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The Big Eyes Family Players & Friends Folk Songs II
9/10 Clinton Staff review, 03 August 2012
Lovely to see a brand new Big Eyes Family Players album and this time it's a stunner. Whilst flipping through this morning's Guardian (alfresco with coffee and croissant, natch - actually I was in Tesco getting a Mars bar), I was delighted to see a glowing review of this album. It's one of the most heartwarming tales that James Green’s fluid outfit has gained some kind of cult success over the last few years and this could be the album to tip them over into more mainstream acceptance. The Big Eyes started out as a kind of orch-pop band with nods towards Love and The Left Banke, basically people from Yorkshire who sounded a bit French. But they’ve delved pretty full on into a folky world over the last few years most notably collaborating with James Yorkston on the predecessor to this album. Yorkston returns here but is joined by several other guest vocalists including the excellent Adrian Crowley, Nancy Elizabeth and Alasdair Roberts.
All the songs are traditional and there are highlights aplenty. ‘A Man Indeed’ is notable for lovely intertwining vocals from Mary Hampton and Sharron Kraus and it's great to hear Alasdair Roberts again on ‘The Coast O’ Spain’ somehow sounding 60 years older than his actual age, battling with some lovely clattering zither type instrument. Just brilliant. Modern day folk music can sometimes come across as contrived, convoluted, more made in music college than in a bleak Scottish hideaway but this stuff is so natural, the sounds flow from the musicians as if they were born to play this kind of music and each vocalist has empathy for the material and for the way it's played which is sometimes wonderfully dishevelled. If that is not enough this comes with a limited (to 100) bonus CD containing three extra tracks all enclosed in a handmade envelope. Highly, highly recommended.
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