THE OLD DANCE SCHOOL – Forecast (Transition Records TRANSCD04)

If you could sell the word ‘enigma’ as a product then this would be the band to display their wares accordingly. The Old Dance School don’t take any prisoners in their pursuit of enjoying themselves whilst liberating that music we tenuously label ‘folk’. As a journalist you get a gut feeling that this is one of those albums that will constantly be on whilst you’re slaving over a hot computer extolling the band’s virtues to anyone who’ll care to listen. Throwing the listener every which way in order to bring a comfortably settled audience out of its complacent slumber Helen Lancaster (violin), Samantha Norman (violin), Robin Beatty (guitar & vocals), Tom Chapman (cajon & vocals), Laura Carter (woodwind & vocals), Aaron Diaz (trumpet) and Adam Jarvis (double bass) succeed spectactularly in their endeavours. From the beautifully crafted opening instrumental track “The Enlli Light” the joy that emits from the speakers is enough to rejuvenate the soul of any tarnished ‘hack’ who’s become jaded with the tried and tested. It’s like the first time I heard a young Capercaillie, you know there’s something special and that, apart from anything else this is a band that deserves to break free from the confines of music pigeon-holing. The music is magic in their hands and the classy way in which the members combine their arrangements under the watchful eye of producer Calum Malcolm shows they have plenty left to offer. Beatty’s way with words and Norman/Lancaster’s nimble compositions are a mighty combination and coupled with the arty photography by John Beatty (Robin’s dad!) this album proves an irresistable package that any self-respecting ‘folk’ enthusiast should be proud to feature in their CD collection.


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