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Private Label STEAM163

As a reviewer you often have expectations of what to expect when listening to a new CD. I’ve seen Steamchicken at many festivals but only through poking my head into a heaving dance tent, so I thought this would be a collection of dance tunes, but how wrong could I be. Look Both Ways is based around the wonderful vocals of Amy Kakoura, ranging from rockers like the opening track, Jericho, into the gentler Brigg Fair, with some great storytelling on all tracks. But it’s the use of a full brass section and driving rhythm section that is the real eye-opener.

Highlights for me are the reworking of Raggle Taggle Gypsy, now just called Gypsy, and Western Approaches with it’s scene setting opening of creaking timbers. All tracks are imaginatively arranged by the band, showing varied influences, from reggae to New Orleans jazz, with their dance roots showing occasionally, and the amazing vocal range of Amy handling everything thrown at her.

I hope festival organisers and promoters take note of the shift evident on Look Both Ways towards a more concert-based set and give Steamchicken the chance to show their new direction. There are still a couple of nods towards dance tunes evident in the instrumental breaks, in Mary And The Soldier for example, to reassure the dancers around that they have not left the ceilidh scene behind.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 118 of The Living Tradition magazine.