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THE BURGOYNES - No Way Of Telling

THE BURGOYNES - No Way Of Telling
Private Label CCJ001

Sheffield-based acoustic trio The Burgoynes cite the string bands of the 1930s as an influence on their Americana sound and give a loose, reckless, bluesy account of original and traditional songs in their debut. Combining raspy vocals and rattling guitar, mandolin and banjo they aim to avoid overly-clean performances and smooth production in favour of something with a bit of edge, in mono, of course. The overall sound is muddy with little sense of space between the musicians and Richard Jenkins’ singing has a well-weathered depth of emotion but often plays second fiddle to the string sounds in the mix.

With seven songs penned by Jenkins and further traditional songs, some also reworked, the arrangements are busy with careful melodic turns on mandolin while the honky banjo sound, almost steel drum-like, adds a defiant, washed-up, prohibition feel.

Energy flags early in the album as Florrie, a reply to neighbouring track, Lily Of The West, and even Man Of Constant Sorrow are musically similar and delivered in the same key. However, at over an hour, the record has time to find its groove again.

With atmospheric, shifting and occasionally discordant, textures, Lady Margaret is a highlight, though a similar approach doesn’t bring the retelling of Unquiet Grave to life. But the 12 bar blues of Death Letter has energy, contour and a rhythmic breakdown that could easily be extended round the block.

Lori Watson

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.