We’re pleased to bring you another all music episode on Episode 651 of Folk Roots Radio with a mix that takes us to the UK, the US and Sweden alongside our regular look at some new releases from Canadian artists. This time around we check out new music from Hansan, James Yorkston with Nina Persson & The Second Hand Orchestra, Valerie June, The Lone Bellow, Rory Matheson & Graham Rorie, The Bombadils, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, JD Edwards, Abe Drennan , Skinny Dyck, Adeem the Artist, Dieter van der Westen Band, Angelique Francis and Kerri Powers. Enjoy! Remember, If you like the artists you hear on this show and want to support them, don’t just stream their music – BUY their music, and then you’ll really make a difference to their income at a time when it is becoming much more difficult to make a living as a musician. Check out the full playlist below.
We started off the episode with Americana singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik, singing in Swedish as part of Swedish-German folk jazz duo Hansan where she is joined by David Floer on cello. The beautiful “Vårt långa land”, which is about the marginalization of immigrants in a highly charged political atmosphere, comes from their latest album together “Blod eller black” (which translates as ‘blood or ink’ in English) and features just cello and voice.
We also heard from Scottish musican James Yorkston and Sweden’s The Second Hand Orchestra. “A Sweetness In You” comes from their second album together “The Great White Sea Eagle” which also features guest vocalist Nina Persson from Swedish rock band The Cardigans. This is the second time that James and The Second Hand Orchestra have used a ‘live off the floor’ recording technique where the band are given the songs just a few hours before meeting him in the studio, with the aim to capture everything they produce before picking the arrangements that work best for the project as a whole. We’ll be sure to dip back into this recording again on a future episode.
“I flew to Sweden and made the first album (2021’s The Wide Wide River) within hours of meeting The Second Hand Orchestra. I played them the songs, we hit record, and from then, every note of every arrangement was spontaneous. The result: a fast-footed, free-wheeling album.”
James Yorkston and The Second Hand Orchestra had no real plans to do a follow up to The Wide Wide River (from 2021), but as James visited his studio in Cellardyke, Fife everyday in early 2021, he began to start writing songs on the piano as opposed to his usual guitar as he gazed upon the sea outside his window. After sending the first five or six songs to Karl-Jonas Winqvist (the leader/conductor of TSHO), they began to discuss working on some new music together. With Yorkston’s shift from guitar to piano, they thought about what other changes they could make to their process which led to the involvement of a guest singer and the legendary Nina Persson (The Cardigans) was brought into the fold.
Valerie June‘s “Call Me A Fool” also features Stax legend Carla Thomas. It has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best American Roots song category. You can find it on Valerie June’s 2021 album “The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers” which weaves together traditional roots music, modern R&B, Afrobeat rhythms, orchestral string arrangements, and experimental pop-infused psychedelia.
“Unicorn” is a song that The Lone Bellow lead songwriter and vocalist Zach Williams wrote for his wife. You can find it on “Love Songs For Losers”, an album of songs about love experiences… the good… and the bad.
“One of the reasons we went with Love Songs for Losers as the album title is that I’ve always seen myself as a loser in love — I’ve never been able to get it completely right, so this is my way of standing on top of the mountain and telling everyone, ‘It’s okay,’. The songs are looking at bad relationships and wonderful relationships and all the in-between, sometimes with a good deal of levity. It’s us just trying to encapsulate the whole gamut of the experience that we all go through as human beings.” (Zach Williams)
This episode’s instrumental features Scottish trad. musicians Rory Matheson on keyboards and Orcadian Graham Rorie on fiddle and mandolin. “Stating Intentions” comes from “We Have Won The Land”, a recording inspired by the crofters buyout of the North Lochinver Estate in the Highlands of Scotland from a Swedish land speculator. (It’s obviously a very Swedish start to this episode).
“The crofters’ buyout of the North Lochiver Estate means a lot to me because my family supported the campaign and were heavily involved in the process from the beginning. It’s a really powerful story and an important part of Highland history that I was very inspired by. We Have Won The Land is the first time Graham and I had composed together and we had such a great time putting the album together.” (Rory Matheson)
“This was an album born out of lockdown – normally we are both away touring and writing with other bands, so the fact we have had the time and space to write and record together has been very special, especially for such an interesting theme. The Assynt Crofters’ Trust have been an inspiration to so many communities and we hope the album will help to raise awareness and celebrate the work they did to achieve the unimaginable.” (Graham Rorie)
After that we were off to Nova Scotia, for Luke Fraser and Sarah Frank who make music together as the The Bombadils. “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming” from their fourth album “Dear Friend” is all about finding beauty in small joys. Dear Friend is The Bombadils first full release after returning to Atlantic Canada to start a family – and their first to feature all original songs.
