Morrison Kincannon – Beneath The Redwoods

Spacetalk is proud to reveal its most exciting release to date: a collection of long-lost recordings from forgotten Californian duo Morrison Kincannon, rescued from the dusty tape archives of the pair’s lead songwriter, Norman Morrison…

With only a handful of sought-after private press 7” singles to their name, Morrison Kincannon are all but unknown outside record collecting circles. Yet Norman Morrison and Terry Kincannon wrote and recorded some superb songs during the 1970s and early ‘80s, desperately hoping for the break that would see them released on vinyl. Now, at last, their time has finally come. Morrison and Kincannon first started working together as teenagers almost 50 years ago. Every Saturday, they would get together to jam and write songs. This led to recording sessions at a friendly studio in San Francisco and a management and publishing deal with Manny Greenhill, a man who had previously nurtured the careers of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Sadly, their hoped-for-success never came, and by the early 1980s both members had re-focused on work and family. As the years rolled by, their original multi-track recordings lay idle in Morrison’s loft, seemingly never to be released.

All that changed when Morrison received an email from Spacetalk Records two years ago, asking about the possibility of reissuing “To See One Eagle Fly”, the B-side to one of their 7” singles that has long been a favourite of label co-founder Danny McLewin. Once a deal had been done, Morrison mentioned that he had hours of unissued recordings in his loft; a treasure trove of ultra-rare multi-track master tapes that could be freshly mixed and mastered for release. When the Spacetalk Records’ team finally got a chance to listen, they were astonished by the timeless quality of the songs. Put simply, they just had to be released.

The resultant album is a stunning set: an intoxicating glimpse into the world of two previously unheralded master songwriters whose musical vision encapsulates all that was good about Californian music during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Rooted in the American folk revival and folk-rock movement of the late ‘60s, the album’s 15 thoughtful, heartfelt songs are laden with sly nods to the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Ned Doheny, Michael Deacon, Cy Timmons, Gene Clark and Buffalo Springfield. The tracks were recorded at various times between 1970 and ’82 and gives a small glimpse of the duo’s total body of unissued work. The release comes with extensive liner notes telling the remarkable story of two lifelong friends and musical collaborators who thought their moment had passed.

Craig Duncan & The Appalachian Orchestra – Smoky Mountain Fifties

Pop hits of the 1950’s featuring Hammered Dulcimer.

Performed on authentic mountain instruments. Includes bluegrass inflected renditions of “Sixteen Candles,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” “Bye Bye Love,” and more.

Craig Duncan is no stranger to the Nashville music community. His talents on violin, fiddle, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, bass, and viola can be heard on numerous Nashville recordings. A graduate of Appalachian State University and Tennessee State University, Craig is a member of the North American Fiddler’s Hall of Fame and Who’s Who in Music and Musicians.

Fourth Moon – Ellipsis

Having met four years ago and formed the band 2016, consist of renowned young artists – Moshen Amini (Talisk & Imar) Concertina/ David Lombardi (Holiday On iO) fiddle/ Geze Afank (Event Horizon ) Fltue- Pipes & Whistles/ Jean Damei (Event Horizon)  Guitar.

Hailing from Glasgow / South of France / Vienna/ – initially meeting up at Limerick!  sharing a common ground,  while bringing together their diverse music history, bring an explosive and stunning, and refreshing sound. With host of individual awards under their belts including the 2016 BBC Radio Scotland Young Musician of the Year, 2015 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award Winner, 2015 MG ALBA Up and Coming Artist of the Year nomination, Musician of the Year nomination for both the MG Alba Trad Awards and then BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Piping championship titles in Germany/Austria and upwards of 5 All Britain titles, Fourth Moon are coming with a bang with this their first CD.

Hannah Read – Way Out I’ll Wander

 

Often folk singers will perform with a certain place in mind. No other genre is quite so aware of its geographical heritage. A regional accent, a political stance, a particular choice of instrument or a way of describing a landscape: all of these can signify, with varying degrees of subtlety, a sense of location or sometimes dislocation. But there are other, equally valid, subjects for artists to tackle, and one of these is what we might call the human condition, or more specifically the nuance of human interpersonal relationship. With quiet but noteworthy ambition, the latest album by Hannah Read, her second, attempts to reconcile both of these strands. While this may not be unique, Read’s methods are all her own, and the results are fascinating.

Read is Scottish, but lives and works in the United States. Way Out I’ll Wanderwas recorded in two separate winter sessions, a year apart, in New Hampshire and upstate New York. And as I have suggested, location is important. The rural, mountainous areas where Read worked provide a link, perhaps a subconscious link, to the landscapes of her homeland. This allows her to perform in a way that recalls the musical heritage of both of her homes, and that acknowledges the shared aspects of that heritage as well as its differences. And just as importantly, it allows her to approach lyrical subjects of her songs – people and relationships she has known, shared pasts – with enough distance to make for clear-eyed, objective portraits, painted with affection and skill.

 

With that in mind, the opening track, Moorland Bare, is something of an outlier in that its lyrics are not Read’s own but are taken from a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson was another Scot who spent some time in upstate New York, and for whom the idea of home was powerful and complex. Moreland Bare, then, makes a natural and excellent scene-setter, with its darkly romantic recollections of the Scottish heaths. But more than that, it is a stunningly performed piece that instantly showcases Read’s ability to command the terrain of a song. The gentle but bittersweet strum of acoustic guitar carries a voice that is remarkably clear but full of transatlantic ghosts: there are echoes of both her adopted homeland and her place of birth in every phrase. Amongst other things, it is an apposite reminder of the borderlessness of art.

