RAINBOW CHASERS – Written In The Stars

Talking Elephant 2005-2006 / 2023

Stellar spectacle of generations-spanning respect for English traditional song as reflected through fresh creative prism.

Written In The Stars

Perhaps, the least prominent of Ashley Hutchings’ multiple folk-interpreting enterprises, this collective of friends came into existence in 2004, after the Guv’nor had hung up his shoes as a full-time touring artist and turned into a playing coach of promising talents whose aim was to stage a sort of chamber concerts and immerse the listener into their original pieces. The endeavor only lasted for two studio platters and could be destined for oblivion, yet celebrating it two decades later, as “Written In The Stars” is comprised of both “Some Colours Fly” and “Fortune Never Sleeps” and augmented with a few live bonuses, should enhance the group’s brilliant bravery enough to set that brace of records on a path to timelessness. Possessed with immense strength and attention to detail to mesmerize the audience, the twenty-seven tracks on offer age magically, like fine wine, and tasting it feels like a treat.

Aficionados may suppose to focus on the second cut on display, the stormy “When I Jumped Ship” which highlights the dynamics the foursome – Tyger’s young partners in rhyme being Jo Hamilton, Mark Hutchinson and Ruth Angell – show and which seems to symbolize the ensemble’s beginnings; but ignoring “New Blue Stockings” which opens the quartet’s debut is dangerous, what with this cut introducing fresh, female-influenced sensibility to the trad-treading lore over the weave of violin lines, acoustic strum and vocal harmonies that are passed around in various combinations. However, while Ruth’s fiddle instrumental “The Gypsy Jigg” segues into “The First Europeans” – that’s anchored by Hutchings’ voice and bass – to expose a different agenda, one linking ancient past to recent, pre-Brexit history, their magnificent “Ghosts In The Rain” evokes the specters of “Greensleeves” and other ballads of yore, as does, especially in front of the crowd, “Knitting Song” which Jo’s delicate pipes send towards ether. Ans if the vigorous “He Throws A Brilliant Light” – which is propelled by Mark’s singing and subtle guitar attack – also harks back to the era of troubadours, the almost orchestral “Under Surveillance” waltzes jovially through time to the period when grainy black-and-white cinematics reigned supreme.

In the present, though, Ms. Hamilton’s “Looking For A Change” leads the flock into their sophomore effort in a rather energetic, infectiously elegant manner, before Messrs. H & H wade through the sorrowful mist of “Stanley’s Wake” to find hope, and Ms. Angell’s “Surrounded By Strangers” glides over electric strings and glorious flugelhorn that add jazzy air to the flow. More so, there’s an exotic drama filling Jo’s bouzouki-spiced “A Far-Off Bay” to contrast Ashley’s recital of “Poem” – a preface to his spoken-word-encrusted "Ninety-Nine Impressions" – and Mark’s tender, albeit taut, handling of “There Isn’t Anymore To Say” which reaches for quite baroque grandeur until “The Lost Bagpipe” unfolds its hazy, wordlessly epic, panorama, painted with the help from the Guv’nor’s fellow Fairporters Chris Leslie and Ric Sanders. Still, the reined-in merriment of “Better Be Smart” and rampant ribaldry of “Billy” are bound to bring smiles to the punters’ faces – and wash the jolly mood away once “The Trunk Beneath The Bed” has blown a symphony across the field, and “The River’s Tale” has streamed its polyphonic wonder.

Polyphonic – and polychromatic: this is the gist of RAINBOW CHASERS whose riches are more precious than the proverbial pot of gold


March 10, 2024

Category(s): Reissues
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