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Folk and Tumble Reviews Ulster Museum Show 

     Leaving Culture Night Belfast in the capable hands and tight jeans of our editor we took ourselves off to spend a night at the museum in the company of Ben Glover. Officially launching his new album 'Atlantic', Ben brought with him Matt McGinn (bass guitar, acoustic guitar and percussion) and Colm McLean (electric guitar and pedal steel). Both helped Ben record the album in Donegal so were already familiar with the new material and together they formed a tight band. We've watched Ben perform a few times, but tonight we notice there's a new confidence and stronger stage presence than we've seen before. With the help of the aforementioned musicians he passionately sings the newer material and it sounds great. 'Too Long Gone' is an early highlight of the show in which Ben really belts out the lyrics and the vocal harmonies with the other two really give this song an edge when performed live. 

     There's more subtle stuff too. 'Oh Soul' really works well live as does 'Blackbirds.' in fact we were slightly surprised that it sounded so good without Gretchen Peters who adds so much to the recorded version. Still, we look forward to getting the change to hear the two of them perform it together one day. The capacity audience love the older material too. A medley of 'I Am, You Are' and Van Morrison's 'Into the Mystic' almost brings the roof down. 

     This was a personal and intimate show and one of the best we've seen Ben deliver. No doubt his confidence has been buoyed by the well deserved positive reviews and reception that 'Atlantic' has received. At the end of the show he makes time to meet and greet as many of the audience as possible, patiently signing CDs and listening to what his music means to the people who have come to see him tonight. This was a special show which the fans, family members and even the review will remember for a long time. 

Pop Matters Raves About "Atlantic" 

Pure unadulterated Americana as done up by an Irishman. 

When an album starts with a song titled "This World Is A Dangerous Place," it's hard to know whether that's a dire warning or a mere observation. In the case of Ben Glover's Atlantic, it's a bit of both. The tune goes on to sketch out details of life that are not so thoroughly drawn as to block either interpretation or interpolation. The listener can still inject himself into the specifically vague scene, whether as participant or witness, and come out the other side all the better for it. 

Not so for "Oh Soul," wherein Glover summons his inner tent revival preacher man. This is a hymn for the 21st century that makes you want to throw your hands in the air and ask for forgiveness even if you don't necessarily need it. Here, redemption awaits in the cleansing waters of the river, if not in the chorus of the song or the hallowed memory of Robert Johnson that Glover invokes. Johnson's ghost, along with the dirty grit of the South, also infuses the bluesy rock strains of "Too Long Gone." This is pure unadulterated Americana as done up by an Irishman. And he's really just hitting his stride. 

As might be expected, "True Love's Breaking My Heart" calls forth a woeful steel moan on top of a lonesome waltz, while the driving acoustic guitar of "Prisoner," sounds exactly like you want it as Glover sings of Delta mud and pecan trees. Starting with "Prisoner," the middle section of Atlantic really delivers. The ominously sparse and uneasy Southern gothic drama of "Blackbirds" - co written and performed with Gretchen Peters - would make Faulkner and McCullers proud. As the piece rounds the corner of the second chorus, a fuzzed-out guitar slides in, a harbinger of the darkness on the horizon. 

With all the talk of blackbirds, whiskey, rivers and "curtains of calico," it is evident that Glover has really done his part to soak up Southern culture. Nowhere is that more clear than on the casually languid "The Mississippi Turns Blue." But Glover only lets us linger for that moment before he offers up another tale of personal reckoning in "How Much Longer Can We Bend?" This one, though not necessarily optimistic, is set in framework that doesn't feel altogether hopeless. By the time "Take and Pay" drops, you actually want to clap and stomp and shout Hallelujah. Closing the set, "New Year's Day" is so quiet you can hear both the background studio noise and the melancholy of letting go. Underneath those pangs, producer Neilson Hubbard lays down piano accents which are reminiscent of Matt Rollings' work on some of Lyle Lovett's best songs. Atlantic couldn't ask for a more perfect coda. - Pop Matters

 

Music Row Magazine "Essential Listening" 

Ben Glover 'Oh Soul - This Irish artist is now a Nashville resident. His fourth CD, titled "Atlantic" features this lightly throbbing lament of a man who has lost his emotional compass. His soulful voice has just a touch of rasp, and he builds his song into a gospel-tinged epic with the hop of Lo Carter and April Rucker. Essential listening.  - Music Row Magazine

 
 

Belfast Newsletter's Liz Kennedy Catches up With Ben 

Ben Glover has just received four stars from music bibles Mojo and Uncut for new album "Atlantic". Liz Kennedy catches up with Ulster's latest rising star. No wonder the quietly spoken man from Glenarm has a smile on his face when he meets up with me for an extended coffee. 

Courteous as ever, he's even texted ahead to say he's been delayed by ten minutes, unlike others who assume that lateness is their prerogative. It's the day before his 36th birthday and Ben thinks that might be a bit of a milestone. "I think I could have a different mindset now and I feel very settled in Nashville. This time it felt a bit like uprooting myself when I left there for here, even though it's always great to come home. It was just different this time. Leaving Tennessee felt like leaving home," said Ben.

He's made the most of his time in the US, visiting the Mississippi delta and Johnny Cash's old home. And it won't be long before Ben's off on the road again, touring Europe with gigs in the UK, Italy and Norway. Those are with American friend and co-writer Mary Gauthier, who's no stranger to Northern Ireland herself, but for the moment law student turned musician Glover is back in Ulster, with dates at Flowerfield in Portstewart and the Ulster Museum to come in the next couple of weeks. 

The County Antrim man, who's been resident in Nashville since 2009 and is married to an American girl, was as modest as ever, when I met him in Belfast to have a chat, despite the fact that he's been notching up those four star reviews in the heavyweight music magazines. They command respect in music circles across the globe. That's a major accolade for his new CD "Atlantic," which he recorded in Donegal. He's especially pleased, because he went back to his roots to record it.

"It was a pleasure to go back to Ballyliffin to do it. My mum's from Carndonagh and we were in the house in Donegal, where we always spent our holidays, when we were kids. In fact, my parents  built that house the year that I was born, so it's an extra special place for me," said Ben. He also assembled some of his closest friends to play and sing with him on the album, so that it has an intimacy in both the setting and feel of the music. 

Reluctant to over define the genre, Ben acknowledges it might be Americana, but it definitely has a bit of a gothic vibe too. Tinged with delta blues and lines that carry echoes of Johnny Cash, it's completely addictive, however, with Ben's voice deliberately more to the fore than in previous recordings.

Romantic songs like "The Mississippi Turns Blue," and "True Love's Breaking My Heart," will find him all kinds of new converts, whilst "This World is A Dangerous Place," and the eerie "Blackbirds" in duet with Gretchen Peters could be soundtrack music for a Coen brothers movie. Meanwhile, the jaunty hook of "Oh Soul" will stay with you, whilst "Sing a Song Boys" could resonate round the bars of Boston that Ben formerly gigged in, turning out Pogues or Christy Moore numbers. He said that although he went to Queen's to study law, he was never going to practise. 

"I really had no intention of ever  becoming a lawyer. i was lucky enough to go to university before the whole fees system came in and I suppose that was really when I started getting into my music too, in leisure time, as Matt McGinn and Colm McClean and I started doing gigs there. Then I went to the States in the summer of my second year, on my J1 visa. I was in Cape Cod, cleaning windows all day and making music at night."

Since then, the tours the world and he could even be big in South America. That's where Coca-Cola did their marketing campaign. Ben smiles, "Whatever Happens Will" was the song that they used in Latin American, so that was quite a surprise, yes. They asked me if they could use it and I said yes." And the County Antrim man's music was used in the drama series Stella on Sky TV, starring Welsh actress Ruth Jones, most famous for her creation Nessa in comedy drama "Gavin and Stacey"

"Yes, Ruth came along to one of Gretchen Peters' gigs, when I was doing support and liked my music. Then they asked about using snippets of some songs in Stella. That was another bit of a surprise," said Ben in something of an understatement. Now it looks like he's on a roll. "I've got a UK Headline tour next Spring and I've been named "Songwriter of the Week" in American Songwriter magazine. Couldn't be better." 

And with that, having put extra money in the parking meter, he heads off to do a live radio gig with Gerry Kelly. Life has small challenges as well as big. Ben Glover will perform at the Flowerfield Arts Centre on September 18 and the Ulster Museum Belfast on September 19.

