In March 2017, we created a playlist of some of our favourite 70s tunes. In an effort to shake up our spare time listening, the playlist included none of the usual stapes. There were no tracks by Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy or Led Zeppelin and yet we still managed to create a golden listening experience spanning several hours.
The experience got us thinking. What if we were to create extensive playlists of music we liked – or maybe brought back fond memories – for each year of the decade? Would one year stand out above all others? With this remit and using only two or three tracks per chosen album (maybe stretching to one extra in the instance of a double platter), we set to work.
A near empty room, a cello, a banjo and some animal bones. This first impression of Maddie Rabin’s world isn’t the most friendly; it doesn’t conjure the thoughts of small town life that would so often come with an Americana themed release. Such images suggest a far away place where glances are cast furtively from the corners of suspicious eyes, wary of strangers, looking to discover long buried secrets. Despite this, it doesn’t push the curious away, but rather more challenges them to dig further; to seek out why such imagery has been seen as the best fit for this singer songwriter’s musical vignettes. In many ways, unusual though it may be, this unusual photograph is very well suited to Rabin’s often minimalist approach
On the first two Worry Dolls releases, Rosie Jones and Zoe Nichol promised great things. On a pair of self-financed EPs, the duo sounded absolutely captivating with their abilities to write narrative driven songs and perform close harmonies. Hard graft on the live circuit saw them share stages with Cara Dillon, Rachel Sermanni and the legendary Joan Armatrading, as well as many others. Their first full length release promised a much deeper voyage into country music and ‘Go Get Gone’ does not disappoint.
Sun Hollow Sun’s first release – 2013’s ‘No History’ EP – presented four enjoyable pieces of semi-acoustic roots music. With clean guitar work and easy harmonies, a touch of jazziness to the lead vocal and a set of well written songs, they not only set upon a timeless style but also showed they had the chops to take on more established acts. Three years on, the ‘Before We Ever Met’ doesn’t really meddle with that formula but, if anything, does an even smarter job.
Hannah Fisher will be known to some folk music fans as a member of Roddy Woomble’s live band and for her collaborations with another Scottish folkie, guitarist Sorren Maclean. Her 2014 solo release ‘Watching Time’ shows her to be someone who’s more than just a musical accomplice. Taking elements of Celtic folk and semi-acoustic singer-songwriter’s sounds, this EP’s five songs – three instrumental cuts, two vocal pieces – borrow from tradition, but also feel entirely contemporary and its material comes across with influences from Pentangle, Bert Jansch and a few nods to John McCusker and Eliza Carthy. All these elements, right from first listen, single out Fisher as an artist possessing a natural talent and a strong understanding of folk roots.