In memorium
Kate Rusby on Dolly, Ronan and the Kinks

In the right hands

A proud parent kindly sent me the link to this YouTube clip of the Kerfuffle's Cropredy set.

Unfortunately, I was not able to spend long enough at the festival to catch more than a handful of the acts and this was one of the many I missed.

But I have listened carefully to the Kerfuffle album, Links, on their own RootBeat label, and am more than happy to commend it as an excellent example of young British musicians quietly proving that the future of folk is safe in their hands.

The playing is overwhelmingly impressive, so much so that it seem churlish to add that my inexpert ear detected what it thought were a couple of awkward changes of pace.

That really is the slightest of quarrels with an album that not only bursts with energy and exemplary arrangements, but has the considerable bonus of Hannah James's vocals.

Perhaps most strikingly, Hannah refuses to stick to safe, relatively easy crowd pleasers but strays into trickier waters. Light Flight, the old Pentangle hit, and Lark in the Clear Air, sound especially difficult songs to deliver with anything approaching her accomplishment and charm. She is not - yet - Jacqui McShee or Eileen Pratt, but these are performances in which she can take pride.

The test is often whether a band - Hannah sings, plays (accordion) and dancves with Sam Sweeney (fiddle, percussion), his brother Tom (bass) and Jamie Roberts (guitars) - can stay together for a meaningful period, and perhaps more to the point whether it can be viable enough in a tough economic climate.

Kerfuffle, I very much hope, will pass both tests and proceed to even greater things.


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