Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2018 May-June Contents 76 Rhythms
AN INTRODUCTION TO
Topic Record’s An Introduction To
is an outstanding series of albums
that provides the uninitiated (or
completist) with a stunning highlights
reel of their most lauded artists.
June Tabor and Anne Briggs remain
revered figures in British folk music.
Blessed with a pitch perfect voice,
Tabor is considered one of folk’s
greatest interpreters, whether as a
soloist or as part of an ensemble.
The song selections are culled from
albums, beginning with her 1976 debut
album Airs And Graces through to her
collaboration with the Oysterband,
2011’s Ragged Kingdom. Whilst
clearly not definitive, the selections
make it abundantly clear why Tabor,
still performing, is considered a
national treasure. Briggs was a highly
influential but reluctant star on the
folk scene from the early ‘60s to early
‘70s. She has influenced the likes
of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn
through to contemporary singers such
as Eliza Carthy and Kate Rusby. With
only three albums to draw from, this
terrific selection borders on ‘definitive’
and includes her peerless reading of
Note: Other artists to feature in
this excellent series include Martin
Simpson, John Tams, Shirley Collins
and The Watersons.
TREVOR J. LEEDEN
KASEY CHAMBERS &
THE FIRESIDE DISCIPLES
Kasey Chamber’s last release was a
double album, a sprawling and diverse
set that at times felt like it would
have benefited from more editing and
quality control. Perhaps in reaction
to the nature of that album she’s
retreated to the campfire as both a
symbol and a literal focal point for this
set of magnificent songs.
Chambers has gathered around
her three musicians – her dad Bill,
longtime collaborator Brandon
Dodd and WA indigenous elder
and musician Alan Pigram. It’s a
combination that works wonderfully.
There’s a restraint and respect in
the songs they play together. This is
communal song built on listening
as much as playing together – again
reflecting the importance of the
campfire in the theme of the album.
The songs range from sparse, dark
folk where the strings rattle and
you can hear the inhalations of the
singers, to fun rattle and shake blues
tunes (‘Goliath Is Dead’). The country
gospel harmonies of ‘Abraham’ hang
sweet and sorrowful in the evening
air, slowly unfurling over six minutes
of shimmering guitar and intimate
storytelling. On ‘The Harvest & The
Seed’ Chambers duets with Emmylou
Harris, their voices intertwining like
skyward songbirds in the analogous
tale of land and family. The quiet/
loud dynamics of ‘Now That You’ve
Gone’ is another riposte to critics of
Chambers’ voice. Here, and across the
album, it is varied and compelling.
On all of these songs, attention is
given to the tone and atmosphere
of the songs, ensuring the focus is
squarely on the performances and the
well-crafted heart of the songs.
KIALA & THE
The release of the latest Afrobeat
albums from the Kuti brothers
Femi and Seun, One People One
World and Black Times, intriguingly
coincides with a new long-player
from a musician associated with
their father, the genre’s progenitor.
With Money, Congo born and raised
singer Kiala Nzavotunga, one-time
Fela Kuti guitarist in Egypt 80 (now
Seun’s band), mirrors the stridency of
his mentor’s political polemic while
adopting the funky mix of Yoruba
tribal rhythm and funk that is the
essence of Afrobeat. Unfortunately,
the veteran lacks the requisite vocal
punch to pull it off.
The album’s short opener ‘Afrobeat
Radio’ proves a precursor to an
abbreviated though more than
passable rendition of a Fela Kuti
composition, ‘Sorrow Tears and Blood’,
that’s well embellished by the jazzy
trumpet playing of Brice Moscardini.
That’s about as good as the set gets.
Kiala’s Afrobeat originals with The
Afroblaster, which include a tribute
to his former boss (‘Fela In Lagos’)
fall well short of the potency of the
Kuti family’s collective recordings.
‘Globetrotter’, the solitary lead track
from back-up vocalist Junior Ogawa,
the eldest of Kiala’s three daughters, is
also comparatively tame.
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