Pons Aelius – Captain Glen’s Comfort

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

The North East music scene has produced some fine folk outfits over the years from Lindisfarne to The Unthanks, Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies to the Young’uns.  In 2015, the  traditional sextet Pons Aelius, named after the Newcastle Roman fort, were the deserved recipients of the Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Award and now, two years on, the band have released their much anticipated debut album.  And what a fine debut it is, too.  Captain Glen’s Comfort presents eight instrumentals that encapsulate the band’s frenetic energy and affectionately expansive arrangements.  Whilst Callum Younger’s measured percussion, Bevan Morris’s inventive basslines and Alisdair Paul’s lithe guitar provide a reliable yet wildly flexible backbone, the sorcerous melding of Jordan Aikin’s swaggering pipes and Sam Patridge’s supple flutes take us on a soaring tour of some pretty striking soundscapes, especially during “YRSNÖ” and the strutting “Oh My Doughnuts”.  It’s Tom Kimber’s banjo, however, that provides this album with its key ingredient, most notably on Molly and Jimmy’s as well as his exploratory mandolin solos on “The Way is Clear” and “Captain Glen’s Comfort”.  The musicianship on this album is outstanding, often reaching moments of euphoric climax such as Jordan Aikin’s pipes solo on £75 Fine which summons the ghost of jazz bagpiper Rufus Harley with its daring improvisations.