fri 05/06/2020

Album: Tom Kitching – Seasons of Change | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Tom Kitching – Seasons of Change

Album: Tom Kitching – Seasons of Change

Busking the British Isles, laden with song

Back in April 2018, English fiddler player and member of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-nominated folk band Pilgrim’s Way embarked on an 18-month busking tour of England. He walked out of his home in Manchester to explore the country, from Berwick to Braintree, from Deal to Darlington, playing and picking up tunes, and writing his Busking England blog (which is now coming out as a book from Scratching Shed). This set of tunes was recorded high up in the Staffordshire peaks at the 19th-century Danebridge Methodist Chapel, with guest players including Norway’s Marit Falt (from female trio Vamm) on Nordic mandola and cittern, and fellow Pilgrim’s Way member Jude Rees on English border bagpipes.

Seasons of Change comprises Morris tunes, jigs, polkas and hornpipes, some from the immortal Playford’s Dancing Master tune book, others from hurdy-gurdy man Cliff Stapleton (Blowzabella, Coil) whose ‘Eglantine’ Kitching describes as one of his busking favourites, and Gavin Davenport’s ‘Miss Firth’s’, based on the life of British occultist Violet Mary Firth AKA Dion Fortune, whose book Psychic Self Defence is something of a cult classic. Kitching’s own tune, ‘In-Store Bakery’ – handy for all itinerant travellers, with or without fiddle – makes an appearance, and there’s the stately, majestic rhythms of the well-known ‘Staines Morris’ among a clutch of Morris tunes, as well as a 17th-century dance tune, ‘Trip to Paris’, and another ancient French tune in ‘La Fanatique’.

As on Kitching’s excellent solo album of instrumental English folk tunes, Interloper (2015), his playing here is outstanding – vigorous, rich, energetic, but nuanced, too, able to speak in the many voices and tongues of English tune-smithery. Seasons of Change is a musical and national journey embarked upon between the Brexit referendum and the current lockdown under occupation of a deadly coronavirus, renewing the sound of Olde England in the context of its contemporary street life, from knackered old post-industrial landscapes to pedestrianised shopping areas, boarded up side streets and plenty of cafes. All quiet as the grave as we speak. When it comes to a new vision of England past and the present, this music does the unlocking.

@CummingTim

His playing is outstanding – vigorous, rich, energetic, but nuanced

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