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If you are getting jaded with fiddle, melodeon and guitar becoming the standard small group format, I wonder whether fiddle, guitar, percussion and step-dancer might prove tempting? That’s what’s on offer here from this English quartet. I suppose the first question with such a line-up must be whether a DVD would be better than a CD… and the second one would be, can an album of this sort be more than a souvenir of, or a promo for, the live event?

The album, with only two songs out of 13 tracks overall, proved a more interesting listen than might have been the case. A substantial amount of the credit for this must go to percussionist Jo May, who, with her experience of various folk and world music settings, is well-equipped to keep her parts interesting. The tune sets are about three-quarters traditional, some of them drawing on older sources such as Playford. Of the original tunes, the title Seagulls Hitching A Ride On Danube River Icebergs caught my eye – I can’t think why!

Of the two songs, the performance of Died For Love impressed me more; it had something of the quietly-haunted feel that groups such as the Furrow Collective deliver. It’s sung by fiddler Deb Chalmers, who uses a partly-improvised approach on some of the tunes. The other members are dancer Toby Bennett and guitarist Adrian Lever (the composer of the Danube Seagulls item).

I imagine that Stepling are quite something in live performance and I would recommend watching out for their gigs

Paul Mansfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 127 of The Living Tradition magazine.