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PILGRIMS' WAY - Red Diesel

PILGRIMS' WAY - Red Diesel
Fellside Recordings FECD274

It has taken Stockport's finest the best part of five years to follow up their acclaimed debut, Wayside Courtesies. If part of that time has been used to decide what sort of band they want to be, the answer is a pretty eclectic one.

Apart from trawling the traditional and revival waters for songs, they have had a go at a couple of things from way out beyond the familiar horizon. Tackling something as iconic and closely associated with its creator as Paul Simon's Boy In The Bubble is brave enough, but The Incredible String Band's Chinese White – called Magic Christmas Tree here – is a real shot in the dark. In truth, those tracks are not the most successful on a richly enjoyable album, although I have a horrible feeling that Mike Heron's song, so redolent of the mid-60s, might grow on me the way it did back then.

The other change the Pilgrims have made is to make multi-instrumentalist Jon Loomes a regular member of the line-up. That automatically gives them a bigger sound, including as it does the Mike Oldfield-esque “Two Slightly Distorted Electric Guitars”. And I thought it was my CD player.

Despite all this sort of fun and games, the band's real strong suit is the playing of Tom Kitching, one of the best of the current Golden Generation of great young English fiddlers.

He simply goes from strength to strength; the singing of Lucy Wright is a slightly more complex proposition. She's definitely on the feisty wing as opposed to the pretty-pretty tendency among young girl singers – and nothing wrong with that. She grabs a lyric and shakes it. Occasionally, she drops it altogether, as in a very dodgy section of Boy In The Bubble, but it hardly matters, because the overall impact of this overdue second album is so positive.

Dave Hadfield

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