Gigspanner – The Wife of Urban Law

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 5/5

The arrival of any new Gigspanner album is always preceded by eager anticipation in these quarters and the trio’s fourth album to date is no exception.  So good is Peter Knight’s trio, I’ve come to expect nothing short of musical excellence in both their choice of material and their intricate arrangements, but most importantly, in the standard of each musician’s masterful playing.  Even after a swift change of line up, Sacha Trochet replacing regular percussionist Vincent Salzfaas, who was forced to retreat due to ‘family matters’, the standard has remained of the highest standard both in their instrumentals and in the songs.  The Wife of Urban Law, its title taken from a gravestone in an Oxfordshire graveyard, features just nine tracks, each one imbued with that special Gigspanner treatment.  Take the traditional “Spencer the Rover” for instance, covered by many in the past, the tune may have been compos-ed by the roving Spencer but here the song benefits considerably from this fabulous arrangement by the trio.  The very idea of including a highly melancholic klezmer instrumental midway through, a perfect change of direction to follow the lyric ‘caused him to lament’, Knight wandering very much into Daniel Hoffman territory, that is both inspired and unexpected at the same time.  It’s this sort of adventurous spirit that has been the benchmark of Gigspanner’s appeal through their recorded output thus far.  Vocally, Peter Knight never strays into cloying techniques and keeps it pretty simple, which seems to keep us focussed on the material’s more enchanting moments.  Both live and on record, Peter Knight’s Gigspanner continue to thrill, just in time for their imminent extensive British tour.