Tom Kitching is well-known on the folk scene - from his work with Gren Bartley, Gavin Davenport and Pilgrims’ Way for instance. On this album he heads off in a slightly different direction, playing English music but with two musicians who are not part of the English tradition. Marit Fält joins him on låtmandola (a Swedish mandocello), Freya Rae (from Scotland) plays flute and clarinet while Jim Molyneux (4Square, The Old Dance School) provides percussion.
This mix of instruments and musical experience results in an exciting range of sounds - Eastern European influences are evident, also a dash of reggae, and a sprinkling of jazz à la Hot Club de Paris.
The opening track, Rufty Tufty, is a joyous start to the album. It features an unexpected change of time signature, so be careful when dancing. This device is also used in the morris tune Fairplay.
The Medieval tune La Rotta is fabulously executed, and feels Eastern European. It is twinned with one of Tom’s own tunes, cleverly called Occidentals (East meets West perhaps?).
Tunes from the Playford Collection make several appearances - Cobbler’s is so obviously a Playford tune but with the addition of a clarinet acquires a sprinkling hint of Klezmer. Even this popular dance tune goes through an elaborate development section before the main theme returns - this time with a reggae beat added to the clarinet solo. Glorious!
Gall Bladder is one of few slower tunes, and is rather sinister. It is twinned with another Playford tune, The Lady Murray’s Delight, played in a raucous style. Cheshire is a 3/2 hornpipe from Playford - these always sound great. This version includes a lovely clarinet interlude. Another of those unusual change of tempo happens here, and works really well. Other instruments join in but keeping to the slower tempo, making the texture thicker. It dies away gradually with just the låtmandola at the end
Although most of the tracks are quite long players they are never dull, with plenty of variety to keep the listener interested.
Interloper is brilliantly executed and delightfully quirky.Shelley Rainey
Released by Fellside, 2nd March 2015
1. Rufty Tufty
2. La Rotta
3. Slow Jigs
7. Fair Play
8. Gall Bladder
10. Fast Dance