“No matter who you are, life brings its struggles, worries, and conflict. Yet sun and leaves make dappled light, rivers flow, people heal, and forgive, and beauty has a way of nudging through the noise in a persistent whisper.”
Frank Solivan and his bluegrass band Dirty Kitchen are finding light in the darkness of the pandemic on “Hold On”, the title track from their recent release. Hold On is a song that Frank wrote just 15 minutes before heading into the studio.
“I was going through the hardest time of my life leading up to the pandemic. And then the world stopped! Exploring some of the subject matter and song ideas that came out of those difficult times led me to these songs. Songs that helped bring me out of a seemingly hopeless situation. Finding light where there was darkness and trying to relay some of my journey of figuring out how to ‘hold on’. My hope is that the listener will be able to relate and will have these songs to help them get through difficult times.”
“Thank You” is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Jay Aymar as a tribute to nurses and other essential workers, who like elsewhere in the world, worked to their absolute limit and beyond during the pandemic. It’s delivered beautifully by JD Edwards with vocal support from Roxanne Potvin. It’s just sad that those heroic contributions have not been completed supported by government funding in Canada, the UK and elsewhere – as health services struggle to cope because of under-staffing and over work.
“I wrote this song right after having a lengthy discussion with a nursing friend of mine who was working throughout the height of the pandemic. It was obvious to me that my friend had hit her emotional limit. From watching patients die without the presence of family members to the lack of adequate protective gear. I wrote this song to ease her pain. It was quickly evident to both of us that the song was universal and was a Thank You to all who stepped up.” (Jay Aymar)
“Unknown Road”, the latest single from from Inuvik NWT singer-songwriter and educator Abe Drennan is a message of hope for all coming out of the pandemic.
“‘Unknown Road’ reflects on the experience of the pandemic, acknowledges the trauma but delivers a message of hope, reminding us that the most powerful tool we have for creating a better world is the capacity for love; love in the face of fear as we walk together in creating a better world than before. I hope this song is a catalyst for creating connection and healing within ourselves and our communities.”
“Hey Who’s Counting” comes from “Palace Waiting, the excellent 2022 album from Lethbridge AB’s Skinny Dyck.
Adeem the Artist is a new artist to Folk Roots Radio, and one who we just love. The highly rated non-binary Eastern Tennessee-based singer-songwriter has just released “White Trash Revelry”, the follow up to the critically acclaimed “Cast-Iron Pansexual” which was praised for its examination of faith, sexual identity, and self-acceptance. On this episode we play “Books & Records”, a song about the challenges of getting by in difficult times. Adeem is a fantastic songwriter. We’ll definitely have more from them on a future episode.
“On My Way” comes from their latest “Honesty Of The Hopeful”, the latest album from the Netherlands based Dieter van der Westen Band. It’s an ode to everyone who makes the best of life in an honest way and does not give up. Honesty Of The Hopeful is the follow-up to the excellent Dieter and Eric van der Westen duo album “The Sun Will Rise Again” which came out in 2021.
“Despite our differences, and the vast variations in our personal histories, we are all floating down this river together. We are all connected in this way. We have all shared the same beginning, and we will all share the same end.”
“This album is not only a beginning to an exploration of the current human condition, but an exploration and consolidation of the many forms of blues, and blues-influenced music.”
We wrapped up the episode with acoustic blues and roots artist Kerri Powers and her version of Steve Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” which you can find on Kerri’s excellent all acoustic (11 track) covers album “Words On The Wind”.
That’s all we have time for. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have lots of great music and interviews to bring you on future episodes.
If you enjoy the music we play on this show and want to support the artists – don’t just stream their music – that earns them much less than a penny per play. Instead, buy their music – and really make a difference to their income. They’ll love you for it!
Stay safe and well everyone!
You can listen to this episode again on Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)
Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)
Vårt långa land
Blod eller bläck (2023, Makaki Music)
James Yorkston, Nina Persson & The Second Hand Orchestra
A Sweetness In You
The Great White Sea Eagle (2023, Domino Records)
The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers (2021, Fantasy Records)
Call Me A Fool
The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers (2021, Fantasy Records)
The Lone Bellow
Love Songs For Losers (2022, Dualtone Records)
Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming
Dear Friend (2022, Self) CDN
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
Hold On (2022, Compass Records)
Thank You (feat. Roxanne Potvin)
(single) (2023, Fallen Tree Records) CDN
(single) (2022, Self) CDN
Hey Who’s Counting
Palace Waiting (2022, Sound Asleep Records) CDN
Adeem the Artist
Books & Records
White Trash Revelry (2022, Four Quarters Records / Thirty Tigers)
Dieter van der Westen Band
On My Way
Honesty Of The Hopeful (2022, Self)
Storms From My Eyes
Long River (2022, Self) CDN
Can’t Find My Way Home
Words On The Wind (2022, Self)