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Music Review

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Folk Songs


Artist: James Yorkston & the Big Eyes Family
Domino Records
RRP: £11.99
Available 10 August 2009

James Yorkston and the Big Eyes Family Players have teamed up for a new album of traditional songs from the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland and with one tune from Galicia in Spain. Yorkston has moved away from the ‘new wave’ folk songs out there and gone back to the basics of the time-honoured folk song.

‘Hills of Greenmoor’ opens with an array of beautiful strings, just how you imagine a folk song to sound. It has a light and airy feel about it with a hint of melancholy throughout.

The intro to ‘Just As The Tide Was Flowing’ is so simple and I love the melody on the guitar. The male and female vocals complement each other with great harmonies. This is a slower track and again has a feel of sadness to the melody.

‘Martinmas Time’ opens with a simple guitar and earthly vocals, which are met with a male harmony and enters into a soft, yet alluring, array of musical instruments from percussion to a beautiful melody on the recorder. The beat picks up from here with a constant beat in the background, which gives you a sense of travel. As the symbols crash you get the distinct feeling of waves crashing down.

‘Mary Connaught & James O’Donnell’ is upbeat and loud. It’s a very different sounding track to the others on this album so far. It has an Irish folkie sound and ends just as abruptly as it started. Not a favourite of mine.

An almost ghostly sounding song is found in ‘Thorneymoor Woods’; it’s dark, slow tempo’d and quite eerie. The drums and strings work well together to keep the mood of this song.

‘I Went To Visit the Roses’, is a much more upbeat song. It feels much fuller with the strings, piano, guitar and percussion all complimenting each other. This has a real homely feel to it.

A real marching feel is found in ‘Pandeirada de Entrimo’, this is actually from Galicia in Spain. There is a true Spanish feel to it; it’s strong yet at the same time beautiful to listen to.

As with the rest of this album the vocals are prominent in ‘Little Musgrave’ with the strings close behind, it’s quite an emotional song and could easily bring a tear to your eye.

‘Rufford Park Poachers’ has a Country and Western feel to it; it’s slow and ‘twangy’ in some parts, especially when you listen to the guitar in the background.

‘Sovay’ is a depressing song. It’s slow with male and female vocals that are faultless yet, for me, are a little too sad for my liking. The lonesome violin adds to this gloomy tune, which by the end I need some feel good music to cheer me up.

Lucky for me, the final song on this album ‘Low Down In The Broom’ is upbeat, catchy and brings a smile to your face. What a great song to finish on.

This is an easy listen CD; although at times it can get a little dismal, it’s worth giving it a try.


Helena Rea

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James Yorkston & The Big Eyes Family Players - Folk Songs (Bonus Track Version)
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