Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer 'Seed Of A Pine' Self-Release

Two singers and songwriters who have joined forces for the first time on this folk-infused set. Each takes the lead vocal on their own songs with Fer delivering a sultry voice and the lead electric and acoustic guitar lead work in a subtle and impressive style. McGraw, by way of contrast, has a deeper baritone voice that provides effective harmony when the two voices blend together.  McGraw has written six songs and Fer five. The songs are interesting in that the two writers both have slightly opaque, poetic styles that are given depth by the arrangements that use the additional textures of bass, drums, cello, violin, keyboards and dobro to enhance the quiet melodies of these tales, given a light touch production by Zach Goheen. The wistfulness of the title song that tells of an older person who "needs to ride to Portland but she dreams of Rome". The lyric booklet allows you to read the lyrics but this is an album that connects on an overall level of voice, music and lyric. It is an album rather than just a collection of songs and the collective experience will draw you in if you are prepared to give these two partners the time and space to allow their collective efforts to settle in. These are not instant pop songs or hard-bitten country tales, rather they are impressions of of someone's life and hopes "you glance over your sore shoulder, it's too dark to turn back but the fire by your campsite keeps you warm enough to dream" (Comin' Down) or "Like a distant violin playing, "Wash away my sins" he searches the sky for something, for someone... (Grow). This is music that is washed with the watercolour tones of the cover artwork - soft brushes strokes that bleed their colours together into a pleasing whole.

Murray & Falkenau 'The Leipzig Sessions' Tree Tone Music

A Galway based duo who blend Irish and American folk traditions into a series of original songs, written by Ivan Murray and Anna Falkenau, and  well chosen cover and versions of traditional songs delivered in an understated setting, recorded in Echolux Studio on Leipzig, using just the playing skills of the duo with Falkenau on fiddle and lead guitar and Murray on rhythm and vocals. Falkenau also adds backing vocals that help fill out the vocal delivery. There are, by their nature stripped down arrangements but must reflect the duos live sound and therefore be a fitting souvenir of such a performance. Murray has a soft vocal style that suits the delivery of the songs. There are also a number of instrumentals that highlight the playing skill of the duo, especially Falkenau's - as witnessed on the title track. Their cover of Joseph Arthur's In The Sun is well suited to Murray's voice and it's effective directness. This duo are enjoying themselves and this album is awaiting you to do the same.