It’s rare enough to hear a Cajun duo from East Anglia, rarer still to find one that sings ‘Jock O’ Hazeldean’. This would be my benchmark: Sir Walter Scott’s tale of attempted marriage has long been a favourite of mine. Matt Kelly and Gary Woolley say they have based their interpretation on a version by Dick Gaughan but it isn’t the one he sings on No More Forever and, in fact, their setting owes something to Fairground Attraction. They’ve clearly thought about the presentation of an old chestnut and determined to do something different but, for me, they’ve taken something away from that distinctive tune. People never make things easy, do they? I’m in a dilemma but at least they don’t sound like The Corries.
By coincidence, this is the second album I’ve received within a few weeks to include a version of Paul Metsers’ ‘Farewell To The Gold’ – is Paul due for a revival do you suppose? Matt and Gary base their version on Nic Jones’ and that I can hear as Matt holds the melody on viola while Gary’s guitar does something else entirely.
The bulk of the album is made up of pacy guitar and fiddle two-steps, the majority in French and they apply something of the same technique to ‘When I Was Young’, translating the English words to the bayou. That is clever. The production is solid but I felt the need for some space in the music sometimes and perhaps a little bass and/or percussion for a change of emphasis. The title track provides something of that space but we’re almost at the end. ‘Hand Me Down My Walking Cane’ provides a rousing finish to an album that’s programmed like a party disc – lots of floor-fillers with a couple of slow numbers. It’s just the music that’s different.
Artists’ website: www.kellyandwoolley.co.uk
‘Port Arthur Blues’ live: