BROOM BEZZUMS – No Smaller Than The World (Steeplejack Music SJCD017)

Broom BezzumsHere’s one. What’s the difference between Broom Bezzums and Show Of Hands? One is based in Germany and tours the UK relatively infrequently and the other is a band you’ve heard of. Otherwise they are indistinguishable. Broom Bezzums are one of Germany’s biggest folk acts, write the majority of their material and add in a couple of traditional songs and judiciously selected covers, although it has to be conceded that they don’t possess the songwriting prowess of Steve Knightly. But few people do. And both are duos who are trios – Katie Doherty being the third member of Broom Bezzums alongside Mark Bloomer and Andrew Cadie.

No Smaller Than The World is Broom Bezzums’ fifth full-length album and showcases their talents to the full. There is a strong thread of contemporary concerns in the songs. After the listener friendly opener, ‘Cold Winds Blow’, and the faux-shanty ‘Keep Hauling’ (which I really wanted to dislike but couldn’t bring myself to) we come to ‘Here We Go Again’. “The needle’s stuck again” sings Mark and we know what he means. Actually ‘Keep Hauling’ carries a message, too, but it’s wrapped in a rather more discreet package as is that of Cadie’s ‘Fishing In Troubled Waters’.

There is sophistication in the songwriting and the treatment of the traditional songs. ‘High Germany’ is built on Bloomer’s percussion and decorated by Brian Haltz’s whistle   and ‘Bonny At Morn’, often thought of as a woman’s song, is paradoxically not handed over to Katie. I particularly like the ‘Hen In The Pen’ set in which Cadie switches to Northumbrian pipes, a delightful contrast to the domination of strings.

Broom Bezzums will be appearing at Broadstairs Folk Week next month in advance of the release of No Smaller Than The World but that’s your only chance to hear then before their 2017 tour in March. Go on – you can hear Show Of Hands any time.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Keep Hauling’ – live: