Songlines review

 

Demon fiddler cuts it all back

This is one of the most spare recordings I have heard in some time. It is, very simply, fiddler Bryony Griffith playing traditional dance tunes and self-penned instrumentals (mostly written for friends’ weddings) alongside four traditional songs. The only accompaniment is some unobtrusive guitar from Jack Rutter, with Griffith occasionally swapping fiddle for piano, viola or cello.

The sound is surprising if you have heard Griffith at full swing in the Demon Barbers Road Show, where she is known for her boisterous banter, foot-stomping tunes and generally creating a spectacle. This is a brave stripping-back to the bones of her northern roots in Huddersfield, from the Luddite anthem of’The Cropper Lads’ to dance tunes such as ‘The Sheffield Hornpipe’ and ‘St John’s Day’.

The main departure on the album is an eight-minute a capella excursion through ‘Kemp Owen’, a ballad from the Frances Child collection. There is also “The Queen of the May’, a Yorkshire song found on the new

EFDSS Full English digital archive, and a reworking of ‘Lord Randal’, from which the album takes its name. A refreshing and pure set of English tunes and songs.

 

NATHANIEL HANDY

Songlines magazine