Observations: A meeting of minds in the nu-folk revolution

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The Independent Culture

With Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale and Mumford & Sons among its alumni, west London's informal school of folk is known for regularly producing popular, talented young singers and songwriters. Members of the aforementioned bands used to play together at the Bosun's Locker on the King's Road, until that venue closed. For the last two and a half years, however, their regular meeting place has been the monthly Communion night at Notting Hill Arts Club.

Founded by Mumfords keyboard player Ben Lovett, Mumfords producer Ian Grimble, and Kevin Jones, the bassist with Cherbourg, the night has now evolved into a record label and produced its first limited edition Communion compilation album. "Communion allows people to play gigs in a friendly environment and try new things out," says Jones. "And it's become a close-knit community of musicians swapping ideas – as well as a good place to find a banjo player if you need one. We liked the idea of documenting all that with a record."

The compilation features contributions from established west London folkies like Johnny Flynn, Jeremy Warmsley and the Mumfords themselves. Other highlights include Alan Pownall's "Take Me" and Broadcast 2000's "That Sinking Feeling", both of which employ the acoustic-guitar-plus-string-arrangements dynamic to charming effect.

Among the less familiar names on the tracklisting is Matthew and the Atlas, real name Matt Hegarty, who boasts the kind of craggy larynx that lesser vocalists spend years trying to cultivate with diets of cigarettes and alcohol. Hegarty is also Communion Records' first signing; his EP will be released later in the year. His song "Deadwood" and Alessi's Ark's "Hands in the Sink" are two more standouts from the compilation – and both are available as free MP3 downloads from independent.co.uk /communion, where you can also stream the album in full.

Click here to stream the album and download two free songs