Free MP3 from the latest album ‘Join Forces’ – To The War

 

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You’ve arrived at the home of the acclaimed and award-winning Edinburgh based roots collective Southern Tenant Folk Union.

 

Their latest album ‘Join Forces’ will be released in September 2016 and is their seventh since they formed in 2006. Musically it’s a return to some of the band’s bluegrass and roots origins whilst continuing the political lyric writing of their recent albums. Before the new album comes out a four track single titled ‘What Would You Give For A Leader With Soul?’ will be released.

 

Artistically successful their albums have been praised in The Guardian, Independent, Sunday Times, Mojo, Uncut and Irish Times. Often heard on national radio shows across UK and Eire they have also performed live in session on BBC One TV’s ‘The Andrew Marr Show’, BBC Radio 2, Radio 4’s Loose Ends (twice), BBC Ulster and RTE One national TV (The Late Late Show & The View) & radio. Their live show is exciting, engaging and in their hands ‘bluegrass can effortlessly be blended with other genres – folk, roots, americana – to make a potent, timeless sound’.

 

What the press said about ‘The Chuck Norris Project

 

“The velvet glove is in the sweetness of the sound, especially the pleasant wispiness of Rory Butler’s singing voice, while the iron fist is in the subject matter, as in the American school shootings described in Slaughter In San Francisco…Musically this is highly accomplished stuff, and this is a band that gets better and sharper with each outing. It’s always good to remember that folk has a razor political edge.”

Chris Nickson, Stirrings Magazine

 

“The tracks that the titles have produced combine to create a folk concept album that is as entertaining as it is thought provoking. This is a real treat from the Southern Tenant Folk Union.”

JRT, Rock Society Magazine

 

“Music of delightful invention, slipping in and out of genres with a surprising deftness…this is ambitious music in Punch Brothers vein with only flickers of STFU’s bluegrass origins.”

Joe Breen, 4 Stars, The Irish Times

 

“Closed minds probably shouldn’t come too near this but if you’re interested in where spokes away from the bluegrass hub might lead, then be prepared for a fine, stimulating and rewarding audio experience.”

Trevor Hyett, British Bluegrass News

 

“I’ll be honest, when I first heard the concept surrounding the record, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. When my copy arrived, bedecked in skulls and guns I was further worried. However, I needn’t have bothered. As soon as I played it, I was at ease – this is the same, wonderful STFU whose self-titled debut caused such a stir in 2007.”

Rob Lavender, Metro

 

“Southern Tenant Folk Union are a folk band for the Occupy era – passionate, political and mischievous. Album six fixates on the American right and its death cult, the Chuck of the title being a Christian Republican as well as the veteran screen action hero. Never failing to pile on the irony this is STFU’s least action-packed, most thoughtful – even sorrowful – offering so far. The septet’s banjo/fiddle/mandolin/guitar/string-bass prowess now stretches far from their folk/country roots beyond even the artful twang of John Peel faves The Mekons towards Robert Wyatt’s mournfulness.”

Mat Snow, 4 Stars, Q Magazine

 

“It is an ambitious and original project with a feast of interesting ideas…an impressive achievement, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste including, I suspect, Chuck Norris.”

Michael Hingston, 3 Stars, Country Music People

 

“A round-house kick to the gut. Overall the results are weird and ethereal, as all good 70s concept albums were. Not to everyone’s taste, but definitely imaginative.”

Nathaniel Handy, 3 Stars, Songlines

 

“Now pushing their art a fair bit further, they’re filtering a succession of minor chords through arrangements that, in terms of ambition, look to a hybrid of Kronos Quartet and Punch Brothers.”

Alan Morrison, Sunday Herald

 

“This is thrilling folk-rock at its best, with the Union unafraid to adopt funk and soul in their sound too.”

Dave Esson, 4 Stars, Scottish Daily Express

 

“It’s epic like the best of Pink Floyd or Arcade Fire. After years of critics complaining that music has stopped being political, this is an album that takes umbrage with much in society. A fantastic idea brilliantly executed and what a way for Scottish music to start 2015. The bar has been set. Very, very high.”

Rick Fulton, The Daily Record

 

“Gun control, ideological extremism, fiscal greed and unfair labour laws are picked over in an ambitious suite of songs which though deploying the band’s all-acoustic blend of guitars, double bass and strings, expands STFU’s folk origins by drawing on funk (“Delta Force”), deep soul (“Martial Law” is Isaac Hayes taking the high road) and film-score atmospherics.”

