Ellen Froese (SK, Canada)

Ellen Froese is what you’d call a “prolific artist”; committed, too. For someone who only just passed the threshold of their mid-20s, she’s amassed a resolutely solid body of work and, with a variety of projects, achieved more than some many years her senior. For Each Flower Growing, Froese’s fourth full-length, produced in collaboration with the Sheepdogs’ Sam Corbett, is her most accomplished statement to date, drawing on her established sound as a folk & country-based singer/songwriter while incorporating a wider frame of reference in the rich production, supple instrumentation, and overall sonic soundworld. It’s much harder to pin down than any simple description can convey, making it all the more worthwhile to check out.

The impressive scope of this rich, imaginative amalgam of an album is largely due to the expansive creative vision of Froese herself, who says the album is “based around ideas of 1970s science exploration via Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos, Arthur Russell’s drum machine folk music, finding humour in sadness, and analyzing past relationship choices”. Some of these guiding elements can be attributed simply to the continuing growth of a serious artist, but others lie in less sunny realities. Jill Mack, Froese’s original recording engineer and close friend, sadly passed away during the making of For Each Flower Growing, and subsequently the album became, as she puts it, “something different – it is now an homage to her and will always hold memories of my time in the studio with her”.

Despite this deep sadness underpinning the album’s creation, Froese was lucky to find a wonderful creative foil in Sam Corbett, helping her move past old ideas and reimagine her conception of what “folk music” can be. With the addition of drum machines, synths, and more intricate vocal production techniques, Froese reflects that “folk music can be anything I want it to be; I don’t have to be stuck in an antiquated mindset to hold strong musical ties to the past”. And the results of that mindset are stellar; For Each Flower Growing is exquisitely warm and inviting, foregrounding the singer’s lilting, ethereal vocals atop right-in-the-pocket, pillow-y drumming, melodic bass lines, ripples of Hammond organ layers, and – for the headphone listener – a bevvy of expertly-placed sonic details tucked into the margins of this highly accomplished album.

The album is an easy listen, immediately inviting and begging for repeat listens. And while it sits nicely alongside contemporary songsmiths such as Angel Olsen, Laura Veirs, Jessica Pratt, and Adrienne Lenker (Big Thief), Froese’s sound moves beyond those realms, also recalling the aforementioned Arthur Russell, an iconoclastic songwriter and producer whose songs traded in similar contemplative, horizon-gazing moods, and even the more relaxed moments of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. In other moments, Froese’s roots in the trad-folk world shine through, revealing an affinity for ’60s British folk trailblazers such as Fairport Convention and Nick Drake, as well as under the radar gems like Judee Sill and Sybille Baier. Froese recently completed a string of live dates with beloved fellow Saskatchewanians Deep Dark Woods, and she is gearing up for a residency at the legendary Cameron House in Toronto for the month of November. The album is due out on November 10 via Victory Pool Records, and appreciators of fine music would be well-advised to check it out.

Hannah Scott

Hannah Scott draws much of the inspiration for her music from her affinity with Italy. A year living and working on an olive press in rural Tuscany in her late teens provided the backdrop to her early work and she has found her musical home with creative partner, writer-producer and multi-instrumentalist Stefano Della Casa, who she met in London but may well have met in Italy years earlier when passing through the train station he was working in!

Hannah performs contemporary folk music and is building a loyal following thanks to her distinctive voice, powerful melodies and thought-provoking lyrics which leave a lasting impression on her audiences. Her latest album “Drawn To Darkness” was funded by Help Musicians UK and a Kickstarter campaign which reached more than double the initial target.

Her music has been heard in hit TV series, Grey’s Anatomy, and has been played regularly on the BBC with releases supported by Dermot O’Leary and Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2 and Tom Robinson on 6 Music. She’s also been featured by MOJO, The Guardian and Clash Magazine. She has been selected to take part in English Folk Expo’s highly competitive Artist Mentoring Programme this year, while live highlights include opening for Madeleine Peyroux to an audience of 2000 at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre and travelling across Ireland with Paddy Casey to open shows for him in Dublin and in a tiny Irish speaking village near Galway! Her arresting live performances have also earned her support slots for artists including Seth Lakeman, Cara Dillon and 10cc and she has twice travelled to New York festival Mondo NYC.

Maddie Morris

Maddie Morris was the winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young folk award, and is a contemporary folk musician, who is heavily influenced by traditional protest song Originally from Bedfordshire and currently based in Leeds, Maddie is a strong believer that ‘the personal is political’, and uses her own experiences to raise discussion around issues such as LGBTQ rights, CSA, Feminism and trauma, too name a few.

Heather Ferrier

Heather Ferrier is an accordionist, clog dancer and composer from Stockport. Regarded as an “engaging talker and magnetic performer” (NARC magazine), 2022 has seen Heather release her debut solo concept EP From the Ashes. This EP intertwines virtuosic alt-accordion composition with lush electronic soundscapes and through its powerful, folk-influenced melodies and bold contemporary arrangements, explores the emotional processes we undergo during times of uncertainty. The EP has been favourably reviewed, as well as being played on BBC radio Newcastle and other grassroot radio stations. This year also see’s Heather expanding her solo sound, by joining forces with guitarist Alasdair Paul (Pons Aelius) and drummer Adam Stapleford (Taupe). In their forthcoming EP; the trio have created music that is an explosion of groove and melody that embellishes Heather’s signature alt-folk style. The combination of Ferrier, Paul and Stapleford’s melting pot of influences and cross-genre collaborations transcends the limits of contemporary instrumental folk music, using Heather’s distinct compositional style to create emotive and upbeat arrangements.

George Boomsma

Having been honing his song-writing craft and live performances over the past decade, George Boomsma has been quietly gaining some well-earnt attention and acclaim. Based in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, George’s pure voice and tumbling guitar make for a bewitching combination – warm and melancholy, melodic yet powerful, he exhibits a maturity and poetic lyricism that have left audiences around the country entranced.

He has been invited to play alongside many impressive and established artists such as Richard Thompson, Scott Matthews, Katherine Priddy, Gaby Moreno, Kathryn Williams, The Travelling Band, Chloe Foy, Neill Maccoll, Jefferson Hamer, Emma Langford and Martha Tilston. On top of these live performances, his music been featured on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 Music and RTE Radio 1.

2022 has already seen George perform at the prestigious Glastonbury Festival, A UK tour accompanying Katherine Priddy, a slot at the acclaimed Port Fairy Folk Festival in Australia and also a trip to Kansas City for the Folk Alliance International conference. He has also been chosen as one of the four artists to be a part of this years English Folk Expo’s Artist Mentorship Programme, which will help to support and develop George’s career in the music industry throughout 2022/2023. Other highlights include performances at Latitude Festival & Moseley Folk Festival, a musical appearance on UKTV’s Taskmaster and a featured track on Japanese TV show ‘Terrace House’.

  • Winner of Best Festival for Emerging Talent at UK Festival Awards


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