only Break My Heart”. The latter is Clark’s most mature offering to date, making the most of her big voice and lyric driven song writing. I’m not sure why Imogen Clark gets lumped into the Country crowd – to my ears her music is straight up acoustic pop – but regardless of the genre “You’ll only Break My Heart” heralds big things to come from the Sydney singer-songwriter.

17. Ariela Jacobs – “Lost”
The way that Ariela Jacobs plays with melody and syncopation on “Lost” is so intriguing. The rhythmic, unpredictable verses give way to simple 4/4 choruses and then a middle eight that just launches itself at you and takes you by surprise. This song is all about Jacobs’ voice with the accompaniment – simple piano chords for the most part – taking a back seat to her lyrics. This track is powerful and vulnerable all at the same time.

18. Sian Evans – “Cold Feet”
I got to meet Sian Evans at the National Folk Festival this year where she got me to act as roadie for her as she rushed to one of her gigs. She’s spent much of 2016 carving out a solo career for herself after her work with The Rusty Datsuns and part of that has involved developing her own distinct sound. The result is the single “Cold Feat” which has a pop sensibility with a heart of folk.

19. The Weeping Willows – “River of Gold”
The Weeping Willows embrace their bluegrass side with their huge single “River of Gold”. I love Andrew Wrigglesworth flat picking guitar on this song, accentuated with a subtle banjo over the entire track. And then of course there’s the harmonies between Wrigglesworth and Laura Coates which The Weeping Willows are renowned for.

20. Gretta Ray – “Unexpected Feeling”
Triple J Unearthed High winner Gretta Ray has quite rightly had a massive year with high rotation on the national broadcaster and lots of love from the music press. Her track “Unexpected Feeling” is such a joy to listen to – and to be honest when I first heard it I had no idea that Ray was still in high school. There’s a definite maturity in her songwriting and I just love her guitar work on this track.

21. Sam Newton – “Hold You Down”
The Americana vibes of “Hold You Down” coupled with Sam Newton’s sweet, unassuming voice make this track instantly attractive. I love the way you can’t help but tap your toe along with the brushed snare drum and thumping bass. The production on this track really pulls it all together – it could well have been a straight up acoustic song but the addition of drums, bass and trembling electric guitar turn the song into something more.

22. William Fitzsimmons – “Hear Your Heart”
I was so happy that William Fitzsimmons released his mini album Charleroi: Pittsburgh Vol. 2 this year (as well as a live album) because it meant more songs like “Hear Your Heart” out in the world. Rolling fingerpicking, hushed vocals, sad subject matter – this is William Fitzsimmons in a nutshell and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

23. Laura Marling – “Soothing”
I don’t know why I was surprised when we got a new Laura Marling song this year – she’s been insanely prolific throughout her relatively short career having released five albums in the last eight years. “Soothing” is the first taste from her upcoming seventh album Semper Femina and it sees Marling depart from her usual acoustic guitar driven songwriting with a bass and percussion loop that wouldn’t be out of place on a Radiohead release. This track also sees Marling’s first foray into directing on the accompanying video (that is borderline NSFW so maybe wait until you get home to play this one).

24. The Campervan Dancers – “Slow Down Butterfly”
From what I understand “Slow Down Butterfly” was gestating for quite a while before Sydney duo The Campervan Dancers launched it at the beginning of the year. This is a track that tumbles over itself with vocals, samples, instrumentation popping up all over the place. I love the injection of chaos into what could have just been a standard piece of indie-folk pop. Let’s hope there’s more gestating where this came from.

25. Emmy The Great – “Algorithm”
My need to squeeze Emmy The Great’s recent output into the genre of “folk” so that I can justify posting it on Timber and Steel continues with “Algorithm”. The first Emmy The Great song in a while to contain a decent amount of acoustic guitar, “Algorithm” is a lovely example of the direction Emmy The Great’s songwriting has taken recently – more obscure, more pop but still with her fragile voice front and centre.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 22nd January

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– American singer-songwriter Matt Bauer released his new video “What The White Book Said”. Details here

Radical Face announced that he will be releasing the final album in his trilogy, The Family Tree: Leaves, this March. Details here

The Brunswick Music Festival has announced its 2016 lineup including Blind Boy Paxton, Jeff Lang, Alison Ferrier, Mandy Connell, Charles Jenkins, Cat Canteri & Justin Bernasconi, Brooke Russell, Ayleen O’Hanlon, Hat Fitz & Cara, Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro, Mànran, Spiro, Moxie, Shane Howard Trio, Mia Dyson, Jess Ribeiro and many more. Details here

– Sydney singer-songwriter Imogen Clark released her new video “Take Me For A Ride”. Details here

– UK nu-folkers Matthew and the Atlas released their new single “Elijah”. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Zac Saber released his new single “Soak Up The Sun”. Details here

Boy & Bear released their new video “Limit of Love” ahead of their national tour. Details here

– Folk trio Applewood Road released their new video “Lovin’ Eyes”. Details here

– Americana singer-songwriter James Thomson has announced an East Coast tour this February and March. Details here

– We were really proud to debut the new single from The Campervan Dancers, “Slow Down, Butterfly”. Details here

– English nu-folk artist King Charles released his new single “Choke”. Details here

– Perth based Americana singer Davey Craddock released his new single “Peaceful Bay”. Details here

Releases This Week

Aoife
In The Magic HourAoife O’Donovan
iTunes

Desert Songs
Desert SongsPiers Faccini & Dawn Landes
iTunes

Gamble for a Rose
Gamble For A RoseKing Charles
iTunes

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Tom West

Tom West

Singer-songwriter Tom West returns to his spiritual home of The Grace Emily in Adelaide to play the first of two live album recording sessions

Thursday 28th January – The Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Gigs Next Week

40 Ways to Love Your City w/ Warren Fahey, Christa Hughes and Mic Conway’s National Junk Band
Saturday 23rd January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 24th January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW
Monday 25th January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW

Allison Forbes
Friday 22nd January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW

Andrew Swift
Friday 22nd January – Hogs Breath Stage, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW

Beth Patterson
Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th January – Newstead Live Folk Festival, Newstead, VIC
Thursday 28th January – Lass O’Gowrie Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 29th January – Ocean View Hotel, Urunga, NSW

Country Conquers Cancer feat. Paddy McHugh, Pat Tierney, Megan Cooper, Dana Hassall, Sian Evans, Josh Rennie-Hynes, Brad Butcher, Dana Gehrman, The Mighty Kind, Jen Mize, The Floyd Family Breakdown, Ben Bunting, Andy McDonnell, Cameron Milford, Emma Bosworth, Hayley Marsten, Ellie Jane, Boatkeeper, Byron Short and the Sunset Junkies
Thursday 28th January – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD

Boy & Bear
Friday 22nd January – Odeon Theatre, Hobart, TAS
Saturday 23rd January – Festival Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 29th January – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA

Cake & Cordial Sessions feat. Paddy McHugh, Megan Cooper, Gretta Ziller, Andy Golledge, Brad Butcher
Friday 22nd January – St Paul’s Anglican Church, Tamworth, NSW

Dana Hassall
Friday 22nd January – City Plaza, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – FanZone, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – The Songwriters Round, Capitol Theatre, Tamworth, NSW

Davey Craddock w/ The Waifs
Sunday 24th January – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

Deep Down South feat. Lachlan Bryan, Les Thomas, Mr Alford Country, Jemma Nicole, Andrew Swift, Brooke Russell, Tom Dockray, Gretta Ziller
Sunday 24th January – The Stag, Newcastle, NSW

Eagle & The Wolf
Friday 22nd January – The Longyard, Tamworth, NSW

Elwood Myre
Tuesday 26th January – Flow Bar, Old Bar, NSW

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 22nd January – Capitol Theatre, The Songwriters Round, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Longyard Deck, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – Longyard Goonoo Goonoo Room, Tamworth, NSW

Far From Folsom Featuring Tex Perkins and The Tennessee Four with Rachael Tidd
Friday 29th January – Melbourne Zoo Twilights, Melbourne, VIC

FolkSwagon feat. Comedownsundown, The Campervan Dancers, Special Guest
Wednesday 27th January – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Hootenanny Bluegrass Sundays feat. Echo Deer
Sunday 24th January – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Imogen Clark
Friday 22nd January – Tudor Upstairs, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 23rd Januray – FanZone, Tamworth, NSW

Irish Mythen
Friday 22nd January – The Django Bar, Marrickville, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – The Paragon Cafe, Katoomba, NSW
Friday 29th January – The Wesley Anne, Northcote, VIC

John Butler Trio
Friday 22nd January – Belvoir Amphitheatre, Upper Swan, WA
Saturday 23rd January – Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River, WA
Sunday 24th January – Quindanning Tavern, Quindanning, WA

Josh Pyke
Friday 29th January – Twilight at Taronga, Sydney, NSW

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes
Friday 22nd January – The Tamworth, Tamworth, NSW

Megan Cooper
Friday 22nd January – Cake & Cordial Sessions, St Paul’s Anglican Church Hall, Tamworth, NSW

Michael Hurley and Meg Baird
Sunday 24th January – St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW

Newstead Live! Music Festival
Friday 22nd to Monday 25th January – Castlemaine, VIC

Numeralla Folk Festival
Friday 22nd to Monday 25th January – Numeralla, NSW

One Up, Two Down
Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd January – Andrew Clemont’s Supper Club, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – West Leagues Club, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 27th January – Cat and Fiddle Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 28th January – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Friday 29th January – Hotel Gearin, Katoomba, NSW

Out of Abingdon
Saturday 23rd January – Nethercote Music Factory, Nethercote, NSW
Wednesday 27th January – Hippo Co, Canberra, ACT

Ryley Walker
Friday 22nd January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – The Famous Spiegeltent, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 24th January – Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 25th January – The Toff, Melbourne, VIC

Tamworth Country Music Festival
Saturday 15th to Sunday 24th January – Tamworth, NSW

The Audreys
Saturday 23rd January – Live at the Vines, Kay Brothers Winery, McLaren Vale, SA
Sunday 24th January – Flying Saucer Club, Elsternwick, VIC
Monday 25th January – Spotted Mallard, Brunswick, VIC

The Brouhaha
Friday 29th January – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

The Button Collective
Friday 22nd January – Smiths Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 23rd January – Swamp Collective, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 24th January – Oriental Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

The East Pointers
Friday 22nd January – Chudleigh Community Hall, TAS
Saturday 23rd January – Queenstown Memorial Hall, TAS
Sunday 24th January – Southport Community Centre, TAS

The Franklin Electric
Friday 22nd January – The Fat Controller, Adelaide, SA
Friday 29th January – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The Waifs
Saturday 23rd January – Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River, WA
Sunday 24th January – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

The Wayward Henrys
Friday 22nd January – Hogs Breath Cafe, Tamworth, NSW
Friday 22nd January – Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – Hogs Breath Stage, Tamworth, NSW
Saturday 23rd January – Cafe Retro, Tamworth, NSW

Tom West
Thursday 28th January – The Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Friday Folk Flashback

“Johnny Stewart, Drover” – John Thompson

This week we lost Chris Buch who wrote this magnificent song.

