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ASSEMBLY LANE - Northbound

ASSEMBLY LANE - Northbound
Private Label ALCD01

This is one of those CDs that seems to get better and better each time you listen to it. Assembly Lane consists of four musicians based in Newcastle: Matthew Ord – guitar and vocals, Tom Kimber – mandolin, Niles Krieger – fiddle and vocals, and Bevan Morris – double bass. Their musical roots are from both sides of the Atlantic and elements of sub divisions can plainly be discerned. The skill and musicianship in which this exciting quartet bring these diverse elements together is quite astounding. Alongside the British tradition of age old ballads there are examples of bluegrass in the form of American roots music; if you consider the work carefully, rudiments of country music can also be discerned; other influences must surely come from Irish and Scots fiddle playing. So, is this work a musical train crash, a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’? Certainly not, the group effortlessly meld the different styles together into a very pleasing unified whole, that can only be admired for its sheer inventiveness and enthusiastic exploration of the musical possibilities inherent in our common heritage.

As this is their debut album, one might expect a few cracks in their cohesive style, but again this is not discernible in any way. Perhaps this is because, in the words of Tom Kimber: “We never set out to start a band, for a couple of years we would just meet up to jam whenever we could and ended up with all this material, so we hit the road.” One might argue, ‘thereby hangs a tale’ for other would-be musicians hell bent on creating a group. This work is so seated in a solid contextual background that the sound has a deceptive but unique quality that is a joy to listen to. For my money, Assembly Lane is here to stay and whilst relatively new to the folk circuit, I can see its fan base growing and growing. If the band is playing in your local vicinity go and see them while you can still purchase a ticket!

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 121 of The Living Tradition magazine.