 

Elmore Magazine Review 

Ben Glover's Atlantic spans both time and space, connecting two musical and geographical worlds with only the artist and his songs standing at the intersection. You see, Glover is an Irishman in the South - Tennessee, to be exact. However, the portraits he paints of his adopted homeland feel like
anything but an outsider looking in; instead, they come across as utterly authentic tales of a man searching for his roots, artistic and otherwise.

Throughout Atlantic, Glover guides the listener with imagery that can only come from the Mississippi Delta - mudbanks and blackbirds, whiskey and pecan trees. While songs like "This World is a Dangerous Place," "The Mississippi Turns Blue," and "How Much Longer Can We Bend?" draws you inward to search for a private salvation, the tent revival moments of "Oh Soul" and "Take and Pay" make you want to clap your hands, stomp your feet and ask for redemption right out loud.

Then there's the bluesy grit of "Too Long Gone," the lonesome waltz of "True Love's Breaking My Heart," and the acoustic drive of "Prisoner" which all lead to what might well be Atlantic's centerpiece, the ominous Southern gothic drama that is "Blackbirds." At the end of the journey, the quiet melancholy of "New  Year's Day" lays you down easy, like water lapping gently on the shore leaves a softened stone in its wake.

– Kelly McCartney

"Glover has once again raised the bar" - Folk Radio UK review 

"I’ve been a huge admirer of the County Antrim singer-songwriter Ben Glover since the release of his debut album, The Week The Clocks Changed, back in 2008, when, reviewing it for Netrhythms, I noted the echoes of Steve Forbert. Since which time, he’s released a further four albums, each one incredibly better than the last, the Forbert references remaining, but also accruing comparisons with Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, Dylan, Paul Simon, Mike Scott, Van Morrison and David Gray in his beguiling marriage of Americana, Irish folk and 60s soul while gradually settling into his own voice.On his latest release Atlantic, the Forbert touches aren’t particularly in evidence, and he sounds a lot more seasoned and, even at times, slightly grizzled, as can be heard on breathily-sung world-weary (“bottle on the floor, gasoline in the air”) Rod Picott co-write opener, This World Is A Dangerous Place, while vintage old-school honky tonk waltzer True Love’s Breaking My Heart has definite shades of Jimmie Dale Gilmore.
 

The album was inspired by a Christmas visit to the grave of blues legend Robert Johnson, two years back, prompting Glover to find similarities between the Mississippi Delta and Ireland, not so much in their geography, but rather the sense and scars of their history and tradition. Given that he spends his time between Ireland the southern states, he decided to form a musical bridge, and while Neilson Hubbard, who’s produced every album since sophomore outing, Through The Noise, Through The Night, is again at the helm, this time, it was recorded, not in Nashville, but back among his roots, live in the living room of his house amid the rugged Donegal landscape, overlooking the ocean that provides the title.
 

The pilgrimage to Johnson’s – and the legend of bluesmen, crossroads and the devil – clearly spawned Oh Soul, one of three numbers co-penned with Mary Gauthier, a slow rolling gospel infused meditation on the choices we make while the notion of being tied to our history and the pull of the past finds expression in the Dylanesque bluesy howl of Gauthier co-write Too Long Gone andPrisoner, a terrific chugging rootsy number with ringing mixed back electric guitar and some of the album’s best and darkest lines as he sings about promises being crushed like Dixie cups and the opening gambit “she told me she hid the gun in the potter’s field”.
 

That air of southern gothic also extends to following number, Blackbirds, an unfaithful heart murder ballad co-written with Gretchen Peters who also shares the often sparse vocals as they sing “no one saw me come and no one saw me go, only the blackbirds and you” in a way that makes you want Billy Bob Thornton to go out and make a movie of it.Peters hangs around for the next track, striking a very different note with the tender croon ofThe Mississippi Turns Blue before the final Gauthier co-write kicks in with the mandolin backed, driving slide guitar blues moan swagger Take and Pay, though I have to confess when I first heard the chorus I’d have sworn he was singing shake and bake.

The pull of home is revisited on the decidedly Irish vibe (and accent) of pub sing-along mandolin shuffle Sing A Song Boys, the album closing on a reflective note with the simple acoustic, whispery-sung New Year’s Day, a song that washes over you like the Atlantic waves lapping on the beach as the sun sets, gradually fading into the night sky.
 

