Melrose Quartet’s Dominion is a stunning selection of songs and tunes from a band who individually and collectively are significant forces within the traditional music world.
Nancy Kerr (vocals/fiddle), James Fagan (vocals/guitar/mandolin/bouzouki), Jess Arrowsmith (vocals/fiddle) and Richard Arrowsmith’s (vocals/melodeons) new album is a generous mix of songs and tunes, older and newer, coming together to deliver balance, harmony and variety. From breath-taking a capella songs, to driving dance tunes, from songs of tragedy to songs and tunes of happiness and hope. It’s an album with real breadth, depth, heart and soul.
The tightness and complexity of the Melrose Quartet’s a capella harmonies is breath-taking and is stunningly showcased across a number of tracks. Good Intentions, a gentle song of hope and aspiration, is delivered in a four part harmony that tangibly conveys the emotion behind the lyrics.
So too the a capella arrangement and delivery of Seeds of Love, which takes this traditional garden song of love to new heights, through Kerr, Fagan and the Arrowsmiths’ excellent vocals.
There are some cracking dance tunes on Dominion too. Gallery / Venus is a set of reels which you just can’t help but be swept along by. Richard Arrowsmith’s melodeon yielding power and drive whilst James Fagan’s guitar brings pulsing rhythm, with Nancy Kerr and Jess Arrowsmith’s fiddles developing and expanding the wall of sound.
This infectious energy and rhythm continues in A Generous Man / Carthy’s March which are both extremely enjoyable and sure to set you tapping along.
Exploring a more melancholic theme, the band’s interpretation of Rosslyn Castle is spellbinding. This beautiful Scottish tune begins on solo melodeon then slowly develops a gentle guitar and fiddle accompaniment. It’s a track that will not fail to move you.
Storytelling has long been key to traditional music and Melrose Quartet know how to tell a story well. Davy Cross is a tragic tale of a young man lost at sea and later only identified by the woollen gansey (fisherman’s sweater) his mother had knitted for him. Again, unaccompanied their vocals and harmonies bring this story to life and draw you into the real emotions of this lovely, sad song.
Dominion has the feel of an intimate, live Melrose Quartet performance with carefully chosen tracks, which engage and immerse the listener. Vocal and instrumental arrangements are expertly fashioned and delivered culminating in an album which absolutely delivers.
Existing fans will love this new album. Those new to Melrose Quartet will find it an excellent introduction to this supergroup.Andy McMillan
Released on MQCD on 13 November 2017.
1. Mariah’s Gone
2. Dominion of the Sword
3. A Generous Man / Carthy’s March
4. Hand Me Down
5. ’Ware Out Mother
6. Anthem of a Working Mum
7. Low Quebec
8. Seeds of Love
9. Rise No More
10. Davy Cross
11. Gallery / Venus
12. Good Intentions
13. Rosslyn Castle
14. Raise Your Voice