Marianda Sykes Band

MIRANDA SYKES BAND - Miranda Sykes Band
Irregular Records IRR058

Here is an album whose joie-de-vivre is reminiscent of those days when the likes of the English Country Blues Band and the Oyster Band transformed the scene with 'rogue folk'. From its opening triumphant melodeon chord it immediately sucks the listener into a party mood, and holds you by the scruff of the neck to the finish.

Miranda Sykes has put together a powerful band and a wide variety of songs which nevertheless pull together in a recognisable style. Two settings of Tudor period poems might, on paper, look to sit uncomfortably with a series from the folk rock genre by the likes of Sandy Denny and Nanci Griffith, but Sykes interpretation makes Christopher Marloe's 'Come live With Me' the most contemporary sounding song on the whole album, with Sir Walter Raleigh's 'Reply' not far behind.

The melodeon of Gareth Turner is strongly to the fore, and with guitars from Martin Allcock, drums from Martin Fitzgibbon and Sykes herself on bass, with flute from Imogen O'Rourke, this is a combo which creates a folk-rock sound which avoids the clichés of the sub-Fairport era.

There are numerous highlights: Karine Polwart's 'Only One way’, Roger Wilson's 'Barbara', a nice electric arrangement of 'Ten Thousand Miles ' with more than a nod to Nic Jones, and a rousing finish with Nanci Griffith's 'Time of Inconvenience.'

Normally I would be critical of a CD that , at just over 40 minutes is only the length of an old-fashioned LP, but in this case I'll just about accept the 'feel the quality, never mind the width' argument. Just make sure you come up with another album of this quality, Ms. Sykes. Buy yourselves a copy and party the night away.

Bob Harragan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 63 of The Living Tradition magazine.