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OLLIE KING - Diffractions

OLLIE KING - Diffractions
Rootbeat Records RBRCD35

This highly-regarded box-squeezer's first album, Gambit, released three years ago, was essentially an homage to the relationship between the melodeon and a mainly English traditional repertoire. His second is something quite different. Diffractions opens up the debate about the interaction between folk and art music – a debate explored more than a decade ago by Barry Dransfield on his appropriately titled album, Unruly.

In a nutshell, Dransfield in 2005 and King this bright spring reject the notion that there is a pure, separate strand of music called folk, that exists in splendid isolation from the rest. Thus, he plays hymn tunes, contemporary songs by Nic Jones and Lal Waterson and the sort of things the Victorians might sing around the piano as if they were all part of the same continuum. As usual, the only meaningful test is whether or not it works. For the most part, it does – rather fascinatingly.

Young Mr King expands his instrumental range by adding concertina, guitar and piano to his armoury. Not one to seek the easy way in, he starts with Haydn and Holst, proceeds with Sweet Lemeney – to his own tune or tunes, as opposed to the one familiar from the Albion Band. He is almost obliged to have a stab at Linden Lea, which is virtually a test piece for this approach to the music, and he passes with flying colours.

The only question I would ask is whether the world needs another version of Ruins By The Shore. Perhaps that is one piece of art that should be given space to stand on its own for a while.

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 119 of The Living Tradition magazine.