Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review - Pilgrim's Way, Wayside Courtesies

Pilgrim’s Way
Fellside Recordings

A North West Folk trio release their debut album, guaranteed to find the fans that are out there waiting for them

I challenge anyone to be surprised by the early signs of success that have fallen upon the young Pilgrim’s Way. This is very good folk. They are traditionalist in their material, in their approach to the music but their youth brings it a refreshing vitality that will see them bringing in crowds at the several UK festivals and folk club gigs at which they are due to appear later this year. To tell you the story of their fast rise to acclaim, these were all won off the back of a single promo EP.

Simply repeating their taglines here, however would not give WAYSIDE COURTESIES it’s proper due. Many better judges than me have lent their weight to the band’s description of themselves as ‘Refreshingly different [yet] reassuringly traditional’. With its make up of Lucy Wright’ vocals, the fiddling of Tom Kitching (a BBC Radio Young Folk Awards finalist) as well the inventive box playing of Edwin Beasant, this trio have been christened as ‘the real deal’ by the likes of BBC 2’s Mike Harding. The album, I would say, is a testament to their talents but also a really enjoyable listen in its own right.

Beasant is allowed to shine through in his own composition Jig Jolo, ending the album and Wright’s vocals are left in versatile a cappella in the track My Generous Lover. But they are at their best ensemble, in such tour de forces as that which opens the album (Only a Soldier) and just a track or so on, in Martinmas Time. Here, all the musicians’ strengths move behind the ballad to give it life and to capture the character of its mischievous heroine who easily outwits a whole garrison, a cheeky tale of transvestitism. Her instantly likeable intelligence and that of her song, to me, represent the appeal of this young band. A sense of mischief and fun neatly packaged in an accomplished studio album.

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