Tuesday 13 May 2014


Album Review

Various Artists

The cultural strand of society which is folk music is by its definition an underground and subversive tradition which has been kept alive by activists and "cottage industries" who have a deep ingrained love and sense of history about the music.

Zoe Wren
One such "cottage industry" is the Folkstock Arts Foundation (FAF) and is the brainchild of Helen Meissener who is also the driving force behind it.
One strand of this is it's own boutique record label which is just releasing an EP The F Spot.
Among the many things it does FAF gives platforms and opportunities for wider exposure to relatively unknown but talented acoustic and folk artists.
The F Spot is one such opportunity which is a collection of rising musicians, with the exception of Luke Jackson who is already well-established and respected on the circuit, brought together to give audiences a flavour of the extent and quality of music which is out there if you look a little deeper than the usual routes.
Camden girl Zoe Wren opens the EP with Pandora's Box. Teenage singer/songwriter Wren has a crystal yet satin voice which is accompanied perfectly by her acoustic guitar playing.
Pandora's is a gentle ballad which Wren executes with a precision which belies the fact she has only been on the music circuit for two years. There is a nice retro feel to her singing too which gives it a sense of depth and familiarity.
Minnie Birch
The second track is Mary May from the ultra-talented Luke Jackson who at just 19 already has two acclaimed albums under his belt. There is a full review of his latest album Fumes and Faith on this blog just follow the link.
His bluesy and edgy voice gives this ballad a real maturity and really shows off the deep character he brings to his performances. It is of course accented beautifully by his precise guitar picking which is just enough to fill in any emotional gaps in this song.
This gives way to Castles by Minnie Birch from Hemel Hempstead who has just a heavenly voice which is more than reminiscent of Cara Dillon and the elf-like Rachel Sermanni.
Castles is just an incredibly pleasant song with its hobby horse rhythm produced by Birch's gentle strumming and there are just enough musical effects on this track to enhance what is quite an ethereal sound which could easily transport you to other realms, just let the magical track wash over you.
Roxanne de Bastion
German-born Roxanne de Bastion takes over from here and brings in her child-like voice which brings back memories of Sinead O'Connor and Delores O'Riordan but also carries that urban edge of Kate Nash before she turned punk.
Growing up in Berlin she was influenced by The Beatles and you can hear it on this track how their style has leeched into her psyche to produce both a contemporary and memory-pricking track in Butterfly.
The final track on this small but high quality collection of songs is from Marina Florance & Ben Smith.
Without doubt the most unusual and fascinating of the tracks on this disc is Getting Away.
Florance has a really distinctive voice almost like a female Bob Dylan with a smattering of Dolly Parton and with the deep strands of Ben Smith's Springsteen-like tones they sound like they have waded in the same river as that other remarkable duo Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou.
The F Spot EP
Getting Away, like all the tracks, is an easy ballad but more than any of the others dips at least one toe into the country stream.
This EP is a gem of a CD even if you are not into acoustic music this is an album for you and if you are into acoustic/folk music then this offers a chance to hear talent which you might easily miss - which is essentially what FAF is all about.
This album costs less than a packet of fags, but it won't go up in smoke, won't increase your chances of suffering ill health and in fact could well make you feel much better.
F Spot - Friends of Folkstock is officially released on May 17 but is available for download now at either £1 per track or £5 for the album.

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