There is, however, one other song, one which (and there’s some fierce competition in his catalogue) may be the best thing he’s written, the aching How Much Longer Can We Bend?, a lap-steel streaked song about a relationship under strain that cracks the heart apart as, voice laden with hurt and resignation, he sings “how much longer can we bend before we break”.

Although, still as yet, not discovered by a mass audience, Glover has once again raised the bar, not just for his own career, but for everyone in the Americana musical panorama. And I have no doubt that, when album number six rolls around, he’ll clear it with ease." Mike Davies

 

The Telegraph (UK) gives "Atlantic" 4 out of 5 stars! 

"Ben Glover's fifth solo album, Atlantic, opens with a short and sharp treat called This World Is A Dangerous Place, a song co-written with the talented Rod Picott. It sets the tone for a classy ride on all 11 tracks.
I enjoyed Glover's previous album, Do We Burn the Boats?, but there is a maturity and conviction to this album that makes it a step up.The songs were written in America but recorded on the Donegal coast (the picture on the album cover is of Ballyliffin beach) and Glover, a former law student from Glenarm in Antrim, achieves his aim of bridging his two homes – his birthplace of Northern Ireland and Nashville, where he has lived since 2009 – and bringing together two musical worlds. Atlantic blends blues and soul with folk and country, and there is a good variety to the songs, from the mournful How Much Longer Can We Bend? to the joyful Sing a Song Boys.

Glover sings with real spark and there are a pair of fine duets with Gretchen Peters (Blackbirds and the co-written Mississippi Turns Blue) and a song written with Mary Gauthier. Oh Soul, a superb song of redemption, was on Gauthier's recent album Trouble and Love. "Mary and Gretchen are High Priestesses of songwriting," said Glover, who has made a very good album."
**** (4 out of 5 stars)
(by Martin Chilton)

Read the 
review online at The Telegraph's website here

 

Irish Times - Atlantic review 

"The Atlantic separates Ireland and the US, but it also connects them. Antrim singer-songwriter Ben Glover, who relocated to Nashville in 2009, prefers the concept of connectedness, the fertile commingling of Irish and American influences. A while ago Glover returned with friends to his childhood holiday home in Ballyliffin, Co Donegal. There, in the front room facing on to the ocean, they recorded this outstanding collection steeped in country soul. Atlantic was inspired by a visit to the Mississippi grave of the great bluesman Robert Johnson. The intense Oh Soul marks that event, and a general sense of anxiety and reflection pervades the album. Neilson Hubbard’s sparse production balances this with moments of dark angular beauty. It was obviously a magical time; the singing, the songs and the playing combine to make this Glover’s most satisfying work."
**** (4 out of 5 stars)
(by Joe Breen)

Visit the Irish Times review online here

 

Three Chords and the Truth blog - Atlantic review 

"One of the pleasures when exploring Americana music is the background, circumstances, belief and passion that surrounds many of the recordings. While essentially the 42 minutes playing time of ATLANTIC by Ben Glover is what fundamentally matters, this record is so much more enjoyable when savoured by understanding its spirit, drivers and desire to drill to the very core of its influences. First and foremost Ben is a proud Northern Irishman but his passion to explore the connectivity with the musical soul of his homeland and that of the US southern states has led to a collection of songs strong in sense of direction and fertile in the sound of its objectives.

Ben has had some success in connecting with a wider UK audience via his association with Mary Gauthier and Gretchen Peters and unsurprisingly both have lent a hand in the compilation of this sincere and scintillating album. Mary and Ben co-wrote the record’s standout song ‘Oh Soul’ and this redemptive masterpiece intrinsically linking itself with the life and death of Robert Johnson shivers your senses for its near 5 minute duration. Ben’s recorded version joins Mary’s one from her excellent new album TROUBLE AND LOVE and it’s made perfect for a duet when the pair tour together this autumn. On the subject of duets, Gretchen went one step further with her co-write ‘Blackbird’ and the album is enriched by Ben and herself sharing vocals on this stunning and quintessential murder ballad.
 
