DAVID GIBB and ELLY LUCAS – Old Chairs To Mend (Hairpin Records 002)

David Gibb and Elly Lucas are an exciting young duo who play a mixture of original and re‐worked traditional folk material. They hail from Derbyshire in the Midlands and have previously toured the UK extensively as part of David Gibb & The Pony Club.

David plays the guitars, melodeon and sings; Elly plays fiddle, viola and also sings. From these minimal resources, the twosome produce distinctive vocal leads, haunting harmonies and a quite dense instrumental sound. Their singing is simple and unadorned ‐ check out Elly’s wistful vocal on ‘Blacksmith’ from their début album ‘Old Chairs To Mend’ below:

The pair were chosen as finalists in the prestigious BBC Young Folk Awards 2011 and, on the road, have supported such acts as Cara Dillon, Chris Wood,Coope, Boyes and Simpson, Jez Lowe, and Megson.

In early 2011, they released their first EP, entitled ‘Three Children Sliding On The Ice’, garnering praise and national airplay from the likes of the Mike Harding Show (BBC Radio 2) : Mike Harding says ‘I was very impressed’.

‘Old Chairs To Mend’ is the brand new spanking new album from David Gibb and Elly Lucas and although we have not heard the album in full, we loved the snippets from the Amazon web link below – folking.com

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JOHN DOYLE – Shadow And Light (Compass Records 4562)

John Doyle may, at first hearing appear an earnest, thought provoking artist but at least he cannot be accused of being dull. By that I mean he understands that with extensive knowledge of your subject matter you have in your hands the tools to inspire and in return will hopefully have the same effect on anyone you are imparting this information to. If that is his intention he has certainly found a disciple. Evocative is a term that readily comes to mind as his rounded tenor vocals coupled with a song-writing talent featured on ten of the eleven tracks sees him become a Celtic ambassador of traditional style writing in much the same way Jez Lowe invokes nostalgic thoughts of the North-East of England. If you’re reading into this that I thoroughly enjoyed this album then I’ve done my job. Whether it be the rallying cry of “Clear The Way” based on the tale of a regiment during the American Civil War or the cheese inspired (you’ll have to read the sleeve notes) closing song “Selkie” Doyle is an artist at the top of his tree allowing himself the opportunity to branch out (sorry about that) by including of a roster of first-class musicians such as Alison Brown (banjo), Michael McGoldrick (uillean pipes/flute) and John Williams (accordion). Of course many who already know his superb digital dexterity can attest to his stunning guitar accompaniment but here his tune writing particularly on the wistful “Tribute To Donal Ward/The Currachman” comes majestically to life and could easily find itself soaked sponge-like into numerous traditional ‘sessions’.

PETE FYFE

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For further information check out the Compass Records website at www.compassrecords.com

REG MEUROSS – The Dreamed And The Drowned (Own Label)

I must have been in a stupor (not drunk…just a stupor) for not having been more aware of Reg Meuross most of my ‘folk’ music life. Here a collection of unreleased material between 2006-2011 illustrates just how vivid a picture he can create with the aid of a pen. If Mr Meuross was an Olympic competitor he’d be awarded ‘gold’ as his brilliantly structured stories…many of which are based on real events from history…really make you think. The opening title track ably demonstrates this relating the harrowing tale of a pregnant girl banished to the moors with her name besmirched by a community who should have known better. It isn’t just the story that would have done justice to anything written by Catherine Cookson but the plaintive way Reg breathes life into the characters captured so dramatically that by its very nature appears at times to be almost voyeuristic. There isn’t a duff track on the entire album and as ever his choice of musicians including Barney Morse-Brown, Sarah Allen and Roy Dodds contribute a touch of class to a glittering CD brimming with musical gems if you’ll excuse the cliché. Masterfully crafted lyrics of this calibre I’m pleased to report are abundant in the ‘folk’ world…I’m thinking Jez Lowe, Steve Tilston and Ralph McTell etc…and Reg should feel justifiably proud to be part of such an exclusive echelon. A recording of this quality should be heard (and enjoyed) by millions but if you really don’t want to miss out get in quick because there are only 1,000 signed and numbered copies being pressed – miss purchasing a copy at your peril.

