Pete Willow of Folk Monthly
reviews Fortyssimo by The Old Swan BandHere's a lively and accomplished set of tunes to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the mainstay band in the English County Dance scene. They draw on some interesting sources not just English but Irish, Scottish, French Canadian, Australian and some original compositions and arrangements for good measure.
Originally the Cotswold Liberation front, The Old Swan Band emerged to challenge the folk orthodoxy of the mid 1970s through the radical introduction of percussion and sax to the repertoire. There was a hiatus in the band's history with no recordings between 1983 and 2004 but the current line up of fiddles, saxes, trombone, harmonica, piano and percussion manages to maintain a secure balance of deference to traditional sources and showmanship and flair that appeals to contemporary audiences.
The arrangements are tight and applied with skill, achieving an ideal basis for an enjoyable dance event without the distraction of musical ego trips or solo improvisation. The solitude of my car was not the best environment for listening to this this is definitely music for sharing, dancing and socialising albeit in very polite company.
Congratulations to the band for its longevity and good to see a milestone album that does not fall back on the old material but introduces several tunes that have never been recorded before.