Neil Brookes of EDS
reviews Wreck off Scilly by Andy Clarke and Steve TylerHaving seen the hard work and dedication of Andy Clarke (bouzouki, guitar, vocals) performing at festivals and clubs around the country, and also having caught glimpses of Steve Tyler (hurdy gurdy, cittern) playing spirited medieval music with Misericordia – and by the church at Sidmouth during folk week – I was intrigued to hear what they might achieve as a duo. I was therefore delighted to find they have produced an excellent album here. The bouzouki/gurdy meld is powerful and makes a dramatic platform for Andy’s ardent and expressive delivery of mainly traditional songs, some from the Baring Gould collection in keeping with Andy’s native county of Devon. He includes his signature ‘Poor Labourers’, which has a lovely tune composed by Gordon Tyrall, and a splendidly wistful version of ‘Rosemary Fair’ as part of his bag of songs.
There are also some wonderfully fiery tunes (although I do find ‘Half Hannikin’ rather a dull melody) that demonstrate Steve’s complete mastery of the hurdy gurdy – there are no dusty keys on his instrument I’m sure! His composition ‘The Wendigo’ is simply astonishing in concept and performance – a real tour de force that is enhanced further by Andy’s expert and full-bodied accompaniment. There is certainly an empathy and balance resulting from the ability of each artist to accompany the other as needed. Steve also includes Jon Swayne’s great bourrée ‘Beanfield’ and lesser-known items from Spanish and Danish sources. The recording is typical of WildGoose productions in being intimate in style, giving an accurate picture of how they no doubt would sound in a small concert or club setting, though this pair’s particular capabilities leave me with a slight curiosity as to what they could do with a ‘Big Production Number’ – I suspect the result might be, in American parlance, awesome!
Well done, guys.