Folk rock: It’s a difficult corner to master. Many a band has spiced up a traditional sound with the ’twist’ of introducing an electric guitar, but it’s far rarer to find musicians who can produce a truly authentic blend of these two genres. In Galley Beggar, however, you find just that.
With this band, the marrying up of rock and roots seems completely natural and genuine. The album has a feel which hails back to the experimental origins of folk rock fusion back in the 1960s, transcending the boundaries of time and yet bringing in a contemporary flare.
The passion of the musicians for both genres is audible. For once, rock fans will listen and identify what they hear with other rock legends they know and love. Both of Galley Beggar’s albums have similarities to the acoustic leanings of the great Led Zeppelin, for instance. Meanwhile, the vocal styling of tracks such as Lucy Grey will appeal to fans of the likes of Nightwish.
Indeed, it’s difficult not to compare this band with a number of others, and followers of The Imagined Village will also notice something of the familiar about Rendall. This new arrangement sheds fresh light on a familiar tune however, as it’s matched with a traditional song, the Child Ballad Lord Randal, with a guitar solo forming a great feature. Traditional elements are also highlighted, with English dance influences shining through in the rhythms and flux of tempo, which is reminiscent of the slows and jigs demonstrated in morris tunes.
As far as guitar solos go, Willow Tree has a corker which any rocker would be proud of. Meanwhile, haunting vocal arrangements are a hallmark stamped prominently throughout the album, with a great range of harmonies on display in Nottamun Town. The much loved traditional song John Barleycorn is also given a new treatment, resulting in a layered and intense interweaving of voice and violin. Simultaneously, the whole album pulses to a heartbeat of infectious percussion.
This band is one to watch, and one which can gain credibility with rock fans like few others today. Galley Beggar is an album recommended for folk fans with a penchant for real rock.Lucy Houlden
Released Autumn 2012
1. Willow Tree
2. Lucy Grey
3. Nottamun Town
4. Two Magicians
6. Daverne Lamb
7. A Cautionary Tale
8. John Barleycorn
9. Hymn to Pan
10. Birds and Fish