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Dai Woosnam of Celtic & Folk Reviews

reviews 8 More Miles by Rattle on the Stovepipe

Rattle on the Stovepipe are an occasional band that got together at Whitby Folk Week in 2004. They have since appeared together in a host of clubs to general acclaim. This is their debut album (a strange word is that word debut, to apply to a trio of musicians with such a lot of recording time under their belts), and it comes with the imprimatur of Shirley Collins, no less.

In her appreciation in the liner notes, she makes it clear that whenever they are appearing at her local folk club in Lewes in Sussex, she is in the front row cheering them on. Ones tempted to applaud her good taste, but occasionally in the 55 minutes running time, one impishly wonders whether she sits up front because she has developed a hearing problem!

Ha!  I jest of course. But it really is perhaps my way of saying that this album of three musicians who CAN - if they want - whip up a storm, is tasteful to the point of self-effacement. It is understated on occasions only though, you understand. The odd moment where the trio could be accused of not wanting to wake the baby in the next room. Take for instance track 7, the instrumental Over The Waterfall.

Oh, and dont get me wrong: they play it in the most polished way, with Chris Moretons guitar leading the way. But one senses a slightly muted approach: like they could go-up-through-the-gears and make the joint jump a bit, but resist the temptation on grounds of good taste.

And hey, there is nothing wrong with good taste. This is the first time I have heard Dave Arthur since I reviewed his Return Journey CD the best part of 3 years back. (No, strike that last sentence, for I have indeed played the said album perhaps a dozen times since reviewing it. And that is praise indeed, for many albums I ship off to the charity shop.)

And I am enamoured of Daves vocal gifts: nothing flash, just an honest delivery in the clearest diction. And Dave handles most of the vocals here. Really shines with an Appalachian version of the Child Ballad Sweet Williams Ghost.

But I was less familiar of late with Pete Coopers vocals. Yes of course, his fiddle playing will long be in the memory  even after he departs this vale  but he is backward about coming forward, vocals-wise. However, that said, what a solid job he does on The Lakes of Pontchartrain. A voice a bit like Mike Hardings on steroids.

But the standout track has neither of them on lead vocals. Chris Moreton goes back to his bluegrass past for the old Bill Monroe 1945 classic Footmarks In The Snow. I had not heard it in ages. This track was a total triumph and soon had me singing along.

To sum up then: would I recommend you buy it? I think so, yes.

Especially if you liked Daves Return Journey album. This is after all, a sort of sister album. It too explores the authentic traditional music of both sides of The Pond, and is eager to show the links.

To put the icing on the cake, we have the usual high quality WildGoose liner notes. Both wonderfully literate and legible.