After their spectacular debut with First Steps, Brown Boots, namely fiddler Martin Clarke and melodeon player Will Allen, are back with their second effort Striding Out, another handpicked selection of traditional dance tunes largely from the British Isles.
From the opening set of hornpipes Gloucester to the humorous Danse de Chez Nous, from the reel set Temperance to the old favourite Tom Tully’s, the album offers some spellbinding renditions of a number of tunes from 18th and 19th century collections. Other highlights include Brown Boot, initially composed as a bridge for the Flowers set in their debut album and here slightly reshaped to be a tune on its own, and the heartfelt Helen Fraser, a medley of two tunes written to remember Clarke’s mother.
The most remarkable track is probably Little Fishy, an upbeat set of two tunes taken respectively from the Northumbrian Minstrelsy Book of 1882, but almost certainly older than that, and from the Walsh collection of 1713.
This is music infused with authenticity and passion, two ingredients that Brown Boots splendidly combine as they move from jigs to reels, from hornpipes to Cotswold Morris tunes. The trademark energy of their live performances, already a key feature of their first album, is still there, with their extraordinary interplay, their ability to play complex tunes at a remarkable speed and their breath-taking dexterity combining to transfer their joy of making music together to the listener.
These young artists are two great musicians in their own right. Striding Out proves, once again, that together they create a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts.Michele Mele
Released on 6 July 2023 on CD and digitally, recorded by Tom Moore at Slow Worm Studios.
2. Danse de Chez Nous
4. The Brown Boot
5. Helen Fraser
6. Old Man Dance
7. Tom Tully’s
9. Little Fishie