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SKYHOOK - At The Stringsmith’s Forge

SKYHOOK - At The Stringsmith’s Forge
Private Label SHMCD02

Two years ago, my nephew and I attended the Worrall Folk & Ale Festival near Sheffield. The keen north wind turned May to February and the audience rubbed shoulders with brass monkeys. The ale cheered us, but so did the performance of Skyhook who defied the conditions with a stirring set. Cath James (fiddle, viola), Martin Harwood (fiddle, guitar, bouzouki) and Eoin Teather (vocals, guitar, bouzouki) won me over that day. They are from Hampshire, Edinburgh and Mull respectively, but live in Sheffield which is home to one of our most thriving folk communities. At The Stringsmith’s Forge is their second album.

Traditional tunes from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton are married happily to tunes from Cath, which feature on 7 of the 12 tracks. She is a gifted composer in the traditional style. I loved Stringsmith’s Reel (named for the workers who manned the water-powered hammers in South Yorkshire’s iron forges), A Tune For Jerry Holland, Tom’s Thumb (for her baby nephew) and New Year’s Day. The last is one of several tunes written in Highland bothies and she takes much of her inspiration from the oudoors and nature. Eoin sings well on the three songs. Bonny Light Horseman was learned from the singing of Hugh Waller, a stalwart of the Sheffield folk scene who died this year. Roseville Fair is followed by an appropriate reel, Kissing Is The Best Of A’. Turtle And The Asp is Martin Simpson’s animal fable.

The trio has played together for long enough to develop a potent chemistry. Eoin is a skilled accompanist, while the twin fiddles of Cath and Martin combine drive and subtlety. The pace is measured, with reflective interludes. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear a bum note in one of Cath’s tunes, but it’s deliberate – to commemorate the time someone nearly destroyed her viola by sitting on it. More power to Skyhook, and warmer weather for the next time I see them.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 104 of The Living Tradition magazine.