ELLIOTT MORRIS – Lost & Found (Dominoes Club DCRCD001)

Lost & FoundAn Anglo-Scot, based in Yorkshire, the soft-voiced Elliott Morris plies a mix of folk and blues that highlight his percussive guitar slapping technique on a collection of originals, collaborations and a couple of traditional reworks. He eases listeners into his debut album, Lost And Found, with the pastoral ambience of ‘Lost’, a brief instrumental etched on acoustic and electric guitars that flows seamlessly into the soothingly sung ‘The End Of The World Blues’, introducing a line-up of backing musicians that include core rhythm section of bassist Bevan Morris and drummer Jack Carrack alongside the latter’s father, Paul, on Hammond, Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin, and fiddle players Innes Watson and Mike Vass, as well as showcasing a bluesy electric guitar solo.

Loosely based on the traditional ‘The Bent Sae Brown’, ‘Sixteen Long Miles’ picks up a shuffling traintime rhythm before suddenly shifting to a slide driven blues boogie reading of the traditional ‘I’m A Stranger’, the lyrics taken from ‘The Strands Of Magilligan’ and ‘The American Stranger’.

‘One More Day’ takes the mood down again for acoustic mid-tempo folksy-pop, the laid back atmosphere continuing through the dreamy summery haze of ‘Sirens’ with its slow waltz shanty melody feel subtly underpinned by Carrack’s Hammond.

The second half of the album title, another instrumental, the spectral progressive folk ‘Found’, with Jim Molyneux on grand piano and Elliott’s John Martyn-like guitar opens the second half of proceedings, leading into the bluesy tinged ‘Looking For Something That Isn’t There’ with its nagging title refrain and chugging bass. Accompanied by twin fiddles. Let It Out is another gently rippling acoustic number, Salter harmonising and subtly complementing on mandolin on a song about taking opportunities when they arise.

The album closes with the first of two co-writes, ‘All Comes Back’ a relaxed, slightly jazz-tinged airy love song co-penned by and featuring Lisbee Stainton on harmonies, while bassist Morris shares credits on ‘Friday Night’, a fast-slow uptempo celebration of good company and fine whisky, guitar and fiddle driving things along as he sings how “a wasted night is not a wasted night with friends.”

This may not prove the important breakthrough album to a winder audience, but it will certainly consolidate his current following and serve as a strong stepping stone to the next move forwards.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.elliottmorris.co.uk

‘The End Of The World Blues’ – in the studio:

4SQUARE – Fuel (Transition Records TRANSCD12)

FuelIt’s always tempting when hearing a band for the first time to try to put them into a stylistic box but you’ll try that with 4Square at your peril. Fuel is actually their fourth album but their first as fully-fledged professionals and, although they may be well-known in the Manchester area and at festivals, sad to say their fame has not made a great impression this far south. That said, I did enjoy their second album, ChronicLes.

Their sound is built around three instruments. Firstly, there is the piano of principal writer Jim Molyneux; secondly there is the fiddle of Nicola Lyons and finally the mandolin of Michael Giverin. The fourth member of the band, Dan Day, plays ukulele but he is mainly engaged with a variety of percussion. Most of their material is original although there is an excellent cover of James Taylor’s ‘Enough To Be On Your Way’

4Square manage to combine a lightness of touch with a full sound and playing that can turn on a sixpence. There’s no instrument swapping pyrotechnics and most of the bottom end comes from Molyneux’s left hand – guest bass player Nick Ereaut appears on one track – but with multiple lead instruments and four voices there is no shortage of variety. Several of the songs have tunes attached so the tracks tend to flow into one another. ‘The Digging Song’ is based on a well-known urban myth/shaggy dog story and, in contrast, ‘Brave’ is a story from the Great War, not of great heroism but of determination and survival. Day’s ‘Message From Cloud Nine’ is deliberately ambiguous so I’ll leave you to decide what it’s really about.

Fuel is another good album from 4Square and it should springboard them to the next level of their career.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Ignition’, the opening track of Fuel:

Tom Kitching – new album and tour

Interloper – out now

Tom Kitching

Top flight fiddler Tom Kitching, a former BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award finalist, is the man behind one of the most intriguing and thought-provoking roots music releases of 2015, as he presses the reset button on English music.

Previously best known as one half of a duo with singer-songwriter/guitarist Gren Bartley and a member of the brilliant, BBC award-nominated ‘trad with a twist’ band Pilgrims’ Way, Cheshire-born Tom has been described by Living Tradition magazine as “one of the best young fiddlers in Britain”. Continue reading Tom Kitching – new album and tour