Following a busy summer of UK and European Festivals, The Shackleton Trio will be taking their new release on the road. The Shackleton Trio features fiddle player Georgia Shackleton alongside guitarist Aaren Bennett and mandolinist Nic Zuppardi. Together they play an exciting blend of folk, Americana, and self-penned material instrumentally influenced by British, American and Scandinavian folk traditions, with a regional twist from their native East Anglia. Following the success of their debut album The Dog Who Would Not Be Washed, they are excited to announce brand new release Fen, Farm And Deadly Water, which is already receiving extensive airplay and high praise.
Recorded at Grange Farm Studios in the heart of the Norfolk Fenlands, the album continues to showcase the band’s eclectic musical background. Locally sourced material includes a Fenland song from pig farmer Fred Rooke, the haunting 1611 poem ‘Powte’s Complaint’, as well as the Ancient Cry Of The Radish Boys At Great Yarmouth. The album also showcases the trio’s instrumental prowess, with original compositions ‘The Stanford’ and ‘Bolton Lodge’, alongside Karen Tweed’s ‘Only Viveka’, and Swedish polska ‘The Penknife Killer’. Original songs by Georgia top off an impressively varied yet coherent album that seamlessly blends a broad musical palette.
What do you do if you’re essentially an Irish traditional band who also want “to represent an underlying dissatisfaction that we believe to be present in our generation”, as lead vocalist and lyricist Joe Campbell-McArdle puts it? Lonesome George decided to do both on their debut album, Flat As The Earth, which leaves us with the question – does it work? I’m still trying to decide.
Let’s say first that the playing is excellent: basically guitar, mandolin, flute, whistles and percussion with occasional guest musicians but Lonesome George don’t overdo it. They tackle a nine-minute instrumental set, ‘Ruairi’s Lullaby’ with great aplomb and the assistance of Paddy McKeown on fiddle and Brendan Loughran on concertina and exhibit the same skill in the arrangements of their songs. The mandolin of Myles McCormack is the second lead instrument and Dermot Moynagh completes the line-up on bodhran and percussion.
Their songs adhere to Theodore Roosevelt’s maxim – “speak softly and carry a big stick”. It’s not uncommon to match harsh words to a pretty tune but Joe has a very delicate voice and relies on the rest of the band for the forcefulness – Stiofan Loughran’s flute is key on the opening ‘Where We Gonna Be?’, an ecology song with perhaps too much resignation in its lyrics. ‘Lies And Adverts’ is definitely anti-capitalist with some clever lines and ‘Mercy’, about refugees and specifically the Calais jungle, is beautifully constructed.
The second half of the record opens with ‘Ruari’s Lullaby’ and is perhaps heavier on the instrumental side of Lonesome George’s performance. The two concluding songs, ‘Variety’ and ‘Alleycat Preacher’ develop the ideas set out in ‘Lies And Adverts’ – manipulation of thoughts and opinions, how easy it can be to conform and the power of religion – perhaps more keenly felt in Northern Ireland than here.
Flat As The Earth is very easy to listen to when you settle into it and, yes, I think it does work.