Talking Elephant 2024

The second, yet second to none, chapter of a breathtaking endeavor from performers of esteemed vintage – possessed of envious vim and impeccable taste.

– Bold Reynold Too

With the first advent of "Bold Reynold" being so perfect as to set a new milestone in folk rock’s existence, a follow-up to the project’s debut could not surpass it, right? Even if “Too” would never suffer from a difficult sophomore album syndrome due to this platter’s mostly traditional cache of material, the veteran players simply could not perform such a no mean feat, right? Given the musicians’ age, their vigor could not sustain, right? Wrong! On all three accounts, wrong! If anything, David Carroll has managed to adjust instrumental interfaces between his friends to an extent where no seams seem to show at the joints of FAIRPORTS’ contemporary crunch and GRYPHON’s medieval mellowness; and if the temporal pendulum swings either side once in a while, there are fine-fettle singers to smooth the sonic edges. The upshot of their summit might feel sublime, had the lyrics not sound too funny too often, but the payoff is truly phenomenal.

It won’t take long for the listener to merrily join the “We were amongst ‘em!” refrain of opener “The Battle Of Sowerby Bridge” and see Carroll lead his flock to greener pastures, beckoned by Brian Gulland’s woodwinds and tuba and given a marching groove by Daves Oberlé and Pegg’s respective drums and bass – before the Oberlé-voiced cover of “Gweebarra Shore” offers anguished elegy and soothes one’s soul. It will be echoed further on in the fluttery motifs of “Slieve Gallion Braes” – only to reach there the audience are to engage again, now in the intoxicating (or intoxicated) chorus of “Down Among The Dead Men” and no less life-affirming “Johnnie Jump Up” as the bouzouki-sprinkled former gets high on Graeme Taylor’s electric guitar, and the bodhran-propelled latter on Chris Leslie’s fiddle and Lucy Cooper’s no-nonsense vocal delivery. However, nothing can punch the punters more forcefully than the riff-driven double drama of “Sheath And Knife” – a Child Ballad which David and his ensemble turn into an emotionally charged epic, with a fantastic six-string solo and robust bassoon binding – and “A Little Of One With T’other” that lute and recorders drop to hellish depth and elevate to celestial heights.

On the contrary, the elegantly sad “A Week Before Easter” is rather bucolic, imposing a genuine tragedy air on a sympathetic psyche, yet “Pace Egging Song” and “The Keach In The Creel” which assign roles to a few of the artists unfold arresting aural spectacles, and the drone of “McShane” – another jig-tipped piece – doesn’t fail to bring forth a smile to the public’s faces, especially when whistle and sax rise to the number’s surface. Signing off with an a cappella rendition of “Adieu, Sweet Lovely Nancy” that flaunts the dry wonder of a five-part harmony, the circle of friends allow everyone to come down and wander into the night to marvel about a single line from this album: can “change is true music’s mother” define the next chapter of the “Bold Reynold” mythos?


June 24, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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