The second chapter of Will Allen’s series English Fiddle follows in the steps of his first endeavour; it is a varied and well balanced selection of traditional tunes from all around the country, recorded with renowned multi-instrumentalist Rowan Piggott and presented with very informative sleeve notes.
The brisk set of reels Coleford Jig / The Ton opens the album with a remarkable display of dexterity; the work then alternates tunes from old manuscripts, mainly from the 17th and the 18th century, and collected in different places including Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Somerset and London.
Being an album of traditional tunes from England, there’s no surprise in finding a couple of tunes taken from John Playford’s Dancing Master of 1651, particularly the jig set Bobbing Joe / The Maid Peeped Out of the Window, arguably the most noticeable track together with The Man in the Moon, collected from well-known Sussex musician Scan Tester.
With his formidable technique, already showcased in the first chapter of this series, Allen draws the listener’s attention to the melodies and the intricate ornaments with which he skilfully punctuates his own renditions of these timeless tunes. His lightness of touch in moderate and slow paced tunes like Ilbury Hill or Jamaica is only matched by the foot-tapping rhythm of his exquisite sets of reels, jigs and hornpipes.
The overall result is a genuine and yet refined sound that can attract new audiences and be appealing to long-time folk aficionados. English Fiddle II is an instrumental album for everyone; one can only imagine the wonders that the next chapter will reveal.Michele Mele
Self-released on CD and digitally September 21 2023. Produced by Will Allen.
1. Coleford Jig / The Ton
2. Walsh’s North Country Frisk
3. Idbury Hill
4. Turk’s March
5. Dartford Camp / Up the Sides and Down the Middle
6. The Man in the Moon
7. Bobbing Joe / The Maid Peeped Out at the Window
8. Market Chorus
9. Tip Top Polka / Astley’s Ride
10. Black Joak