Angel Air 2017
Style, grace and honesty: progressive folk’s prodigal son finds a different context for songs old and new.
It’s been two decades since this singer was last last heard of, and while the last years saw RED JASPER alive and kicking again, their former front man remained invisible – until now. He may have enjoyed life in various reaches of the world, yet surely it couldn’t be full without music, and not for nothing the title of the veteran’s return is marrying the artist’s location and creative fertility, although “Kernowcopia” has Davey’s fresh fruits limited in quantity in order to reveal a new quality in the pieces from Dodd’s past.
Where the Englishman’s erstwhile approach would be to weave his voice into a thick instrumental tapestry and tell a many-layered story, now Davey’s method is creating a threadbare, transparent, web-like experience of a song. It’s a cocoon of sorts, unraveling most impressively when the vocalist looks back on Dodd’s own classics such as “The Magpie” that THE UNTHANKS recently returned to the public attention: stripped of sonic assault and ensemble harmonies inherent to its "Sting In The Tale" original and left at the mercy of its writer’s a cappella choir that doesn’t require even the slightest strum, the tune is packing a mightier punch.
As only a couple cuts are given a group treatment, Davey’s ex-colleagues flocking in to adorn “Shoot The Gruffalo” and “Merlin’s Isle Of Gramarye” in an ethereal electric garb, most of the album numbers glimmer in the light reflected off Dodd’s mandolin and Martin Solomon’s fiddle and Celtic harp which make pieces like “Storm Cat Song” possessed with intrepid spirituality. There’s an occasional riff in there, what with bodhran spicing up the “Ship On The Sea” reel, yet, distilled to essentials, “Contented Man” taps into eternity rather than the transitional instant, as it did on "Action Replay", and becomes lucid, while “Jean’s Tune” has somehow lost the edge it showed on "A Midsummer Night's Dream" – but the dramatic “Kick Off Your Shoes” is in fact a riveting invitation for a dance the whole album may amount to. It’s something that’s impossible to refuse, just because it’s beautiful.