Gordon Potter of The Living Tradition
reviews Poor Ellen Smith by Rattle on the StovepipeThe names of Dave Arthur and Pete Cooper have, for a good long time, been linked with the English folk scene, as has that of Dan Stewart (though not for quite so long, due to his relative youth!). Here they come together again as Rattle On The Stovepipe, an American old-timey group who play variations on the guitar / fiddle / banjo line-up, with some mandolin and melodeon for good measure. Indeed, if you listen to this CD, you’d only begin to realise that they’re not Americans when you hear the accents in the songs, such is their collective mastery of the styles involved.
Whether in the complex interactions of the instruments or in the relative simplicity of the vocal arrangements, this is a group utterly at ease with their material and with each other. There is never a hint of rushing, forcing the pace or any other artificiality – this is genuine through and through. The clarity of the recording is superb, with every note and every word clear and legible.
Some of the choice of material, at first glance, might seem a bit familiar, but the interpretations of them make them all stand out as if they were being heard for the first time. There is also a superb balance between tune sets and songs to give a roundedness to the whole album, which truly is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.
There are informative booklet notes for each track, giving brief histories, and the non-standard fiddle tunings are given as well, for those who might want to learn the tunes.
All in all, a highly recommended album.