Vicki and Jonny usually build their albums around a theme and the theme of Twelve Months & A Day is … that there isn’t a theme. They freely describe the record as a bit of a mixed bag and it comprises the songs and music that they have been working on and enjoy playing. The odd thing is that it holds together perfectly. There is no straining to find material to fit an idea; this is a snapshot of two musicians in a few moments of time.
There is a greater emphasis on instrumentals than perhaps we’ve seen before and anyone who follows Vicki and Jonny on social media will be aware that they have a habit of collecting instruments. Vicki plays nyckelharpa – four different types – plus flute and double bass and Jonny has expanded his armoury to include strange, ancient wind instruments such as the cornu and the carnyx. The album opens with ‘Andy Clarke’s’ a set of three tunes, the first coming from Vicki’s Scandinavian heritage and the others being described as session tunes. The first song is ‘Gallows Tree’, the words being ‘The Demon Of The Gibbet’ by Fitz-James O’Brien. It’s described as the spooky one in the notes and it certainly is one of the creepiest tales you could wish for although I worry about a hero called Norman.
‘Dance All Night’ – two tunes and a song – banishes the shadows and the combination of tune and song occurs again in ‘Grandpa Joe – the nonsense contra reel one – and the mediaeval ‘Ai Vis Lo Lop’ on which Vicki takes the lead vocal. ‘John Lover’ is a gorgeous song that I hadn’t heard before; 19th century American in origin although it appears as an Irish tune and several people have claimed authorship of it. ‘Two Red Roses’ has words by William Morris, ‘Mary Free’ is an old Christmas carol and ‘Elegy’, possibly the top track, is a classically styled duet for piano and oktav nyckelharpa.
This “mixed bag” is an excellent representation of the music Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer are capable of making when they set themselves free to follow their own passions. You’ll love it.
Artists’ website: www.swan-dyer.co.uk
Vicki and Jonny have now supplied us with video notes for the album:
and here’s a track from the record -‘Dance All Night’ – live: