The second album from Anglo-Welsh band The Foxglove Trio sees them getting a little more Welsh, possibly down to recording in Abergavenny with Dylan Fowler in the producer’s chair. Five of the songs on Distant Havens are in Welsh, thanks to the bilingual talents of Ffion Mair, but don’t let that put you off, they top and tail the record with verses from The Foo Fighters, although I’m not sure that Dave Grohl would immediately recognise them.
The Foxglove Trio is a slightly curious line-up. Both Cathy Mason and Patrick Dean play cello, sometimes duetting , but more often Patrick plays melodeon. Cathy also plays guitar while Ffion adds bodhran and whistle to her lead vocal duties. Their sound can be sweet and delicate as on ‘These Are My Mountains’ – Patrick has a very light touch on the melodeon – or big and robust as on ‘Looking Elsewhere’ and ‘The Sheffield Apprentice’.
The trio are strong environmentalists and the most obvious example of their concerns is Jean Ritchie’s ‘Now Is The Cool Of The Day’, a song that is rapidly gaining popularity. Rather more clever is Ffion’s ‘The January Girl’, a reworking of the Dave Goulder song highlighting the problems of climate change. Ffion’s songwriting excels again in ‘Branwen’, inspired by a story from the Mabinogion. You can tell that it’s a folk song because a lot of people are dead at the end and you could pass it off as traditional if you were so minded.
Politics rears its head in the shape of William Morris’ ‘Dusk The Day’ but I do wish that The Foxglove Trio had used the original title, A Death Song of Alfred Linnell, a poem for the funeral of an innocent bystander killed by the police in 1886. Seriously, if you’re going to make a political statement, have the courage to stand by it: context means a lot here.
That niggle aside, this is a splendid album, and I wish the trio every success with it.
Artists’ website: www.thefoxglovetrio.co.uk
There is nothing from the new album online yet but this is ‘Cariad Cyntaf’ from The Foxglove Trio’s early EP, Like Diamond Glances.