SERIOUSKITCHEN – The Whispering Road (WildGoose Records WGS413CD)

SERIOUSKITCHEN The Whispering RoadShould you be looking for an album to confound all your expectations and destroy your preconceptions look no further, I say.

Seriouskitchen are a combination of storyteller Nick Hennessey and musicians Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer and The Whispering Road is a work they have been performing for three years. It combines two old Scandinavian stories with original and traditional music and rolls and flows with no regard for the somewhat arbitrary track divisions.

The first story is ‘The Ring’, an almost archetypal Swedish tale involving a prince, an iron ring, singing animals and trolls and we’re getting perilously close to spoilers – although the prince does seem a bit slow on the uptake. Vicki restricts herself to the traditional nyckelharpa and sings the Swedish children’s song ‘Trollmors Vagvisa’ as well as providing atmospheric backing vocals.

The second story is ‘The Giant With No Heart In His Body’, well-known across northern Europe but collected in Norway. In Seriouskitchen’s adaptation the giant is a troll and the second story provides the background to the first as well as bringing its resolution. The frightening finale is in contrast to the more light-hearted opening. Even with the modernised style of story-telling Nick retains the traditional patterns – everything happens in threes in the approved manner. However, in the modern style it is the girl who is the brains of the outfit while the prince hides in a cupboard.

The Whispering Road is a wonderful piece of invention and although it may be too late to get it for Christmas it will make a fine New Year treat.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: www.seriouskitchen.co.uk

‘Seek Me, Find Me’ from The Whispering Road live: