Having had the good fortune to see Kerfuffle live recently I had no worries about enjoying this album, a fine collection of old and new songs and tunes all in a fairly traditional style.
Hannah Jones voice and accordion playing are a joy throughout and Sam Sweeney is a talented and versatile fiddle player. His brother Tom plays an understated but vital electric bass and Jamie Roberts excellent acoustic guitar features prominently, sometimes a gentle accompaniment to a song, sometimes a driving rhythm to a Playford tune.
Their version of Castleton Carol is terrific, an atmospheric reminder of how powerful Christian imagery can be. The 17c publisher John Playford contributes several tunes from The English Dancing Master. One pair, Mayden Lane and Mount Hills, are grouped under the title ’Dr Letcher’s Favourite’. This track features bagpipes played by guest Andy Letcher. Now I have to declare a great fondness for pipes, be they great, small, Northumbrian, whatever and I liked this track straight away. Opening with Sam’s excellent fiddle and gathering instruments as it goes, the first is a catchy dance, then in mid stride as it were the accordion changes to the second, the expectation rises, the drone starts and the pipes peal out - great stuff! Well worth opening all the windows and winding up the volume.
A track that takes time to appreciate is ’Betty Corrigall’s Lament’ by Murray Grainger. An instrumental track that conveys the sadness of an 18c pregnant suicide on the Isle of Hoy. The surging insistence of the sea and the loneliness of her burial is wonderfully reflected in the accordion.
Another song that was not familiar to me, ’The Snows they melt the soonest.’ A young lady’s confident assertion that her fickle lover will see the error of his ways.
I could describe every track on the album, they are all very good, excellent music, skilfully played and sung. This will remain a firm favourite.Martin Pain
Released by RootBeet Records on 7 July 2008.
1. Katie Shaw
2. Dr Letcher’s Favourite
3. Down by the Greenwood Side
5. Arise Arise
6. Castleton Carol
7. Betty Corrigal’s Lament
8. The Trip
9. The Snows
10. Two Sisters
11. Bonaparte’s Retreat
12. The Rogue’s March