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Private Label CH969

Formed in Eastern England in 1978 but based in Brittany since 1993, Churchfitters are an eclectic and appealing amalgam of folk with jazz, rock, funk and other influences. Versatility is something of a leitmotiv. Richly experienced musicians using a wide variety of instruments, they imaginatively and creatively produce, well…, great music!  Live, they’re very entertaining with an infectious sense of fun and considered quirkiness! Linguistic banter with Frenchman Boris Lebret linked to his singular instruments – including 5/6 string electric basses with bodies composed of large cooking vessels and a bass thumb piano, ‘bing bong machine’, featuring hacksaw blades – being an important part. Their dynamic live offering transfers well to this, their third release with the present quartet combo. 

Multi-instrumentalist Rosie Short, who fronts them live, uses her impressively wide vocal range well to create varied moods - the sweet, light and enchanting folkie to the strong and husky blues chantress – and her three songs display a notable poetic sensibility. Brother Chris Short provides violin, mandolin et al. and Topher Loudon, the other principal songsmith, guitar and bouzouki. Lebret offers interesting soundscapes using an array of percussion and bass sounds – low and growling, then punchy, crisp and trebly.

There’s plenty of texture and contours in their compositions and sophisticated re-arrangements of traditional material. T.M.S., gratefully dedicated to cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew & Co. (for tour travel accompaniment) is an excellent example of how they easily meld folk with elements of jazz rock, then cleverly morphing into something echoing BCC’s cricket signature! Rosie’s Sing! (for our time on earth) is a somewhat plaintive paean to age and friendship with a catchy anthemic quality. All lyrics are provided in a very artistic package with clever illustrative imagery to match the individual pieces.

Kevin T Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 87 of The Living Tradition magazine.