Home Service - A New Ground (Dotted Line). Concertina and accordion ace John Kirkpatrick has performed and recorded with many of England’s finest roots musicians over the years, including stints with Steeleye Span and the great Richard Thompson. The London born musician has now assembled a new incarnation of Home Service, the trailblazing folk outfit whose exuberant use of brass instruments has set them apart from many of their contemporaries ever since they were first formed in late 1980. A New Ground captures the eight piece band in particularly fine fettle as they alternate between rousing instrumentals and spellbinding songs, including the traditional Arthur McBride and Kirkpatrick’s brilliant adaptation of the Henry Purcell penned title track.
Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough - Mockingbird Soul (BDM Music). This Nashville-based duo describe their beguiling brand of American roots music as “acoustic soul,” and the combination of Kimbrough’s voice and guitar and DeMeyer’s sultry tones was certainly a musical marriage made in heaven. Mockingbird Soul captures their refreshingly warm and organic sound at its most timeless and life-enhancing, with Rainy Day, I Can Hear Your Voice and the majestic title track emerging as the best of an excellent bunch alongside their surprising cover of the Incredible String Band’s October Song.
Albrecht Mayer - Vocalise (Deutsche Grammophon). German oboe virtuoso Albrecht Mayer began his musical education as a boy chorister in the Bavarian city of Bamberg, and his fascination with the human voice is reflected in his natural affinity for the oboe, whose distinctive “singing” tone has always been one of the most attractive features of the instrument’s sound. The contents of this exquisite new anthology of his work were hand picked by Mayer himself, running the gamut from Baroque arias to arrangements of much loved orchestral works such as Debussy’s Clair de Lune and Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante defunte.
Mahavishnu Orchestra - Apocalypse (Talking Elephant). This impressive 1974 offering found legendary guitarist John McLaughlin working with producer George Martin of Beatles fame as his new Mahavishnu Orchestra line-up experimented with a more classically orientated approach to the art of music-making. The finished product had much more in common with prog rock than the intense jazz fusion which had become their trademark, with the London Symphony Orchestra lending added symphonic colour to fine tracks such as Vision Is A Naked Sword and the epic finale, Hymn To Him.