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Various Artists
Album:Abstracts
Label:Fatea
Website: http://www.fatea-showcase-sessions.co.uk
Hands up, this is one of ours and this isn't so much a review as an impassioned plea to you to go to our subsite and download a copy of "Abstracts". The album, which comes to you at no charge, features fifteen great acts from right across the acoustic spectrum. Though they've got different sounds, they all have a real passion for their music, one that permeates through every chord, every note. The session is only available until April the 30th so please do these artists the honour of allowing them to entertain you with some really great music.

Avant Gardner
Album:Evlin Sheblins Hymnbook Thumbache
Label:It's Black!! Music
Website: http://www.avantgardner.co.uk
Apart from being a really exciting songwriter, one of the things I really love about Avant Gardner's releases is that you often get two albums for the price of one. The eloquently named "Evlin Sheblins Hymnbook Thumbache" comes initially as an electric album and then gives eight of the songs an outing in acoustic form. It really helps you get inside his head and understand how he puts his songs together. There's a lot of politics in his song, but mainly of a social and personal nature. The characters feel very real, almost like you've met them or people like them.

Angie Shaw
Album:The Other Side Of Blue
Label:Steel Kite
Website: http://www.myspace.com/angieshawband
There are so many adjectives that can be applied to the songs of Angie Shaw, thoughtful and reflective, sharp and incisive, delivered with the accuracy of an assassin. Similarly her band give her a range of moods to suit, relaxed chilled, almost reggae like blues with some really top hand percussion, through to sounds with a far harder core. It gives "The Other Side Of Blue" a real sense of dynamics. It's an album that works you really hard, I found myself constantly on the move whilst listening to it. It also help that Shaw's voice has a really sultry sound that just feels so right.

Liam Dullaghan
Album:Making History
Label:Self Released
Website: http://www.myspace.com/liamdullaghan
It's been quite a while since I've heard a record quite like "Making History" a really good acoustic, indie pop album with a male vocal. It's really refeshing, there's a bounce both in Liam Dullaghan's voice and the delivery generally, almost like spring is here and summer's not far away, lets get pout and have some fun. There's a real flow to the album, it moves from track to track with consumate ease, yet every track retains a distinctive personality. There's even time to involve a couple of universal truths on the album, when you're loved up, it's difficult to imagine being apart.

The Good Suns
Single:Shadow
Label:Self released
Website: http://www.myspace.com/thegoodsuns
In another place and time, The Good Suns may have found themselves doing a theme tune to a Happy Daysesque teen pop show, maybe even got a house band slot on a similar type of show and I don't mean that in a bad way, never did The Monkeys any harm. "Shadow" is jangly, guitar driven pop par excellance with a throw back to more innocent times. If the purpose of a single is to deliver a calling card and leave the listener thinking they want to hear more, than this ticks the boxes. I'm just not sure where it's going to find an outing to get it to the audience that need to hear it.

Catford
Album:Chronicles
Label:Self Released
Website: http://www.myspace.com/bandcalledcatford
It's difficult to fault an album that feels like its landed somewhere between seduction, a session and good old fashioned hedonism. Catford are a trio of multi-instrumentalist songwriters that have a perchant for life enhancing tunes and rambling story songs. Half the album feels like it should have been recorded around the fire in a pub, whilst the other feels as though it would be at home on the back of a trailer at a country fair and then, in it's more jazzy moments it feels like it's trying to entice the girl in the pretty dress back to the trailer. As enchanting as a long weekend.

The Secret Sisters
Album:The Secret Sisters
Label:Decca
Website: http://www.thesecretsistersband.com
The Secret Sisters, through their eponomously entitled album show that rare talent to take you back to a time before they, or most of their audience was born. Since their appearance on Jools Holland, there's been a lot of interest in this duo and rightly so. They have an ability to transport you back to the late fifties and a world of highschool hops. You can hear the likes of Brenda Lee, Connie Francis and even Patsy Cline, but with a deft flick you can also hear the Crystals and the formation of pop. "The Secret Sisters" have immersed themselves in their music and found real depth.

The Rockridge Bothers
Album:No Sleep Till Rockridge
Label:Red Rock
Website: http://www.rockridgebrothers.com
The Rockridge Brothers an really play up a storm the sort of storm capable of taking Dorothy to Oz. From the Bluegrass state, to the Ozarks, taking a whole load of mountain music along the way, "No Sleep Till Rockridge" is a real journey through traditional old timey American folk music, delivered at often breakneck speed. It is an album so full of life and spirit that it's almost impossible to prevent the feet tapping and the fingers drumming. The instrumentation is simply stunning and speaks of years of hard practice in the barn preparing for dances, rather than at home in Sweden.

Sue Aston
Album:Between Worlds
Label:genius loci
Website: http://www.sueaston.com
I sometimes wonder why I love Cornish music so much and the simple answer is because the county is capable of inspiring albums like this. "Between Worlds" is a predominently instrumental album, lead by Sue Aston's incredible violin playing. Whilst named after the meeting point of land and see, it also captures the wildness of the county, the hustle and bustle of it's people and sense of its past and its place in time. It's remarkable album because it does all this with a more restrained classical feel. rather than the more raucus session feel.

ItsAcoustica
Album:Here We Are
Label:Organic Soup
Website: http://www.itsacoustica.com/
Loose, dirty and a little ragged around the edge, "Here We Are" is like music that's sneaked out for a good night on the town and is now trying to sneak back into the house without waking anyone. Acoustic duo ItsAcoustica have a post All About Eve contemporary feel to them and combine it with good observational songs that feel like postcards sent from normality, the memory of the small things that make up a place, rather than the big thing that becomes the event. It's easy to relate to and that makes it easy to imagine the scenes. Rough, ready and easily accessible.

Gary Fulton
Album:The Devils Hand
Label:Self released
Website: http://www.myspace.com/garyfulton
"The Devils Hand" confirms Gary Fulton's status as a hugely under-rated singer/songwriter with now a trio of strong folk/blues rock albums that make up a significant canon of work. Hopefully this will be the album that blasts him into the mainstream to be hailed an overnight success. Whilst there is a touch of the Steve Earles about his delivery, Fulton has developed a style that is both hard hitting and yet easy on the ear. His songs bounce around the inside of your head, long after the album has ceased playing. He's a consumate performer and wordsmith, well worth checking out.

Little Miss Higgins
Album:Across The Plains
Label:Factor
Website: http://www.littlemisshiggins.com
If one of the trends of 2011 is to turn the musical clock back 80 odd years, then I'm definitely in favour, especially if it sounds as good as "Across The Plains". Canadian, Little Miss Higgins delivers an album that's got a delicate jazz swing beat, complete with brass section running through her music. Ms Higgins has got that confident swagger in her voice that just oozes night club singer, trying out for gangsters moll. The songs themselves a blend of risque novelty songs, the sort you can't get out of your head, sultry love poems and songs of the chase.

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