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Private Label 

This is an album combining English folk and Americana influences, performed by the trio of Christine Alden (vocals/guitar), Alex Patterson (fiddle/vocals) and Noel Dashwood (dobro/vocals). A similar mixture of UK/US elements is found in the work of the Shackleton Trio (see LT127) and, with both bands coming from East Anglia, I’m starting to suspect this mix might be a regional speciality.

The songs included here are band originals and items of varying degrees of traditional origin. The attractive opener, Seven Years, is traditional only to the extent that it references the typical length of a sailor’s absence in many older songs. Winter Came, a song about migration, has the feel of a Rheingans Sisters track – not a comparison that applies elsewhere on the album. The title track, Waterbound, is an a cappella version of an old American song. Reinforcing the sense of variety in subject matter and style, the opening songs (and one instrumental) are followed by the more reflective and locally relevant The Broads In Winter, and another number with roots in American tradition, Little Red Canoe.

There are seven songs and two instrumentals in total – no hanging about or padding out here, with the nine numbers despatched in a half hour. This connects to the way in which the album was made: live in the studio in a single day, no overdubs, nearly all first takes. This approach lends a unity to the sound, perhaps masking the variety in the music at first, but certainly also providing a freshness and directness to the recording.

Overall, it’s an enthusiastically performed release that should help recruit more followers to the trio’s cause.

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 134 of The Living Tradition magazine