Tuesday 31 July 2012

Various Artists - Weirdlore: Notes From The Folk Underground

Album review by KevW

Manchester-based label Folk Police Recordings must be given much respect for their quest to preserve and promote traditional British songcraft and they have released some genuinely great records of late (if you haven't checked out Harp And A Monkey's album you really are missing out). 'Weirdlore' acts as a compendium of modern English folk artists (plus one Scot and one emigrated American) who are keeping the flame of time-honoured acoustic music burning. This is largely folk as it has been for decades; none of the nu-folk brigade and none of the current crop of crossover singer-songwriters. The purpose of 'Weirdlore' is to explore pure folk in its many forms.

With eighteen tracks it's a lot to take in and a lot to dissect without rambling. A few reasonably well known names are here such as Alasdair Roberts and Emily Portman who contributes the dreamy 'Spine Of A Wave'. Tradition is very much the order of the day, Rosalind Brady builds an intimate atmosphere on 'Lore' and Telling The Bees chip in with the very good 'Worship Of Trees'. Naturally that strange intonation used only by folk singers creeps in on tracks by Rapunzel & Sedayne and The Witches with Kate Denny, both of which feel rather like museum pieces, as do contributions from Katie Rose and The False Beards. This is difficult to criticise, as really that's the whole point of the excercise.

When it takes a turn for the mysterious things get more interesting, with the maudlin and fantastical 'Rosebuds In June' by Sproatly Smith, the jazz-folk circus music of Boxcar Aldous Huxley and the psychedelic hum of The Straw Bear Band. Pamela Wyn Shannon and Foxpockets also add individuality. Wispy sweetness is achieved by the beautifully sung 'Walking Into Walls' by Nancy Wallace, as well as Starless & Bible Black and Corncrow. By the time you reach Harp And A Monkey's twinkly contribution 'Molecatcher', you feel you've been on a journey into the past, and a surreal one at that. Wyrdstone wrap the trip up with the just plain unusual but magical all the same 'Pucelancyrcan'. "I never go where the cock never crows, I wouldn't advise any of you to go where the cock don't crow". Wise words indeed.

Weirdlore's website

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