PETE FYFE

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Artist Web link: www.regmeuross.com

JIM MALCOLM – Sparkling Flash (Beltane Records BELCD107)

Somebody pass me the smelling salts or better still the latest recording by Jim Malcolm. I’d just had the pleasure (?) of reviewing an album by a certain ‘thrash folk’ band when this antidote landed on my doorstep. Call me old fashioned (and I know there’s plenty would) you can feel secure that all things are at peace with the world, particularly the world of Mr Malcolm. Opening with the track “Sparkling Flash” that could be shrouded in misery at the death of his friend (songwriter Jim Reid) there’s no sense of morbid regret just a celebration found in the comforting arms of a passing thunderstorm at his funeral. However strange the bedfellows, Jim manages to imbue his narrative skills on the listener with a ‘traditional style’ quality utilised by other ‘folk storytellers’ including Jez Lowe and more recently Ewan McLennan. Talking of song writing, on the pithy “American Accent” he manages to respectfully convey a reply to an accuser of why his accent ‘sounds’ American without the slightest hint of malice or the more commonly extended Glasgow Kiss. Of course, alongside his own compositions, he includes many trad arr: songs including “Green Grow The Rashes O” and “The Birkin Tree” where he is joined on vocals by his wife Susie reminding me of the time when Andy M Stewart was accompanied by his wife Kathy. Surrounding himself with a select band of musicians including Aaron Jones, Johnny Hardie and his daughter Beth, Jim manages to proudly promote his Scottish roots without ever once being mawkish and the ‘folk community’ should be justifiably proud in counting him as one of our own.

PETE FYFE

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Artist website: http://www.jimmalcolm.com/

VARIOUS ARTISTS – All Along The Wall (Fellside Recordings FECD236)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – All Along The Wall (Fellside Recordings FECD236)Hadrian’s Wall for many conjures images of the Romans in Britain and to celebrate this iconic image, the Brampton Live festival commissioned this recording utilising a selection of some of the UK’s leading ‘folk’ singer-songwriters, poets and performers.

A quick check of the artists reveals a who’s who and will bring, I’m certain, a smile to anyone who considers themselves a fan of current ‘UK folk’ culture. Therefore we have the collective talents of Jez Lowe, Boo Hewerdine, Kate Fox, Elvis McGonagall, Ruth Notman, Rory McLeod, Julie Matthews and Kate Bramley. With a cohesive mix of stories, ballads and social commentaries the recording moves along at a fair pace and the sense of enjoyment that comes from a ‘live’ performance is conveyed to the listener by the artists enthusiasm in bringing this project successfully together.

Out of so many good tracks to choose from I’d say worthy of your attention are the haunting Lowe penned “Haltwhistle Women”, Notman’s “Lizzie Batey” and Hewerdine’s “The Wrong Side Of The Wall”. The recording, crisply engineered by Paul Adams aided and abetted by his son Richard must have proved a logistical nightmare but ultimately a rewarding experience. With twenty-three tracks to choose from this recording is a must purchase album and will stand proudly in the ‘various artists’ collection of any self-respecting ‘folk’ enthusiast. PETE FYFE

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Artist’s website: www.fellside.com

JEZ LOWE & THE BAD PENNIES – WOTCHEOR! (Tantobie Records TTRCD111)

Whatever I’m doing…everything grinds to a halt whenever I receive a disk featuring Jez Lowe. The reason for this is that I know, even before I’ve had a chance to get the shrink-wrap off the CD box I’m in for another musical treat. With an eye to catch the mind of anyone who enjoyed the antics of Arthur Askey (“Wakey! Wakey!”) or more regionally that of the debt ridden Bobby ‘The Little Waster’ Thompson, Lowe has managed, utilising the services of designer Bryan Ledgard and photographer Penelope Page to convey the image of a bygone era Radio Show. Even the introduction with it’s crackling signal tuning in to the first song “Barnstorming” and a delightful rendition of Billy Pigg’s “Biddlestone Hornpipe” performed by The Bad Pennies Northumbrian piper Andy May ably assisted by Kate Bramley (fiddle), David De La Haye (Bass), Jez on guitar/cittern and Hinny Pawsey (fiddle) the track is up-beat in that very North-Eastern way. Jez is rightly proud of his North-East roots and it couldn’t be more apparent than this homage to an institution that is sadly no longer with us. Still, we have this recording to remind us as he introduces us to the indigenous ‘characters’ through a vivid eye to detail in “Watter’s Coming Annie” (an analogy to a modern day Noah) and the laughter inducing “It’s A Champion Life” with it’s comical references to the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Of course, no Jez Lowe album would be complete without a stand-out track and for me, it’s the story of “Darling’s Other Daugther” a song that conveys, perhaps not through bitterness, but more rightly the sadness of living in the shadow of an icon. As is the tradition, the last word goes to the continuity announcer (Bert Draycott) complimenting the musicians and contributions of special guests Benny Graham, Louisa Jo Killen, The Young ‘Uns and The Tyneside Maritime Chorus. I could go on extolling the virtues of this wonderfully creative album but, as ever, the best way to conclude is to suggest that you buy the CD and find out for yourselves just how good it is. For more information check out Jez’s website at www.jezlowe.com

PETE FYFE

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