A Review of the CD
"Merrily Polluted"
by Snakes In Exile

"Merrily Polluted"
by Snakes In Exile

Alea (Wild Boar Music) - 2002

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 6/03

Every so often one gets an album for review that is a bit of a "sleeper". That is to say that it doesn't make much impact when one plays it the regulation three times before review. But one holds the review back, since one has a hunch that the album is really better than one that warrants a few dismissive words.

And so one plays it again. And again. And what do you know? It grows on you. And this is one such.

I confess to being blissfully unaware of this band's previous two albums. Indeed, largely unaware of the band ITSELF. I knew they had appeared at a recent Cambridge Folk Festival, but hadn't caught their set. So I checked them out with a few friends.

Apparently, this Belgian foursome have made a real impact in the Low Countries, but the fact is that they have yet to become well-known this side of the English Channel. Let me describe their sound.

Vocally, the three-part-harmony sound they provide most brings to mind a "Crosby, Stills Nash and Young", but inevitably perhaps, one firing on one-cylinder less. Very tight harmonies, and like that famed foursome, somewhat eclectic in taste.

As for instrumentally: well, they play no dazzling vast array of instruments, but they are none the worse for that! The guitars, accordion and drums they DO play, they seem to play in a very accomplished way. But to add some more variety to their sound, they bring in friends to play fiddle, bouzouki and mandolin.

And the whole effect is rather fine.

It is a collection of self-penned songs, plus visits to the Tradition with particularly fine versions of "The Parting Glass" and "Town of Kiandra". Add to this, decent contemporary songs like Lester Simpson's "Polly On The Shore" and Roger Wilson's "Payday".

Personally, I was not particularly won over by their self-penned material. Melodically their own songs were fine enough, but the lyrics did not lodge themselves in the memory.

One awaits an album of 14 tracks (or so) in which they interpret some of the best newish songs on the Scene, not just the "decent" ones.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

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