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Wyre Records WR0006

Second outing from this Lancashire folk rock collective, and the six members have built well on the secure foundations of their debut in 2016. Each successive track suggests different influences – Pentangle and Fairport obviously, but I can hear Steeleye, Albions and even Americana feeding this frenzy. With the entire band taking joint songwriting credit for the nine self-penned songs, it is clear that democracy is alive and well in the English North West.

Songs such as Shot In The Dark and Loving You are commercial enough to be candidates for singles. The guitar solo (by Daz Rice) on the former is simply brilliant – and the counterpoint of Richard Curran’s violin lifts it to a special place. The title song is an interesting slant on the many current songs about WW1, in this instance prompted by the finding of a British military map, but suggesting that war is not the legitimate parent of peace – it is peace itself. The Thomas Salto (Yelena) tells the heart breaking story of a gymnast who became a paraplegic after failing in an attempt at a movement as dangerous as they come. The traditional songs, Molly Vaughn and Lovely Joan, are handled delicately but with conviction, and the electric backing gives them both substance – both of them being perfect opportunities for Joanna Byrne and Mike Rolland respectively to demonstrate their vocal prowess (considerable in both cases). The high production values, courtesy of Chris Carter, are the icing on the cake. A triumph of an album, giving the lie to the ‘difficult second album’ moniker – here is true talent delivered with confidence and maturity. Go to the top of the class.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.