Review by Mickey Nicholas.
I’ve never been one to actively seek out folk music and it’s modern iterations. It’s not an active dislike of folk, but more of a passive disinclination. When I was younger, I always thought the only people who liked folk music to any degree were those kinds of people who talk about pre-industrial society as if it was infallibly better than nowadays. It was only better if you happened to enjoy hot and cold running typhoid, with free tapeworms for every subscriber.
However, as I’ve grown older and hopefully, wiser, I have taken some time out of my usual musical schedule to actually listen to folk-esque material, and I’m not as unimpressed with it as I expected.
Most recently, I have been impressed by Staffordshire / Derbyshire quintet, Blunderbuster and their new album The Legend of Hywel Evans.
The eight-track album constitutes folk-punk at it’s finest- earnest, loud and full of character.
The singing across the board is enthusiastic, powerful and unique in it’s style, variations in pitch and tone give a rawer vibe to the music. I’m a big lover of violins and being a folk album I’d have been disappointed if the fiddling wasn’t up to par, but I wasn’t. The same can be said of all the band-members, who show a fervent proficiency in their selected instruments. You can hear the love that went into the playing.
The first song is Raggle Taggle, a steady intro into high energy story-telling. A good strong start out the gates for the album. It’s the kind of song that gets people stamping their feet and wondering if they should take up cider-fancying as a hobby.
The next song I’ll highlight opens with an accordion, and various sea sounds to build atmosphere, because it wouldn’t be a folk album without a fun pirate-themed song. It’s called Black Bart and it’s an interesting mix of paces and energies, moving between slower and softer traditional style instrumentals to fast punkier segments with explosive vocals.
Hywel’s Song is the heart of the whole album. It’s in this song you can really get to grips with the influences of the band, and the singer really flaunts his voice. It’s got a kind of Frank Turner kind of feel to it, with acoustic guitar, but there’s also a Dropkick glaze over the top. It’s a fun song.
The last one I’ll write about is the band’s own take on a traditional drinking song, Wild Rover. Kind of adopted by the Irish and the Scottish as a drinking song. Which it definitely is. It’s a fun way to end the album.
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