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Infuse 020022012

James Delarre and Saul Rose have been friends since they met at Sidmouth in 2007 and played in Morris Offspring. Now they’ve found time to pool their experience in the English tradition and come together as a duo for a debut album full of great tunes. James, on fiddle, is the driving force behind Mawkin with his guitarist brother David. Saul, on melodeon, is well known for his work with Waterson:Carthy, Faustus and Whapweasel.

No other instruments and no guests, so this 48-minute album is highly focused and should please the purists. Their interplay is tight and intricate, sometimes fizzy, sometimes lyrical.

Saul used to play Morris Call with Herga on Mayday morning. Old Molly Oxford / The Princess Royal are Cotswold Morris tunes from the Fieldtown tradition. Bell Towers / The Orange In Bloom are beautifully played waltzes. From further afield they give us a Swedish tune, Frida’s, from the band Hoven Droven; and Sauteur Lapin, a Quebecois tune paired with James’ Freca. The sensitive way in which tunes are coupled is a particular strength of the album. Another pairing is their self-written The April March / Ellen and Andy’s Celebration, which continues the healthy tradition of musicians offering tunes as presents in preference to tangible goods.

The four songs on the album are more workmanlike, to my ear. James gives us Swansea Town (from Mike Waterson’s singing) and Lord Marlborough with a new tune from Saul (I liked the old one). Saul gives us The Saucy Bold Robber (from John Kirkpatrick’s singing) and, best of all, Moreton Bay, a convict’s lament about a stinker of an Aussie penal colony.

Well done to James and Saul for a smashing debut. Thinking of another English male duo with fiddle, melodeon and voice, the best career advice I can give is not to create a 79-piece musical juggernaut which is so high maintenance that the duo eventually gets the boot.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 103 of The Living Tradition magazine.