Will Pound and Jenn Butterworth, two of folk’s finest, join forces on Volume 1, an album filled with variety. The one constant is Butterworth’s driving rhythm on guitar coupled with Pound’s snappy tunes on harmonica and melodeon.
Volume 1 is full of tunes from across the UK and beyond. While there are plenty of traditional tunes, Pound and Butterworth lend their modern outlook combined with a good sense of fun to give the tunes a new, humorous flavour.
The album has a strong opening with Reckoned, a set of two energetic tunes including one of Pound’s own. Blackthorn is a set of morris jigs where the call-and-response nature of the collaboration shines through, with each member of the duo responding to the other’s smallest inflections.
The pair show an influence of French dance in Bourrées, with Pound switching skilfully to melodeon. Butterworth sings the only vocal track on the album, Better Things, a cover of Peggy Seager’s anti-nuclear weapons song. Here Butterworth displays her multi-faceted musicianship as she sings new life into the 1958 song and rhythmically uplifts it, while her and Pound give the song a jazzy undertone.
Their Quebecois-inspired version of Handel’s classic The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba would no doubt make the Baroque composer turn in his grave, but is bound to make modern listeners turn their partner as they dance along, succumbing to its infectious groove.
The Battle of the Somme is the only slow tune on the album, and on it the duo lend their sensitivity. The album closes with Speedy, a name which becomes more apt with the second tune, The Hesleyside Reel. Coupled with a more wistful Speed the Plough, collected by Cecil Sharp in 1909, the set is a strong way to conclude the album, summed up by Pound’s declaration of “blimey” in the last few seconds of the track.
Pound and Butterworth accentuate each other’s talent and groove in Volume 1. The album’s title suggests a Volume 2 lies in the future. For this, fans of upbeat, driving tunes coupled with raw talent will wait with bated breath.Elye Cuthbertson
Self-released February 24, 2023 on CD and digitally.
4. Better Things
5. The Workout Suite