This review is written by Dai Woosnam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 6/05
Let me start with an admission: I have never seen this band in
live performance. And in one way that puts me at a distinct
disadvantage: for it is clear that they whip up a real storm that is
the equal of anything on the folk scene.
Folk scene? Yes, "folk" is what they emphatically are. (No, not because the choice of instruments decrees that they are: just as "four walls do not a prison make", similarly, accordion, guitar, and fiddle do not of themselves constitute a folk band. Nor are they "folk" simply because for a while now they have been widely dubbed "Britain's leading underground folk band".)
No, they show their roots in the folk scene in just about every musical phrase: Mark Knight's fiddle brings to mind the early driving, swooping pyrotechnics of another Knight Steeleye's Peter - and Simon Edwards's outstandingly energetic squeezebox playing is redolent of the brio of a Flaco Jiminez. But one brought up on Bob Cann and fish and chips rather than Tex-Mex and tortillas.
However, in another way, not having seen them is a distinct plus point: I can thus treat this "live" with studio improvements - CD on its own merits. And the merits are not inconsiderable. Although a manic drummer presumably Keith Moon reincarnated does his best to steal the limelight, melodically, the album is interesting. Some mildly infectious stuff. By the third listening I was scat singing along with the band. "Take Me Home" and "Whispered Light" were the standout cuts, and both benefit from repeated listening. Simon Edwards's vocals were genuinely impressive in a highly unpolished sort of way; his voice is so rough he makes Rod Stewart's voice seem like it comes complete with built-in Dolby System, and Edwards' diction is generally clear.
Which leaves me with a bit of a puzzle. We are provided with all the song lyrics. There are two purposes of a lyric sheet. One is so as the listener can understand what is being sung. The other, stems from a feeling that the lyrics deserve being regarded for their intrinsic merit. As the clarity of diction means the former does not apply, I am forced to conclude that these chaps and chapesse, in believing in their lyrics, must be as high as a kite on something. For alas my friends, the lyrics are stupendously witless. But that said, this is a band who clearly know their way round their instruments, and for that reason alone, are well worth a listen.
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