DEMPSEY BROUGHTON – Off By Heart (own label SAECD14)

Off By HeartKevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton have been in the business for so many years and in so many line-ups that it seems impossible to count. You can mention The Albion Band, the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, the Urban Folk Quartet, Dando Shaft, Whippersnapper and Lazarus before you have to stop and think. Kevin and Joe have worked together for almost two decades and Off By Heart is their fourth album as a duo.

The record opens in a rather unexpected way. You might have thought that two such celebrated instrumentalists would kick off with something to get the feet moving but instead they begin with Kevin singing ‘Resurrection Jack’, an anti-racist poem by Evangeline Paterson which Kevin has set to a simple and deliberately un-sensational tune. The story itself is a moving one but also told in very unemotional terms. That is followed by ‘Wheels Of The World’, a traditional Irish song explaining why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Who says folk music isn’t relevant?

Of course there are instrumental fireworks and they begin with ‘The Post Truth Reel’ a tune that Joe describes as having “some slightly bits, some positive bits and a bit of reflection”. Next are two linked tunes. ‘Just Before The News’ and ‘De Pascale’ were written around the death of their friend, renaissance man Ernesto De Pascale’ and into them is poured all the emotion they can find. Fittingly, they sit at the heart of the album.

The album closes with two more instrumentals and two traditional songs. ‘Wicked Polly’ comes from the Ozarks and Paloma Trigás adds massed violins and ‘Two Constant Lovers’ is from Sussex with all sorts of things going on behind Kevin’s voice. ‘La Moreau’ is a two-part tune, or rather one tune played in two very different ways, and the final tune is ‘The Recovery Shuffle’ – a bluesy guitar riff over which Joe has written a jig. There is a great deal to enjoy here.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: https://www.joebroughton.com/dempsey-broughton

‘Wicked Polly’ live – an old video but none the worse for that:

 

Dempsey Broughton – new album

The collection’s nine tracks range from outlandish and inventive instruments, to traditional and original songs, with “a slightly political twist” running through.

Highlights include ‘Wheels Of The World’, an old comment on politicians that seems even more relevant today; ‘The Post Truth Reel’, an instrumental filled with anger and sadness; and ‘Resurrection Jack’, which is based on an anti-racist poem by the late Dublin-born writer and editor, Evangeline Paterson.

Since forming in 1999, this incredible duo have now recorded three albums and toured extensively in over 20 countries round the world. Combining emotive songs, unrivalled instrumental capability, and a spectacular high energy show, they never fail to create a spellbinding atmosphere.

The list of musicians they have played with is impressive, and includes Whippersnapper, Mary Black, Joss Stone, Dando Shaft, The Urban Folk Quartet, Fairport Convention, The Albion Band, Dave Swarbrick, and even Percy Sledge. But their partnership is a unique pairing.

“Whatever other projects we have done over the years, we always end up back together because we have so much common ground in our music,” says Joe.

To pigeon hole their style of music would be to do them a disservice. They draw on folk music from all corners of the world, but their experience in jazz, soul, classical, pop and rock music takes the results into original and uncharted territory.
What you’ll notice at their concerts is not only the originality of what this acoustic duo plays, but also the simple fact that they do it so well. Kevin has a fantastic voice and is widely regarded as one of Europe’s greatest acoustic guitar players, whilst Joe is simply unmatched in the world of fiddle pyrotechnics.

To top it all, the Dempsey Broughton show is playful and entertaining – you almost have to pinch yourself and remember to take it all in as they swoop from beautiful song to mind blowing tune, via a stream of hilarious banter. Two hours with Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton can seem like 10 minutes.

The release of Off By Heart is accompanied by a series of intimate dates.

“We’ve been working on this album for some time now, but we wanted to get it just right,” says Joe. “And now feels like the moment – it’s the right time for this material to get out there, and we’re really excited about sharing it with everyone.”

“Superb musicianship, brilliant conception and execution…all you people who think you can jazz-up folk music – hear this and weep!” – Flos Headford

Artists’ website: http://www.joebroughton.com/dempsey-broughton

Listen to ‘Resurrection jack’ here: