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Paul Davenport of fRoots

reviews Wight Cockade by The Dollymopps

There’s a principle expounded by Scots song collectors and scholars, ‘Dig where you Stand!’ and that’s pretty much what this band are committed to doing. The Dollymops, Virgil and Dorana Philpott and Justin Smith have stayed faithful to a vision which characterised their first album, Long Songs, by looking carefully at their own location and its songlore. The result is once again a compelling and intelligently crafted album with lots of eyebrow raisers in the form of songs that are either unfamiliar or are presented in unfamiliar versions. The songs on this album, therefore, are pointing the listener at the Isle of Wight and its little known folk-song heritage. However, the band are far from insular in their approach to the business of singing and researching folk song.

The presentation is mostly a cappella with some strong and secure harmonies by the male voices being spiced and enriched by Dorana’s edgy top lines which give the whole sound an edge and a sense of musical risk-taking which makes me smile a lot and remember the Young Tradition and the Watersons. There are two tracks which use the guitar and, although these show considerable musical skill and are well done, they somehow break the otherwise mesmeric effect that the other tracks have created. Maybe that’s intentional? For me it was a distraction. That aside, the presentation of the album is excellent, as one has come to expect from WildGoose. The booklet is informative, printed in full colour and with the now standard Roud numbers. (A trawl of the Roud index reveals just how unusual these songs are!) The list of acknowledgements reveals yet again the ‘roadmap’ of the journey taken to assemble this collection.

This CD was a delight to listen to, and to review. Without giving an extended or blowby-blow track list, let me end by saying that I share the band’s philosophy about researching and searching for interesting and possibly unique versions of songs. There are a couple of tracks on this album that I shall be learning and singing! Nuff said?