Friday, 17 July 2015


CD Review


If you didn't know, Clype is a Scottish word for being a telltale or if you like telling tales which is pretty appropriate, after all that's what folk groups and singers are supposed to do.

Jonny Hardie and Simon Gall
In this debut album, duo Simon Gall and Jonny Hardie are part of what seems to be an emerging movement, the leading exponent of which is Kris Drever and Lau, taking Scottish traditional music onto a higher plain giving it an almost classical status.
With some of the tracks they seriously stray away from recognisable folk and plant a foot more in the jazz camp. Down With May is one of those where they stand firmly with a foot in both camps. Gall, with the help of Jenny Sturgeon, provides the solid vocals but the music is never fully blended and the fiddle playing and the stepping notes of the piano are given definite roles in this song and neither really steps on the others toes.
The Red Tide sounds remarkably like Lau and once again Gall and Sturgeon provide the lyrics over the top of his broken piano playing with Hardie again having clear demarcation lines as to where the fiddle playing can go.
Jenny Sturgeon
One of the most thought-provoking songs on the album is The Internationale which is a ballad put together by the duo. This really is the first time Gall's piano playing complements the voices rather than being a definite and separate part of the whole. It's an excellently constructed ballad and although it does have a melancholy feel to it through Hardie's fiddle play, it's never depressing or heavy, it's a perfect example of how these two can work as a duo to produce some seriously good music.
The jazz element comes in strongly for the opening of Now My Home which is mixed with Ross Ainslie on the low whistle. There is the Latin strand which is weaved into the lyrics and it does remind quite a bit of Jethro Tull but it doesn't sit easy on the ear, there are a lot of strands to contend with and it does make confusing listening at times. Gall has quite a refined Scottish voice and with Kate Rusby would sound like if she had been Scottish. Unfortunately for this track the piano playing is slightly intrusive but the fiddle interludes are a real delight. Gall has set his music to the words of Hilda Meers in Double Trouble and he has got the brooding feel of the ballad spot on. This track more than any other about sums up Clype with that willingness to experiment and push the boundaries of what can and can't be melded together.
Imperial Zeal his singing does somehow seem to feel as if it's in competition with the fiddle playing and piano rather than being part of the whole. You almost ask yourself should it have been an instrumental or a Capella? Sturgeon gets more of a hand with Fair Drawin' In and it is a lovely ballad. Sturgeon's melodic voice sounds a bit like what you imagine
Clype is one of those albums that doesn't sit easily on you at first listening but there is enough quality and fine elements of singing, music and lyrics to make you want to pay many visits to the tracks and dig out the various strands to enjoy either separately or as a whole.

Clype is out on July 24

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