Derek Gifford of Folk Northwest
reviews Sea Strands by Tim LaycockIt's good to hear Tim Laycock singing and playing on a solo album as opposed to his usual musical exploits with the excellent New Scorpion Band. The sub-title of this album is 'Folk Songs and Tunes From Dorset' and contains many songs collected by the Hammond brothers and tunes from Benjamin Rose.
Tim's gentle and relaxed style of singing and concertina playing is well captured by Doug Bailey at the Wild Goose studios. He is ably accompanied on some tracks by the multi-instrumentalist Robin Jeffrey, his son Gabriel with his 12-string guitar and Colin Thompson's fiddle and viola.
There are some jolly tunes on here including the appealing 'Tipsy Bob' and 'Cider and Brandy' the latter beginning with a nice conversation between concertina and fiddle. The alcoholic theme is further reflected in the Dorset version of 'John Barleycorn'. Other songs worth a mention are the gentle 'The Broadoak Wassail' which is a tribute to an old Belle de Boskoop apple tree - 'Partially fallen but still bearing fruit' and Dorset versions of the more well known songs 'The Turtle Dove', 'Come Write Me Down' and 'Farewell She'. A new song to me is 'The Old Smith' which is a terrific story based on a gipsy Faust legend.
There is also a varied selection of other songs that have a maritime theme reflecting the title of this album and Tim's particular interest in this area of folk song. Of these 'The Night of Trafalgar (Boatman's Song)' is particularly interesting as it describes the storm that hit all the ships off Trafalgar after the famous battle.
The only song that I thought didn't work was his setting of 'Death in the Nut' which is a well known story teller's ballad and which, to be honest, I prefer to be told (preferably by Taffy Thomas who Tim toured with for many years) rather than sung.
Tim has written some useful and erudite background notes on the songs and tunes and there are some nice pictures on the cover. What more could you ask?