LUKE DANIELS – The Cobhers (Gael GAELCD022)

The CobhersLuke Daniels is a restless spirit. Each time I see or hear him, he’s doing something almost diametrically opposite to his previous project, and we’re never quite sure where the next dalliance will take him. I remember the embarrassment of his struggle with the clockwork polyphon machine that refused to work for his Towersey festival gig. I also remember his meanderings into Americana sounding vocals and guitar when most of his faithful audience just wished he’d pick up the melodeon upon which he has a well-cemented reputation. But hats off to him for being an innovative force on the contemporary folk scene, taking risks where others fear to tread.

This album is no exception because – shock, horror – he delves into instrumental covers of pop classics such as the Bee Gees’ ‘Staying Alive’, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ and Deee-lite’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’. Each arrangement is clever, funky and delivered with impeccable expertise. The only quibble I have is with the stated purpose: to attract new audiences to folk and traditional music. With 1970s disco classics and the Average White Band? You must be kidding! Only the grey hairs will relate to these, and we’re already inside the tent.

Nevertheless, The Cobhers prove how malleable some of this music is, and how interesting it can sound when played on folk instruments, not least Luke’s own wonderful melodeon. He’s joined here by a scratch band that includes Eleanor Dunsdon (clarsach), Matt Tighe (fiddle), Scott Turnbull (guitar) and Michael Biggins (keyboard). There’s just one vocal track, Luke’s own ‘Some Will Fall’, a response to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, sung with candour alongside a tasteful accompaniment. Overall, these musicians together produce a fabulous full sound for a very listenable album. Congratulations to Luke for once again being far from predictable, giving a voice to emerging musicians, and stretching the boundaries of our music.

Jon Bennett

Artists’ website:

‘Some Will Fall’ – live: