The pandemic has affected live events for sure , but it did not manage to diminish the creativity of the artists or damage the international collaborations that have always proved to be an endless source for new soundscapes. Wiltshire accordionist Paul Hutchinson did not suffer for a lack of inspiration.
His latest release Petrichor was conceived and assembled during the long months spent in lockdown and recorded with a number of renowned musicians from all over the world, each in their own isolation, including iconic Belgian duo Naragonia and Swedish masters Mikael Marin, Roger Tallroth and Olov Johansson.
Hutchinson has built himself a reputation of one of the most accomplished and versatile accordionists in the country. With a style that spans British and Scandinavian folk to jazz and classical music, this album sums up all the different grains of his idiosyncratic sound.
From the gentle title track that opens the album to the sparkling The Oregon Trail/Axelrod/Wimhurst, the most energetic among the eleven tracks on this release, from the humorous Supper Club De Keevil to the bittersweet Promised Land, written in support of migrants and reminiscent of Yiddish music, there are plenty of different atmospheres to be savoured on Petrichor.
The classically designed harmonies these tunes are dressed up in only have the effect of underlining the melodic qualities of the compositions. This is the case of Nine Bar Gate, in which the careful listener will surely catch the echo of some Baroque airs for strings, and Shapwick, a hymn to the picturesque village near Wimborne Minster where Hutchinson lived for a few years.
The ensemble that supported Hutchinson for this album also includes clarinet virtuoso Karen Wimhurst and the members of British folk jazz collective Sheepstealers, so there is no surprise at the jazz flavour on many of these tracks. Take for example the first clarinet solo of the album in The Oregon Trail, a brief interlude that completely changes the mood of the set, and the closing track Minicab Road, the only one featuring all the members of this surprising international line up.
Carefully balanced and sensitively presented, Petrichor has all the features to become a firm favourite for accordion aficionados and curious folk music lovers both in Britain and abroad.Michele Mele
Self-released on CD and digitally on 24 February 2021. Mixed and mastered by Ed Bersey at Sylvafield Studios, Semley
2. Time for Change
3. The Nine Bar Gate
4. The Oregon Trail/Axelrod/Wimhurst
5. Shapwick/Tipping Point
6. Promised Land
7. To Naragonia/Rubens’
8. In the Adelaide Hills
9. Cuckoo Lamb
10. Supper Club De Keevil
11. Minicab Road