RootBeat Records RBRCD05

Kerfuffle have been around for about four years now, and this is their third full length recording. The overriding feeling you get from 'Links' is that of youthful exuberance. The four piece ensemble consists of Sam Sweeney (fiddle, percussion), Hannah James (vocals, accordion, piano), Chris Thornton-Smith (guitar) and Tom Sweeney (bass guitars). It's a bit hard to know what to expect when the first track, 'Intro' wends its merry way out of the speakers. If you listen closely enough to the backwards sounds, do you hear "I buried Paul" somewhere in the mix?

The recording features a good balance of songs and tunes. Traditional songs include 'The Bold Grenadier', 'Searching for lambs', and the 'Brisk Young Widow'. Hanna James has a sweet, light, somewhat girlish quality to her voice. 'Light Flight' once performed by Pentangle as the theme for the TV show 'Take Three Girls' is a real charmer in her hands; delightful. The instruments are all adeptly played, but sometimes the guitar is a little high in the mix. The tunes are mostly traditional, though there is a touching rendition of Swarbrick's 'My Heart's in New South Wales'. My favourite instrumental track is probably 'Sam's 16th / 'Hare's Maggot' / 'The Cheshire Round'. They play the old dance tunes with passion and oomph, which is a refreshing change. If there's anything I can't abide it's a mushy, wet-tuned accordion butchering 17th century dance tunes. Thankfully, there's not a hint of that on this recording. The final two tracks were recorded live and are just that tiny bit more exciting for having an audience. We're even treated to a bit of fancy footwork to finish it off. They must be great fun in a live setting. But failing that, pick up their CD, you won't be disappointed.

E. Bradtke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 69 of The Living Tradition magazine.