Somehow I nearly missed seeing Dogan Mehmet at Sidmouth Folk Week, despite him seeming to be everywhere all week (nearly as much as Saul Rose!). Thankfully eventually I did see him perform, and was captivated by this talented young man.
To get the credentials out the way, Dogan is a second generation Turkish-Cypriot, born and raised in Brighton. He is studying on the folk degree in Newcastle and was a runner up in the 2008 Young Folk Awards. All interesting stuff, and all relevant to his music, but also entirely unnecessary when listening to his debut album, which more than stands up for itself.
Gypsyhead mixes English and Turkish folk songs and tunes, with Dogan equally at ease in both cultures and languages. The two traditions fit together fairly seamlessly and with great confidence at the hands of Dogan, and his band the Deerhunters.
The opening song, ’Raggle Taggle Gypsies’, can be a hackneyed affair, but is instead a joy, with ’Cuckoo’s Nest’ segued so well into the melody that I’m amazed the two haven’t always belonged together. Dogan’s vital singing style and pacy instrumentation give movement to the song. This enthusiastic musical style is in evidence throughout the album, even as the pace and stories change.
Both ’The Raging Seas’ (penned by Dogan) and the traditional ’The Royal Oak’ see mention of the Turkish and English, although not necessarily on the same side. Equally, the sublime ’West Pier’ travels into a set of Turkish tunes without missing a beat. Dogan’s arrangements and selection of song lyrics lead to a cohesive album unafraid to be Turkish and English, not a forced fusion of the two.
Personally, I do miss knowing what the lyrics of the Turkish songs say in detail, the sleevenotes only hint at the general subject matter. But on the whole this album entertains and keeps me guessing.
If you want a quick track recommendation, for me it is ’West Pier’, another self-penned song. The lamentation and almost meditation on Brighton’s lost pier is sincere and poetic, a modern but timeless folk song.Liz Osman
Released on 14 September 2009 by Hobgoblin records.
Doðan Mehmet: Violin, Voice and percussion
The Deerhunters are:
Tom Wright: Drums, Percussion,
Tom Redman: Bass Guitar, French horn,
Matt Price: Guitars,
Matt Quinn: Mandolin, Mandolin-Banjo,
Colin Nicholson: Piano Accordion, Keyboards
Recorded and Mixed by Tom Wright in Mansfield spring 2009.
1. Wraggle Taggle Gypsies
2. The Raging Seas (Mehmet)
3. West Pier (Mehmet)
4. Uzun Hava
8. Seventeen Come Sunday / de Montfort Stand (Redman)
9. Ozman Aga / Eighteen Months (Wright)
10. The Lawyer / Southover (Redman)
11. Gülpembe (Manço)
12. The Royal Oak / Jackie Tar