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Various Artists Various Artists
Album: Sonic Blooms
Label: Folk & Honey
Tracks: 20
Website: http://www.folkandhoney.co.uk

Not content with being one of the leading gig listing websites in the UK, Folk & Honey have released a double CD album of some of the finest emerging talents in the alt-folk and new roots music scene. Its aim is to shine a light on some of those artists and bands that are slowly building an audience based on little more than word of mouth. A lot of the artists share deep links, they have played on each other's songs, shared producers and studios. As such they feel almost part of their own movement, urban-folk as much as alt-folk, and Sonic Blooms provides a great snapshot of this emerging scene.

Given that this a compilation, it's impossible to give every artist the due they deserve. There are some strong tracks here though. The album starts with one of the stronger tracks on the collections - Beloved by Firefly Burning. It's a beautiful low-key track with a touch of Kate Bush to it, all soaring vocals and insistent string support. Six Dukes from Mishaped Pearls features the kind of muted vocals yet driving beat that you might find in an Elbow track. Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker's may be a little more recognisable that a lot of the artists on here, given that the won Best Duo in the Radio 2 Folk Awards, and I Never Learned French is a predictable high point.

There are two recordings that are exclusive to Sonic Blooms. Corozones Amarillos by Robert Chaney and Laura Tenschert closes out the first CD in strong fashion, with its mournful air and beautiful vocal performances. MG Boulter's Clifftown on the second half of CD2 is also an absolute delight, and begs to be repeated immediately. The album closes out with yet another highlight, the wonderful Parallel from Tobias Ben Jacob, which features Emily Barker, Phillip Henry, and John Elliot.

As a way to highlight the vibrant music scene that exists a world away from the stadia and arena touring bands, this album is a resounding success. Most of these names will likely be new to listeners, and on the strength of the songs here, they deserve to be featured here. If you are a fan of the alt-folk live music scene, this is a great way of getting to know which new talent to keep an eye (and an ear) out for. While it's a little inconsistent in places, as you'd expect from this type of compilation, it's a good listen throughout and there are some real gems here that you'll want to hear more from.

Adam Jenkins