Derbyshire-born singer and fiddler Hardy made her name with a brace of traditional folk albums and one remarkable original, “Three Black Feathers”. Here, she takes a creative leap on a dozen self-penned works played with assorted members of Scotland’s Burns Unit collective. Hardy’s at her most comfortable on trad-sounding narratives such as “The Herring Girl” and “Flowers of May”, and the team give “Walk it With You” a deft, country turn. Folk-rock forays like “Good Friday” sound clumsy by comparison, and while songs such as “Labyrinth” intrigue, Hardy’s delivery doesn’t always do her larkish vocal talents justice. A more complete blend of ancient and modern lies just down the lane.
Musician Alana Amram didn’t choose to be an artist; she was just born that way. The daughter of legendary composer/Beat icon David Amram became a traveling musician and storyteller at an early age. Drawn to the songs of the late ’50s and early ’60s folk scene, it was only fitting that Alana would discover the songs of an influential – but unknown – songwriter, Vince Martin, whose recordings, solo and with Fred Neil, are prized by folk cognoscenti. The result is Snow Shadows, a career-spanning collection of songs by Martin, produced by Mark Sebastian (brother of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian) and Jesse Lauter, who has worked with The Low Anthem, the album has a full, warm sound and a ton of heart. John Sebastian and Van Dyke Parks, who’d both played on Vince’s 1973 Capitol album, Vince Martin, were reunited with Vince after more than 35 years.