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WILL POUND - A Cut Above

WILL POUND - A Cut Above
Private Label LULU1234

26-year-old moothie maestro Will Pound has already earned compliments aplenty, from Lancashire lefty Mike Harding and the somewhat less socialist Daily Telegraph among others. And rightly so: his playing is indeed A Cut Above. This solo debut sees him slice through folk, swing, bluegrass and even a bit of celtic music. The unifying theme is English folk, from the simple melodies and tricky rhythms of Cotswold morris to the stirring dance tunes of Northumberland. Will also plays his own composition Waxy's, dedicated to a Glasgow pub whose drinkers can't usually remember its name afterwards: a funky little reel which would make Brendan Power proud.

Between Soldier's Joy and Hesleyside Reel is a range of variations verging on jazz. Morgan Rattler comes in a variety of shades already, but Will adds a few of his own. Michael Turner's Waltz has become a standard in English sessions and this version is particularly tasty with guitar from Martin Simpson and fiddle from Henry Webster. I think Andy Cutting's light-fingered melodeon is in there too. Old Joe Clark is a complete contrast, hard-hitting hillbilly harmonica with railroad effects borrowed from The Orange Blossom Special. Mrs Saggs is a Chris Wood composition, somewhere in that hinterland between French and English music, a lovely tune, probably not written for his wife. Will makes mincemeat - in a good way - of two totally different classics: the morris jig Dearest Dickie and the shortbread spiritual Amazing Grace are both grist to his mouthorgan mill, emerging transformed.

Will Atkinson's 93 Not Out is a gage flung down by that great Northumbrian player of the tin sandwich: only time will tell if young Pound is still pumping wind through the reeds in 56 years’ time, but he can certainly blow up a storm now. Clinch Mountain Backstep provides a final flourish of that oldtime blues harp style. A Cut Above ends on the title track, another Pound composition, rounded off by a final Tyneside gem. Several other musicians chip in - Tim Edey, Damien O'Kane and more - but this is Will Pound's show and he certainly makes the most of it. There aren't too many moothie albums around: this one should be close to the top of the pile.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 99 of The Living Tradition magazine.