This year’s Festive Fifteen, my annual round-up of the best new songs I have had the pleasure of hearing this year, is the product of a multitude of influences. I discovered three of the artists at the wonderful Green Man Festival in Wales. Five tracks reached my ears courtesy of the ever-wonderful BBC Radio 6 (6 Music if you must). Only three were record shop recommendations, probably the smallest total in my decade of Festive Fifteens, and a sure sign that I am not spending enough time in those educational establishments. But that is balanced by the fact that I have enjoyed live shows by more than half of the featured artists – a very healthy state of affairs.
Ah, Green Man. A dreamy festival bursting with beguiling folk and indie music, where the views of Table Mountain (original Welsh version) compete for attention with the bands on the main stage; where the range of craft beers is so extensive they required a menu the length of a short novel; where there’s more vegan food than you could shake a tofu skewer at; and which this year was dedicated to the National Health Service (NHS), whose founder, Nye Bevan, grew up and developed his twin passions for social justice, song and art in nearby Tredegar.