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Album reviews with Michal Boncza

Ian Siegal
All the Rage
(Nugene Records)
★★★★

QUINTESSENTIAL rock and blues, All the Rage  is intuitive, straight from the gut and confrontational, with a forgivable helping of self-pitying melancholy.

While Mickey O’Rourke doppelganger Ian Siegal’s rasping if surprisingly versatile voice is the sound signature, none of it would have come off without the admirably muscular and rigorous musicianship of Dusty Cigaar on guitar, Danny Van’t Hoff on bass and Raphael Schwiddessen on drums, who alone make this a four-star offering.

The pulsating rhythms and guitar riffs, free from tedious and self-serving over-elaboration, are delivered with well-measured bursts that are clinical and never overcrowded, imaginatively aiding and elevating Siegal’s expressive voice.

Eagle-Vulture, Won’t Be Your Shotgun Rider, Ain’t You Great or One-Eyed King make their mark, with lyrics that know not banality.

Touring intimate venues across Britain in April, this is a band well worth checking out.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman
Personae
(Iscream Music Records)
★★★★

WEDDED in life as in music, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman won the best duo gong at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2013  and 2016 with good reason.

There is nothing Roberts’s voice can’t express — its rich tonality, colouring, impeccable phrasing and projection gobsmack and Lakeman’s intricate, crystalline guitar and symbiotic support vocals mesmerise.

The duo are superlative lyricists. In 2012, they released the gut-wrenching Ballad of Andy Jacobs about the South Yorkshire miners’ strike, nominated best original track by BBC Radio 2 folk awards, while Tribute Of Hands similarly absorbs with the legend about the founding of Antwerp and The Street of Cats Who Dance time-travels to St Malo in 1772 and  a deadly incident in the night.

These are personae most definitely gratae and are not to be missed on their current tour of folk venues from until May.

 

The Rheingans Sisters
Bright Field
(Rootbeat Records)
★★★★

FIDDLE-PLAYING Rheingans sisters Anna and Rowan may be Peak District natives but they are  musical hunter-gatherers — strictly within Europe for the time being — who fuse northern reflection with the chirpier attitudes of Occitanie where Anna resides.

The eclecticisms are therefore to be expected in Bright Field but they're all the more rewarding when rendered with intuitive imagination and rare and subtle instrumental skill.

The album is a reflection on our often abusive relation with nature, best articulated in This Forest.

The gently ebbing and flowing Edge of the Field, beautifully sung by Rowan, is a moving meditation on the end of life, but just when winter appears eternal, the instrumental Dark Nights/Swinghorn restores sunlight.

The Rheingans Sisters have been touted as prime exponents of “contemporary music that is anchored in folk traditions” and Bright Field shows exactly why.

 

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