Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Gnatbite Records GR04

I reviewed a solo CD by Tim a short while back, and praised both his bright and spirited box playing and his flair for imaginative arrangement. Farrago finds Tim’s talents as a musician (on guitar, melodeon and accordion) placed within a band context, in this case a three-piece lineup completed by harmonica virtuoso Brendan Power and percussionist Lucy Randall (mostly playing bodhrán here, occasionally venturing onto cajon or tambourine). All three musicians play with enviable expertise and virtuosity, and both individually and collectively their playing can only be described as outstanding throughout. But, without being dismissive, I’d warn that the more folk-oriented listener is likely to feel shortchanged, especially since a significant proportion of the 14 tracks turn out to be distinctly jazzy in idiom, and Tim’s nylon-strung guitar is brought out of its case rather more than either of his boxes. In fact, Farrago often seems more of a showcase for Brendan than anything else; when your ears are confronted with Brendan’s harmonica well to the fore on the first two tracks you might even be forgiven for thinking that Tim had got locked out of the studio! And even as the album progresses, one feels that the more traditional Irish tune stylings are sublimated by (and only get to surface between the cracks of) the various non-trad musical influences, rather than the (usual) other way round.

There are plenty of times, though, when the result is genuinely refreshing, as on Tim’s own composition Broadstairs Regatta and the intriguing sequence comprising the “mammoth set” The Odyssey (which, I was amused to note, closes with a cover of Sleepy John Estes’ Leavin’ Trunk – here rather curiously retitled Kidman Blues! – sung by Brendan). Some of Brendan’s acknowledged party-pieces (such as The Reel Blues Reel and Jig Jazz) appear here, fresh-minted with the specially delicious slant that Tim and Lucy bring to the mix. On pieces such as the bossa-nova treatment of Dawning Of The Day and Tico Tico, the overall feel is more of consciously relaxed easy-listening (or gentle swing à la Max Geldray) than raw folk-style sessioneering. There’s much to enjoy here but this is a record that (more so than many) needs to be taken on its own terms. And – here’s reiterating a gripe I had with Tim’s solo album – why oh why fade out tracks like Jazz Trad, Richard’s Minuet and The Odyssey just as they’re getting interesting?

David Kidman

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 75 of The Living Tradition magazine.