I first encountered Galley Beggar at the Half-Moon, Putney, where they were playing support to Mike Heron and Trembling Bells. They were, quite simply, terrific; folk-rock played with gusto. At the time they were two albums to the good, but both albums, though very enjoyable, failed to capture the essence of Galley Beggar live. This, their third album, goes some way to redressing that.
Modern production values shy away from reverb going, instead, for a drier sound. A preference I have never understood. This album is mixed with reverb throughout, giving it a more live feel. The band seem to be playing more freely too, with a less studio-bound style.
The opener, ‘Adam and Eve’ is a good solid folk track and gives you a foretaste of what is to come. There are a couple of traditional folk songs, my favourite being ‘Geordie’, but the standout tracks for me are ‘Empty Sky’ and the wonderfully psychedelic ‘Pay My Body’.
Maria O’Donnell has a voice well suited for folk songs and she is backed by an accomplished group of musicians in Celine Marshall on violin, Bill Lynn on bass, Paul Dadswell, on drums and backing vocals and some stylish guitar-work by both David Ellis and Mat Fowler. Only eight tracks on the album, but every one a gem.
This album is closer in spirit to the Galley Beggar I saw, but still a gear or two lower than when the band are live. So, my advice is to buy this album and enjoy the sound of Galley Beggar, but if you ever get the opportunity to see band perform live – take it!
Ron D Bowes
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It’s a couple of years ago but here’s a live version of ‘Jack Orion’ from Silence And Tears. Turn it up to eleven!