DAVID CARROLL AND FRIENDS – Bold Reynold Too (Talking Elephant TECD493)

Bold Reynold TooTalking Elephant haven’t had to spend much on artwork for Bold Reynold Too. The first volume was a great success and I have no doubt its successor would do the same even if it were marketed in a brown paper bag. David’s friends include, as you can see, members of Gryphon and Fairport Convention plus Tom Spencer, son of the legendary John B and a member of The Men They Couldn’t Hang, and singer Lucy Cooper. Carroll himself is a multi-instrumentalist and adds dulcimer, uilleann pipes and lute to the mix, not quite outnumbering Brian Gulland’s collection of instruments.

To my mind, David has pushed the envelope a bit further this time, both in arrangements and in his choice of material. He begins with ‘The Battle Of Sowerby Bridge’, beloved by Swan Arcade fans. I’d always assumed that this was a bit of Yorkshire doggerel poetry but it’s generally held to be traditional. There was a battle at Sowerby Bridge in the Civil War but this isn’t it, despite some circumstantial similarities.

Next comes ‘Gweebarra Shore’, a song of Irish emigration richly arranged. At first thought it seems inappropriately positioned, particularly as it precedes two drinking songs, the English ‘Down Among The Dead Men’ and the Irish ‘Johnny Jump Up’. Such songs tend to be melancholy pieces but while it’s not exactly a bundle of laughs this version has a fatalistic air, a sense of getting on with it and making the most of your lot.

Carroll continues to confound with his sequencing as the drinking is followed by ‘Sheath And Knife’, a tragic story of incest and assisted dying and ‘A Little Of One With T’Other’, a bawdy piece from Thomas D’Urfey which, I suppose, echoes the incident in ‘Sheath And Knife’ which caused all the trouble. Once again, Carroll gives his band freedom to roam and ‘Sheath And Knife’ provides Graeme Taylor with the chance to deliver a magnificent guitar solo. Another Irish song of emigration, ‘Slieve Gallion Braes’, pairs Taylor’s guitar and Carroll’s pipes with Chris Leslie’s fiddle.

The well-known ‘A Week Before Easter’ sees Carroll and Gulland multi-tracking themselves in a stately arrangement contrasting with the lively ‘McShane’ which segues into ‘The Blarney Pilgrim’. ‘Pace Egging Song’ is an Easter tradition from Lancashire which leads us to ‘The Keach In The Cradle’, a song of night-visiting (the non-supernatural kind) which borrows elements of ‘Get Up And Bar The Door’ and descends into a Whitehall farce. Finally, Carroll, Dave Oberlé, Gulland, Lucy Cooper and Leslie join together for an unaccompanied ‘Adieu, Sweet Lovely Nancy’ bringing the album to an optimistic end.

I’ve been a bit critical of some of the sequencing of Bold Reynold Too but, on reflection, I may be guilty of applying modern thinking to what is essentially a rather old-fashioned album. By which I mean that I can detect elements of The Albion Band’s Rise Up Like The Sun alongside bits of Strawhead and records that were made before we thought of “themes”. If you enjoyed Bold Reynold you will certainly enjoy this.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.boldreynold.co.uk

I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a while for a video or a streamed track.