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BROWN BOOTS - First Steps 

BROWN BOOTS - First Steps 
Private Label 

New duo Brown Boots is just Martin Clarke (fiddle) and Will Allen (melodeon), unpretentiously “sitting down for an hour and enjoying playing tunes together” – a dozen well-planned sets, plain and simple, yet with such a pronounced feeling of zest and real freshness that you can’t help but be whisked along briskly with the playing. No frills; and nor do they need any – First Steps, the lads’ debut album, has been recorded live “to capture the essence of what Brown Boots is all about.” Amen to that!

It’s bliss - almost exclusively traditional dance tunes (with a couple of their own compositions thrown in), played with their own special brand of “raw creativity”. Martin and Will’s joyous, immersive musicianship is assured and infectious, and their unbridled enjoyment of their art radiates both ways. Wherever the tunes originate - Shetland, Sligo, Clare, Playford, North America, James Hill or Jimmy Shand – the lads’ generous liner-note tribute to Shand providing the dictum for the genial stomp of these brown boots: “he knew how to play great music to get people moving without being too virtuosic so as to get in the way of the dancing”. Thus the spirited disc finale kicks off with Shand favourite, Bottom Of The Punchbowl.

At first glance one might be tempted to invoke a comparison with early Spiers & Boden (with the obvious difference that Brown Boots don’t do songs!). But either way, their music-making is absolutely irresistible, and one can’t help but thoroughly enjoy their sparkling debut CD. Just one puzzle tho’: why brahn boots? – I ask yer!

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 134 of The Living Tradition magazine