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THE CORNDODGERS - As Thieves Would

THE CORNDODGERS - As Thieves Would
Careless Records  CARE008

This is a Nottingham-based band with an unusual background, but as it turns out their history is betrayed by, and could be said to closely inform, this their debut album. Corndodgers formed four years ago as a 10-piece, but “due to severe cost-cutting and efficiency-saving exercises, they have now settled on … six members” (Andy Victor, John Hooper, Martin Curtis, Lynn Victor, Andy Stanton and Derek Spencer).

Their broad repertoire encompasses early American and traditional English folk, also blues and original songs by Andy V – the latter source yielding nine of this disc’s 13 tracks. However, on the evidence of this CD these songs’ stylistic diversity and inconsistency, together with the band’s combined versatility, arguably proves as much a curse as a blessing. Corndodgers’ leisurely banjo-fuelled take on the traditional 10,000 Miles and Lisbon is competent and pleasing though not especially insightful, whereas Watch The Stars and the rag-blues staple How Long turn out quite unremarkable. I’d almost go as far as to say that the album sounds like three different bands, for it lacks the bonding identity you might expect when drawing a majority of material from just one songwriter. Lynn sings attractively (with I thought a hint of Trees’ Celia Humphris), but on Andy V’s original compositions (other than … And The Baby), it’s not clear who is the vocalist on which song (Andy or Martin), but it’s probably not just a coincidence that within this category I found Thieves Wood, Barleylands and the wistful Brand New Start the most appealing, several of the rest sounding maddeningly routine by comparison.

Sad to say, despite its successes, there are too many dull tracks on this record overall for it to earn a clear recommendation.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.