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PILGRIMS’ WAY - Wayside Courtesies

PILGRIMS’ WAY - Wayside Courtesies
Fellside  FECD239

This debut CD from Stockport based trio Pilgrims’ Way is a breath of fresh air!  Lucy Wright, Tom Kitching and Edwin Beasant have produced an album of predominantly traditional song, with a scattering of tunes that they proudly present as “gimmick free folk”.

The songs are taken from a variety of sources and will be very familiar to most.  Only A Soldier, The Handweaver And The Factory Maid, Adieu Lovely Nancy and Martinmas Time are among those given a fresh treatment at the hands of the Pilgrims.  The arrangements are at once completely in-keeping with the tradition and yet modern and new – something that many bands fail to get right these days when they strive too hard to be different.

Lucy has a unique, modern sounding voice and she engages the listener well.  The accompaniment, quite refreshingly, is often based on fiddle and melodeon, and has a bright punchy feel.  Edwin’s guitar playing is also first-rate, and is particularly sympathetic in the slower tracks.  You can hear the influences of the stalwarts of the English tradition here - and they list Shirley Collins, Maggie Boyle and The Albion Band among them - but you can also hear likenesses to other “young folkies” such as Eliza Carthy and Ruth Notman.

Highlights are Archie Fisher’s Dark Eyed Molly which is appended by Willie Taylor’s Snowy Monday, a fine tune which has been slowed down for the occasion and played sensitively by Tom on the fiddle.  It’s not perfect - for me, the vocals are a bit over-decorated at times, leading to an occasional lack of accuracy - but the emotion in the song makes it stand out.  Tarry Trousers is another cracker of a track, given a feisty fiddle and bass accompaniment.   And Alfaz Del Pi is a great tune which is quite rightly allowed to shine in a track of its own.

This is a promising debut – very traditional, very English, very current, and very, very good!

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.