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Rua MacMillan
If you put you tick in the one to listen out for box next to Rua MacMillan's name, congratulations you hit pay dirt. "Tyro" is not the debut album of a fresh faced youth abot to step out into the world, it's the album of a master fiddler with years of experience behind the bow. The tunes, traditional and contemporary, are played with a real passion by Rua, his band and the other truly gifted young musicians he invited to share his album as well as Brian McNeill, who also produces and still knows how to show the whippersnappers a thing or two. An album straight from the top draw.

The Douglas Firs
Single:In Trouble With Myself
Label:Self Released
"In Trouble With Myself" is a limited edition single from The Douglas Firs of the back of their winning best unsigned act at the DUMA awards. It's one that you really should snap up as the Douglas Firs continue to move forward as songwriters and musicians and it can't be long before a label becomes interested. "In Trouble With Myself" is as the title suggests a song about self reproach that is both haunting and lilting. You can sense the angst that brings a song like this together and almost feel a voyeur intruding on a personal space, but not enough to stop playing it.

Tracy Bonham
Album:Masts Of Manhatta
I'm really developing a fondness for the music of Tracy Bonham, she's naturally quirky and observationally as sharp as a pin. "Masts Of Manhatta"(not a misprint) is shrewed and irreverent. "We Moved Our City To The Country" being a case in point. All that wide open space and all they want is the comforts of the town and avoid getting the 4x4 dirty. There were times when she reminded me of a more americana version of Belinda O'Hooley, there's that similar twinkle to the way she takes on songs. Bohham finds the atmoshere and ambience in which to flourish.

Oh Dreamland
Album:Who Cares
Label:Kitchen Sink
I thought the days of singer/songwriters that want to rail against the world were over. Fortunately Oh Dreamland is here to prove me wrong. "Who Cares" is an album that is not only bitter, it's pretty twisted as well. Man's inhumanity against man and more importantly woman brings out the full scathing from deep inside soul. War, minimum wage and the worst parts of fathers for justice all face a barrage that could almost be considered tirade, well if it wasn't so carefully thought through. Songwriter Tim Berry has a dark outlook on the world and performs it brilliantly.

Water Tower Bucket Boys
Album:Sole Kitchen
Label:Self Released
One of the things I love about bluegrass is the sense of community that radiates through the music. Even when it's in it's more serious moments it still feels like group of friends that have gathered to make some music and have a gold old time. There's a simplicity to the music, well apparent simplicity, even more so when it's done well. "Sole Kitchen" captures that sense of a party that's rolled onto the back lawn and doesn't look like its going to stop anytime soon. Water Tower Bucket Boys may not be the best singers you're going to hear, but rest assured they entertain.

Quiet Rebellion
Album:Thinnest Hopes Magnified
Label:Local Nobody
"Thinnest Hopes Magnified" is an album that was recorded live at a series of house concerts around the UK. If the album has a flaw it's that they take the word quiet in Quiet Rebellion a little too literally. It needs a few more Dbs behind it and can doit without detraction. That aside the album is rich both in performance and lyric. Shaun T Hunter has a vocal style that is quiet compelling as he makes a subtle progress through the album. It almost flitters into your consciousness and then introduces you to the words. There is strength in subtle.

Jo Hamillton
Single:Think Of Me
Taken from and serving as an introduction to her album, "Gown", "Think Of Me" has the potential to be an acoustic pop classic, but I fear it will fall down the cracks. Thats a shame because there is a freshness to Jo Hamilton's sound. She performs with the confidence of an artist who has n o reason to doubt herself and is comfortable in their own skin. The purpose of a single is to promote the artist and I really hope this does succeed in that, that producers give it some airplay, but it's a little too out there for some, unfortunately. Fingerscrossed they think otherwise.

Heroes Collection
Album:Wartime Favourites
Label:Pegasus Entertainment
As well as being an interesting historical collection, "Wartime Favourites" also shows how important music is. Listening to the 50 songs here it's interesting to reflect how music changed during the war. Even when they were being humerous the underlying meaning can't be missed. The songs from the early years are about building moral, hope and defiance, the later years tend to be more about resolve and success. A belief that times will get better very soon. As important is the quality, the singers and musicians featured on these recordings were master and mistress of their time.

Heroes Collection
Album:The Best Of The Blues
Label:Pegasus Entertainment
Spread over 2 cds, the fifty tracks that make up "The Best Of The Blues" really do show why it's been such an enduring genre. Featuring tracks almost from the moment Rob Johnson sold his soul, this compilation moves from the Delta, into the honky tonks and then further North. Household names sit comfortably alongside artists that are more affectionado based. For less than a fiver you can get loads of pointers towards acts that you may want to hear more of and even if you don't you've had a couple of hours sheer indulgence. Real quality.

Harper Simon
Album:Harper Simon
I guess it's difficult not to be influenced by the music of your old man, when dad is Paul Simon. The key word is influenced. There's elements, particularly the way the vocals are done, that sound like the family tradition, but there's more than enough here to show that Harper is very much hs own man, musically. This is blend of acoustic pop and americana with a hearty dose of wit. It's as frothy a cappuchino and feels a bit like sitting in a broadwalk cafe watching the world go by. Ir's a cd of places, people and pop and is perfectly executed.

Matt Marr
Album:Currency Of Souls
Label:Honey Be
Matt Marr is a south coast singer/songwriter who infuses rock and new wave into his songs on the human condition. There is a lot of his writing that almost feels spiritual, without the hang ups of faith and dogma. You get the feeling that he has a demanding muse, one that brings the best out of him. "Currency Of Souls" is a complex album, one that strives to reach out for the intangible, the lost opportunities of youth, the direction we're headed in etc. That is does all this without getting bogged down in pomposity speaks volumes. Entertainment and expression can go hand in hand.

EP:Horses For Hearses
Label:Balling The Jack
Delightfully dark and equally dramatic, "Horses For Hearses" is gothic folk at it's absolute best. Four of the six songs on the ep have a horse related title and serve to emphasise the role of that beast in English folklore. There's slightly eastern feel that runes through the album giving the Moulettes sound a distinctive touch. The band have a contemporary take on traditional songs, bringing in blended voices, hand claps and other percussion into the mix to give it an otherwordly feel without reoirting to pantomine. Like shadow puppets given a voice in song.