Voices

It came as a shock last weekend to discover that among my fellow punters at a folk concert back in November 2012 was David Cameron. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister slyly hinted at the hipness of his musical tastes by revealing how he and Samantha snuck into a First Aid Kit gig as the Shepherd Bush Empire. Until then, I had flattered myself that I had a cool and recherché appreciation of music, and that hopefully I had avoided the pretentious music so often accompanied by the word “recherché”.

Graceland: Soundtrack of our lives

When Paul Simon released Graceland in 1986, who would have thought his mixture of wistful pop and African sounds would endure across generations? Harriet Walker salutes a political and cultural classic

Donovan: Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Buddha and me

As the world celebrates Dylan's 70th birthday, the star known as the 'British Bob' reminds John Walsh how it was he who taught Lennon and McCartney a thing or two, prompted the Pop Art movement and even instigated our very own Summer of Love

Album: Midlake, Late Night Tales (Late Night Tales)

The low-key, chill-out format of the Late Night Tales series of band-curated "mixtape" compilations lends itself well to Midlake, whose selection tracks the fringes where disparate strains of art-rock, folk and folk-rock rub up against each other.

The Music Instinct, By Philip Ball

As prolific as he is profound, Philip Ball weaves science into culture with a dexterity and virtuosity that avoid any sense of overstretch. This book, learned while never less than absorbing, could so easily have fallen victim to a glib reductionism as Ball explores the possible roots of music in Darwinian "sexual selection".

Rachel Sermanni on mentors Mumford & Sons

Touted as a protégé of nu-folk Brit award winners Mumford and Sons, 19 year-old singer/songwriter Rachel Sermanni was the youngest act chosen to perform in January’s BBC Celtic Connections festival.

Album: The Low Anthem, Smart Flesh (Bella Union)

The trouble with boasting a number of singer-songwriters within the same band is one of identity: a problem that didn't hinder Rhode Island's the Low Anthem on their breakthrough album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin in 2009 but does here.

The Waterboys and The Charlatans set to headline at the Wychwood Festival

Wychwood, partnered with The Independent, have announced the headliners for this year's festival. Mike Scott's folk-rock band The Waterboys, who formed in 1983, will perform on the Saturday, joining Britpop band headliners The Charlatans, and Ian Anderson, the flute-playing frontman of Jethro Tull.

<em>Independent</em> partners with HowTheLightGetsIn

Independent Print Limited, the parent company of The Independent Newspapers, has signed a media partnership with the world's first philosophy and music festival, HowTheLightGetsIn.

Album: Sandy Denny, Sandy Denny (Island)

Sandy Denny, the queen of English folk-rock, had a voice that cut right to the emotional core of a song, resonating across genres and sensibilities to touch hearts well outside the normal reach of folk music.

Album: Tess, Magpie (Vintage Voice)

Tess is a chap from Kent. Make of that what you will.

Album: Lost in the Trees, All Alone in an Empty House (Anti-)

They claim to bring classical music to bear on the tropes of American folk music. Hmm.

Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music, By Roby Young

Upwards of 600 pages long, fanatically engrossed in its subject matter, covering a century of native musical culture in the minutest detail, Electric Eden has a symbolic high point that can be dated to 1975. With the entity known as "progressive rock" (Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes etc) grown tediously overblown, and punk the faintest of stirrings on an unregarded horizon, this was the annus mirabilis of the English folk-rock group, Steeleye Span. A six-part BBC television series saw the band beamed out from a selection of historic country houses. Their stage shows became, as Rob Young puts it, "increasingly flamboyant". For "Lyke Wake Dirge" they trooped on stage wearing medieval space suits woven from priests' cassocks.

Seth Lakeman: Listening party exclusive

Next Monday see's the release of Seth Lakeman's brand new album 'Hearts & Minds', follow-up to 2008's Top 10 album 'Poor Man's Heaven', and a highly anticipated return from the young British folk figurehead.

Sound of summer: Meet the new faces of nu folk

Beer bellies and beards begone! Music's most maligned genre has never looked &ndash; or sounded &ndash; better. And, this festival season, you'll scarce be able to walk five paces without hearing a fiddle or a banjo

Album: The Coral, Butterfly House (Deltasonic)

I can't quite put my finger on the reason why, but Butterfly House isn't doing it for me with quite the alacrity of previous Coral albums.

Voices
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