Neil Spencer

Martha Tilston: The Sea review embraces tradition with nautical ballads

Martha Tilston has carved her niche in the English folk scene with sharp, original songs that dissect the modern world.

Various: Look Again to the Wind review homage to Johnny Cashs radical 60s album

(Sony Masterworks)Tribute albums frequently betray their subject, but not this homage to Johnny Cashs Bitter Tears, the country giants 1964 salute to Native Americans. A concept album about a discomfiting cause the USs treatment of its indigenous people

Kathryn Tickell & The Side review atmospheric folk with classical accents

Classical accents have proved fruitful for British folk in recent years (Lau, Unthanks).

Sarah Jane Morris: Bloody Rain review cold fury and compassion

(Fallen Angel)Sarah Jane Morris has had many roles over the years Communards hit-maker, jazz crooner, Brechtian big band diva the common thread being an octave-leaping voice brimming with drama and passion. Here she hits a career high with an album dedi

Lándini review Aurelio makes an elegant return to his Garifuna roots

His role as cultural ambassador for Honduras's coastal Garifuna people led Aurelio Martinez to Senegal for 2011's superb fusion album, Laru Beya.

Swimmin' Time review Shovels & Rope deliver winning bluesy lo-fi

(Dualtone)This South Carolina husband-and-wife duo made ripples in the overcrowded Americana scene with 2012's debut, a set of rowdy originals with a Southern gothic tinge. Swimmin' Time follows on winningly, pitching drawling vocal harmonies against a bl

Long in the Tooth review Billy Joe Shaver shows how honky-tonk heroes grow old

(Lightning Rod)It's a good year for grizzled Texan outlaws. Following Willie Nelson's Band of Brothers comes this equally classy offering from a fellow veteran, its 10 tracks a songwriting showcase. Nelson rides shotgun on Hard to Be an Outlaw, where 75-y

The Red Album review tight harmonies with added heartbreak from Red Molly

(Self-released)This female trio have cut a niche as sunnyside Americana, setting immaculate vocal harmonies to well-chosen cover versions with an upbeat sensibility. As the sassy cover shot suggests, they are a more assertive, shadowed presence here, with

Elvis Has Left the Building review Dylan Jones in rattlingly readable form

Despite the millions of words devoted to Elvis Presley since his death, this account from the class of UK punk in 1977 offers new insights.

Sweet Visitor review Nancy Kerr veers from the outstanding to the drab

Fiddler, singer and English folk stalwart Nancy Kerr delivers a solo debut of all original material, though you wouldn't know as much, so steeped are its songs in the tunes and diction of tradition.