The press blurb for ATLANTIC was far from laden with superlatives, just explaining the context of the release and for once acted as the perfect accompaniment for listening to the album. For the record, Ben has spent a number of years living in Nashville and in pursuit of his deeper understanding of roots music has travelled deep into the fields of inspiration. However the calling was to return home, assemble a bunch of likeminded musicians, strip away the layers of production and seek the reasons why the Atlantic divide might be lengthy in miles but much, much shorter in terms of musical heritage.
 
Along with Mary and Gretchen, Ben has shared the writing duties with acclaimed American troubadour Rod Picott on album opener ‘This World is a Dangerous Place’ where deep ingrained vocals reflect the perils of life. Ben’s other writing collaborator is producer Neilson Hubbard who has been present on his three previous albums. The careful assortment of instrumentation represents the finest sounds you would expect on a roots driven Americana recording with perhaps only fiddle missing but the dual steel input of pedal and lap fuse perfectly between the ideal mix of electric and acoustic guitar.
 
It would be remiss to not include a sad country song in this journey of discovery and ‘True Love’s Breaking My Heart’ fits the bill neatly and rather effectively with a waltz-like back beat. The big river was never going to be left out and Gretchen Peters once again lends her vocals this time to the graceful ballad ‘The Mississippi Turns Blue’. This track would not be out of place on Rosanne Cash’s epic album THE RIVER AND THE THREAD and that is no faint compliment. A gospel feel adorns the track ‘Take and Pay’, while homeland sentiments fuel the jaunty number ‘Sing a Song Boys’ and go a long way to linking the two lands inspiring the project.
 
Either side of this spark of gaiety, Ben once again gets in deep sombre exploratory mood with the solemn ‘How Much Longer Can We Bend’ and the philosophical album closer ‘New Year’s Day’. The two remaining tracks are more upbeat with the soulful rocker ‘Too Long Gone’ sang with aggression while the excellently written reflective song ‘Prisoner’ begs for forgiveness and namechecks the legendary Highway 61.
 
In writing, recording and releasing ATLANTIC, Ben Glover has made great inroads in realising his objective of delving into the spirit of the two lands close to his heart. Ultimately the pleasure is in the listening and all the better if you buy into the ideals."

Check out the Three Chords and The Truth blog here

No Depression - The Past Is Never Dead: An Interview with Ben Glover 

"The idea of having a home, of finding a place in the world is an idea that poets have long tried to capture and convey. Singer/songwriter Ben Glover is one of them and he's done a decent job of it on his new album, Atlantic. Here, Glover retraces the lives of legends and the heart of history across two very different lands, Ireland and the American South. Singing of blackbirds and mudbanks, whiskey and rivers, Glover has studied well the cultures and geographies of his forefathers of both body and spirit. And he pulls it all together in a collection of songs that feels at once haunted and hopeful, gritty and grounded."

Read the full interview here

For Folk's Sake... 

From "For Folk's Sake" - the radio show on Drive 105, presented by Dessie Fisher

"Ben Glover's new album "Atlantic" is one of the  best albums I've heard in 2014. Actually it is the BEST album I've heard in 2014. Produced in Ballyliffin, Co. Donegal by Neilson Hubbard and with co-writes by Mary Gauthier and Gretchen Peters this is one heck of an album. Ben's voice seems to get stronger with each album he makes. There ardmore great journalistic reviews that I can put together but let's just say this is as good an album of "Americana" than anything coming out of America! This album should be in everyone's collection, and it's going to take an exceptional album in the next four months to knock this from being my number one album of 2014. Really looking forward to having Ben live in the studio on Sept. 23"


Visit 'For Folk's Sake" here

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"4,000 Miles To Nashvillle" Review 

"I first became aware of Ben Glover last July, when I saw him support Gretchen Peters at a gig in The High Barn, in Essex. I was a fan from the first song of his set and after chatting to him later in the evening, I had a feeling his 4th album was going to be something very special. Well, that was an understatement to say the least.

When Atlantic popped through my letterbox I was excited, and proceeded to tell my wife that this was the one I had been talking about. She gave me that look that quite often follows me saying something, but undeterred I scuttled off to listen. "This World is A Dangerous Place" sets the mood for the album with delicate and beautifully atmospheric guitar picking. Ben's soft vocals join a few seconds later, and immediately it's that voice that oozes passion. That's the beauty of Ben's singing, whether it be a song like this, or a more gravelly track like "Oh Soul" that follows it, you feel every single word, every bit of pain, joy or whatever mood Ben is putting across.

Mary Gauthier said at this year's Maverick Festival that it's hard to define Americana, but you know it when you hear it, and I'm pretty sure I hear it in this album. It's songwriting of the absolute highest standard, and when you consider as well as Ben's own hugely skilled writing ability, he drafted in the likes of the aforementioned Mary Gauthier, it really should come as to surprise to anyone just how good it is.

The songs on "Atlantic" have so much depth and substance that I almost feel like I can reach out and touch them, and none more so than "Blackbirds". Gretchen Peters is another of Ben's friends and writing partners, and on this song, singing partner too. This is a song that I don't want to say too much about, as like a good film or book, I don't want to spoil the story for you. Let me just say that this one of those rare songs that can have a very profound effect on you and I was moved on the first listen and every time since. It's a pretty dark song but there is such beauty in the vocals and the lyrics, with Ben and Gretchen pulling off one of the most intense and magnificent duets I have ever heard. If I drunk whiskey I think I'd want to drink it listening to this song but gin and tonic will have to do. While there is incredible weight to a lot of the songs, "Atlantic" does over some great upbeat tunes too. "Sing A Song Boys" is a great example of this, which in both words and sound harks back to Ben's Irish roots. I can imagine this being sung with Ben sitting on a stool in a pub just as much as on a bigger stage. "True Love's Breaking My Heart" brings in more of a country sound and could quite happily been written and performed 50 years ago in Nashville - both the vocals and the sound have a sumptuously classic old Nashville feel. Ben has such a great way with words, personified by "How Much Longer Can we Bend," a song about a strained relationship and questioning it's future. I can't really say enough good things about "Atlantic," an album that has come along at the same time as some pretty huge releases from mainstream Americana artists, and blows them all away with ease. Lyrics, vocals, mood, emotion - there really is nothing missing from Atlantic, an album that is pretty much perfect. In an ideal world "Atlantic" would be played on ever radio station the world over, and become a classic album for years to come. For me it will do just that, and if you have as much for music as you think you do, you'll grab a copy and join me in waxing lyrical"

Visit 4000 Miles To Nashville here
 

 

Uncut magazine gives "Atlantic" 8 out of 10!  

UNCUT - 8 out of 10

"Former law student makes Deep South-Irish connection.
County Antrim-raised and Nashville resident since 2009, Ben Glover makes his fifth album a bringing-it-all-back-home beauty. Recorded on the Donegal coast it looks to, and finds, inspiration in the land beyond the great divide of the album title. From the lucid rumination of "Oh Soul" (co-written with Mary Gauthier) to the pedal steel wanderlust of "True Love's Breaking My Heart", themes of redemption, loss and pain loom large. Glover's fully rounded artistry is equally at home channeling The Pogues on table-thumping exile return on "Sing A Song Boys", as purveying Townes Van Zandt gothic on the Gretchen Peters duet, "Blackbirds". "
(8 out of 10)
(Gavin Martin)
 

"Atlantic" receives 4 out of 5 stars review in Mojo!  

MOJO - **** (4 out of 5 stars)
Singer-songwriter attempts his own Atlantic crossing.
Northern Ireland's Ben Glover has been leading a double life, splitting time between his homeland and the southern US, soaking up the best of both worlds. The influences of each are hugely evident here as Glover attempts a marriage of their spirits and traditions. If it's weighted more heavily towards Americana than the folk of Christy Moore or The Pogues that Glover grew up playing in home and pub sessions, it's more to do with the fact that at heart he's a rock'n'roller, the greasy blues groove of Take And Pay being ample proof. It's the heartfelt lyrics, however, that will keep you coming back to this album time and time again. All the usual hallmarks are there - love, death, tragedy, redemption, loss - but sung with such direct conviction and warmth that Steve Earle is the nearest comparison. Let's hope the marriage lasts many years."
(Andy Fyfe)

Mary Gauthier's new album features two co-writes with Ben... 

Please check out the wonderful new album "Trouble and Love" by the great Mary Gauthier which is released on 10th June 2014. Two of the songs on the record, "Another Train" and "Oh Soul" were co-written by Ben and Mary. As well as being writing partners Ben and Mary tour regularly together and will announce details soon of a UK tour in the autumn on 2014. Take a listen to Mary's new record on NPR by clicking HERE