Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Private Label TPA01 

Singer and bassist, Thom Ashworth, received an award from the EFDSS Creative Seed Bursary in 2018, designed to allow emerging artists to research and develop new work linked to the English folk arts, and this album is the result. Eleven songs - six traditional, four of his own, and one by Ewan MacColl – make up the mix here. The accompaniment is centred around Thom’s acoustic bass (though he also plays electric bass, guitar, bouzouki and mandolin) and this makes the album a bit unusual. In the main, it works surprisingly well, and the music supports Thom’s strong, naturally-accented voice well.

There is a folk-rock motif running through most of the album. Sometimes it is very much to the fore as in Thom’s excellent rendition of Ratcliffe Highway, replete with drums, electric bass, electric guitars etc. The rockiness is more restrained (or absent) in other places, as in a pared-back Poverty Knock accompanied only by the bass, or the beautifully simple The Snow It Melts The Soonest, which begins unaccompanied, then develops as the bass, guitar and fiddle (from Ellie Wilson) comes in. There is a boisterous and punchy Derry Gaol (AKA Streets Of Derry) which I’m not sure works for me, and a more convincing a cappella rendition of MacColl’s Exile. Bigger, rockier versions of John Barleycorn and High Germany are also high points.

The four original songs fare slightly less well to my ears. They sound a bit more mainstream, and without any explanation in the fairly sparse sleevenotes, I’m not always sure what they are about. But as a whole, this album is nicely different, the songs are handled well, and is definitely worth getting your hands on.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 130 of The Living Tradition magazine