Blakeley & Son – Nuts & Bolts

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson

It comes as a pleasant surprise to find such a complete and cohesive musical father/son partnership, whose familial playing permeates Nuts and Bolts, their new album together, following on from their 2015 debut The Long Way Home.  Garry and Edd appear to be equally at home with traditional material as well as their own tunes, not to mention the odd non-original song, namely Richard Thompson’s bleak “The Poor Ditching Boy”, which is treated here to a fascinating arrangement, with a skittering fiddle underpinning Garry’s vocal throughout.  If Dominic Behan’s lyrics to “Crooked Jack”, set to the tune of “Star of the County Down”, is forcefully delivered with some determination, then the traditional “Mary and the Soldier” is handled with contrasting delicacy, set to an uncluttered arrangement, which assists the story’s feel through to the end. 

If the vocal tracks are served up tastefully, then the instrumentals are at the very least a showcase of classy musicianship in themselves.  “Alfred and Matilda” and “Solitude at the Long Barrow”, both composed by Mr Blakeley Snr, are performed by the duo with evident empathy, the latter introducing Garry’s delicate low whistle playing credentials to boot.  Joining Garry and Edd are several percussionists, together with guest appearances by Phillip Henry, John Spiers, Roger Flack and Dan Jefferies, whose guitar solo on “Dark Water/Show Me the Money” puts the rock in our socks, but for the most part, Nuts and Bolts is very much down to the nuts and bolts of the Blakeley duo.  Tom Curd also appears toward the end, delivering some fine Highland piping on the final set, the funky “Shooting With the Kids/William’s Reel/Spanner in the Works”.  With both musicians busy in other areas, Garry being a member of Feast of Fiddles and Edd being a fine producer in his own right – check out Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band’s latest release for proof of that – we hope it won’t be another five years before their next duo album.

Choice Track: Crooked Jack (NSV 500)