BLUEFLINT- Stories From Home (Johnny Rock JOROCK021)

Stories From HomeThis, the third album by Edinburgh banjo-playing singers Deborah Arnott and Clare-Louise Neilson, again draws on influences from both traditional American and English folk, here backed by a core band that predominantly features Danny Hart on fiddle, James Lindsay on double bass, drummer Ali Murray and Davey MacAuley on keyboards, the latter also sharing keyboard duties with producer Paul Savage.

As before, the songs are pretty much about tales of relationships waxing and waning (though, sadly, this time there’s no alcohol brand product placement references), but they have expanded musical horizons, bringing shades of both jazz and Latin to the gently lapping regret-veined ‘I Could Have Done More For You’ while ‘King of My Apple Tree’ shades to the sort of slightly spooked folk parlayed by King Creosote, one of Savage’s other CV credits, and the war dance rhythms of the bluegrassy ‘Hawk and Eagle’ also incorporate treated drum effects.

Generally speaking, however, it’s their Appalachian affections that colour things like the shuffle ‘n’ stomp ‘Seasons Are Changing’, Neilson’s fiddle-backed ode to new motherhood, ‘Little Stranger’, and the simple, banjo-accompanied please don’t go sentiments of ‘Don’t Make A Fool Out Of Me’. It’s also there on waltzing urban love story ‘This Is A Story’, although the thing that strikes most is how both that and the rollicking ‘What If I Don’t Want To’ cast the pair as a female answer to The Proclaimers, the inlay does, after all feature a photo of Leith’s “landscape of grey hardened gold“, as Arnott’s optimistic ‘Patch Of Green’ has it. It’s a comparison they carry well.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website:

Nothing from the new album on video yet so here’s their first single, ‘Take Your Shoes Off’: