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Mick Ryan of Folk on Tap

reviews Mr. Kynaston's Famous Dance Vol 1&2 by Belshazzar's Feast

Mr Kynastons Famous Dance, the third album from Belshazzars Feast, is, to quote the subtitle, an interpretation of 17th and 18th Century English dance music. For me at least, it is very welcome indeed
For here are two genuine masters of instrumental music who epitomise the virtues of restraint, good taste, understatement and not taking yourself too seriously. The great majority of these tunes are from the eponymous Mr (Nathaniel) Kynaston, and the lads (Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson) interpret them with enormous wit, skill, verve and artistry. Paul Hutchinsons piano accordion playing is brilliant. Not only is every note of both melody and counter melody line perfect throughout, but his chording is beautiful as well. The greatest compliment I can pay to his playing, however, is that at no time would the average listener recognise this as piano accordion! In Pauls hands, this sometimes maligned instrument sounds like a superb combination of concertina, melodeon and pipe organ.
Likewise, Paul Sartins oboe playing is really exquisite. Always incredibly nimble in fast passages, he occasionally plays deceptively simple sounding runs of just a few sustained notes which make the hairs rise on the back of my neck. His fiddle playing, too, is terrific, always rhythmic without frenzy, inventive without pretension.
Every track is an absolute cracker, and it struck me that these tunes, as with Playford played by the likes of The Broadside Band, sound remarkably Northumbrian. So it occurs to me that what we think of as characteristically Northumbrian might in fact be characteristically English. Which is to say that, in Northumbrian music, we have a regional survival of what was formerly a more national music. If Im right, then this album, if it gets the recognition it deserves, might just possibly mark the start of some kind of English musical revival. Whatever, this is a very fine album indeed, and is my disc of the year.