Two years after the much fêted Mawkin:Causley collaboration disbanded, Mawkin are back with a new melodeon player, Nick Cooke, and drummer, Lee Richardson. The reinvigorated five-piece stride forth boldly with this latest release, putting together a heady concoction of traditional and contemporary material, that sounds as fresh as the proverbial daisy.
Mawkin play with a flamboyance that at times feels distinctly theatrical, and the lads certainly put in an entertaining performance that is both endearing and captivating. They pack quite a punch, often resembling a pocket-sized Bellowhead, yet possessing an agility that a more bloated ensemble might not attain.
There is a worldly spirit that permeates the album, with influences from across the globe melding joyously to present a wide-ranging palette of rhythm and melody that flits between raucous energy and timeless elegance. There are also moments that sound wonderfully and archetypically English, but for very different reasons: the sprightly politeness of “Gerry The Frog / The Three Firs” contrasts markedly with the rugged vernacular of Ray Davies’ “Harry Rag.”
Tracks like “Diogenes” are brimming with effervescence, hurried along by a racing bass line, whilst “Andro / Lang Stayed Away” sets out at a more leisurely pace, juxtaposing traditional concertina melodies over jazz-soaked electric guitar and ambling bass. “Easter Thursday” contains some alluring, effortless Django-esque guitar riffs, demonstrating perfectly the band’s versatility at traversing genres.
The tone changes on a number of occasions to accommodate some special guest vocalists: Steve Knightley gives a typically uncompromising reading of his song “It’s All Quiet Here,” whilst it turns deliciously camp when Eliza Carthy joins in on the sultry “Bad Girls Lament.” Former collaborator Jim Causley also returns to the fold with a poised delivery of “Bellringers.”
Crow is something of a musical kaleidoscope, and the more you listen to it, the more it reveals its varied and fascinating motifs. Mike Wilson
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Artist web link: http://www.mawkin.co.uk/