Timber and Steel Premiere: The Campervan Dancers Debut Single “Slow Down, Butterfly”

Campervan Dancers
Image Courtesy of The Campervan Dancers

It’s finally here! The much awaited debut single from The Campervan Dancers! “Slow Down, Butterfly” was written this time last year on the couple’s tropical, bug-filled honeymoon in Northern Queensland.

They self produced the song in their home studio and are currently running a crowdfunding campaign for their next release, a debut EP. Take a listen to “Slow Down, Butterfly” here:

To download your own copy of “Slow Down, Butterfly” with a pre-order of the EP (plus maybe a postcard from Paris, a personalized song, some beautifying braids, or maybe even a tattoo on Ryan’s butt) head to the Pozible project page here.

The Campervan Dancers head to Europe in March for an extended tour, so catch them at one of their final Sydney shows before next summer (details to be announced soon – keep an eye on their Facebook page here).

Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2015

Record Collecting

So you’ve read what we think the top 25 albums of 2015 are but here’s what you’re really waiting for – the article where we ask our favourite artists to pick their favourite recordings of the year.

Every year we reach out to artists across the Timber and Steel genre spectrum to pick their number one album or EP of the year and the results are always surprising. So get yourself a cold drink, find somewhere comfortable to site down and enjoy Timber and Steel’s Artists’ Top Albums of 2015:

Postcards From Ursa MinorFrank Turner
Will VarleyPostcards From Ursa Minor
I stumbled across Will a few years back and instantly fell in love. He’s currently my favourite songwriter, and I think this album is little short of a masterpiece.

The DeslondesJimmy Daley (The Morrisons, The Tawny Owl Stringband)
The DeslondesThe Deslondes
Heard the song “Louise” on a live music series on YouTube called Jammin In The Van and was immediately bowled over. Went and bought the album (yes I bought it) and was not disappointed. Killer songs, retro production that sounds modern at the same time, great playing and awesome singing/harmonies. I’ll be knocking back many tins over summer while listening to this album.

The Phosphorescent BluesMichael O’Donnell (The Squeezebox Trio)
Punch BrothersThe Phosphorescent Blues
Stop reading this review right now and go listen to this album. Its just perfect. From the 10 minute opener to Debussy to one hell of an ending, this album is a game changer. There is only one (10 second) instrumental solo on the whole album, opting for lush orchestrations instead. It was a HUGE influence on us.

Paradise is ThereTaryn La Fauci
Natalie MerchantParadise is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings
To be able to re-release a complete new version of a record first released 20 years ago in 1995 is an incredible artstic achievement. Karl Broadie introduced me to her music and since then I have drank up her journey and past records. Her voice holds this piercing warmth and wisdom that coos you in and wraps you up like a child in its mothers arms. Getting to devour this rediscovery of Tigerlily and how she has evolved with it is why this record is my favourite release of 2015.

Wilder MindGerrit Gmel (Citizen of the World)
Mumford & SonsWilder Mind
This is really a no brainer for me, I absolutely adore these guys and without them I probably wouldn’t write the music I write today. This being said, their new sound took me a while to get used to and I went from loving 95% of the songs to loving 70% on this new album. Still, it shows how even a genre-defining band can have the guts and skill to reinvent their sound and write powerful songs independently of the instrumental setup.

Diamonds in the BloodstreamJosh Rennie-Hynes
Raised by EaglesDiamonds in the Bloodstream
A great collection of songs. Honest and thoughtful and the production is spot on. One of my favourite Australian bands.

But For All These Shrinking HeartsWoody Pitney
Josh PykeBut For All These Shrinking Hearts
Josh Pyke delivered again with this new gem of an album, But For All These Shrinking Hearts. Staying true to his iconic style and sound, this tightly produced record is a great listen. Despite not having any stand-out hits like previous albums, it still has plenty of sparkle and charm. My personal favourites are “Hollering Hearts” and “Book of Revelations”.

Carrie & LowellCaitlin Park
Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell
There is no-one quite like Sufjan Stevens. It is hard to put your finger on the power of his story-telling, what it is that drags us in so. For me, it is the way he paints the picture; he writes about the little things, the smaller moments between two people. A whole album dedicated to the memory of his mother and descriptions of her passing, we are left to fill in the the rest of the story. Where they lived, their age – these things don’t matter as long as you are privy to their quiet moments alone. And then in one foul swoop, he wraps up the meaning of the song in one sentence, and your heart breaks into a thousand pieces **we’re all gonna’ die**. A lyric that will stay with me forever, a lyric i will always remember from the year 2015: “What could I have said to raise you from the dead, oh could I be the sky on the fourth of July?”

Strange New PastSteven Barnard (Arbori)
Seth SentryStrange New Past
I know this puts me at risk of losing my indie folk privileges but Seth Sentry’s second LP was simply outstanding. Kendrick Lamars to pimp a butterfly was musically more brilliant but topically from another world. His harmonic nostalgia tethered by trap beats rap ego and existential early 30’s humility is seamless. The record plays from start to finish effortlessly and voids of any Aus hip hop cringe worthy cleches that we have blushed at when measured against the likes of Kings Kunta and Kick Push. I’m a hip hop dancer and this is hands down the best Aussie rap release for getting down to ever. If you dig emotional depth, impressive musicality and need a reason to shake your ass, this record is all that and more.

sound and colorRosie Jackson-Taylor (Liam Gale & The Ponytails)
Alabama ShakesSound & Color
I have been completely obsessed with every single track on the album since the first time I heard it and it was on welcomed high rotation for the entire drive of our East Coast tour earlier this year. Brittany Howard’s voice is unbelievable and every song is captivating in its own right. The whole experience of the album is kind of like listening to futuristic funk blues in space, naked.

Sol InvictusClaude Hay
Faith No MoreSol Invictus
I had been waiting for this album for years. Singer Mike Patton can put an unique infectious melody to anything he touches, melodies that stick. There’s always something different that comes from these guys that is so refreshing to my ears, the complete opposite of commercial radio.

Carrie & LowellSam Newton
The Milk Carton KidsMonterey
This is one of the most ‘pure’ sounding records that I’ve ever heard. I know that this could be said of just about all of the releases by these guys but I feel that with Monterey, they have reached all new heights in lyricism, vocal unity and the art of subtle lead/guitar fills. It says something special about the songwriting of a group when every track on an album contains a maximum of 2 voices and 2 guitars but can still hold its own from start to finish. I bought the vinyl when I saw them live earlier in the year and it has easily been one of my favourite purchases of 2015.

LoyaltyMatt Bauer
The Weather StationLoyalty
I haven’t connected with a record this strongly in a very long time. From the first lines of “The Way It Is And The Way It Could Be” I was just – there. It took me several attempts to get to the end of the record because I was so moved I kept having to turn it off.

Key ChangeMatt Corby
MockyKey Change
This album is full of songs to live life to, songs you can put on at any moment and jam out to.

Carrie & LowellDan Flynn
Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell
How many gobsmackingly good folk songs can you fit into one album? Eleven it seems. This album is unbelievably melancholy but also curiously uplifting and indeed healing. The vocal melodies are outrageously good, the instrumentation is pitch perfect and the production is stunning despite the fact that part of the album was recorded on his iPhone. I will be listening to this for years to come.

Darling ArithmeticKim Churchill
VillagersDarling Arithmetic
I have ogled at the songwriting abilities of Conor J O’Brien since we played a small gig in an odd venue called the Duncan Garage Showroom on Vancouver Island years ago. In the past his lyrics have portrayed a depth and insight that guided me as a person much further into myself and my unconscious emotional processes. Again he helps me make those journeys on this album but with a simplicity and vulnerability that is just profound! He has clearly had some pain and rebirth in his life and he puts it out on the table in an incredible honest way. He reaches further inside himself than many of us ever will and gives us songs that allow us to take the same journey’s into ourselves. It’s kind of creepy how he does it. But he’s always flirted with being a bit creepy. Watch the video clip to his first single off the album, “Courage”, and you’ll see what I mean. In many ways its the essence of psychedelic folk; Spooky, insightful, melodically stunning and at its core undeniably beautiful and honest.

Phosphorescent BluesBlair Dunlop
Punch BrothersPhosphorescent Blues
Whilst it’s an incredibly impressive body of work from a technical standpoint, it never strays into grandstanding or over-indulgence. Beautiful arrangements, soaring harmonies and songs that keep me guessing – a gem!

Soft Faces to HoldAlanna Eileen
Toby GrahamSoft Faces to Hold
Beautiful, surreal alternative folk music with incredible vocals, lyrically inventive and delicate in all the right places. It got me through the year.

When The Storms Would ComeBronte
Holy HolyWhen The Storms Would Come
I have been a fan of Holy Holy since they released their first EP. Their album When The Storms Would Come, which was released in July this year, has been a stand out album in my opinion. I enjoy the lyrics and the melodies that flow throughout their music which continues to improve with each release. I think the next few years for Holy Holy will be huge and they are starting to enjoy a great deal of success from overseas audiences. Stand out track is “History” but “You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog” just makes me want to crank up the dial and drive around all night, it is such a cruising tuneeee.

Nathaniel RateliffJoe Murphy (The Timbers)
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night SweatsNathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Only released recently this album is straight out of the 70’s!! Full of now Motown and soul, it’s 2015’s ultimate road trip album.

