mike davies column june 2020


Recently launched with a lockdown live performance, Some Distant Shore is the self-released new EP from Birmingham-based Anglo-American duo A DIFFERENT THREADfeaturing Robert Jackson on guitar and Alicia Best on fiddle and percussion, with Richard Allen providing upright bass. A collection of traditional numbers from both sides of the Atlantic, it kicks off in jaunty strummed manner with the first song they learnt together after meeting while busking, the Irish traditional Red Is The Rose (set to the tune of Loch Lomond), and follows on with murder ballad duet Pretty Polly, Best singing lead on Cruel Mother and the pair harmonising on the closing slow waltztime Appalachian ballad The Blackest Crow aka My Dearest Dear. The remaining choice isn’t traditional but is still a classic, a mountain music styled a capella duet on Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin’s 1959 country ballad, Long Black Veil that easily ranks alongside the version immortalised by Johnny Cash.

Experimental folk fusion quartet GATHERING TIDES, Seth Bye (fiddle), Sam Baldwin (electric guitar), Dan Cippico (bass) and Alexander Henshaw (cajon) have a new self-released EP, Adjust The Sun, a five track collection of primarily instrumentals. Skittering percussion and wordless vocals open Curlew Reel, the fiddle taking control as the number gets into full steam, the mid-section bringing up the bass. Line Search has a more pulsing base and a tumbling rhythmical structure that shades to traditional fiddle work before gathering to a full arrangement flourish prior to ebbing away. The six-minute Haze rides a constant nervy electric guitar pattern over which treated fiddle weaves to evoke the associations of the title before the only slightly shorter Silver Thread underscores the jazz influences and, set against, a pulsing drum beat is the only track to feature lyrics, the track developing into a sort of Portishead trip hop groove coloured by jazz guitar and basslines. Recalling the work of 70s progressive jazz-folk outfits like Spyro Gira and Soft Machine, Stop Motion concludes with fiddle whirling around over the steady drum beat before an almost Focus-like moment at the end.

There’s no new solo album (though a Pucifer release is upcoming), but CARINA ROUND devotees will be pleased to hear she’s made a Live in Los Angeles EP download available on Bandcamp. Guessingly dating from 2011/2012, it finds her on typically electrifying form with five numbers, opening with Set Fire and working through You Will Be Loved Again, Pick Up The Phone and Weird Dream before ending on Mother’s Pride.

roots-and-branches.com 2020