It couldn’t really happen in any other sphere of musical life. I mean, you don’t get orchestras gathering at the pub after a festival for a session, do you? In the folk world it happens all the time and that’s how Jo Freya, Melanie Biggs and Sarah Matthews met and decided to form a group.
It feels natural. Their chosen instruments are sax and clarinet, melodeon and flute and violin and guitar – all basically smooth and melodic with nothing too jangly. Their repertoire came together in the same way – songs and tunes written or acquired over the years and dusted down anew. Without the sort of cross-fertilization that the folk scene encourages Melanie’s ‘Ufton Court Schottische’ wouldn’t have found a partner in Sarah’s ‘All Saints’.
Seven of the thirteen tracks are instrumentals beginning with a pair of bourrées written by Gilles Chabenat and moving through a mazurka, a waltz, a hornpipe and a reel as well as tunes written from a variety of inspirations. The songs tend to be light-hearted, the exceptions being ‘Garden Of Love’, a setting of William Blake’s poem by Dave Walters and Sarah’s ‘Candlelight’, brought out of retirement for the late Maggie Boyle.
The title track refers to a story that most of us would try to forget if it had happened to us but Jo has no such inhibitions and it has a hook that is guaranteed to have an audience singing along. I won’t tell you any more. ‘Twiddles’, by Janie Meneely, is a feminist variant on the sailor’s girl in every port story – think of Chumbawamba’s ‘Learning To Love’ – and ‘Bed And Breakfast’: well, if you’re a working musician you’ll know exactly what it’s about.
Sideways is a delightful, relaxing album. The instruments blend easily as do the voices – in fact, I’d like to hear more of their harmonies applied to something a bit weightier. But we mustn’t be greedy.
If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.
Products from Amazon.co.uk
Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.
Artists’ website: www.moiraitrio.co.uk