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Folkstock Records FSR02

This trio is Michael J Tinker – vocals and guitar; Ella Sprung – vocals, fiddle and nyckelharpa; and Simon Dumpleton – vocals, accordion and piano, and they are joined here by special guest Damien O’Kane. This is a stunning blend of voices and instrumentals – they perform traditional and self-penned songs and tunes, displaying their own individual gifts and combining to deliver mesmerising arrangements and harmonies. They draw on influences from all over the world, especially European folk, brought to the fore by the sound of the nyckelharpa. The trio says that the album shows the wide variety of what they do – telling stories, singing harmonies, reworking traditional songs, giving them new melodies and playing tunes.

We journey through the shape-note hymn, Africa, Wild Colonial Boy, Bonny Boy and Shenandoah. Interspersed with these traditional songs are Andy May’s Polska and Robb Johnson’s My Mother Taught Me How To Waltz, a romantic song about the days of social dances when the ability to waltz counted for something. Arrival, composed by Michael, is a tune celebrating the birth of his third child. The final track, The Yeoman’s Son, takes a different turn, with Simon using the piano as the trio performs their take on the First World War poems of the same name by Cicely Fox Smith. The surprise track is the 1930’s Strange Fruit – Michael first heard this sung by Blues singer Josh White and set about writing this arrangement some years later. The trio took full advantage of being in the studio to create an atmosphere fitting for this vivid and disturbing song.

The best thing about this album is that they recorded the songs as they would perform them live – you get a real sense of what the band is about.

Kathy & Bob Drage

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This album was reviewed in Issue 104 of The Living Tradition magazine.