Graeme Thomson, 7/10, Uncut Magazine

 

“The band’s focus looks more toward modern classical. With abundant use of violin, cello and clarinet, the works of Kurt Weill frequently spring to mind, while Rory Butler’s airy, detached vocal has an operatic quality.”

Gerry Ranson, 3 Stars, R2 Magazine

 

“One of the things I like about the Southern Tenant Folk Union, is the way their music shows influence of traditions, whilst at the same time never feeling like those influences or traditions are allowed to dictate, making you feel that both band and releases are very much their own entity. “The Chuck Norris Project” is quite a dramatic recording, almost cinematic in places, at times that makes it a challenging album, but it’s a challenge worth rising to. That’s not to say it’s a difficult album to listen to, it’s not. Ok it is, but really only if you’ve become too attached to sanitised radio friendly fare, there is something a bit off the convention about both Southern Tenant Folk Union and “The Chuck Norris Project”, but ultimately that’s quite a reassuring thing.”

Neil King, FATEA

 

“With thought-provoking expansive soundscapes of songs that are at the same time atmospheric, chilling and unnerving, The Chuck Norris Project is Southern Tenant Folk Union’s most ambitious album so far. This is an album that Americans – especially politicians – would do well to pay attention to as it exposes the astonishing array of ills and injustices in the land that likes to claim to be the world’s greatest democracy.”

Roy Spencer, Folk Radio UK

 

“For Scottish band Southern Tenant Folk Union, the concept album has become a realised pinnacle, an apex of musical performance that delivers a mighty blow in the form of The Chuck Norris Project; an album at the peak of physical prowess and mental projection. Although the album has nothing whatsoever to do with the American actor, aside from the song titles alluding to his cinematic output, the ideas that range through the entire recording look at how America, the often thought, ideal and leaders of the free world, its political subterfuge and at times extraordinary grasp of the plausible made impossible. An album of great strength, of divine lyrical style and one that assists the afflicted and suppressed.”

Ian D. Hall, 9/10, Liverpool Sound And Vision

 

“The record is an all-acoustic affair, with banjos fiddles and acoustic guitar as its solid core, but it is impressive, occasionally breath-taking in its breadth and scope. The beautifully arranged orchestral string quartet sounds add layers of slightly cinematic quality, while elsewhere they just bath the already rich melodies in blankets of ethereal and unexpected sonic heaven. Overall the sound has been expanded to include clarinets choirs and modernist classical ideas to great effect. Despite its original concept, which may initially appear baffling, then themes of the album, and the wonderfully expressed sentiments of the personal and the political really resonate and demand deeper listening and thought; all over the most beautifully orchestrated, organic music. ‘The Chuck Norris Project’ doesn’t so much seethe with political rage, or spout political ire, but gently and soberly asks questions, discusses feelings and maybe even suggests possibilities.”

Ian Fildes, 8/10, Americana UK

 

“Ah, Chuck Norris. An all-American icon, at least in the bits of the US keen on guns and God and not so fond of socialists or the 21st century. He’s also an unlikely inspiration for STFU, the erstwhile bluegrassers now peddling an ambitious and off-the-wall brand of widescreen avant-folk.

This concept album takes a dozen of the meat-headed martial artist’s film titles as the starting point to talk about what’s really wrong with politics and the US. Not Barack Obama and gay rights — as Norris would have it — but rampant gun ownership, exploited workers, fear, paranoia and the increasing difficulty of even imagining a better world, never mind building one. Backed by evocative arrangements, with a strong flavour of Shaft-style ’70s funk, it’s another gem from Edinburgh’s most unpredictable band.”

James Miller, 5 Stars, The Morning Star

 

“This CD from the Edinburgh-based folk/bluegrass outfit both is and is not a concept album about Chuck Norris. Its songs take their titles from the actor’s films, and the musical bedrock frequently hints at Folxploitation. But those titles are mere jumping off points for political meditations on school shootings (“Slaughter In San Francisco”) or the casualised work of the new millennium (“Delta Force” — Brave New World not Special Forces).”

