NICK BURBRIDGE & TIM COTTERELL – Resolved (On The Fiddle OTFCD032)

ResolvedNick Burbridge is one of music’s renaissance men: poet, singer, songwriter, novelist and playwright; generally held to be one of the finest songwriters that the world, for the most part, hasn’t heard of yet. Multi-instrumentalist Tim Cotterell also works alongside Nick in McDermott’s Two Hours and plays all the melody parts except for Philippe Barnes’ flute.

Before you start to listen you need to know that a tanka is classical form in Japanese poetry, thirty-one syllables long. Nick intersperses Resolved with six sung tanka, topping or tailing certain of the songs. You also need to understand that this is not easy listening. It’s not a night out with McDermott’s. Having listened to it once I had to put it to one side and clear my head – that’s not a criticism, it’s just that you don’t come across many songs that include words like quincunx.

These are powerful, serious songs and with Nick being an associate of the Levellers, politics are never too far away. Even ‘Another Song’, the first major track which is ostensibly about love, separation and death has a dig about “tyrants and corrupt laws”. ‘Song Of A Pacifist’ and ‘Song Of A Partisan’ are the yin and yang of the struggle. The former highlights Nick’s Irish background with its passing reference to Bloody Sunday while the latter betrays something that we’re all feeling – if only there was a gun in the attic.

‘Song Of A Seeker’ with its traditional feel strikes me as an modernised metaphor based on ‘Bonny Black Hare’ just as the original was in its own way while the final ‘Song Of A Celebrant’ is perhaps the most complex song here. Again metaphorical, it feels like a commentary on the dreadful year that has been 2016 and I only hope that I’m not reading too much into it. Even the superficially optimistic tracks like ‘Song Of A Seafarer’ and ‘Song Of An Old Quaker’ hide a streak of bitterness and Nick doesn’t always sing the words he writes, if you get my drift. Live, I suspect, you’ll get the full force of his writing.

Resolved is a superb set of songs but not one to be entered into lightly.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: http://www.burbridgearts.org/

Listen to ‘Another Song’:

JOHN JONES – Never Stop Moving (Westpark Music 87277)

JOHN JONES Never Stop MovingThe Oysterband’s frontman has been also following a solo career since the release of Rising Road in 2009, although the band’s schedule has meant he hasn’t had chance to put together a follow-up until now. Recorded with his sometime side-band, The Reluctant Ramblers, who include guitarist Al Scott, fiddle player Tim Cotterell, bassist Lindsey Oliver and Rowan Gödel duetting and on harmony with Benji Kirkpatrick and fellow Oysterband members Alan Prosser, drummer Dil Davies and new cellist Adrian Oxaal also providing contributions, it’s a less robustly rocking affair than the past couple of band albums and more inclined to the sort of rustic acoustic folk that reflects the pastoral inspirations and Jones’ walking passion that informs many of the songs.

Which isn’t to say it lacks muscle. Featuring driving background fiddle and Scott on bouzouki, ‘The Wanderer’, which references the Uffington White Horse, is a fairly punchy number while, inspired by the story of a girl waking from a drugs coma, ‘She Wrote Her Name Today’ rides a strident drum beat and fiddle swirl that calls to mind the anthemic work of early Runrig while also suggesting folksy version of Editors.

There’s also a rousing up-tempo energy to ‘Jim Jones’, a shanty-flavoured traditional number lyrically rooted in the convict transportations to Australia and the title track itself, which, much like a shark, sings about the need to be constantly moving (a metaphor for progress, here) in order to survive, is propelled by a suitably restless rolling wheels guitar riff. By contrast, slow-tempo album opener murder ballad ‘Down By The Lake’ is a far more contemplative affair. That was apparent inspired by a local tragedy around the Welsh borders where Jones lives while the story of someone he knows who found a magpie tied up in a plastic bag grew into ‘The Black And White Bird’ wherein the bird becomes a lover’s farewell token to the girl he’s forced to leave behind. Jones’ own background informs the simple, cello-streaked acoustic ‘Ferryman’ which, summoning thoughts of vintage Ralph McTell, casts his mind back to the “diesel river” of his Meltham childhood home.

