STONE JUNCTION – Could We Start This All Again? (Eris Records SJCD001)

Could We Start This All Again?Stone Junction are a trio based in Sussex: Michael Prochak, Dan Lapins and Will Thomson. Between them they play guitar, banjo, accordion, mandolin and whistle and sing in what appears to be effortless harmony. They have experience – Michael has been performing since the late 60s – immense talent and a wealth of musical influences which they have squeezed onto their debut album, Could We Start This All Again?. On paper this mix of songs shouldn’t work but, you know, it does.

The album opens with a simple banjo sound that heralds ‘Shady Grove’ and you think you’ve got them pegged but the arrangement gets more intricate and you’re not so sure. From there they move to John Prine’s beautiful ‘Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness’ with lead guitar and accordion taking over from banjo and mandolin and a Prochak original, ‘Night Bird’. Then there comes an unexpected shift.

‘Jock Stewart’ is a well-known Scottish song and you wouldn’t expect to hear it from Stone Junction but at times they make it sound like a ballad of the old west. ‘Mrs McGrath’ is two centuries old but it seems that its core message hasn’t changed in all that time. After hearing this version I wasn’t surprised to read the suggestion that the song was popular with soldiers in the American Civil War. The only other traditional(ish) song is Stephen Foster’s ‘Hard Times’ which suits the band perfectly and, to top it off, they pair it with ‘Ordinary Man’.

As well three more Prochak originals, songs are borrowed from Luka Bloom (City Of Chicago); Gillian Welch (One More Dollar) and The Grateful Dead (Uncle John’s Band). These guys have great taste. Could We Start This All Again? is a remarkably polished debut but with the CVs these guys have behind them that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.stonejunctionband.co.uk/Stone_Junction/Home.html

‘City Of Chicago’ – live: