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LEWIS WOOD - Footwork 

LEWIS WOOD - Footwork 
Grimdon Records GRICD006 

After a decade in the business, this is the first solo album from Lewis, one third of Granny’s Attic, who here plays fiddle, guitars, bass guitar and five-string banjo on an album entirely made up of his own tunes. Adding to the instrumentation, he is joined on two tracks by Matt Quinn on duet concertina, melodeon and tenor banjo. Between them they create a full and varied sound.

The tunes were written by Lewis for different English Step Dancing traditions, and were created after his extensive research into what makes each dance unique, and what each dance requires of a tune, during which time he met and learned from as many step dancers and musicians as he could. Each track on the album clearly states which dance the tunes are for (e.g., Lancashire Hornpipe, Rapper, East Anglian Polka, Southern Jig) and features the footwork of different dancers – Melanie Barber, Toby Bennett, Lynette Eldon, Lisa Sture, and Simon and Jo Harmer. The sleevenotes also give some detail about the individual dances for those unfamiliar with them.

This may sound like something of a dry exercise, but it is far from it, and I want to shake the hand of whoever it was that taught this man how to write tunes. Without exception they are melodic, catchy, interesting, and are appropriate for their given purpose – the sort of tunes you could try to pass off as traditional and most people would believe you. I’m seriously impressed.

I love the opener, The Third Wednesday (which begins a bit like Dennis Murphy’s Polka but takes on a life very much of its own), with Lewis’ bright fiddle taking centre stage along with Simon’s feet. I love the grungy groove of Mel’s Hornpipe. I love the slight baroque feel of the waltz, Maybe. And I love The Suspension Of Disbelief, which sounds like something Scott Skinner could have written, a really lyrical hornpipe. There’s not a bad tune here.

In places, the feet and the melody are not always perfectly in sync - possibly due to the fact that, because of COVID, the instrumental parts and dancing parts were recorded separately over a year apart - but in many ways this actually makes the whole sound more authentic; it’s not overly tidied up or processed, it’s real.

Funded in part by The Alan Surtees Trust, it is great to see this kind of financial support being put to such good use. A cracking album.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 145 of The Living Tradition magazine