If you take away the rock excesses of folk-rock you’re left with Northampton’s King’s Gambit – a band that rocks acoustically while still capable of musical delicacy. I don’t like to make comparisons but they have something of the style and drive of CC Smugglers. From One To Another is their third album, all original material written by Chris Startup – give or take what he’s done to ‘St. James Infirmary’.
Chris, who is also lead vocalist, plays guitar and harmonica; Katie Paton plays bass; Helen Turton plays cello and Andrew Higgins provides the top notes on mandola, mandolin and banjo. All four sing making for solid harmonies and raucous backing vocals. Chris’s songwriting subjects are varied. ‘People Versus’ is about a pub fight and is reminiscent of something Robb Johnson might come up with in a lighter moment. ‘Mary Jane’ is a drug-fuelled dream but also about the loss of precious environment, a subject he’d already addressed in ‘The Only One’ in a very different context.
He describes ‘Into The Rolling Sea’ as a good ‘ol drinking song but it’s more about the aftermath of too many good ‘ol drinks. The opener, ‘A Maiden Fair’ has the feel of a traditional song, albeit one introduced on harmonica, while being firmly set in the present day and, like all Chris’ lyrics it leaves you with something to chew over later.
There are three instrumental tracks. The first, ‘Charles Baker’, features Andrew with support from Chris Hewett’s guest accordion but the thing that struck me all the way through the album is the role of the cello. Helen happily plays a lead part sometimes but her key job is holding the middle of the musical register with fills and counter-melodies. Katie keeps the beat solid in the absence of drums and even gets a bass solo on the closing title track.
This is an album that I liked from the off and then grew on me.
Artists’ website: http://www.kingsgambit.co.uk/
‘Into The Rolling Sea’: