BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015 by Various Artists (Album)
With 27 distinctive tracks, this compilation is proof of the rude health currently being enjoyed by the traditional folk scene
resented by BBC Radio 2 Folk Show host Mark Radcliffe, The Folk Awards are an annual event celebrating the ever popular genre and its place in the modern world. Over 27 tracks (including four bonus live tracks), this two-disc compilation showcases some of the winners and nominees from the year’s selection. From established artists like Loudon Wainwright III to new talent such as the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winner Talisk, there is plenty to enjoy here.
Many of the winners are present, including the Best Duo of Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker with their stirring It Would Not Be A Rose. Rose Howard by Musician Of The Year Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbon is an emotive instrumental number which demonstrates the former’s superlative fiddle playing. Perhaps the standout track is Peggy Seeger’s Swim To The Star. Winner of the Best Original Song category it is a timeless and drifting song delivered perfectly by Seeger.
Elsewhere there are plenty of highlights to be found amongst the nominees and also-rans. The harmonica driven Jimmy’s Ward by The Will Pound Band provides one of the album’s livelier moments as does Talisk’s Charlie/Waterfall. I Saw The Dead, Martin Green’s ethereal collaboration with Becky Unthank is haunting and lingers in the memory, whilst The Spider And The Wolf by Naomi Bedford is proof of how much great songwriting can still be found in traditional English music.
It is a pity that Lifetime Achievement winner Yusuf/Cat Stevens doesn’t feature on the compilation and a Bellowhead track would have injected some additional energy. But aside from these two omissions, the balance is well considered and the track listing is a veritable who’s who of the talented musicians that currently make the folk scene such a vibrant one.
Verdict: Comprehensive and thoroughly rewarding.