PENNYLESS – In The Park (own label PYL005)

In The ParkTo look at the album cover you’d take Pennyless for a pretty pastoral folk band and sometimes they do drift that way a bit but you’re in for a surprise. Pennyless are a multi-instrumental quartet from the fens or thereabouts, expanded from the trio that recorded Hanging Moon by the permanent addition of bassist Colin Benton and supported by drummer Tom Savage and cellist Jo Hitchin. In The Park is their fifth album and it can get quite heavy.

In fact, it kicks off in full-blooded folk-rock style with ‘Merrie Dance’, a better song than title, and throttles back just a bit for ‘Angels In My Drink’ before the bird-song that introduces the title track. That said, there is no single style to the band and that’s a good thing. ‘Grimes Times’, for example, written by the composing core of the band, Penny Stevens and Les Woods, is really jazzy, kicking off with saxophone from Graham Dale. Graham is probably the busiest man in the band playing keyboards and percussion as well as flute which combines with Penny’s recorder to contrast with the bass and Les’ electric guitar on the heavier numbers.

The band’s virtuosity is their key selling point and there are some really good songs enhanced by great arrangements. There is one cover on the album and that is ‘Chain Of Love’ originally by C.O.B. (younger readers can look them up). That pleases me a lot. What pleases me even more is that In The Park has the edge and bite that I felt was missing in its predecessor

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Angels In My Drink’: