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THE WATERGRAIN BAND - Where The Sunset Meets The Sea

THE WATERGRAIN BAND - Where The Sunset Meets The Sea
Sweep Records SWEEP004

The Watergrain Band is a Faversham (Kent) based four-piece outfit comprising Ben Paley, Pip Ives and Geoff Sandiford together with songwriter Martin Young. Their rich, fulsome instrumental complement sports fiddle, cittern/guitar, melodeon/concertina and double bass, while three of the four protagonists are also well capable of handling the vocal duties. There’s a compelling energy to their combined performance ‘identity’, and a sense of momentum and balance which fair carries the music along and doesn’t at any time disappoint the listener. Martin’s liner note accurately reflects Watergrain’s standpoint and credo: “the harder the times, the more and better the music we make. New songs will be written, those from the tradition will come round again and we will always dance.” That’s an irrefutable statement, of course, but it still produces relevant, topical and enjoyable, often stirring music; whether traditional or contemporary, it all comes together in a well-integrated set that’s thoroughly likeable, rousingly feelgood (notwithstanding any protesting subject matter) and eminently suitable both for home listening and live performance.

High points come with the ensemble’s accounts of The Morning Lies Heavy (Allan Taylor) and Leave Them A Flower (Wally Whyton), and the various instrumental sets are all infectiously driven. The combination of Martyn Wyndham-Read’s setting of Declaration with a Belgian waltz is also persuasive, and traditionals Rout Of The Blues and Virginia are reliable without necessarily adding anything new. Martin’s own compositions satisfy, although they may straddle that uncertain divide between the obvious and the percipient – after all, plus ça change…

This classic-sounding release may seem to hark back to the folk successes of earlier decades, but it’s a thoroughly healthy brand of retro and shouldn’t disappoint.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.