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Old School Music OSMCD01 

Hailing from East Anglia, Finn was a Young Folk Award semi-finalist in 2018. His speciality is the humble recorder in all its shapes and sizes, and he makes a really good case for this family of instruments on this, his debut CD – the title of which (neatly!) translates the Latin verb “recordare”. He sensibly varies his choice of lead instrument throughout, and selectively engages seven young musicians for sensitive and intelligently configured accompaniment on all but two of the tracks – viz. Katriona Gilmore, Emma Beach, Archie Churchill-Moss, Josh Clark, Rowan Collinson, Jonno Gaze and Tom Leader. As well as the recorders, Finn himself contributes alto F whistle on one track and occasional bouzouki, tenor guitar, acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, banjo, cajon and percussion elsewhere, but the total sound picture never appears in the slightest overloaded.

The disc comprises eight instrumental tracks and three songs. The former take us from a set of Celtic-inspired original tunes to a slow-air-style adaptation of an American old-time tune and three gorgeous waltzes, but the jewels in the crown are the intriguing pairing of Ordinary Streets (inspired by Britten’s Peter Grimes) and morris tune Orange In Bloom; the closing Tune For The Bullfinch; and best of all, a truly lovely duet with Emma’s cor anglais (Black Mountains) which potently evokes a sense of openness and space. In fact, the kinship between music and place is strongly present throughout much of Finn’s music.

The three songs may seem a touch wild-card in comparison. The best is Finn’s cover of Jimmy Rankin’s Orangedale Whistle, done as a gentle country shuffle with Katriona excelling on fiddle and supportive backing vocals from Emma. Finn shares the lead-vocal duty with Emma on an up-tempo Banks Of The Nile, while the remaining song is a full-band rocked-up take on the halyard shanty, Hanging Johnny, where Finn’s light-toned voice feels perhaps underpowered for the task.

So, prepare to jettison all preconceptions about the recorder; for this is emphatically not an album of fey pseudo-baroquerie, but instead a gently stimulating exercise in showcasing the tenor, alto and bass recorder in new and exciting contexts.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine