Kitewing - Kitewing

2024 studio album

Kitewing - Kitewing

the bright young folk review

The latest folk supergroup, bringing together Norwich chums Christina Alden, Alex Patterson, Georgia Shackleton and her fellow trio members Aaren Bennett and Nic Zuppardi for a debut collection of original and traditional material. Recorded live together in one room with a maximum three takes, Kitewing mingles songs and instrumentals to highly engaging effect.

Shackleton sets the ball rolling with two fiddle tunes, Island / Pull Down Your Vest, the scampering first her own and the second her arrangement of a traditional American reel, accompanied by Zuppardi’s mandolin and and strummed acoustic guitar. Alden then takes up the baton for her acoustic swaying self-penned, traditional-sounding The Greenland Shark, a song about the longest living vertebrate.

Staying on a piscine note, Zuppardi follows up with his own nimble-fingered mandolin-driven tempo-shifting instrumental, Holy Mackerel, fiddles dancing though the ripples.
Taking the bulk of the writing credits, Shackleton sings lead on her own Five Thousand Miles, a lively banjo and fiddle number of Appalachian persuasion and, while about migration, is sung from the perspective of a willow warbler having to leave its heathland grass nest with the coming of winter and venture to Senegal as food becomes scarce. The line “I’m so much more than the sum of all my feathers” is a nice metaphor for resilience in the face of troubles.

Her subsequent other contributions line up as a second fiddle instrumental, a witty title pairing of A Tune For The Girls/Tune For The Gulls, the first being Liz Carroll’s Irish reel and the latter being her own bouncy riposte. Her fourth is the lively fiddle driven Bird’s Nest Bound (a new arrangement of the number she previously recorded with her trio on Mousehold) but, although Charley Patton is credited, given the lyrics (“when hard times knock my front door and blues are in my nest/I’ll sing and play and dance all day it’s the way I love the best”) the only thing it has in common with his 1931 original is the title.

Alden and Patterson have two shared credits, their arrangement of the traditional Handsome Molly which, with Alden on vocals, opens unaccompanied before fiddle, banjo and guitar pick up the slack. The closing, original, Dig Away is briskly played on fiddle and guitar, in celebration of the navigators who “made roads out of rivers and streams” while dropping in ornithological references to the Swallowtail and Reed Warbler that had their banks as habitats.

Patterson also takes solo credit for his own toe tapping fiddle and guitar instrumental pairing of Buffy / Mary and Joe’s. Which leaves the album’s sole cover, another fiddle-led instrumental in the shape of Winder Slide, here following the original 1980 Joe LaRose pacing rather than the slower, perhaps better known, version by Rayna Gellert.

The collective take their name from a hand-held wing-shaped sail (itself named for the birds of prey) designed to use wind power to provide speed and lift to snowboarders, skiers and skateboarders. Given the way the music soars, it seems perfectly apt.

Mike Davies

Self released February 16th 2024 on CD and digitally. Produced by Aaren Bennett and Alex Patterson

1. Island / Pull Down Your Vest
2. The Greenland Shark
3. Holy Mackerel
4. Five Thousand Miles
5. Winder Slide
6. A Tune for the Girls / Tune for the Gulls
7. Handsome Molly
8. Buffy / Mary and Joe’s
9. Bird’s Nest Bound
10. Dig Away

Kitewing discography