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Brian Brookes and Caesar Pacifici have been making music for a very long time. Originally from either side of the pond, Caesar grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, NY whereas Brian initially grew up in Wembley, in northwest London, before moving out to the country just after the war. Over the decades their paths and influences have crossed and re-crossed (a very extensive and fully comprehensive biography can be found on their webpage).

Brigands is their third album of musical collaboration and, as one would expect, it’s very smooth to listen to, but this is certainly not a case of one year’s experience and a lifetime of repetition! Culminating in a virtuosic album of two musicians on top of their game, their influences have been gleaned from R&B, rock ‘n roll, folk, blues and much more. On the face of it, the range of instruments is fairly standard - guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán and, where appropriate, the drafting in of mandolin and fiddle. However, it is the deft hand of experience which comes to the fore throughout the collection that defines the music. In essence, this is a folk sound, wistfully layered by experience and influence.

The finely crafted material that constitutes Brigands is a balanced collection of songs and tunes reflecting robbery in all its guises, both contemporary and traditional. Expertly conjuring up a life in the idyllic greenwood, the opening instrumental piece by Caesar, entitled The Brigands, sets the mood for the whole CD. They say imitation is the best form of flattery and certainly the fine rendition of The Newry Highwayman would give Martin Carthy a run for his money!

If you like your folk polished and refined, then this is the album for you. A keeper in all respects.

John Oke Bartlett


This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine