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4 SQUARE - Fuel

4 SQUARE - Fuel
Transition Records TRANSCD12

The fourth album by this expansively cross-genre group was self produced and recorded over two years, an unsurprising period, perhaps, given its array of complex layered arrangements and progressive contemporary sophistication.

Quartet Jim Molyneux (piano), Dan Day (percussion, ukulele), Michael Giverin (mandolin, guitar) and Nicola Lyons (fiddle), all of whom also sing and harmonise, present five songs and five instrumentals. The former include a moving arrangement of James Taylor’s restlessly soulful filial lament Enough To Be On Your Way, a nicely harmonised piece, If Only, using lyrics from American children’s writer Louis Sachar’s Holes, and three original pieces by band members - a witty Americana tinged ditty, The Digging Song, (that morphs into Brian Finnegan’s The Crooked Still Reel), a neatly expressed Great War song, Brave (displaying Nicola’s attractively sweet voice), that recounts the return of Peggy’s lover James (having “danced away from death”), and the weaker, more Indie pop styled, Message From Cloud Nine.

The musical arrangements supporting the songs are generally less energetic than those of the instrumental pieces whose layering and dynamic movement is akin to that of groups like the UFQ. With an instinctive penchant for syncopation and rhythmic expression (using piano chords especially), within a blink, they can switch from fervent funk to delicate passages of exquisite beauty and, indeed elsewhere, almost any mood in between! Infectiously, ever accessibly, they collectively fuse elements of world folk, rock, Latin, jazz and classical music into tight rhythmic structures over which their stringed complement then dance some magical patterns.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.