History and imagination join hands on ‘Pierrepoint’s Farewellwhere, to fiddle, cello, simple circling guitar line and Gödel’s dual vocal, he recounts the events that led Ruth Ellis to the scaffold and muses on the hangman and his wife’s feelings as the moment of execution approaches. If that offers no explicit social comment, it’s certainly to be found on ‘Ghosts Of The Village’, a bouzouki led call to arms against the way England’s country villages have become taken over by wealthy city types and their second homes, absentee residents who have led to a dismantling of traditional communities.

The two remaining numbers are both traditional songs, Gödel sharing lead vocal on the Jones and Kirkpatrick’s tribal rhythm arrangement of the seafaring ‘Banks Of Newfoundland’ and, harking back to Jones’ own rambling soul, the album comes to a gentle close with ‘Young Rambling Boys of Pleasure’, a bittersweet lovelorn hymn to the urge to rove. A hugely impressive album, then, that goes to remind that Jones both talks the talk and walks the walk. Long may his feet carry him on.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. 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.

Never Stop Moving

Artist’s website: http://jj-rr.org/

‘Down By The Lake’ live at Shrewsbury Festival 2014:

Folk Legend Nick Burbridge Releases McDermotts 2 Hours Best Of Album

Anticlockwise - McDermotts 2 HoursNick Burbridge, the mastermind behind legendary Brighton-based folk-punk-poetry pioneers McDermott’s 2 Hours has announced an extensive partnership with the Levellers’ and their “On The Fiddle Recordings”. In celebration of this event, the McDermott’s back catalogue will be released digitally via iTunes and Spotify for first time, alongside some new material. Nick has also signed past and future song-writing to the band’s On The Fiddle Publishing enterprise.

This marks the climax to a long and fruitful association between Nick, McDermott’s and The Levellers dating back over twenty years, from the time the Lev’s put out a CD version of the original 1989 vinyl classic The Enemy Within, through several collaborations and other recordings, to Besieged, the forthcoming Levellers album that award-winning producer Al Scott (June Tabor/ Oysterband) is busy arranging and producing, which will emerge early in 2014. Continue reading Folk Legend Nick Burbridge Releases McDermotts 2 Hours Best Of Album

Nick Burbridge – New Album, Gathered

After six McDermott’s Two Hours albums (versus The Levellers or in their own right), singer-songwriter Nick Burbridge has joined forces with multi-instrumentalist and producer Tim Cotterell, to release the unplugged album of articulate contemporary songs rooted in the traditional Celtic idiom, which many have awaited for so long.

Gathered comes, simply, with a challenge. If any similar album tackles inner and outer struggles so artfully yet honestly, showing such respect for the tradition yet awareness of contemporary forms, then let this onebe rolled aside. If not, let it take its rightful place in the idiom where it belongs.

Gathered is a lyricist’s delight, as would be expected from a writer fluent in many forms: a profound and coherent expression of all kinds of implacable commitment, personal or political, related with a tender and unflinching hand. Here, Burbridge’s dark-humoured, melodic pieces, his genuinely weathered voice and singular guitar-playing, are augmented only by the subtle shade and impetus of Cotterell’s sensitive interpretation on a range of instruments. It is an album to sit down with late into the night and listen to repeatedly, which nonetheless abounds with fragments of jigs, reels and other tunes.

Great melodies, acerbic, canny lyrics” (fRoots)
“The sound of a musician and songwriter at a creative peak” (R2)

This is a fruitful partnership. Burbridge’s career spans decades, writing songs covered by artists from Levellers (a whole area at their Beautiful Days festival is named after his song ‘Dirty Davey’) to Damien Barber and Maggie Boyle, and published by Joe Boyd; niche poetry collections, fringe theatre plays and Radio 4 productions; a political thriller, and a non-fiction book on Northern Ireland launched at the House Of Commons.

A recurrent source of inspiration has been his work with McDermott’s Two Hours, a band that “cut the mustard’’(Q) and whose last album Goodbye To The Madhouse R2 called an “epic collection that is essential listening.” Cotterell, meanwhile, who both recorded and mixed this record, is one of the younger generation of Alt Folk specialists, a director of Brighton’s Access To Music, mainstay of Martha Tilston’s The Woods, Legacy and Tricks Upon Travellers, session player for the Oysterband’s John Jones,among many others, and a vital cog in the eccentric McDermotts machinery.

Dr Ben Burbridge Sussex University

Available from – www.burbridgearts.org – www.levellers.co.uk

If you would like to download a copy of the track or just listen to snippet of it then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. 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.