NinaThe Campervan Dancers
Daniel MarchNina
So much groove! It’s really tight, shows a wonderful depth of stylistic influences. Great production and musicianship – just the whole package. These have been our chosen cruisin’ tunes in Candice-the-Campervan-Dancer-van this springtime.

If I WasJoel Barker
The StavesIf I Was
It was hard to chose against Glen Hansard’s Didn’t He Ramble but after seeing The Staves at The Beautiful Days Festival in Devon, UK a couple of years ago I had to go with their 2015 release If I Was. Hearing three sisters sing together in perfect harmony make it seems so damn easy. The addition of Justin Vernon as producer takes the intimacy of their past work and elevates it into a more accessible market. Theres a new dynamic and consideration to the recording process that really hits a note with me. Songs such as “Make It Holy” and “Steady” have magnificent vocal loops and hooks that keep you wanting more of those voices made to sing together. It’s got a lot of texture, as much intimacy of their previous releases, but additional drive which undoubtedly has introduced them to a whole new fan base. Makes we want to prop myself up against a tree, close my eyes and listen to it on repeat, over and over again.

These WallsRose Wintergreen
Anna CordellThese Walls
Sometimes, very rarely, new songs come to me in my dreams. I wake up with the melody in my bones, I sleepily reach for my phone to record it before it disappears forever. It’s happened several times recently, and I’ve been ecstatic with the deep, haunting quality of the melodies, the pleasing way they meander effortlessly like a creek rambling unselfconsciously in bushland so remote that no one will pass through for decades at a time. Unfortunately for me, I’ve realised that these melodies are actually Anna Cordell’s, from her stunning debut record, These Walls! Arresting and deeply affecting.

EPTim Guy
BumspaEP
A force of nature in the very northern parts of NSW. They made an EP this year and squeezed 5 songs onto a little ’45. The last track comes from the view of a Bushranger being in his cell while awaiting hanging. It’s really rare and really wonderful. Great songwriting with ragged attitude to the musical accompaniment.

FourwindsThe East Pointers
FourWindsFourWinds
After chatting about our many favourite records from this past year, the 3 of us decided that FourWinds deserve the top spot with their self-titled album. This crew from Ireland is tearing up the traditional music scene with their authentic sound and top-notch musicianship. Check ‘em out live if you can!

Modern VintageSian Evans
Cheap FakesModern Vintage
If its not for the super smooth vocals of Kiwi front man Hayden Andrews alone, it’s the funk, the phat base, totally hot horn lines and syncopated silences. Production instrumentation ties cleverly a carnival dub vintage rock’n’roll infused surf style funk and soul variety. Consistent. Solid. It dribbles dizziness, you can’t sit still!

The Woodshed SessionsScott Collins (The Mid-North)
Wood and WireThe Woodshed Sessions Vol. 1
Six tracks recorded in one take around one microphone. It is an exciting display of musicianship and energy. Very fun and awe inspiring.

Sound and ColorAlison Ferrier
Alabama ShakesSound & Color
An exciting, innovative and uplifting second release from the rock band with soul. Singer/guitarist Brittany Howard’s performance is utterly inspiring: she gives it everything she’s got. I sing along with this in the car quite a lot!

The PositionsCastlecomer
Gang of YouthsThe Positions
We love that the album is so dark in theme yet the melodies could be on any pop album. It’s an impressive body of work. Our runners up are Holy Holy’s When the Storms Would Come and Tame Impala’s Currents.

AngelenoNick Payne (Dear Orphans)
Sam OutlawAngeleno
California has always been a source of great country music – first with the Bakersfield Sound and then later from Los Angeles. This year Californian Sam Outlaw refused to move to Nashville to record his debut album Angeleno and instead insisted on recording in Los Angeles with the help of Ry Cooder as producer. The album is both genuine country in its sound and also its stories. This album takes me back to an earlier time in country music whilst still sounding fresh and un-clichéd.

All Your Favourite BandsTracy McNeil (Tracy McNeil, Bell St Delays)
DawesAll Your Favourite Bands
From the first drop of the needle your ears are hit with six single, drawn out notes played on one guitar against a spattering of drumrolls from off in the distance – this is the hook, the earworm of the song painted thinly as a foreshadowing of what’s to come. And what is to come? Like the sun bursting through a dark cloud, the soundscape breaks wide open as the band punches in with that very same hook – this time fully realised. Dawes always create a sound that is purposeful, epic and at times slightly over-worked in terms of lyrics, but their latest release All You’re Favorite Bands gets the balance just right. Produced by David Rawlings, Dawes will find it hard to top this collection of world-class songs, played and captured live in a room by a band at the height of their career.

Trans Arlantic HighwayLuke Sinclair (Raised By Eagles, Bell St Delays)
Lost RagasTrans Atlantic Highway
The most soul shaking cosmic country experience I’ve had since Beck tried his hand at the genre. It’s more traditional than that of course and has all the essential ingredients you need to make a good country album – pedal steel, guitars, drums, bass, great song writing – but there’s an indescribable magic to it. Something deep that runs right to the heart. Matt Walker, Shane Reilly, Roger Bergodaz and Simon Burke are like the components of a beautifully engineered vintage engine, each part absolutely essential to the whole, the art of what happens when things are put together in the right way. Buy this album – it runs like a dream.

The Stars My DestinationNick O’Mara (Raised By Eagles)
Ben SalterThe Stars My Destination
There’s a sense of humour and a sense of dread in varying degrees throughout this album. Track 4 scares the shit out of me. Salter’s an incredible lyricist, his guitar playing’s tidy as fuck and his voice – sheesh, forget about it. This album is more than the sum of those wonderful parts I reckon. It’s just funny, thoughtful, sometimes rockin’, soulful – hope he hasn’t read this the next time I run into him at the pub. “We’ll have all the time in the world, An endless afternoon, When we’re bones under the dunes”.

Choose Your Weapon
Luke Richardson (Raised By Eagles)
Hiatus KaiyoteChoose Your Weapon
It’s complicated and tricky-clever but with grooves that are solid and so grounded. I think my favourite thing about this band is that each part – drums, keys, vocals, etc – are given their own separate sonic space so even when individually there are some pretty dense rhythmic and harmonic things going on the overall sound is still really open.

TravellerGretta Ziller
Chris StapletonTraveller
I was really excited when Gareth emailed me asking for my favourite album of 2015! Determined to do my due diligence, I got straight onto my 2015 Soundtrack on Spotify (where I put all the new music I find) and went round and round. The one album I just could not go past was Chris Stapleton’s Traveller – it’s just so dang good!!! This album came out and it was like he was holding a hand full of ace’s around a table full of jokers in the poker game they call country music! If you’ve heard of The SteelDrivers you would instantly recognise Stapleton’s voice, its a lonely shot of whiskey in an empty bar, it’s singing to Jesus on Sunday morning, it’s whispering to your lover in the dark of night and it crying over a broken heart, and of course his songs cover all this and more! On a side note, I do recommend googling Stapleton, he is no newcomer to Country music, having been involved with the aforementioned SteelDrivers, but he has also been in the background writing hit songs for major country music artists for years! I could keep gushing about this album for days, but, in short, Traveller is a return to good honest heartfelt country music – and we all say Amen!

Echolocations CanyonAinsley Farrell
Andrew BirdEcholocations: Canyon
This entire album was recorded in the Coyote Gulch Canyons in Utah. It’s the first of a series where Bird uses different components of the environment to stretch, bend and explore sound. I think it’s important to give credit to your surroundings and appreciate that the environment you’re in has a huge influence on the sound you put out.

OutsidersKate Burke (Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton, Trouble In The Kitchen)
Heath CullenOutsiders
The fact that I love this album has only a little to do with the fact that Heath lives up the road from me. This album, where Heath is joined by Elvis Costello’s Impostors, has fantastic songs that range from the danceable “Two Left Feet” to the gorgeously Daniel Lanois-esque “Who’ll Rock the Cradle” and anthemic “One for the Road”, all lush and powerful and featuring mad, crazy, wonderful keys and piano at almost every turn. I love it more with every listen.

Mother's Not Feeling Herself TodayRuth Hazleton (Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton)
Suzannah EspieMother’s Not Feeling Herself Today
A brave, bold, powerful and honest collection of songs that successfully destroys taboos and exposes truths; a very rare thing. Beautifully performed and produced, this album is laden with artistic integrity from a songwriter who’s driven from a deeply personal space and sings like a rising angel.

Carrie & LowellWilliam Fitzsimmons
Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell
Sufjan + return to acoustic music. What’s not to love!?!! Truth be told, even though I love and respect Sufjan’s art more than just about anybody else alive (Sorry Selena Gomez!) I was kind of bummed when I heard that he’d be returning to an “acoustic” sound for this record. Don’t get me wrong, I love acoustic music. I make acoustic music. But I cherish the fact that Sufjan has always been willing to do something kind of, well, different … and still make you hum along (e.g. that ghastly solo in “Springfield!!!”). And I snobbishly loved being one of the people who really, really loved the Adz project and his increasingly left of center writing. But once I got past the hype of Carrie & Lowell (the unopened vinyl sat in my studio for about 2 months) and actually listened, I was overjoyed. I recently lost someone very important to me, so certainly the subject matter of Carrie & Lowell hit close to home. But, moreover, it was the record’s ability to wrap these difficult ideas into such simple, small, understated songs. Nobody messes with the idea of subtlety and histrionics like Suf. And to perfect that tricky dance and sing about death at the same time is tantamount to a masterpiece.

CurrentsAnnie Hamilton (Little May)
Tame ImpalaCurrents
Tame Impala have seriously nailed it with this album, there are some excellent musical moments in there. It’s really cool to see a band evolve and grow over the course of a few albums while still maintaining their own sound and style.

Sound and ColorOlivia Hally (Oh Pep!)
Alabama ShakesSound & Color
There’s only one way to listen to this album: from top to bottom and on repeat. It was already my favourite album this year and then I later discovered a bonus track called “Joe” on a TV show and I cried a little bit. It’s too good.

Ryan BinghamRuby Boots
Ryan BinghamFear and Saturday Night
I love the balance between emotive songs/story telling and grit. I am a sucker for good Americana music with raw delivery and grunt behind it and this album fulfils all of that and more. Every track on there is A grade songwriting with classy melody hooks that are not too obvious until you turn it off and they are running through your head for the rest of the day. These songs that make me a little sad but fill me full of hope at the same time, also another soft spot for me. I love this artist, and this album is my favourite album of 2015.

ShipsOscar Lush
Water MusicShips
“Four weeks after the devastating suicide of my sister, I locked myself in my shed for four days and wrote and recorded these songs on my 8-track as both tribute and therapy. I’ve had death close to me before and here I was again.” – This record absolutely broke my heart and still continues to do so. Every time I listen it brings me to tears. Mathew is such a powerful and unique songwriter. Nothing I listened to this year came close in depth and heartache to this record.

DeclarationAnna Cordell
Kate Burke & Ruth HazletonDeclaration
This is REAL folk music. And these are REAL women. This music has purpose beyond the artists own egos. I am completely inspired by this album and these two women – and, well, the music is just so beautiful!

Ron BlockHamish Davidson (Davidson Brothers)
Ron BlockHogan’s House of Music
So many of my favourite contemporary bluegrass musicians are giving it their all on this creative instrumental album. Best of all, there are so many “you can’t do that on a banjo” moments!

Small Town BigshotLachlan Davidson (Davidson Brothers)
Fanny LumsdenSmall Town Big Shot
Fanny is a great artist and natural entertainer, her hard work and real songs have been fantastically produced on her debut record. Catchy, easy listening and a great voice makes you wanna hit repeat every time.

Don't Lose ThisSkyscraper Stan
Pops StaplesDon’t Lose This
I’ve never had much of a hard-on for Jeff Tweedy so I was skeptical when I heard he was collaborating with Mavis Staples on the final, posthumous release of her father’s music. As it turns out, both Jeff and Mavis have done an amazing job fleshing out the bare-bones recordings Pops made in 1999, a year before his death. It’s all here; tremolo guitar, reverby drum sounds and beautiful group vocals from the Staples sisters. Plus some unexpectedly clever lyricism.

The Stars My DestinationMark “Looch” Lewis (Handsome Young Strangers, Wifey)
Ben SalterThe Stars My Destination
Well I have to admit in the 4 years I have been doing this for you lovely folk at Timber And Steel I have had the hardest time choosing. Kudos to Buddy Glass and Bad Dreems for almost getting there. It took me a week but I’m giving my gong to Ben Salter for My Stars The Destination. The thing that kills me about this guy is that he just improves artistically and vocally with every release. His debut The Cat was a magnificent effort but he has raised the bar again here. As a songwriter he is up there in my book with Gareth Lilliard, Tim Rogers, Mick Thomas and Paul Kelly. I don’t think it would be overselling to say he is possibly the best vocalist in the land right now. Listen to the title track when the vocals beef up half way through. If that doesn’t make your neck hairs stand up I don’t know what will. Usual story: should be huge, probably wont be. Travesty.

1989Ryan Oliver (Oliver’s Army)
Ryan Adams1989
I’ve always been a fan of Ryan’s ability to take a song and completely own it, especially in cover songs (We all remember his haunting version of ‘Wonderwall’ don’t we?). He took probably the most commercial and poppy sounding album and turned it into a very solid folk rock album that you wouldn’t know wasn’t if they didn’t happen to be mega-hits that he was covering. The production is great and I think maybe most noteworthy is his ability to spin somewhat jovial adolescent lyrics and somehow add that signature Ryan Adams melancholy. Respect.

HighRoland Kay-Smith
Royal HeadacheHigh
The formula these guys have is irresistible. I’m not much of a heavy rock guy, traditionally favouring more Timber-and-Steel-esque tunes, but the whole blue-eyed garage soul thing just gets me. Some of it’s silly, some of it’s naff, but there are enough great tunes here to keep me coming back again and again.

ValleywoodNad Budge (The Stetson Family)
Dan ParsonsValleywood
I first heard Dan Parson’s new album Valleywood whilst driving around Nashville in a crappy rental car with a really crappy sound system, and it blew me away – Valleywood, that is, not the car! I was first struck by how great the production came across, full, rich and really well balanced – then I was drawn into Dan’s songs, each one wanting me to listen to what he had to say, and giving me a sense of nostalgia as well as excitement for this next generation of great songwriters.

CurrentsDustin Tebbutt
Tame ImpalaCurrents
This was my favourite release this year. I hadn’t really listened to the band before this album, and it was an incredible introduction. For me, it’s the beautiful combination of genres in here that gives this record so much depth. A lot of the song structures and mixing techniques borrow heavily from house music (the extensive use of filters for example), and a lot of the beats are a mix of old school soul and breaks. These fundamentals are then built upon with psychedelic guitar parts and raw, dreamy vocals. The record has attitude, vibe, heart and a real overarching journey. I just love it.

The Phosphorescent BluesJon Boden (Bellowhead, Spiers & Boden)
Punch BrothersThe Phosphorescent Blues
I was a bit late to the Punch Brothers party, but what a sound! It’s not really bluegrass, more experimental art-pop with bluegrass instrumentation. Beachboys-esque vocals, mandolin funk workouts, beautiful style and tone throughout by five masters of their instruments.

Carrie & LowellSam Sweeney (Bellowhead)
Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell
This is such a beautiful and poignant record. It’s hard to listen all the way through without shedding a tear. After The Age Of Adz, this a welcome return to Sufjan’s folkier side. It’s a heart breaking album about his relationship with his mother who died of cancer in 2012 after a long history of substance abuse and mental health issues. It’s a painful listen and yet so perfect.

Mellow DramaMark Lucas
James McMurtryComplicated Game
It’s the narrative, those fragile vignettes that come alive with truth and a sheer humanity that doesn’t preclude a little bitterness but is always tempered by a dry humour. As he says himself, like his American literary giant father, Larry McMurtry (“The Last Picture Show”, “Lonesome Dove” etc.), James is a fiction writer. His dad was an inspiration to me before I stumbled across his son’s work on a drive across Texas in ‘89. It’s been a heck of a journey in song and, to my way of thinking, that’s what it’s all about – a Complicated Game indeed and I still “miss my dog from years ago” too.

TrackerBob Barford (Bloodwood)
Mark KnopflerTracker
Mr Laidback personified. I reckon he put this album together for his own amusement and just because he could. While not overly impresive on the first few listens, like any good album it grows on you. It’s an insight into what he is up to at this point in time.

Shadows In The NightMark Moldre
Bob DylanShadows In The Night
So many iconic artists have tried the “American Songbook” album and have dismally failed. This is Dylan at his most intimate and unguarded. We hear every drawn breath from Dylan at microphone, every finger touching a string, the slow drag of a bow across a double bass string, a quiet movement or shifting of feet in the room – nothing is hidden from the listeners ear. No careful ProTools editing. A band in a hushed room. Guitars are caressed, sweeping pedal steel is syrupy and lush, drums are ever so softly brushed, tempos remain languid and dreamy while Dylan growls and croons his way through the mist. Lyrics written decades ago seem timeless, ironic and strangely poignant in Dylan’s gentle phrasing. Imagine granddad at the family reunion recalling songs of his younger days at the upright piano in the corner of your lounge room as the warm glow of an open fire crackles and pops. Nostalgia, sadness, wry humour and regret all seep and melt into one another until you feel you’re drifting in a grainy sepia haze. Perfect.

The Hedge SchoolsColm Mac Con Iomaire (Colm Mac Con Iomaire, The Frames)
The Hedge SchoolsAt the End of a Winding Day
My favourite albums involve time and space travel. They bring you places. This album At the End of a Winding Day by Dublin songwriter Patrick Barrett and Producer and co-conspirator Joe Chester AKA The Hedge Schools is a warm, golden, sonic-embrace. Visit this place and be well.

WindfallBrad Butcher
Joe PugWindfall
As much as I loved Rodney & Emmylou’s Traveling Kind or Isbell, Stapleton, or Oz’s very own songsmith Shane Nicholson’s great albums of 2015 Windfall speaks to me the most from an artistic point of view and holds the elements of music I love dearly; great songwriting recorded in a moving an honest way.

Kill It YourselfJesse Lubitz (TinPan Orange)
Jess RibeiroKill It Yourself
The latest album from Jess Ribeiro creates an entire world. It’s a fully cohesive album with songs that draw you in and make you want to listen harder – it feels as though you might miss something important if you’re not paying full attention. Each song is beautiful and the production is perfect.

TelegraphCara Robinson (Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson)
Kevin DohertyTelegraph
I had the pleasure of hearing Kevin Doherty’s live set while in a play in Dublin, Ireland. I fell in love with the stories that he made into song about his insight into the world today, the world that has passed and indeed the world too set before us. His own stories in song take on the heroism, evil, love, madness all words and more that is more than the story itself he quotes. The album itself is personal and inviting and welcomes you in with the warmth and depth that he has in his voice to listen with intent as the album unfolds. There is a sense of awareness that is brought forward from a time long forgotten in the music and it is so important in song writing today that these stories of historical changes are kept alive as it seems a lot of the modern day writing is about surface subjects only a few dare to reiterate in a whole album. Recorded by a mighty line up of artists indeed within their own right, Liam Bradley, James Delaney, Paul Moore, Paul Rodden, Nicky Scott, Enda Walsh and Kevin Doherty set the tempo aptly. Favorite tracks “Camden Street” and “Tug Boat” The story and historical references are poetical and strong and is indeed offered beautifully and honestly to the listener. Inspiring writing.

Marlon WilliamsPatrick James
Marlon WilliamsMarlon Williams
Although I’m in a library, listening with headphones and writing about this, it’s almost as if I am sitting in a tin shed listening on a half broken record player with a glass of aged scotch delving into something from my mum and dad’s music collection. Obviously this guy has such an incredible vocal ability, but sometimes that’s hard to capture and draw an intimate focus to on record. He and his team have nailed that and the band compliments it so well. I tend to be drawn to albums that inspire my own writing or change the way I think for a minute about music. This album does that for me. Not because the production is over the top or revolutionary but because it’s raw and honest and it takes me to a specific setting. It’s also performed in a refined way that almost seems theatrical, I think that’s what gets in me in from the start.

Hell Breaks LooseImogen Clark
Shane NicholsonHell Breaks Loose
Hell Breaks Loose is like a glass of whisky you want to drink, and love to drink, even though you know that when you ingest it, it’s going to bring to the forefront of your mind some of the most heartbreaking truths you’ve ever known and expose things you didn’t even know you felt or thought. Gut-wrenching lyrics and beautiful melancholic melodies, and more honesty than even whisky could bring.

BloodPhia
Lianne La HavasBlood
Lianne’s voice is so velvety and intoxicating and enveloping, and the songs she writes are deep and powerful. She writes a killer pre-chorus too. The production is also fantastic, highlighting the light and shade and rough and smooth of her voice and songs. I can’t stop listening to it!

One Song RomanceNick Keeling (Mustered Courage)
Michael BarnettOne Song Romance
This album is a precision powered product of over 50 years of stringband music in America. Michael is a champion of the newest ilk in bluegrass and old-timey, and can play the fiddle like you wouldn’t believe. The front porch isn’t enough these days and folk musicians that were inspired by the likes of Bela Fleck and Chris Thile a decade ago are now taking to advanced tertiary institutions like Berklee and Juliard to hone their craft. If you like Punch Brothers, Crooked Still, or The Deadly Gentlemen, then rosin up to One Song Romance.

GoonJon O’Neill (Forest Falls)
Tobias Jesso JrGoon
It’s been hard as of late to find music that gives me a comforting chill down my spine, but this album did. Every one of Jesso’s masterpieces is straight from the heart and has an overwhelming sense of home and familiarity. I love this album because it doesn’t rely on production to make the songs “better” – rather, they are simple, beautiful and raw.

10Bill Jackson
Darrell Scott10: Songs of Ben Bullington
Darrell Scott met Ben Bullington during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with his children. Bullington was a small town Montana doctor who happened to write songs in his spare time and a mutual friend thought they might enjoy each other’s company – two single dads on vacation in the wilderness with their offspring. In fact, they wound up good friends with more in common than they probably thought at first. Bullington, it turned out, was fighting a cancer diagnosis that wound up taking his life. But, before he passed, he wanted to play a songwriters-in-the-round show in Nashville, and the date was set at the Station Inn. According to the liner notes on Scott’s new album, 10: Songs of Ben Bullington, that was the first time that he’d heard Bullington’s songs. And, as we can hear on the disc, Bullington was a remarkable songwriter. His lyrics have a natural musicality, and the nuance of his stories is bowl-you-over good in places. Scott’s treatment of the songs is pure and arresting. Here’s one of the most versatile artists in the Americana/roots world, whose instrumental prowess is well documented, giving one strum per measure in some cases, leaving room for the songs to create their own life. Not a lot of songs could stand up when stripped back to such simplicity. On the one hand, it’s a shame that a songwriter the calibre of Ben Bullington lived most of his whole life without his songs getting much further than his own guitar. On the other hand, it’s a blessing that his friend Darrell Scott picked up that very guitar and immortalized them. Favourite tracks: “I’ve Gotta Leave You Now”, “Born in 55”.

Mellow DramaAriela Jacobs
Kevin GarrettMellow Drama
Colouring was the first track I heard off Garrett’s debut EP and I immediately fell in love with the rest of the compilation. Similar to the James Blake aesthetic, his songs are punctuated with electronic beats but they are used gently and sparingly. Lyrically, he grabs your attention from the get go and although simplistic in narrative, he reels you in with unheard of metaphors to symbolise a broken relationship. Kevin may make you weep your eyes out, but I’m telling you it’s worth the sob and the copious amounts of ice cream afterwards.

Dogs at BayThom Lion
Bad DreemsDogs At Bay
I haven’t heard rock this real in a while. The songs and sound are unashamedly Australian. A raw record that hits you right in the face!

Daniel RomanoHarvey Russell (Peasant Moon)
Daniel RomanoIf I’ve Only One Time Askin’
Canadians do country well and Daniel Romano is no exception. On his fourth solo album the Ontarian moves away from the country folk of early material and beyond the twangy honky tonk of his 2013 release. This time it’s a modern interpretation of the countrypolitan sound which emerged in the 1960s. Some will accuse him of pastiche, and this is tempting if only the songwriting, instrumentation and vocal phrasings weren’t so damned good. George, Merle, Willie and even Charlie Rich would be happy to have written these songs. Romano knows he’s writing classics too, his brashness is evident through the use of rich synth-strings and drum machines. This was album of the year before I’d reached the end of my first listen.

Daniel KnoxJosie Rothwell (Peasant Moon)
Daniel KnoxDaniel Knox
The 2015 release from Chicago troubadour Daniel Knox is my fave album of the year – the top of a very long short list. The album is rich with gorgeous instrumentation, surprising given the stark piano and vocal package of his earlier releases. The arrangements complement the sharpness of his songwriting and his utterly enchanting voice. I love the breadth of the album – Knox gives us hazy dream trance on “Blue Car”, sharp and catchy on “Don’t Touch Me” and even a hypnotic choir in 14 15 111. Lyrically, Knox’s observations of the sometimes mundane imbue the entire album with an undercurrent of creepy menace

Imaginary ManAshleigh Mannix (Ashleigh Mannix, Little Georgia)
Rayland BaxterImaginary Man
I was hooked on the first listen. The first track “Mr. Rodriguez” had me bopping from the intro, and by the time the second verse had kicked in, I was swinging my hair and red wine around the kitchen like no tomorrow. My favourite song is “My Captain”, followed closely by “Rugged Lovers”. Both songs make me stop whatever I’m doing, and just listen. He makes me want to be a better songwriter. It’s just such a friken great album.

Imaginary ManJustin Carter (Justin Carter, Little Georgia)
Rayland BaxterImaginary Man
A lyrically inspiring album from start to finish.

Multi-LoveSahara Beck
Unknown Mortal OrchestraMulti-Love
Every song makes me fall in love again and again, not only with its extremely catchy melodies which dance through every instrument but also the lyrics that call you in with their familiar and relatable subject of thought. Unknown Mortal Orchestra have been on repeat in my mind all year long, this album is a wise old ear worm that I welcome into my mind with a warm accommodating smile

Chaos and the CalmMark Wilkinson
James BayChaos and the Calm
This record is really strong from top to bottom. It has a fantastic energy about it and the production hasn’t been overdone which really allows Bay’s voice to shine. The songs are catchy and accessible without being soulless and Bay’s vocals can stretch from intimate to powerful giving the album space for light and shade.

Sam AmidonCatgut
Sam AmidonHome Alone Inside My Head
Sam Amidon can go from quietly beautiful to shockingly abrasive in seconds. For Home Alone Inside My Head he put together a bunch of field recordings captured in 2002 after studying with old time fiddler Bruce Greene and free jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins. It’s not easy listening but it’s a glimpse inside the musical mind of someone we find very inspiring.

CurrentsTom Stephens
Tame ImpalaCurrents
Couldn’t deny Kev the props he deserves. The tunes are written, recorded, performed and produced all by the man himself, on his lonesome. There wasn’t even a dude around to get him a coffee when he was feeling flat. When it dropped the band and I listened to it five times in a row driving back from Melbourne. Everything is perfectly placed. The man is a master.

Yours DreamilyEddie Boyd (Eddie Boyd and the Phatapillars)
The ArcsYours, Dreamily,
The album is just filled with bangers from start to finish. Really great songwriting, catchy as f*@k and really interesting production. I would best describe it as soul/motown rock meets wild wild west. Super cool.

Ben MastwykJustin Bernasconi (Justin Bernasconi, The Stillsons)
Ben MastwykMornin’ Evenin’
Mastwyk’s beautifully crafted debut album is full of gems, the songs gently pushes and pulls you all the way from Texas to Melbourne inner north in one long dance.

The GleanerJordie Lane
Brendan WelchThe Gleaner
Thanks to local new Ballarat label, Heart Of The Rat Records, this brilliant album was given new life in October. Undoubtedly my favorite Australian voice, Brendan’s epic songs are matched by Paul Dempsey (Something For Kate) with the producer hat on! I know already it’s gonna be one of my favorite records of all time!

Coming HomeBroads
Leon BridgesComing Home
Our pick for 2015’s top album was the debut album from Texan soul singer Leon Bridges. Co-written with members of Texan band White Denim, the album perfectly pays homage to that moment in history when gospel music bled into the world of soul. Particularly reminiscent of the velvet tones of Sam Cooke, the charismatic charm of this album had us absolutely bowled over, and has been played on high rotation since its release mid way through the year. Check out the single “Lisa Sawyer” – absolute retro gold.

Father John MistyTanya Batt
Father John MistyI Love You, Honeybear
I can’t even express what this album did to me the first time I heard it. It’s no hidden secret that Joshua Tillman is one of the best singer/songwriters of our generation/ever. His lyrical ability to tell a story is like no other. Then throw in the incredible voice and arrangements within his work and you just die a little inside with the pain he shares with you. I am a bit of a sucker for a concept album also so this is why this ended up being the winner. It’s such an honest album, so honest that he found it incredibly hard playing these songs in front of those close to him, and I feel that’s something I can relate to. I love you, Father John Misty. Thank you for sharing this with us all.

Such JubileePaddy Connor (Lime and Steel)
Mandolin OrangeSuch Jubilee
This duo have a magic touch of writing and playing songs that seem deceptively simple: and sometimes just that little extra beat or chord that grabs you. That can really play, but it’s never flashy: feels like you’re around a kitchen table at 2am with old friends singing that one song that opens their heart.

Jason IsbellAndrew Swift
Jason IsbellSomething More Than Free
A lot of my friends ok the music industry were raving about Jason Isbell, especially the women. If his name got mentioned on social media it was often followed by “swoon” or “my future husband” but it was actually my Dad that handed me his album and upon first listen I didn’t understand the fuss. As I’m lazy when it comes to changing CDs in my car it stayed in there for a while and played through several times and I came to realise just how impressive this man is. Something More Than Free is an album of songs I wish I had written. They’re not catchy when you first hear them but they grow on you, become a part of you, draw you in so you want to listen to the lyrics and thank god they do, the man is a wordsmith! This is one of those album where you don’t skip a song from start to finish.