David Honigmann, 3 Stars, Financial Times

 

“It’s a testament to how far the Southern Tenant Folk Union push the boundaries of folk that their sixth album features tracks all named after Chuck Norris films and they can make a banjo sound like a John Carpenter soundtrack. In fact musically the album may feature mandolin, fiddle and aforementioned banjo but the Chuck Norris Project seems a long way from folk, with jazz, soul and funk among the genres that weave in and out of these songs. The added use of clarinet and orchestrated violin, along with cello, give it an epic soundtrack quality as well. Given McGarvey’s passion for cinema music (he is also a member of the Incredibly Strange Film Band) surely it’s about time STFU were commissioned to produce a movie soundtrack? Although for political reasons I suspect Norris himself may pass on using them for any of his future releases.”

Joe Lepper, 9/10, Neon Filler

 

What the press said about ‘Hello Cold Goodbye Sun

 

“The Scottish folk group Southern Tenant Folk Union presents its most potent offering since 2010’s excellent The New Farming Scene”

Andy Gill, 4 Stars, The Independent

 

“Going to inordinate lengths to emulate Krautrock gods such as Can, the five-string banjo of Pat McGarvey is harnessed to a tea towel to recreate the arpeggios of the analogue sequencers pioneered by Tangerine Dream, and it sounds fantastically dreamy”

Colin Somerville, 4 Stars, Scotland On Sunday

 

“Southern Tenant Folk Union find themselves attracted to the horror realm on this atmospheric album – to horror film soundtracks and to the horrors of modern society…which makes a bright, Beatlesy response to shadowy authority figures, or to both in the case of Crash, which recreates the creepy synth arpeggios used in 1970s horror scores on a five-string banjo”

Fiona Shepherd, 4 Stars, The Scotsman

 

“Even though the year is a few days old I’d be surprised if this album, their fifth to date, doesn’t figure in our next annual Top 20 Albums list”

Joe Lepper, 9/10, Neon Filler

 

“Hello Cold Goodbye Sun, like all the recent work from this band, has its particular surface ripples but lasting depth beneath”

Alan Morrison, The Herald

 

“These 12 songs creep into your psyche. On the surface they may seem like pretty folk tunes, with the banjos and fiddles skipping merrily along, yet the grim and gloriously morbid tales give an otherwise well-worn musical genre a bit of a twist”

Olivia Schaff, Digital Fix

 

“It may be folk but it is upbeat and danceable. All in all an album that could be called rootsy Calvin Harris or David Guetta with banjos. Brilliant”

Rick Fulton, The Daily Record

 

What the press said about the band’s fourth album ‘Pencaitland

 

‘The band knock up a fierce, raw and earthy music that is the stuff of Mumford & Sons’ dreams…the results are as compelling as they are oppressively bleak’

Maddy Costa, The Guardian (Friday Film & Music)

 

‘Pencaitland is their most serious and ambitious album yet’

Andrew Mueller, UNCUT

 

‘A Fascinating union of Celtic and American influences’

Simon Cosyns, The Sun

 

‘Atmospheric, with sonorous rumbles of bowed double bass and melancholy harmonica against a stealthy ticking of strings’

Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman

 

‘Honest, thoughtful and admirable’

Joe Breen, The Irish Times

 

‘One of the finest Celtic roots albums you will hear this, or any other, year’

John Hawes, Americana UK

 

‘There’s clearly a lot more to come from this act, given their desire to push the boundaries of folk music rather than stubbornly stick to its traditional basics.’

Joe Lepper, 8/10, Neon Filler

 

‘Offering an alluring Scottish folk/old-time string band mix, it’s still stamped with a provocative charm that makes it an effective slow burn…beautiful recording quality, subtle arrangements and involving, melancholic songs are powerfully persuasive’

Colin Irwin, MOJO

 

‘There was more heart in the room last night than you’d find in a whole tour of Mumford & Sons. And art. Nothing too flashy to begin, just lovely interwoven mandolins and fiddles, driven by guitar rhythms and their trademark bluegrass banjo. Southern Tenant Folk Union might have been playing in a boozer, but if people call these guys a jumped-up pub band, they’ve got it all wrong.’

Russ Coffey, The Arts Desk

 

Southern Tenant Folk Union are:

Rory Butler – Guitar/Lead Vocals
Steve Fivey – Cajon Drum/Percussion
Craig Macfadyen – Double Bass
Pat McGarvey – 5-String Banjo/Vocals
Katherine Stewart – Fiddle/Vocals

plus sometimes on the road

Chris Purcell – Guitar/Vocals

 

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