 

It is followed by the first of the detailed character sketches which are to become a trademark of the album. Ringleader shows Read at her darkest and most ambiguous. Its message is potent but enigmatic, revolving around the idea that the worst human behaviour is entrenched through generations, feeds off weakness, and is incredibly difficult to change. As if to let the gravity of this song sink in, Read follows it up with a short instrumental interlude led by her unhurried, melancholy fiddle, and owing as much to modern chamber music, jazz or film scores as to folk. Indeed, an important feature of the whole record is a tactful use of a wide range of instruments: Read’s fiddle and guitar (along with the guitar work of Jefferson Hamer) is brilliantly underpinned by the upright bass of Jeff Picker. This makes up the album’s musical core, but there are various other flourishes throughout – woodwind, saxophone, lap steel, piano – which are knitted together wonderfully by co-producer and engineer Charlie Van Kirk.

 

I’ll Still Sing Your Praises is one of the most personal, most powerful and rawest songs here. To a minimal musical backdrop, Read sings with fondness, resignation and sadness of the end of a relationship set against the opposed territories of city and countryside. The song’s final line ‘You’re no longer the one that I call home’, is a microcosm of the album’s theme of belonging, and how the deeply human need to belong with another human is entwined with the more abstract idea of belonging in a certain place.

 

Alexander is another of the ‘character’ songs, though this one is much fonder. Here, a softly distorted electric guitar gives the song a welcome warmth, while the chorus – simply the name ‘Alexander’ sung like a charm – is open-ended and generous-hearted, a reminder that simply speaking a person’s name can be an act of kindness. She Took A Gamble rests on a cat’s cradle of intertwined guitars and an innovative vocal performance that, in terms of melody at least, recalls early Joni Mitchell. Lyrically, Read focuses on small but important details that anchor the song in a time and place – hermit crabs in the sucking tide, ropes clinging to stones – before zooming out to view the wider picture of interconnected lives and difficult decisions.

This juxtaposition of fine details and grander, more universal ideas is a technique that can yield heartbreaking results. The album’s title track is a case in point. After a graceful fiddle intro, Read sets the scene with needle-sharp descriptions of cold air and snow on fallen trees, before the sadness at the song’s heart hits her – and the listener – in a slow wintry sweep, and a heavy freight of grief is lightly but devastatingly revealed. And it works with the happier songs too. Boots describes the unknowable point in a relationship when things change, in this case for the better. But once again it is in the minutiae the song’s power builds: the clothes on the floor, light falling on a cheekbone. Before you realise it you are caught in the small, perfectly formed world of the song’s narrative.

 

Final track Campsea Ashe (presumably the name refers to the Suffolk village) is perhaps as close as Read gets to straight Americana – and maybe its position on the album is a nod to the direction (musical or geographical) in which she is moving. But there is more to it than that: here the lyrics deal as much with time as with place, hinting at yet another dimension to the already enviable talent on show in Read’s songwriting. Way Out I’ll Wander is a fine achievement: listening to each of its songs is like watching the snow settle in an exquisitely crafted snow globe, revealing an image of pristine clarity.

Way Out I’ll Wander is out on 23rd February 2018.

Ciaran McMeeken – Ciaran McMeeken

Auckland-based singer songwriter Ciaran McMeeken’s debut full-length album is… a labour of love; the fruits of a worldwide journey of writing, reflection and musical collaborations during a European writing tour. Because of this – upon his return to New Zealand McMeeken was faced with the difficult task of deciding which tracks to include on this album, ensuring these tracks are the best of the best.

Having grown up in the depths of the South Island in the picturesque village of Arrowtown, when posed with the question of what he wanted to do with his life, McMeeken decided to follow his passion and turned his hand to music; a passion that is evident in his accomplished self-titled debut album. Having produced a handful of releases, beginning with his debut EP The Valley in 2014, and second EP Screaming Man in 2015, this is the first full-length release from McMeeken, and it quickly become apparent that the wait was worth it. Recorded at Auckland’s Roundhead Studios, McMeeken worked with a live band, and the results are a strong collection of twelve very polished songs that masterfully intertwine elements of rock, pop, jazz, blues, roots and soul with both ease and sophistication.

McMeeken’s voice brims with sincerity, honesty and strength. Opening track ‘My Kin’ is an upbeat roots/rock infused track that showcases not only McMeeken’s smooth vocals but also his acoustic guitar playing prowess. The second single from the album, That Feeling, was co-written in less than 20 minutes with renowned songwriter MoZilla (who has worked with the likes of pop superstars Ellie Goulding, Charlie Puth and One Direction). It’s a simple acoustic guitar and piano based track and is a smooth pop masterpiece full of romanticism while still remaining completely authentic.

Other standout tracks include ‘Al Capone’ (an upbeat swing/blues influenced track), and ‘Don’t Lie To Me’ (a beautiful blues rock ballad with a touch of r&b, which is at times reminiscent of John Mayer at his very best). It is easy to imagine this album being the perfect soundtrack for laid back summer days in the sun; an album that can be listened to time and time again and yet still remain new and fresh.