Episode 235: More Best of 2015

On this episode of Folk Roots Radio we dip back into our favourite albums of the year. We’ve already announced our ten favourite albums of the year – you can check those albums out HERE. This time around, we’re focusing on albums that made it on to our twenty-five album long list, but didn’t quite make it into the Top 10 – we still love them all though, which is why we’re more than happy to play a selection of songs from them on this week’s show.

Linda McRae released another great album in 2015  – the Steve Dawson produced “Shadow Trails”, a follow-up to 2012’s “Rough Edges & Ragged Hearts”. The new album features songs inspired by the workshops that she and her partner – retired rancher turned poet, James Whitmire have been doing with at risk youth and its chock full of raw and honest reflections on hardship delivered in her own inimitable rough-hewn style… and well-worth checking out. This week we played the fabulous “Why Can’t Waylon” which asks the question “If Jesus can come back, why can’t Waylon?” Food for thought, I think you’ll agree. Linda joined us for a chat from the road, between workshops, in September. You can check the interview out HERE.

Next up it was Peter Boyer’s Same Latitude As Rome with “Better Days Will Come” from their Canadian history brought to life album “Early Days”, produced by JK Gulley. Peter Boyer joined us for an in depth conversation earlier in 2015. You can check out that interview HERE.

And after that, Swedish Americana band, The Wife – formed by cousins Natalie and Kristoffer Johansson and featuring songs by Natalie – with “Everything Changes” from their excellent album “Mud”.

We followed that with Matthew Byrne from St John’s, winner of the Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Traditional Album of the Year for his late 2014 release “Hearts & Heroes”. On this week’s show we played two tracks – the beautiful “True Love Knows No Season” and the instrumental “Heroes”.

After years as a sideman, Shawn William Clarke stepped into the limelight as a solo artist a few years ago. His sophomore album, “William” released in late 2014 was praised by many, including Folk Roots Radio, for its playfulness, fine storytelling and understated warmth. From that album we played “Ten Years Ago” which features a wonderfully nostalgic brass intro. Check out our interview with Shawn HERE.

The Young Novelists had a really successful 2015, culminating in a Canadian Folk Music Award for New/ Emerging Artist of the Year for their latest album “made us strangers”, a fine slice of mostly mellow roots rock featuring catchy tunes, thoughtful lyrics and gorgeous harmonies. This week we played the beautiful Laura Spink vocal “Always Make the Same Mistake” Graydon James and Laura Spink joined us on Folk Roots Radio in June to chat about the new album. You can listen to that interview again HERE.

Jory Nash released another great album in 2005, “The Many Hats of Jory Nash” – an album title inspired by his extensive hat collection. It’s a beautifully textured album of folk and folk-pop in the classic singer-songwriter tradition with a wonderfully warm and playful sound, clever lyrical hooks and excellent musicianship. Jory joined us for a chat in March. You can listen to that interview again HERE.

And we followed that with the country roots performer who’s been described as having a voice stolen from angels, Tia McGraff, with the title track from her album “Crazy Beautiful” (2015, Bandana Records). Check out Tia McGraff’s visit to Folk Roots Radio HERE.

The Early Mays were another of our discoveries of the year. They feature fabulous harmonies from Judith Avers, Ellen Gozion and Emily Pinkerton alongside banjo, fiddle and guitar on some beautiful Applachian-inspired folk songs. This week we listened to the Judith Avers song “It’s All Right”.

After that we were on to Pete Davies from Middlesborough, England in the UK another one of those very pleasant surprises… an album from someone I knew nothing about that loved from the first listen… with A Soldier’s Lullaby from his album “Long Way Home’ (2014, Home Roots Music) – eleven songs with thoughtful and uplifting lyrics, and great hooks – sung with warmth and passion in a fine troubadour voice. Pete joined us on Folk Roots Radio in June. You can find the interview on the website HERE.

Staying in the UK, Land Of Hope And Fury is a protest song album born out of what the project organizers described as crushing disappointment with the results of the May 2015 UK general election. A beautifully sequenced set featuring 16 great songs from UK folk and roots artists, focusing on issues such as inequality and disenfranchisement that are as relevant to life in Canada and the US in 2015 as they are in the UK. This week we played Luke Jackson with Forgotten Voices.

And after that, two tracks from “Family”, the musical project from Thompson, the extended family supergroup headed by divorced parents Richard Thompson and Linda Thompson but also featuring their incredibly talented children Teddy and Kami, Richard’s son Jack – from his second marriage, Linda’s grandson Zac Hobbs, James Walbourne – Kami’s partner in her duo The Rails and more. Think of them as the British version of the Wainwright – McGarrigles. First up, it was the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek title track from Teddy Thompson followed by the beautiful “Perhaps We Can Sleep” featuring some fabulous vocals from Linda Thompson and co-written with son Teddy – who also plays all the instruments.

We wrapped up the show with Toronto singer-songwriter James Bruce Moore with “Sigh Unto the Universe” from his mystical and soul-stirring new album “Soul’s Journey Home”, the follow up to his well-received debut, 2012’s Lisbeth (named after his late wife); The new album was produced by renowned bassist George Koller (Loreena McKennitt, The Shuffle Demons) with musical support from, among others, Steve Briggs, Denis Keldie, Mark Mariash, Kirsten Rea, and David Piltch and the prominent use of a nine-piece string section, with arrangements by Aaron Davis. James Bruce Moore stopped by our mobile studio at the Folk Music Ontario conference to chat about the new album. You can listen to that interview HERE.

Well, that’s all we have time for. Check out the full playlist with artist links below and share your love for all the great folk and roots music out there. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us during the year, and thank you for listening. We have a lot more great music to bring you in 2016. I hope you’ll join us! You can listen to this show again on Mixcloud by following the link below.

Folk Roots Radio – Episode 235 More Best of 2015 by Folk Roots Radio on Mixcloud

Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises (Demo)
Roll Right (expected 2015)

Linda McRae
Why Can’t Waylon
Shadow Trails (2015, Borealis Records) CDN

Same Latitude As Rome
Better Days Will Come
Early Days (2015, Self) CDN

The Wife
Everything Changes
Mud (2015, Self)

Matthew Byrne
True Love Knows No Season
Hearts & Heroes (2014, Self) CDN

Matthew Byrne
Heroes
Hearts & Heroes (2014, Self) CDN

Shawn William Clarke
Ten Years Ago
William (2014, Self) CDN

Jory Nash
King In Denial
The Many Hats of Jory Nash (2015, Thin Man Records) CDN

The Young Novelists
Always Make the Mistake
made us strangers (2015, Self) CDN

Tia McGraff
Crazy Beautiful
Crazy Beautiful (2015, Bandana Records) CDN

The Early Mays
It’s All Right
The Early Mays (2014, Self)

Pete Davies
A Soldier’s Lullaby
Long Way Home (2014, Home Roots Music)

Luke Jackson
Forgotten Voices
Land Of Hope And Fury (2015, Union Music Store)

Thompson
Family (feat. Teddy Thompson)
Family (2014, Fantasy/Concord Music Group)

Thompson
Perhaps We Can Sleep (feat. Linda Thompson)
Family (2014, Fantasy/Concord Music Group)

James Bruce Moore
Sigh Unto the Universe
Soul’s Journey Home (2015, Self) CDN

About the author

JAN HALL

Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005. Jan is also an accomplished stage host and festival emcee.

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