Hell Breaks LooseTristan Goodall (The Audreys)
Shane NicholsonHell Breaks Loose
We don’t always agree on things like this, but in the case of the best album of 2015, my band-mate Taasha and I are in complete agreement. Shane Nicholson’s Hell Breaks Loose is a killer record. A break-up album for the educated country set (I think that’s us) that hums with vibrant melodies, deadly hooks and stinging lyrics, it sets a new bar for roots acts in our neck of the woods. Gently driving acoustic guitars and shuffling drums support a singer in search of a new start – confident, melancholy and yet tuned to hope.

Be ItThe April Maze
Jesse WitneyBe It
Four tracks of gold. The musicianship, arrangements and production are off-hook. Track 2, “Higher”, really takes you higher, it is so uplifting. But track 4, “Australia”, Jesse does something really special – it is very beautiful and captures the true essence of Australia. The perfect soundtrack for a roadtrip.

Glass FoolTodd Sibbin
Kaurna CroninGlass Fool
I’ve watched Kaurna’s development through four releases and on every level Glass Fool marks a significant step up. The songwriting, both lyrically and melodically, arrangement, production and his band’s cohesion (particularly Chris Panousakis’ lead guitar work) combine for a very tidy release indeed.

PondBetty & Oswald
PondMan It Feels Like Space Again
Oh boy the new Pond album has been round the block a few times at our place. Sonically arousing and drenched in all that bowie-esque glamour, these guys are right on!

Glass FoolBeth Stephen (The Little Stevies)
Tim GuyChords
The first thing that stood out to me hearing Chords for the first time was the song arrangements. I suspected from the moment I heard them that a lot of thought had gone into the structure of the songs and the lengths of the sections in each song. None of the songs are too over played, it’s full of great guitar licks and vocal hooks, the melodies and chord progressions are really interesting and unexpected, and Tim has given great vocal performances on all tracks. He’s used his whole vocal range and included stacks of killer harmonies. The album covers a range of genres which I think can be risky sometimes in terms of keeping a natural flow. But Tim pulled it off. My fav’s are “Footsteps” and “It’s The Weekend”. Chords is a strong collection of strong stand alone songs.

Kendrick LamarHayden Calnin
Kendrick LamarTo Pimp A Butterfly
This is a piece of art. Kendrick has made what I consider to be one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. He’s doing wonders for an ever-rising genre of music and delivers an intelligent, modern, original, political and poetic masterpiece with this LP. Fav track: “Alright”

Glass FoolWillowy
The Weather StationLoyalty
Beginning with a stumbling fast paced picking of the guitar and warped percussion – the mood of this album is immediately established, taking the listener on a somber yet hopeful sonic journey. Even with upbeat songs like the title track “Way it is, Way it Could Be” there lies a weight in expectation. Noticing this year a pull towards a fuller and often more electric centered production, each track on this album unashamedly bares it soul with a stripped back, predominantly acoustic, yet thoughtful layering of instruments that builds when needed. The album highlights Tamara Lindeman’s emotional and warmly experimental vocals that compliment her soul bearing songwriting.

Jason IsbellEmily Barker
Jason IsbellSomething More Than Free
Like many, I adore Jason’s record, Southeastern, so it was always going to be a difficult album to follow up. I bought Something More Than Free at Grimey’s record shop in Nashville and it was the only CD I had in my hire car for the week I was there. It is fantastic. As always, his raw lyrics and vocal delivery are arresting. Dave Cobb’s production is also killer. My favourite track is “Children of Children” because it reminds me of the beautiful, haunting Dillard and Clark record, Through the Morning, Through the Night.

TravellerTimothy James Bowen
Chris StapletonTraveller
He’s got a voice that will leave you mouth-gapingly speechless and a beard/hat combo to match. Do your ears a favour and get into it as fast as humanly possible. In particular, listen out for the track, “Tennessee Whiskey”. Good Lord.

Mother's Not Feeling Herself TodayLiz Stringer
Suzannah EspieMother’s Not Feeling Herself Today
Suzannah has always been one of my favourites. As a writer and performer. This new collection of songs, recorded with Jeff Lang at his studio and a stellar band, is another heartbreakingly beautiful one. One of the few artists that consistently brings me to tears, Espie has trawled some depths lyrically throughout this album that few would be brave enough to attempt and, in doing so, has cracked open a vein of shining gold. It’s stunning.

Songs to PlayJulia Jacklin
Robert ForsterSongs to Play
I hadn’t heard of Robert Forster until I listened to him being interviewed by Richard Fidler about story songs from the 1970s. I liked his talking voice and his passion for Carly Simons “You’re So Vain”, I’d never really listened closely to the lyrics. So I looked up his record and it made me really happy! His wobbly vocals, Australian accent, the Christmas bells in “And I Knew”. Listen to “A Poet Walks” if you need a confidence boost over the Christmas socialising period.

Dorsal FinsRoscoe James Irwin
Dorsal FinsMind Renovation
An absolute cracker of a record from some of the best dudes in Melbourne. With Ella Thompson (GL), Jarrad Brown (Eagle and The Worm) and Liam McGorry (Saskwatch) at the helm, there was no chance this record wasn’t going to rule. Sweet 90s garage vibes and some great electro boogie, all without actually sounding like a retro throwback record. “Nothing Left to Hide” with its Iggy-ness, and “Heart On The Floor” are standouts. One of the best live bands kicking around as well.

MotorheadShane Nicholson
MotorheadBad Magic
After 40 years in the game, they have just released one of their best records ever. The songs, the execution, the sheer power, the consistent disregard for trends. Best band that ever was.

Hell Breaks LooseThe Weeping Willows
Shane NicholsonHell Breaks Loose
The combination of skilfully crafted songs and his soul-soothing voice place Shane Nicholson in the world-class league of singer-songwriters. To us, “Hell Breaks Loose” is Song of the Year and we challenge you to stay dry-eyed throughout “Single Fathers”, “Secondhand Man” and “Hermannsburg”.

PassengerThe Once
PassengerWhispers II
Passenger is a songwriting king. There are songs on this record that will kick you in the guts, make you question your very own choices of the heart, make you remember all the feelings that you stopped allowing yourself and all in the most positive way. AND he is donating ALL of the album sales to UNICEF in a quest to help end painful hunger in Liberia. What? He’s unreal. Just sayin’.

RadiusThe Brouhaha
Allen StoneRadius
The lead single “Freedom” hooked me in. Live video on top of Capitol records, so much soul, so much vibe. Love love love 🙂

The MiraculousMusketeer
Anna Von HausswolffThe Miraculous
I had the pleasure of watching Anna play the pipe organ at the Town Hall in Sydney early in the year. I also had the pleasure of exploring and playing music in her home country of Sweden, in their summer months. So, when she dropped this album I couldn’t help but fall back into that vivid northern world. I guess that makes me a little biased, but The Miraculous is probably the most well crafted piece of music I have heard all year. I would call it gothic folk rock. It is unique and moving and Anna’s voice will open your soul.

Deeper SouthRosie McDonald (RAPT, Folklore)
Shane HowardDeeper South
So many great albums out this year, but the one that stays with me, like a prayer shawl, is Deeper South by Shane Howard with Ewan Baker and John Hudson. I have huge respect for Shane. His music, poetry, philosophy and voice now seem to have been honed by the elements, love and love lost, empathy with others and his own life struggles. There is no preaching, no soap box, just wry observations of love, despite the struggles and realities of living. The first track, the windswept evocative “Deeper South”, got under my skin and recently when all the news was so dire, I’ve played it like a psalm. I can come back and back to it and each time is moves and calms me. The album has celtic, jazz and folk influences and the other musicians, Ewan on fiddle and mando, and John on beautifully played guitar, complement the songs exquisitely along with guest performers. Live, the experience is just as meaningful but this crowd sourced and lovingly packaged album, like a small hard cover book, is a true work of brilliance and worthy of a place in any collection.

Kendrick LamarMatthew Black (The Bottlers)
Kendrick LamarTo Pimp A Butterfly
Kendrick Lamar takes to his expansive african-americana scrapbook with a cleverly glinted and winking poet’s eye view of everyday life based subject matter with 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly. 

Swaggering back into beat poetesque lyricism mixed with gritty urban, jazz draped drawls he looks at today’s America and further into tommorow’s American influenced world from the perspective of a young black man still fighting the battles his radical forebearers fought. Casting aside industry pushed gangster rap stereotypes this illuminating stew all cooks down into what very well could be classified as the next leap in the evolution of hip hop music.

Universal ThemesGeorgia Fair
Sun Kil MoonUniversal Themes
Because my girlfriend hates it and “Birds of Films” is so beautiful.

courtney barnettLauren Moore (Pepperjack)
Courtney BarnettSometimes I Sit and Think And Sometimes I Just Sit
Courtney Barnett is undeniably a force in the Australian music industry. She has the complexity and aloofness of an aging rock star but with the level headed intellect of a philosopher. The elaborately titled Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit showcases her signature lyrical witticisms and deadpan vocal style but also brings some unexpected angst. It’s refreshing and relatable. Barnett has something to say and the world is listening. I can’t wait to hear more.

Bird Under WaterTom West
Arooj AftabBird Under Water
Bird Under Water is a beautifully serene and lush record by Brooklyn Based Arooj Aftab. I have found myself getting lost time and time again in her complex, haunting melodies and flawless vocals, often splendidly layered and harmonised. The songs feel skilfully composed and even after repeated listens I still get a thrill out of the many unexpected turns and instrumental surprises. I can’t recommend this record highly enough.

Weight of the WorldGeorge Jackson (One Up, Two Down, The Company, Chris Henry & The Hardcore Grass, Buffalo Nickel)
10 String SymphonyWeight Of The World
Nashville based 10 String Symphony released a great full length album this October which has been on high rotation for me since. The 5-string fiddle/banjo duo consists of Rachel Baiman and Christian Sedelmyer who are both fantastic and acclaimed fiddlers, though interestingly this album is strongly song-centric. The minimal instrumentation and vocal arrangements are super interesting to listen to, they’ve come up with some really interesting solutions to creating a full sound with just the two voices and two fiddles (or one fiddle and one banjo) to work with.

Carly Rae JepsonImogen Bel
Carly Rae JepsenE-mo-tion
I was definitely a sucker for Jepsen’s huge hit “Call Me Maybe” but it seemed as though she was headed for one hit wonder territory after that. Not the case! This album is full of fun and catchy hook-filled tunes with production that makes me feel like I’m dancing under a mirror ball on prom night in 1985. It’s full of the energy and naivety of a first crush, and it’s a lot of fun to get swept away in the drama of it all. Best tracks: “E-mo-tion”, “All That”, “Run Away With Me”.

Cold SummersFraser A Gorman
CrepesCold Summers
Tim Karmouche’s songwriting is some of the most exciting music I’ve heard lately. He retains a classic style akin to the Beatles/John Lennon but it’s contemporary, exciting, lyrically interesting pop music at its best.

Loren KateKris Morris
Loren KateTil Night Meet’s The Sun.
Loren is an amazing story teller and the EP captures the honesty and fragility of what she does perfectly. It’s a heartbreaker but there’s hope and love in there. It’s really something.

Blessing and CursingMandy Connell (Mandy Connell, Stray Hens)
Jimmy DowlingBlessing and Cursing
Co-produced by Matt Walker, with harmonies from Lucie Thorne. Simple instrumentation, very Aussie writing style, with stark images of our industrial landscape mixed with the light and space of the countryside. His best realisation yet.

Mother's Not Feeling Herself TodayLes Thomas
Suzannah EspieMother’s Not Feeling Herself Today
Suzannah Espie’s courageous album Mother’s Not Feeling Herself Today tops my list because it shows how music and songwriting can express topics that are usually too taboo to speak about. The honesty and generosity she shares about getting through post-natal depression and early motherhood is extremely rare and beautiful, and for that reason I hope these songs can be heard everywhere. Yes, it’s pretty heavy, but it’s also done in a supremely artful and moving way that would no doubt help countless people to process these under-acknowledged challenges and hardships.

Dick DiverDarren Hanlon
Dick DiverMelbourne, Florida
Boisterous, erudite, effortlessly nostalgic. All four songwriters share an aesthetic of detailed suburban minutiae and find poetry, humour and melancholy in the commonplace. This album feels like such an important beacon of light in Australian music at the moment, so therefore it’s criminal that they don’t play live more.

Tomorrow is my TurnSam Lee
Rhiannon GiddensTomorrow Is My Turn
This is more than a covers album – Rhiannon has taken some classic American song book standards and also lesser known blues and old time songs and crafted the most elegant dynamic and rich album that keeps so much of the original’s flare but represents these songs as though they were brand new and freshly forged. A true pioneer and gifted singer and musician coming into her own.

Brandie carlileFanny Lumsden
Brandi CarlileFirewatcher’s Daughter and Kacey MusgravesPageant Material
Just bloody great music. Purely honest to themselves in their songwriting and production and vocal delivery. Sassy, Classy and smart assy.

Skull n BonesThe Dead Maggies
So we marched through the woodlands to meet up ’round a campfire, and decide on the best album of 2015. After a few gallons of rum we decided that there was nothing good released in 2015. In fact we draw our inspiration from 1830s Tasmanian bushranger music, so we don’t listen to modern stuff. We can however give you a couple of tips for 2016… The Australian Beefweek Show (Newcastle pub-rock-cow-punk yobs) and Dominic Francis Grief Ensemble (Hobart, deep-intelligent-folk-rock), check them both out when they release albums next year. Now, where did I leave that rum…

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 27th November

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

The National Folk Festival announced a bunch more acts for 2016 including Vishten, Tony McManus & Beppe Gambetta, Bluetongue Bush Ceilidh, Brian Peters, The Beez, All Our Exes Live in Texas, Castlecomer, Andy White, The Davidson Brothers, Women in Docs, Matthew Dames, Eastwinds, Le Blanc Bros Cajun Band, Danny Spooner and Margret RoadKnight. Details here

– Melbourne duo Sweet Jean will be touring through the summer. Details here

– US singer-songwriter Matt Bauer released his haunting new video “I Am Trying To Disappear”. Details here

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have released a brand new single “Hot Coals”. Details here

Jason Isbell announced Australian headline shows next March. Details here

– This January Mudgee will play host to the Mudsling min-festival featuring Daniel Champagne, Saltwater Sound System, April Maze, Out of Abingdon, Big Erle, Honey, Euripi, Nick Wall and more. Details here

– In huge news both Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings Machine have announced tours in 2016. Details here

– Sydney nu-folk singer Willowy released the gorgeous stop motion video for “More Than a Shadow”. Details here

Darren Hanlon has released dates for his traditional Christmas tour. Details here

– The Lucy Wise Trio will be launching their new EP in Sydney this Sunday. Details here

– Adelaide singer-songwriter Todd Sibbin released his new single “And We’ll Say That We’re Done”. Details here

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats announced Bluesfest sideshows. Details here

Interviews

“It feels like home there now. I still have a sense of “Oh, I’m performing” and I get nervous and want to do really well, but it’s so much more comfortable than any other venue. Even just the regularity of it has pushed us to be better. With that amount of performance practice you just get better at reflecting on what works well and what people respond to. Having that regular audience who gives us feedback on what they really love about us and what songs they like, and even getting some feedback on what they think we could improve on, has been really helpful just in developing our stage presence. I think it’s done a world of difference in progressing us performance wise”Gareth Hugh Evans chats to The Campervan Dancers about their Folkswagon night. Interview here

Releases This Week

And a Hotplate
And A HotplateThe Squeezebox Trio
Bandcamp

Hurtling Through
Hurtling ThroughTiny Ruins
Spunk

Timber and Steel Presents

TJB
Timothy James Bowen

Friday 27th November – Secret Show, Philip Island, VIC
Saturday 28th – EP Launch, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 29th – The Waterhouse, Jervis Bay, NSW
Wednesday 2nd – Folkswagon, Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Lucy Wise Trio

Lucy Wise

The Lucy Wise Trio will launch their amazing new EP A Painting of the Universe in Sydney this Sunday. The show will feature appearances by Saba Vayani-Lai, Jessica Rose and Emma Dell who will be reciting their original poems which inspired songs on the EP

Sunday 29th November – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

A Day on the Green feat. Paul Kelly Presents: The Merri Soul Sessions, Lucinda Williams, Kasey Chambers and Marlon Williams
Saturday 28th November – Bimbadgen Winery, Hunter Valley, NSW
Sunday 29th November – Sirromet Wines, Mt Cotton, QLD

Archie Roach
Thursday 3rd December – Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC
Friday 4th December – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Dan Flynn and The State of Things
Saturday 28th November – Shadow Electric, Melbourne, NSW

Dana Hassall
Friday 27th November – Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill, NSW
Saturday 28th November – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 29th November Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Thursday 3rd December – The Junkyard, Maitland, NSW

Direwolf w/ Maia Jelavic, Dave Calandra
Saturday 28th November – Secret Show, Sydney, NSW

Ed Sheeran w/ Passenger, Foy Vance, Rudimental
Saturday 28th November – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday 2nd December – Nib Stadium, Perth, WA

Festival of Small Halls feat. Irish Mythen, Starboard Cannons
Friday 27th November – Felton Hall, Felton, QLD
Saturday 28th November – St George Amphitheatre, St George, QLD
Sunday 29th November – Tambo Shire Hall, Tambo, QLD
Friday 4th December – Springbrook Community Hall, Springbrook QLD

Folkswagon feat. Sam Joole, The Campervan Dancers, Timothy James Bowen
Wednesday 2nd December – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Gorgeous Festival
Friday 27th to Saturday 28th November – Penny’s Hill Estate, McLaren Vale, SA

Heartbreaker Sessions feat. Fanny Lumsden, Bree De Rome
Sunday 29th November – Freda’s, Sydney, NSW

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes
Saturday 28th November – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 4th December – The Pub, Tamworth, NSW

Lucinda Williams
Saturday 28th November – A Day on the Green, Bimbadgen Winery, Hunter Valley, NSW
Sunday 29th November – A Day on the Green, Sirromet Wines, Mt Cotton, QLD
Wednesday 2nd December – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Lucy Wise Trio
Friday 27th November – House Concert, Yatteyattah, NSW
Saturday 28th November – Araluen Gold Concert Series, Araluen, NSW
Sunday 29th November – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW

Mark Lucas w/ Tom Dockray, Sam Newton
Sunday 29th November – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Marlon Williams and The Yarra Benders w/ Ben Salter
Friday 27th November – Prince Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 28th November – A Day on the Green, Bimbadgen Winery, Hunter Valley, NSW
Sunday 29th November – A Day on the Green, Sirromet Wines, Mt Cotton, QLD
Thursday 3rd December – The Gov, Adelaide, SA
Friday 4th December – The Railway, Darwin, NT

Musketeer, Josh Overett, Hannah Robinson
Sunday 29th November – Mr Falcons, Sydney, NSW

Mustered Courage
Saturday 28th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC

Nova and the Experience
Wednesday 2nd December – The Star, Sydney, NSW

Queenscliff Music Festival
Friday 27th to Sunday 29th November – Queenscliff, VIC

Ron Sexsmith
Friday 27th November – Caravan Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 28th November – Northcote Social Club (Matinee), Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 28th November – Northcote Social Club (Evening show), Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 29th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC


Suzannah Espie
Sunday 29th November – Courtyard Sessions Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

Sweet Jean
Friday 27th November – The Skukum Lounge, Ashgrove, QLD

The Brisbane Folk Club feat. Ben Salter, Neighbour and Marcus Blacke
Wednesday 2nd December – The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD

The Campervan Dancers
Friday 27th November – The Kincumber Hotel, Kincumber, NSW
Wednesday 2nd December – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

The Dead Maggies
Friday 27th November – The Pyrate House, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 28th November – The Reverence Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 29th November – Open Studio Bar, Melbounre, VIC

The Morrisons
Friday 27th November – Franks Wild Years, Thirroul, NSW
Saturday 28th November – Smiths Alternative Bookshop, Canberra, ACT

The Snowdroppers
Friday 27th and Saturday 28th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, VIC

The Timbers
Sunday 29th November – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Timothy James Bowen
Friday 27th November – Secret Show, Philip Island, VIC
Saturday 28th – EP Launch, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 29th – The Waterhouse, Jervis Bay, NSW
Wednesday 2nd – Folkswagon, Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

TinPan Orange
Friday 27th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC

Tiny Ruins
Saturday 28th November – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 29th November – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Still Trying” – Nathaniel Rateliff

Remember when Nathaniel Rateliff wrote folk songs? We love his new bluesy direction but I’m so happy songs like “Still Trying” exist in the world.

Interview: The Campervan Dancers, Folkswagon

Campervan Dancers
Image Courtesy of The Campervan Dancers

Throughout 2016 Sydney folk-duo The Campervan Dancers have been running (and performing at) the excellent Wednesday night show Folkswagon at Cafe Lounge in Surry Hills. Originally inspired by past Sydney night Folk Club, Folkswagon has a pretty unique calling card – the folky artists that play each week are called upon to perform an R&B or “swag” cover as part of their set.

We sat down with Ryan and Chelsea from The Campervan Dancers to chat all things Folkswagon as well as get an insight into their plans for 2016.

Gareth Hugh Evans: So Folkswagon is the regular Wednesday night that you guys run at Cafe Lounge in Sydney. Where did the idea for the night come from?

Ryan Collings: We were cruising around somewhere in Queensland on our honeymoon, talking about our plans for the year. We were wondering if we should play a ton of shows or should we do what some bands do and only play selective shows and try to use that as a strategy. And we decided that if we could we’d like to do a regular night.

Chelsea Collings: Running a regular night.

RC: Yeah. Because whether or not it’s the best strategy as a band to be playing the same place every week we wanted to give a format for other bands to play and create a community that is sort of lacking since the end of Folk Club. We loved going along to that and in its absense we thought it’d be good to do something.

CC: In terms it being Folkswagon we weren’t instinctively like “we should run a night that has niche R&B covers”. It wasn’t our first port of call. But we really like naming things – we put a lot of time and energy into finding the exact right name for something. After many many nights of driving from venue to venue and talking about what we wanted it to be called we eventually got to Folkswagon which then really lent itself to “well, we have to do swag covers”. It has to have swag.

RC: It actually just created itself.

GHE: Any time I’ve mentioned it to friends they’re always like “Folkswagon – I see what they did there”. I really like the format you guys have with you guys essentially taking the middle set as an ongoing residency and then giving spots to other artists. And you quite often have a recognisable name as the headliner and and upcoming as the opener.

RC: On the one hand it’s tempting to be like “let’s just get the biggest acts we can, pull as many people as we can”. And then on the other hand you also want to be helping people who are gigging less, helping their sound. Maybe they don’t sound as you think they will in a year but if they don’t play shows they’re not going to get better. We actually try to do that. It’s obviously not super strict but generally we try to have someone who’s hopefully going to pull a few heads and be a recognisable name, and then someone who might be a little bit of a risk. We’ve been really happy with everyone who’s played.

CC: It has meant a lot to us in terms of networking from a professional standpoint. For us to be able to connect with names who we really admire and really respect their work – to have a platform that they’re interested in being a part of is really cool. But as well we both started out as solo singer-songwriters and definitely benefitted from people taking a chance on us and being able to have that opportunity to perform. So it’s really cool to do that for other artists.

RC: We’ve been really honoured by some of the people who’ve come and played. The night we run is not for profit and we’re not paying as much as any of the artists are worth. They get something for their time but it’s great that they want to become a part of it, even though we don’t have the bankroll to pamper them.

GHE: And you’ve built a really nice community that “name” artists want to be a part of.

CC: Everyone’s beautifully humble – everyone’s thankful to have the platform. It’s really cool to see that attitude towards the community, that it is a really special thing to be a part of even if we would consider that they shouldn’t be playing at a night like this.

GHE: I’m interested to know when you play a regular show like this, where you do have a return audience and you’re in the same space, how that’s helped you develop as a band?

CC: It feels like home there now. I still have a sense of “Oh, I’m performing” and I get nervous and want to do really well, but it’s so much more comfortable than any other venue. Even just the regularity of it has pushed us to be better. With that amount of performance practice you just get better at reflecting on what works well and what people respond to. Having that regular audience who gives us feedback on what they really love about us and what songs they like, and even getting some feedback on what they think we could improve on, has been really helpful just in developing our stage presence. I think it’s done a world of difference in progressing us performance wise.

GHE: It’s almost like a weekly rehearsal for you in a comfortable space in front of a friendly audience. Do you workshop songs there?

RC: This year we’ve been playing previous material a lot and a couple of new songs. And then we’ve got a bunch of incomplete songs that we’re working on in the background. We’re trying not to play them.

CC: I think it’s more of our personality though that we really want to make sure things are ready. We were very intentional about what we want to be giving out to the world as a band so we want to make sure it’s right before we play it. But that being said the first place that we would play it would be Folkswagon, just to get a sense of it.

GHE: It’s like instant feedback from people you trust.

CC: It is. I feel like we worked pretty hard at the beginning to really create the environment that we would want to play it. Initially it was a very loud and unappealing place to play – people weren’t really used to prioritising listening to musicians. So we tried a bunch of strategies to just improve that and I feel like that’s helped a lot. It means we get that instant feedback even if it’s just a core ten people that are there – at least they’re present and engaged.

RC: And in Cafe Lounge with the nooks at the back it’s good that there’s a space that people can hang out and they don’t have to feel like they have to be really quiet. There’s space for everyone.

GHE: I was talking to the wonderful Fran Martin who is Folkswagon’s biggest fan and your resident MC and she was gushing about how much The Campervan Dancers have grown as a band since you started playing there. She said she can tell the difference between where you were six months ago and now. Is that something you feel has happened?

CC: I think probably a big impetus for that was being booked to play at Beyond Festival. We were playing a slot after Katie Noonan and before Blue King Brown so we really wanted that to be as good as we could possibly make it. It gave us a big kick up the bum to think about not just the songs and how they sound but the whole package.

GHE: Your stage banter has improved. It’s all about trying to connect even if no one is connecting back.

RC: It can feel a bit contrived. We don’t plan everything we say – a lot of what we say is very spontaneous – but we’ve put thought into it and discussed it. Be on the same page at least.

CC: Be able to maintain the energy between us regardless of the room. We want to bring as much joy and vibe to it as we possibly can.

GHE: You guys went from fortnightly to weekly after Little Features finished up their string of shows at Cafe Lounge. Was that a hard decision?

RC: We kind of went right for it. Initially we were going to do it every week. We were chatting with Little Features at the start of the year before we did anything and we both had a similar thing that we wanted to do.

CC: We were like “why don’t we join forces and do it together”.

RC: It’s been over six months now – we’ve just had our twentieth show. And Fran has been a stalwart, really solid. We couldn’t do it without her.

CC: Moving from fortnightly to weekly came at a good time. At that point the night had built up quite a lot and there was definitely just more interest – we were getting approached by people who wanted to play. And being a regular thing it feels more consistent.

GHE: Yeah, it as consistency. From a punter’s point of view you just want to be able to know that there’s going to be good music there on any Wednesday night.

RC: And that’s how I felt about Folk Club. I didn’t go every week, but if I was free I’d go.

GHE: As long as you maintain the quality, which you guys do. People will return for the night, not just because of a single artist.

CC: The majority of our audience is local regulars, people who are patrons of the venue and now know that there’s quality live music on a Wednesday. We’ve been very strict in really trying to uphold a standard.

GHE: So Folkswagon’s going to continue into 2016?

CC: Definitely.

GHE: But I heard you guys are leaving us next year?

CC: Yeah, we’ve bought our tickets to the UK and we’re leaving on March 5th.

RC: For our “European tour”. And Folkswagon may be expanding in Sydney but there’ll definitely be some kind of European presence for it.

CC: We’re thinking of either establishing a regular night in one place or doing a Folkswagon road trip. Just because we’ve found it’s been a very successful brand, people like the style of it, they like the niche-ness of it. We love hearing other bands and sharing the stage with them. Fran will be holding down the fort over here, fairy gigmother that she is. And no one can command a room like Fran.

GHE: So is the UK the big focus for you at the moment?

RC: There’s kind of a couple of focuses. We’ve got our first single “Slow Down Butterfly” which was meant to come out last March, but it’s definitely going to come out in the next few weeks.

CC: It’s taken a while to get mixed.

RC: We’re excited about it. And then the next thing after that will be a Pozible campaign so we’re going to need everyone’s help to try and get us over the line for that.

CC: We really want to release an EP. Pretty much at every single show we have people coming up asking to buy our CD. We’re looking forward to hopefully put something out from that if that’s successful.

GHE: That will be a nice bookend before you head overseas

RC: That’s why we really want to do it – it would be great to take over there and just have something that booking agents and managers can have something that represents what we sound like. Hopefully the year of really intense gigging is going to pay off on the record. We’ll sound together.

GHE: Thank you so much guys – and congratulations again on the success of Folkswagon so far.

RC: Thanks so much!

Folkswagon is held each Wednesday night at Cafe Lounge in Sydney. All of the artists for Folkswagon’s upcoming shows are below:

Wednesday 25th November – Snail, The Campervan Dancers, Liam Gale
Wednesday 2nd December – Sam Joole, The Campervan Dancers, Timothy James Bowen
Wednesday 9th December – Callum Wylie, The Campervan Dancers, Maia Jelavic


Details of the Next Live ‘n’ Lounging Featuring The Bollands, The Campervan Dancers, Kay Proudlove and Huckleberry Hastings

Kay Proudlove
Image Courtesy of Kay Proudlove

I love what the people behind Live ‘n’ Lounging have created. In Sydney so much of the music scene is concentrated in the inner city and surrounding suburbs, and if you head out to the suburbs it can be a live music wasteland.

But Live ‘n’ Lounging bucks this trend, bringing some of the best singer-songwriters and bands to the Macarthur region into an intimate, house concert environment.

And this month is no different with an absolutely cracking lineup featuring New Zealand folk duo The Bollands, Sydney stalwarts The Campervan Dancers, singer-songwriter Kay Proudlove (above) and dark-folk singer Huckleberry Hastings. The next Live ‘n’ Lounging takes place on Sunday 13th September and is just $10 on the door.

For more information on Live ‘n’ Lounging including how to get your hands on tickets and the night’s actual location check out the official Facebook event here.

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