Alan Catton plays guitar with Hull folk band Beggar’s Bridge but his solo work is rather different. Faru – Anglo Saxon for journey – is not his first album in this style: acoustic guitar compositions to which he adds flute, drums, mandolin and what I suppose are synthesised strings. Alan doesn’t overdo himself when it comes to sleeve notes and it has been noted elsewhere that he is rather self-effacing when it comes to publicity.
Faru is the sort of record that makes you want to curl up by a roaring fire with a glass of malt and while away a pleasant hour. The first of the seven tracks, ‘Preparations’, is thoughtful with an underlying feeling of optimism and it leads in the longest piece. ‘Setting Out’ begins with a lively tune full of expectation as our protagonist leaves home and is full of changing moods – sometimes soft and delicate – until the traveller reaches ‘The Oak Grove’.
‘The Great Wood’ is another long track, with often dramatic passages which eventually bursts out in a traditional sounding jig. Alan describes himself as being inspired by the older generation of folk guitarists like Renbourn, Jansch and Giltrap and I can certainly hear John Renbourn in his playing. His fondness for seventies prog appears in the accompaniments which makes for very easy listening in the nicest possible sense of the term.
Next he crosses ’Two Bridges’ and with a ‘Fair Wind’ he strides on to reach ‘The Frozen Dale And The Magpie’ and I really must stop writing like this. Is this his final destination? There is a sense of triumph in the final track but there is also scope for the journey home.
Artist’s website: https://www.beggars-bridge.co.uk/
‘The Oak Grove’: