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RootBeat Records RBRCD10

This is the eponymous release by the 2011 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winners - Tom Moore (fiddle), Archie Churchill-Moss (melodeon), and Jack Rutter (guitar and vocals).

In the context of the remarkable quality of young musicians emerging today, what characterises this trio is the maturity and sophistication of their music. Their use of tone, texture and dynamic is outstanding. Awesome virtuosity is applied judiciously, with refinement and intellect, and far from the meteoric storms of energetic playing that can typify some young groups. The mood feel here is one of intense musicality, mellowness, delicacy, elegance, and honed classical precision. 

The 10 pieces, seven presented as sets and including two songs delivered with appealing vernacular voicing (including a clever and distinctively original interpretation of The Galway Shawl), combine arrangements of mainly English traditional material and composed pieces. They offer a wide range of sophisticated soundscapes and rhythmic range with some sublime and moving moments of magic and beauty, as well as some carefully engineered spasms of driving frenzy!

The track information mentions inspiration from Methera, Wood and Cutting, Fred Jordan, Dave Burland, and Pete Cooper and drawing on the John Clare MSS, Playford and the Morris tradition. Their mindset is certainly influenced by wider European folk traditions and jazz. Karen Tweed’s Scandinavian projects come to mind as, from the English perspective, does the lovely work by 1651 and Boldwood.

Jack’s guitar work on Lapwings At Night exhibits advanced Michael Hedges style tapping and percussive techniques to exquisite effect and there are some discreetly applied jazzy inflections elsewhere. This piece, as indeed the whole recording, benefits from Andy Bell’s brilliant production to whom some credit must go for the dynamic range (the depth of bass tonalities taken from the melodeon and guitar for example), movement and ambience of the music. This is an entirely captivating debut album.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.