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David Dolby of Mardles

reviews National Youth Folklore Troupe of England by NYFTE

It is heartwarming to realise that the younger generation is taking an active interest in our "folk" traditions, and here is an album to prove it.

The National Youth Folklore Troupe of England (NFYTE) has recorded a nifty and highly accomplished collection of songs and dance tunes produced by Doug Bailey of Wildgoose Records. He gave freely of both his and studio time, and it's obvious the group have been helped skilfully by very knowledgeable people. What these youngsters (none over 18) have done is to play a wide variety of tunes, old and new, that are used for their dances Cotswold, Border, Northwest, social, and so on using mainly traditional instruments in differing combinations. The quality of musicianship is very high.

There are a couple of niggles. There is sometimes the danger a tune may be swamped as the harmonies kick in, as in the first track, which is a driving version of School for Scandal found in the Thompson collection of 1778, and what sounds like a Melstock Band style of Old Mother Oxford / Laura / Enrico; and the vocal tracks may come as a bit of a surprise with young voices singing shanties and other mature songs. But push these aside and we have an entertaining disc really worth repeated listening.

In particular I liked Two Sisters, the tune commonly used for the current version of the Upton on Severn stick dance. Being played by melodeon and fiddle it stood out in its unashamed simplicity. Battered Hake used a gradual build up of instruments to good effect, and the Serpentiner Och Konfetti / Stoney Steps / Model T Hornpipe medley utilised change of key and tempo extremely well.

This is a well researched, well produced, well performed and informative package that deserves success. It is available from Proper Music Distribution and Wildgoose. Profits are to be ploughed back into NFYTE. Support the young.

September, 2014.