Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this weeks alternative CD releases.

Rachael McShane & The Cartographers, "When All Is Still" (Topic Records)-This multi-talented performer is probably best known for her exploits with folk big band Bellowhead, and the gifted singer, guitarist has now joined forces with guitarist Matthew Ord and melodeon player Julian Sutton to form Rachael McShane and the Cartographers. The trio make their Topic debut with a skilfully crafted set which features their beguiling revamps of quirky traditional narratives such as "Lady Isabel, " "The Molecatcher" and "Barley and Rye." Unmissable folk fare.

Malcolm Holcombe, "Come Hell or High Water" (Gypsy Eyes Music)-Within the multi-faceted and endlessly rewarding world of Americana Malcolm Holcombe represents a genuine national treasure, and the prolific North Carolina native's third album in as many years is a rough hewn melodic gem of the highest order. "Come Hell Or High Water" finds Holcombe enlisting the services of the similarly under-valued Iris DeMent on harmony vocals as he delivers his world weary musings on life, love loneliness and the human condition , with "Black Bitter Moon," "October Moon" and "Torn and Wrinkled " capturing the essence of his haunting and mesmeric sound.

"An Introduction to Martin Carthy" (Topic Records)- Martin Carthy has been one of the leading lights of the English folk movement for well over half a century now. and the influence that he exerted on luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Richard Thompson during their formative years simply can't be overstated. This splendid anthology draws on some choice extracts from Carthy's illustrious Topic back catalogue , with memorable traditional ballads such as "Sir Patrick Spens," "Prince Heathen"and "Scarborough Fair" given a welcome airing alongside passionate covers of Leon Rosselson's "Palaces of Gold" and David Ackles' doom laden "His Name Is Andrew."

"Accardo Plays Paganini - The Complete Recordings" (Deutsche Grammophon)- The great Italian composer and violinist Nicolo Paganini was one of the early 19th century's most talked about musical figures, going about his business with a flambuoyance and showmanship that was the stuff of legends. This beautifully packaged anthology has an overall playing time of just under nine hours and finds his compatriot Salvatore Accardo immersing himself in the technically demanding delights of Paganini's complete repertoire via a series of superlative seventies recordings also featuring sterling contributions from Charles Dutoit and the London Philharmonic.