Night Hours, the second album from Aldridge & Goldsmith, explores the boundary where the traditional and modern meet. The eleven songs presented here range from old folk warhorses to new, mostly self-penned, material of high quality.
It’s to the credit of the duo that’s it’s sometimes difficult to tell what is traditional and what is new. A song like Moved On, inspired by Newham council’s plan to relocate social housing tenants to faraway cities, gains its strength from being couched in general terms. The idea that people can be torn from their roots is a powerful one. The song is timeless and is all the better for it.
Aldridge & Goldsmith seems to have a natural affinity for telling stories. Their version of Willie O’ The Winsbury benefits from the directness of their close harmony singing and the simple accompaniment of banjo and guitar.
This directness is also a feature of Bonny Bunch of Roses. It can be hard to find originality in such a well-known ballad but the inspired use of uilleann pipes (Dominic Henderson of Teyr) keeps the listeners attention throughout this long song.
All three members of Teyr are enlisted to help on the album. Indeed the opening track Night Hours, about the unseen world of the night shift worker, uses James Gavin’s fiddle playing to add depth and complexity to the arrangement.
The album does have a couple of misfires. The duo’s version of Boo Hewerdine’s Harvest Gypsies, however well-intentioned, cannot compete with the definitive Kris Drever interpretation. Slightly more seriously, a drearily slow version of Shallow Brown is only partly mitigated by tacking the perky hornpipe, Jacky Tar on the end of it. However, in the larger scheme of things these stumbles are only minor flaws.
Night Hours represents a significant step forward for Aldridge & Goldsmith. The duo’s warmth and intimacy, together with the high quality of the song writing, will ensure that this album will find an appreciative and discerning audience.Stephen Witkowski
Released on 7 December 2016 by Fellside Records
2. Night Hours
3. Harvest Gypsies
4. Bonny Bunch of Roses
5. The Ballad of Yorkley Court
6. Shallow Brown/Jackie Tar
7. Marty & The Soldier
8. Wille O’ the Winsbury
9. Moved On
10. The Grazier Tribe
11. Along the Castlereagh
12. Something Good