The Grace Smith Trio is Grace Smith (fiddle and cello), Sam Partridge (concertina and electric guitar) and Bevan Morris (double bass), a new and exhilarating voice in the flourishing instrumental folk scene of the British Isles. For their first album Overleaf they gathered a number of tunes, some of which date back many centuries, others being written by the band members themselves.
The opening track Miss Cole’s is a perfect introduction to the trio’s warm and serene sound. It is followed by the jolly The Dale / Mr Vanbrugh’s Maggot and the airy Quadrille.
The first half of the release also includes Feather Waltz, in which some juxtaposed elements of minimalism can be found, and the stunning Cobbler’s Jig / Threedling.
The second half starts with Three Sheepskins / Jenny Nettles, a set of two traditional tunes from early 17th century collections, and proceeds with Yorkshire Wedding and Leo, other examples of the band’s synergy. The evocative Corners provides an intense bridge to the end of the album, marked by the bright jig and hornpipe set Saison / Overleaf.
Grains of minimalism, chamber and cinematic music pop up in every track, but they are so subtle and well calibrated that they only enrich the sound texture, adding complexity and brilliance to the overall result. Smith’s fiddle and Partridge’s concertina generally alternate in taking the lead, floating around each other and always building up a thoughtful counterpoint; but there are also a few tracks in which the economic use of electric guitar provides a silky touch of prog rock into these masterful settings.
One of the most spellbinding releases in the last decade, Overleaf is the proof that innovation does not compromise folk music’s timelessness and that the Grace Smith Trio will be one of the most promising bands to look out in future years.Michele Mele
Self-released on CD and digitally on 29 September 2023. Recorded, produced and mixed by Tom Moore at Slow Worm Records, mastered by Sam Proctor at Lismore Mastering.
1. Miss Cole’s
2. The Dale / Mr Vanbrugh’s Maggot
4. Feather Waltz
5. Cobbler’s Jig / Threedling
6. Three Sheepskins / Jenny Nettles
7. Yorkshire Wedding
10. Saison / Overleaf