Bob Bignell of Folk Monthly
reviews A Handful of Sky by Nick Wyke and Becki DriscollA lesson learnt! Don't jump to conclusions! When this album landed on my doormat with a request to review it, seeing the picture of not one but two fiddle players on the back of the jewel case I assumed that I was in for fifty minutes or so of fiddle tunes. I couldn't have been more wrong. Yes, there are fiddle tunes bright, lively and imaginatively set and, at times, bordering on symphonic (not a criticism) with rich tones and clever juxtaposition between fiddle and viola and there are songs, great songs, clearly performed and obviously, as my subsequent reading of the sleeve notes revealed, well researched.
The tunes are a mixture of traditional and self penned and I found myself thinking of the arrangements of Bellowhead albeit with, mostly, only two instruments. Maybe I went too far down this track because I also thought I heard traces of Jon Boden in Nick Wyke's vocals. Again, these comments are not meant as criticism.
My favourite tracks are, predictably for me, the vocal ones with The Torrington Ringers, the melody of which was written by Becki Driscoll based on a six bell peal, and The Exmoor Ram, a delightful song from the "exaggeration" genre with a good chorus. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy the tunes which, as I said previously, are imaginatively set and arranged to provide constant interest and I didn't, as so often happens, find myself treating them as background music. My favourites amongst the tunes is the title track A Handful of Sky. However, all of the tracks on this album will go onto my ever expanding playlist and none of them will be skipped.
The duo are new to me but I intend to make it my business to seek them out for more. Check out the website www.englishfiddle.com where you can hear samples and purchase the album ....a purchase I would thoroughly recommend.