Album Review: Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble – Painted

Joe Broughton’s Conservatoire Folk Ensemble is arguably one of the most influential and inspirational folk bands that are on the circuit today and indeed they have held this title for just shy of 20 years now.

The band formed just over 19 years ago and the chipper 50 piece orchestra is formed of one

Originally formed just over 19 years ago by Broughton, the chipper and experimental 50-piece orchestra is made up of one of the most overwhelmingly talented group of musicians in the industry. Over the years, dozens of prominent folk musicians have emerged from the Ensemble to branch out on their own solo ventures. Broughton keeps breathing new life into the genre with an increasing sense of genius and this year saw the release of the Ensemble’s latest album Painted, a remarkable, uplifting and quite frankly off-the-wall set of tunes that are nothing short of a force of nature. Painted, like the Ensembles previous productions retains a wonderful and gregarious sense of fun and this of course holds their exciting call to adventue in its every beat. The grandiose music doesn’t so much burst to life as it erupts and lead by Broughton, a natural showman who spent many a night playing his fiddle atop a unicycle in a circus big-top it is a clear shot as to why. Broughton leads the Ensemble with a playful nature and a passionate flare that leaves you almost aching to hear each track again.

Painted is one of the most unique and versatile albums around as it takes folk music as the core and builts around it in increasingly fresh and exciting ways. Like watching a metropolis rise around a forest, new rising shadows loom over the folk music and lend it new elements at every turn as folk becomes rock, becomes soul, becomes ska, becomes samba. This wealth and vibrancy of sound almost colours the songs and lends them a deeper emotional context. For an album composed almost entirely without lyrics there is a rich vein of emotion that runs deep within it as they fuse stunning melodies together. Driving electric guitar tunes are melded tightly with bouncing brass, soaring violins and deeply resonant cellos. These combinations take you on whilewind tour of the globe where they draw their influences from across a vast map of the world. These infusions will draw you from England to Spain, India and everywhere in-between.

The songs that are born from the bold and heady experiments of sounds are some of the most jubilant and life-affirming tunes that you are ever likely to hear. They rumble to life like the beginnings of a dormant volcano awakening and demand your uninterrupted attention. Painted is an absolutely superb, inimitable and totally unmissing album that should have a copy in each and every home.
Listen to the opening track from the new album here…


Thursday 8 June 2017

Leek Arts Festival, Foxlowe Arts Centre, Market Place, Leek Staffordshire ST13 5HJ

8.30 pm


Saturday 10 June 2017

Sutton Village Hall, High Street, Sutton, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2ND

7pm doors; 7.30pm start

Adults £12, children £8

Sunday 11 June 2017

Power Folk 4

The Conservatoire Folk Ensemble’s annual all day power folk party. With special guests.

Spotted Dog, 104 Warwick Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B12 0NH

Doors 3pm, music from 4pm ‘til late

Folk Ensemble on at 6.30pm

Tickets £TBC

Sunday 18 June 2017

Dorking Halls, Reigate Road, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1SG

Surrey Arts Playing with the Stars 2017 (workshop + performance)



Tel: 01306 881717

Tickets/ times: TBC


Thursday 6 July 2017

Forest Arts Centre, Old Milton Road, New Milton, Hampshire BH25 6DS 

£13-£14 + £0.50 per ticket



Friday 7 July 2017

New Forest Folk Festival

Powells Farm, Salisbury Road, Plaitford, Romsey, Hants, SO51 6EE


Friday 25 August 2017

Shrewsbury Folk Festival

West Midlands Showground, Berwick Road, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 2PF

For more information please visit:

Twitter: @Thefolkensemble   |


Review by Joe Knipe

Pin It on Pinterest