The second album from Tom Kitching and Gren Bartley is a self-assured affair, as they mingle folk from both sides of the Atlantic. This includes a number of self-penned tracks that make use of the varied geographic influences and meld perfectly with the traditional material on the album.
The playing is sublime - this is two musicians with a well-realised sound, and a real flair for instrument selection for each track. On top of that Gren has a strong voice well-suited to the driving Americana of some tracks, but that can also be paired back for a sweet, slow song like ’Grateful for a Home’.
Their musicianship also shines in their ability to move between material, never more so than from Leadbelly’s ’Cow Cow Yicky Yicky Yea’, a true slice of cowboy styling, to ’Old Sir Simon the King’, a song with a long traditional heritage behind it - perhaps no surprise given the theme of drinking and merry-making!
I was also pleased to hear ’Parson’s Farewell’, a tune oft to be rolled out in pub sessions, and thus one that I am overly familiar with. It was therefore a joy to hear a version that sounded fresh and exciting to me. The combination of fiddle with a banjo underlay took the eponymous parson out of his sleepy English village and across the rolling waves of the Atlantic.
I came newly to Tom and Gren via this album, but I am now keen to explore further. They have succeeded for me where many have failed, in producing a sound that straddles the Atlantic, but doesn’t feel strained or ’put-on’.Liz Osman
Released on Fellside in April 2009.
1. Dressed To Roll
2. Green Beds
3. Malcolm’s; Lass From Barrow
4. Grateful For A Home
5. Cow, Cow Yicky Yicky Yea
6. Old Sir Simon The King
7. Norman’s Christmas
8. Russian Song
9. Raspberry Bourree
10. Into Night /
11. Parson’s Farewell
12. Different Rooms
13. No More Auction Block
14. Autumn Wasp; Boris In The Bathroom
15. Dreams Lay Heavy; Jess’s Waltz