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SAM SWEENEY - Unearth Repeat 

SAM SWEENEY - Unearth Repeat 
Hudson Records HUD019CD 

Another solo recording from the Leveret form, this time by fiddler Sam Sweeney, Unearth Repeat concisely summarises what traditional musicians do: find old or new music to add to the tradition, and play pieces they have known for some time. This recording does both in almost equal measure. Sam doesn't give much away in terms of composing credits, but all the music here is firmly English and some pieces are well known while others are certainly not.

Mr Sweeney describes some imaginative ways to get inspiration for new music, and new versions of old music. There are some fine examples here: his Steppy Downs Road which is already quite established on the English session scene, the sparser Winter 350, and the lengthy musing of Dark Arches with its simple 9/8 melody evolving through six minutes of subtle changes. Highway To Warrington is an ominous name for a nocturnal gallop of a tune, conjuring scenes from Lord Of The Rings or perhaps a Merseyside version of Poldark.

Sam Sweeney's fiddle is joined by guitars from Jack Rutter and Louis Campbell, with Ben Nicholls on double bass and Dave Mackay on keyboards. This band adds light and shade to more contemporary pieces, but also to the old Morris standards strewn through Unearth Repeat: a surprisingly mellow take on the pugnacious Maid Of The Mill, a melodious version of Princess Royal in G minor, and an interpretation of Shepherd's Hey which never occurred to Vaughan Williams. The final Red has echoes of Swarbrick and Carthy in its rhythmic arrangement, a strong finish to a fascinating album.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine