When this album opens you might well think you are listening to a classical chamber ensemble. The punchy nature of the playing also has echoes of 80s band Pyewackett, albeit with fewer instruments.
Moirai (meaning “Spinners of Destiny”) is an all-female trio combining the vocal and instrumental talents of Jo Freya (vocals, saxophones, clarinets, whistles), Melanie Briggs (vocals, melodeon, flute) and Sarah Matthews (vocals, violin, viola, guitar).
The tunes on the album come from a range of sources, some written by members of the ensemble, some by friends and some collected from musicians in other countries, and they take you on a musical amble around Europe.
Several of the tunes have a distinctly classical feel, not just the opening set of 2/4 bourrées Chassepain/Baudimic. Kusnacht/La Chapka also fits into this category with its unusual combination of a tune by an Irish musician and a French mazurka. Others, like Peter’s Pub/Pull Me Another Pint (written in praise of a real ale pub) and Ufton Court Schottische/All Saints have a more traditional feel to them.
The songs range from poignant to quirky to downright bawdy. Twiddles is great fun and is the perfect female response to all those blokey songs about sailors having a girl in every port. The title track, Sideways, is a veritable earworm of a song (“I went to school with my knickers on sideways") and is apparently autobiographical (!).
Garden of Love is a beautiful setting by Dave Walters of a William Blake poem. It contains that traditional element of folk song, the language of flowers. Another traditional character in folksong is the corvid, and here we have Magpie Sitting on a Broken Chair, a children’s song with a grown-up message by Simon Mayor. The final song is a touching piece for friends going through difficult times.
Sideways showcases the great talent of the musicians with a fine range of songs and tunes. A treat for the ears and the mind.Shelley Rainey
Released by Wild Goose Records on 13th April 2015
3. Kusnacht/La Chapka
5. Half Maid/Italian Mix
6. Peter’s Pub/Pull Me Another Pint
7. Magpie Sitting on a Broken Chair
8. Ufton Court Scottische/All Saints
9. Garden of Love
10. Muriel’s Waltz/Cellar Door Key
11. Bed and Breakfast
12.Poppy’s Reel/A Laxity of Morals