The Folk Awards gathers a talented assortment of folk artists currently recording in the British Isles. Several, like Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, and Bert Jansch, have been on the scene since the '60s, while e2K, Kate Rusby, and Bill Jones are relative newcomers. The styles also run the gamut from more traditional artists on record labels like Topic to contemporary Celtic performers on labels like Green Linnet. There's a lovely track, "Raggle Taggle Gipsies" by Waterson:Carthy, that features Eliza Carthy singing lead, while mother Norma Waterson sings the smartly arranged "Flower of Sweet Strabane." Although Bill Jones -- Bill being short for Belinda -- has only been active on the club circuit for a couple of years, she sings the vibrant "Botany Bay." Two of her contemporaries are also featured with appealing versions of songs -- Kate Rusby with "The Cobbler's Daughter" and Kellie While featured in e2K's rendition of "The Water Is Wide." As one might conclude from the above description, a number of vital female artists make their marks on this CD. However, the other gender is given its due, with excellent tracks from Roy Bailey and John Tams. The album also includes two instrumental tracks, Michael McGoldrick's "Lough Mountain" and Catriona MacDonald's "Shetland Reels," and a nod toward the roots of English folk with the Copper Family's "Spencer the Rover." The Folk Awards offer samples from 16 artists, providing a perfect way to discover which artists and styles suite the individual listener. For those more familiar with current trends, this album works as a fine 70-minute radio program with no commercials.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.