Heidi Harris – Underneath The Grass And Clover (folk)

Heidi Harris works with a palette of folk and Americana pigments, but she doesn’t paint quite the pictures you might expect. Folk music is a collective aurality, the sonic expression of an orally transmitted tradition, and as such, it daubs its canvases with the colours of communal experience: even when it trades in specificities, perhaps the transportation of a loved one in punishment for a minor crime, it is a shared misfortune that is lamented, and it is its similarity to the experience of other participants in the music that is important.

Fernando’s Kitchen at The Junction, Cambridge, 19 May 2011 (world fusion)

There are not many completely independent bands that can pack out a venue the size of The Junction (which is not huge, but it’s a substantial venue); and a smaller subset of those which perform something as commercially challenged as ‘world music’. Fernando’s Kitchen are playing a good game (admittedly with a strong hand), and do all the right things to reach, engage and retain a loyal audience.

Cutleri – Let Me Show You My Sweater (folk/ Americana)

Production standards for self released music have become so generically polished and exact, that it has almost ceased to be meaningful or valuable to release a well recorded album. I’m being facetious, obviously, and of course I like to hear music I like sounding good, but sometimes the slickness of everything becomes incredibly desolate; some noise, some artifacts, and the boxy sound of cheaper equipment can serve as a welcome reminder that a recording embodies something real.

She Makes War – Disarm (gloom-pop/ singer-songwriter)

War isn’t the first thing that springs to mind: there’s a lot of female performers out there with a far more aggressive image, but there’s certainly a strength and a sense of resistance in the persona that Laura Kidd articulates through her music as She Makes War. This is dark music, in its way: not gothic, horror tinged dark, nor emotionally indulgent, angsty dark. It’s the darkness in the dusty corners of imperfect relationship…