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”.

Album: Seth Lakeman, Hearts and Minds (Relentless/Virgin)

To follow-up Poor Man's Heaven, Seth Lakeman has brought in the producer Tchad Blake, known for maximising the power of acoustic music without sacrificing its subtleties.

Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson, Royal Festival Hall, London

The programme for Richard Thompson's Meltdown festival carries a photograph of Thompson in his salad days – taken, probably, in the late Sixties or early Seventies, some time around his founding of Fairport Convention and his marital and musical union with Linda Thompson. A little Nick Drake-like, he gazes wistfully off-shot. It feels iconic. But while for a lot of people Thompson's name might ring a bell, ask them to hum one of his tunes and you'll probably draw a blank.

Album: Seth Lakeman, Hearts and Minds (Virgin / Relentless)

The problem with rabble-rousing fiddle-led folk music with contemporary political lyrics is that you run the risk of sounding like the Levellers.

Album: Carole King & James Taylor, Live At The Troubadour (Hear Music)

Back in 1970, Carole King and James Taylor made their debut appearance together at Los Angeles' famed haunt, The Troubadour, as respected songwriters but unproven performers.

Album: Sam Amidon, I See the Sign (Bedroom Community)

You'll either get what Amidon does or you won't.

Goldheart Assembly, ICA, London

When there's lots to smile about

Album: Laura Marling, I Speak Because I Can (EMI)

The first album wascallow but brimming withobvious talent. Here's thespill-over. Splashy, gushy,slightly too much. Anacoustic record of ultrapoeticmythopoeia,arranged with a heftystylistic debt to the LAcanyons of 1972 butevincing real Englishness.There are only a coupleof duff songs here, whichis good going consideringthe riskiness and reach ofher writing. Marling isgenuinely original, and ina pop market saturatedwith singer-songwritingmediocrity, she is to betreasured. And nurtured.

Album: Laura Marling, I Speak Because I Can (Virgin)

On I Speak Because I Can, Laura Marling continues to demonstrate why she's such an exciting singer-songwriter.

Vanity case: Will Carly Simon reveal the identity of the mystery man in her Seventies hit You're So Vain?

'But do you know what no one has ever suggested?" Carly Simon teases. "That it's a girl." It's the great, white, vain (Warren Beatty-shaped, perhaps?) elephant in the room, which happens to be a chilly hotel conservatory in west London. It's like interviewing Colonel Sanders and not enquiring about his "secret formula". It's a subject that can't be avoided. I'll bring it up at the end, I reason. I'll playfully mention that I think "Nobody Does It Better" is the best James Bond song and then in a throwaway fashion, ask "You're So Vain", so it is about Beatty or Jagger, or both? It doesn't quite work out like that, though, and anyway there's a lot more to this prodigious talent than one song, albeit an exquisitely acerbic ("But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me") and droll ("Well, you're where you should be all the time/And when you're not you're with/Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend") one.

Free downloads: Communion compilation album

The nu-folk scene that has blossomed in recent years in London and around the country has been built on like-minded musicians supporting each other and putting on gigs together. Nothing typifies this better than musical collective Communion, formed by members of Mumford and Sons amongst others, which has now started a record label, the fruits of which are made available exclusively by the Independent below.

Album: Among The Oak & Ash, Among the Oak & Ash (Verve Forecast)

Discovering a shared love of US folk idioms, solo performers Josh Joplin and Garrison Starr joined forces to create Among the Oak & Ash.

Midlake, Wilton's Music Hall, London

Maestros of the minor key

Album: Animal Collective, Campfire Songs (Paw Tracks)

Reissued in the wake of Animal Collective's 2009 breakthrough, Campfire Songs dates from a time (2003) when they still had not settled upon that name for the band, but were operating under the sobriquet which eventually became the album title.

Album: Peter Von Poehl, May Day (Tot Ou Tard)

Earnest Swedish singer-songwriters are not exactly thin on the ground, and on first few listens Von Poehl sounds too much like all the others: unobtrusive, polite, nothing to jump up and grab you.

Tim Hart: Founder-member of Steeleye Span

Best known for the years he spent as a founding member of the English electric folk-rock band Steeleye Span, Tim Hart was a singer and multi-instrumentalist who also turned his hand to writing and photography.

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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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