Folk Round-Up (Kitewing, Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, Session A9 and more) | Songlines
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Folk Round-Up (Kitewing, Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, Session A9 and more)

By Billy Rough

Billy Rough picks out some choice new folk albums from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Kitewing (1)

Airneán (NOTIFY ) may be the third release from Irish instrumental band NOTIFY but it’s the first featuring their new six-piece lineup. With a blend of folk, traditional Irish sounds and jazz, NOTIFY skilfully merge concertina, fiddle, guitars and bass, creating a soundtrack complemented by electronica. It’s an exciting mix that showcases the vitality, energy and experimentation the Irish music scene richly encourages. It’s a measure of the talent of the musicianship here too that neither sound dominates; tradition and contemporary elements perfectly complement each other in an album that reverentially plays
with tradition.

New on the scene is Norwich-based Kitewing with their self-titled debut (Kitewing ). Fiddles, guitar, mandolin and banjo provide the soundtrack in a mainly instrumental release, though there are some fine songs present as well. The album explores themes relating to the environment, the sea and migration, offering a beautifully realised, fresh and charming listening experience – a stirring new addition to the contemporary folk scene.

Welsh alternative country/folk/rock band Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog’s sixth album Mynd â’r Tŷ Am Dro (Sbrigyn Ymborth ), is a contemplative and heartfelt slice of eclecticism. The mostly self-penned songs and tunes explore themes relating to home, love and family, demonstrating the maturity of the band. Featuring guitars, keyboards, drums and vocals the three brothers Iwan, Aled and Dafydd Hughes, along with accompanying musicians, deliver an album that builds on the trio’s earlier, rockier work with a sound that is mature yet occasionally still manages to break a sweat.

Created from his University of Edinburgh Traditional Musician in Residence post, One Great Circle (Tanar Records ), from multi-instrumentalist and low whistle wizard Fraser Fifield (with Chris Sout and Catriona McKay) presents a dazzling and exquisite set of tunes. Inspired by the life of ‘Aberdeen-born storyteller, ballad singer and [traveller] Stanley Robertson’ and composed by Fifield, with his regular collaborators harp-fiddle duo, McKay and Stout in mind, One Great Circle is a delight, showcasing the close friendship of the trio and the elegant soundscape possible from whistle, smallpipes, harp and fiddle.

Finally, celebrating two decades as a genuine Scottish supergroup, Session A9 (named after the major road that cuts through Scotland from Falkirk to Thurso), mark their anniversary with The Magic Roundabout (Session A9 ). Despite heading into their third decade, the band’s enthusiasm, energy and sheer delight in playing together remain as invigorating and inspiring as ever. If you like fiery fiddles (four in all), and a thrilling mix of strathspeys, waltzes and reels, then you can’t go wrong here. Here’s to the next 20 years!

This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of Songlines. Never miss an issue – subscribe today

Subscribe from only £7.50

Start your journey and discover the very best music from around the world.


View the Current

Take a peek inside the latest issue of Songlines magazine.

Find out more