ALLISON LUPTON – Words Of Love (own label ALCD005)

Words Of LoveAn Ontario singer-songwriter and flautist in the Celtic folk tradition, Lupton twins her own material with traditional numbers from both Canada and the UK, this being her fourth album (she also recorded last year’s single ‘The Eve Of Christmas Day’ with The Young ‘Uns) on which she’s backed by a five-piece band featuring fiddle, mandolin and dobro but no percussion, other than Shane Cook’s feet.

She opens with one of her own, ‘Away’, a musically lively fiddle-driven song, inspired by her great uncle, one of some 100, 000 British children sent to Canada by the likes of Thomas Barnado’s Homes to work on farms between 1878 and 1948 in the hope, not always fulfilled, of a better life.

Andrew Collins’ mandolin providing a nervy backing, another uptempo track ‘What Will I Dream’ was commissioned for ‘Songs of Tomorrow’, a compilation on which Canadian artists where asked to reflect on their country’s place in the world prior to 2015’s federal election, followed by the first traditional number, returning to the theme of emigration with ‘When First I Went to Caledonia’, a melancholic reflection on how many Scottish settlers went to work in the Caledonia mine in Cape Breton, the tune here taken from the Gaeiluc ‘Mo Ruin Gael Dileas’.

Crossing back over the ocean, ‘Words Of Love’ itself is another upbeat fiddle-led number that has its origins in a show she performed at a decommissioned Methodiust church in Chippenham and learning of an old love letter, dated 1940, found during the renovations. Then, back in Ontario, the far slower swaying ‘Lost Jimmy Whelan’ is a log driver ballad set on the Mississippi and in the tradition of the bereaved lover being haunted from beyond the grave.

Providing an instrumental break with Lupton on tin whistle, ‘Ontario Tune Set’ is just that, a collection of three tunes from her home province.

It’s back then to self-penned material with the musically complex ‘Dusty Boots’ and another number about migration, this time internal, and inspired by how her paternal grandfather became one of thousands of young men in the 1920s who rode the Canadian Pacific Railway to work on the threshing teams in Western Canada.

The final traditional comes from the UK in the form of the oft-recorded ‘Poverty Knock’ (most recently by Thomas Ashworth) about the hardships of the weavers in the textile mills of Northern England in the 1890s, Lupton bringing a fresh, more uptempo, arrangement with pizzicato fiddle.

She brings things to a close with two more of her own, ‘I Will Rise’, a suitably musically upbeat song of resilience inspired by the strength of loved ones and featuring Ivan Rosenberg’s dobro solo, and, finally, taking the pace down to a reverie, the lovely Celtic-hued instrumental ‘The Grand River Waltz’ written in tribute to the watercourse that begins in the Ontario highlands and flows into Lake Erie.

Unpretentious and rich with her love of traditional folk music, life and the land of her birth, put the word about.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.allisonlupton.com

‘What Will I Dream’ – live: