If your taste runs to intelligent folk-rock with a whole heap of country and a dash of Newcastle look no further. The Celia Bryce Band is a multi-instrumental trio led by the award-winning “young adult” author who, naturally enough, is responsible for all the band’s lyrics.
The big sound of the album owes a lot to the nine backing musicians and singers: ‘Broken’ wouldn’t be quite the same without Tony Davis’ lovely descending piano figure at the end – straight from Gasoline Alley. But the subject is this album, not how the band might sound live. The musical styles range from the relatively straightforward country-rock of ‘How About You’ to the smoky late-night blues of ‘Closing Time’. Then they switch to the tradition with ‘The Water Is Wide’, pretty and gentle but without the baggage of “folkiness”, quite Celtic actually, before heading for a big electric guitar led finish. It’s one of the highlights of the album along with ‘Workers’ Song’, about the decline of industry in the region. “They closed the door and pulled the pit-head down” is a brilliant line. ‘Hexham Tan’ sounds as though it comes from a traditional theme and is linked to the glover’s trade for which the town is famous.
Links isn’t quite perfect. I found ‘Spinning’ a bit wimpy after the intriguing ‘Raven-Haired Girl’ and one or two songs are lyrically rather obvious but I’ll live with that. This is an album you should seek out.
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