Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Album Review : Up From The Deep - Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts 9*


Gilmore & Roberts debut LP Shadows And Half Light was an exciting blend of traditional and new British folk played and sung by a talented young duo which established the pair as a group to keep an eye on in the folk scene.  The gig they played at The Swan in Addingham earlier this year was likely to have been the last time you would get a chance to see them perform for free, and the venue was packed to the rafters to hear Katriona and Jamie play a selection of older songs and tracks from UFTD.

The new album is every bit as wonderful as their debut, the pair havn't changed a thing, except from becoming a little more polished in their playing and harmonies.  As with their debut, UFTD contains a mix of songs and musical pieces, including the delightfully sub-titled Upper Badger's Bottom.  Katriona said she wrote the song Fleetwood Fair because most other folk bands had a song about a fair and they felt a bit left out, but joking aside, Fleetwood Fair a plaintive and haunting song about a chance meeting with a man, or a spirit, with the couple's carefully spartan music swelling into a beautiful chorus.

Both Jamie and Katriona write and sing their own songs, and their very different voices lend a sense of freshness and change to the album.  Lyrically, GR switch easily between very traditional folk themes and contemporary socially aware lyrics with ease.  The pair have been joined on the album by Jack Theedom on double bass, Cia cherryholmes plays banjo on the Bluegrass tinged Off To California, Dom Howell plays cajon on No Rest For The Wicked. A cajon for those who don't know, and that includes me before a quick google search, is a box like percussion instrument played with the hands.

There are some absolutely cracking tracks on UFTD, the opening track, Jamie's re-working of the (Irish folk tune ?) song Childgrove on All I've Known with its tales of people blinded to other possibilities sets a high standard for the rest of the album, but GR manage a consistently high standard through the album.  Katriona sings on the driving ballad No Rest For The Wicked, a plucked string over softer guitar supports Kat's clear vocals as she tells a tale of life on tour, well if it's compulsory for a folk band to have a Fair song then it's compulsory for any rock band to bemoan life on the road and the lyrics fit in well with GR's modern sensibilities.

Up From The Deep is a worthy successor to Shadows And Half Light, a bright and accomplished album that moves easily from the traditional to the brand new.  Beautiful, full of life and wit and thoughtful in equal part, you'll be hard pressed to find a better folk album this year.

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