Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week's CD releases Ben Bedford,"Portraits" (Cavalier Recordings)- Ben Bedford's name may not be familiar to too many record buyers on this side of the Atlantic but his captivating musical narratives certainly repay closer investigation, and "Portraits" provides an ideal introduction to the Illinois born singer-songwriter's richly rewarding sound. The contents of this specially curated retrospective draw on material from Bedford's first three albums,"Lincoln's Man," "Land of the Shadows" and "What We Lost," which were recorded between 2007 and 2012 but never officially released in Europe. His expressive vocals and exquisite guitar work underpin a series of thought provoking character studies which rank amongst the finest examples of understated Americana that you'll be likely to hear in this or any other year.

Brian Protheroe,"The Albums 1974-76" (Cherry Red)- The multi-talented Mr.Protheroe is probably best known these days for his acting contributions to TV soap operas such as The Bill and Eastenders, but readers with very long memories may well recall Brian's three year flirtation with the music business during the early seventies. This yielded a minor singles success in the shape of the quirkily memorable "Pinball" and three excellent albums for the Chrysalis label. Protheroe's collected works have been gathered together here by the good people at Cherry Red, showcasing gems such as his beguiling Shakespeare adaptation "Under The Greenwood Tree," featuring guest appearances from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson and Barriemore Barlow.

"Folks At Home" (Talking Elephant)-The contents of this enjoyable anthology were donated by the artists concerned to assist the Folks At Home project, the world's first online folk festival which was set up to help the traditional musicians whose personal finances were devastated by the effects of the onoging Covid 19 pandemic. Ashley Hutchings, Jerry Donahue and Fairport fiddler Ric Sanders are just some of the folk luminaries who make telling contributions to the proceedings, and Richard Digance also merits a mention in dispatches for his evocative offering,"Ginger Rogers."