TRADarrr – Strange News

Album Review | Hedge of Sound | Review by Allan Wilkinson

At a time when it becomes increasingly difficult to categorise the various directions folk music has taken over the past few years, which is certainly no bad thing, it still comes as a pleasant surprise to hear an album that delivers on its promise and presents precisely what it says on the tin.  Indeed, each selection on this third album by TRADarrr has ‘Trad.arr’ to its credit, that is, a traditional folk song reworked and arranged around a rock band’s instrumental arsenal and then delivered with almost tangible excitement and with an additional thrust of urgency.  “The Rose of Allendale” was sung so many times in the folk clubs of the 70s and 80s, that I inadvertently cultivated an aversion to it, that is until Marion Fleetwood came along with this fresh approach.  Instead of abandoning the album at this point, I instinctively knew to continue listening and stay with it right through to the end.  There’s plenty to go at, with equally fine performances by Gemma Shirley, notably her tasty arrangement of “The Blacksmith”, which utilises her classically trained voice and complements Marion’s throughout the album.  PJ Wright offers some fine lead guitar playing, an essential ingredient in what we’ve come to know as Folk Rock, which is right up there with, and to the standard of, a Richard Thompson or a Jerry Donoghue.  No Folk Rock outfit can survive without a good rhythm section and with Mark Stevens, who also produces, on bass and Brendan O’Neill on drums, the band can consider itself grounded, especially on “Shore to Shore”, a song that could easily be mistaken for a recently written contemporary pop song, until further inspection that is. Gregg Cave, Guy Fletcher and Mike Stevens should also be mentioned for their invaluable contribution, which I’ve somehow foolishly missed from the above, but better late than never.