‘February is a suitable month for dying’. So wrote Pullitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen, in her novel, One True Thing. Not so for the music industry. Once upon a time the first few months of the year were a dead period for album releases. It seemed that nothing worth listening to came out before April and all the release schedules seemed to be stacked towards the second quarter of the year. Then some bright spark realised that if nothing worth listening to was being released that would be the perfect time to get maximum exposure for your new album. This resulted in some of the best records of the year being released in the ‘dead time’ of January and February. In January 2013 that was Matthew E. White’s epic country soul grooveathon, Big Inner, and last year the previously below the radar, Courtney Marie Andrews, put out Honest Life to widespread acclaim, once again in January.
Artists and record companies seem to have cottoned on and, despite huge numbers of online guides that tell you to release your album in April for maximum impact, 2018 looks like being a bumper year for major releases in the first three months of the year. Already exciting the ears of the residents of Shire Folk Towers are the new albums by Stick in the Wheel and False Lights, which may well be the yardstick by which all folk albums are judged this year. They are very different albums, but are both doing something with folk music that’s genuinely exciting. Coming up hard on their heels are superb new albums by Scandinavian sisters First Aid Kit, country folk trio Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan (aka I’m With Her), the strange folk world of Brigid Mae Power, Personae from folk royalty Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, and, yes, Courtney Marie Andrews’ follow-up to Honest Life, May Your Kindness Remain. All of which you’ll be able to read about in Shire Folk, of course.
So Ms Quindlen, think again – February may actually be about renewal. Well, new music anyway.
Shire Folk is a free, A5, bimonthly magazine covering folk, roots and acoustic music. It has been produced for over 40 years on a not-for-profit basis, paid for by advertising revenue. Each issue includes news items, both local and national, artist interviews, festival and gig reviews, as well as reviews of about 30 new CDs.
From our base in Oxford, we distribute 1800–2000 copies through an intricate network of folk clubs, record shops, libraries, music venues, pubs, morris dancing teams, festivals and individuals. Click here to see a list of places that receive bulk copies of Shire Folk. We think you can safely assume that well over 4000 people read each issue.
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Graham Hobbs & Jonathan Roscoe
Co-Editors, Shire Folk
Shire Folk Album of 2017
Trails & Tribulations