‘Grassy Roads, Wandering Feet’ from The Bombadils - a wholly organic album(April 23, 2015)
There are moments, sometimes few and far between, when an album grabs you from the outset, and when that happens it’s thrilling. One listen to ‘Grassy Roads, Wandering Feet’ from The Bombadils and you know it’s one of those moments. Their roots range Canada-wide, their collective influences share Celtic and bluegrass traditions, and their education covers classical to jazz … add that together and you have a distinctive and engaging sound. Somewhere in the press material their music is described as ‘chamber folk’ and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Although, the structured ‘restrictions’ of chamber music don’t really apply, while the ‘freedom’ of folk certainly does, imagine if you will, the best of both combined and you’re almost there. You still need to add the innovation that comes from their assorted influences and the obvious symbiosis that exists between four accomplished musicians.
This is a wholly organic album, the feeling of boundary-free interaction between instruments and musicians entirely evident. The tunes memorable, the melodies exquisite. The whole is a living, breathing experience. They open with a couple of originals - a mellow instrumental ‘Rocky Mountain Path’, continue with ‘Where Will This Prayer Go?’ and include a touch of Newfoundland tradition with ‘Heave Away’. They delve into realms of beauty with a deftly delivered song written around the WB Yeats poem, ‘Song Of Wandering Aengus’, and then cross the Irish Sea to deliver a Scottish traditional ‘Black Is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair’. The self-penned offerings continue with the startling rhythms of ‘Milk and Money’, the life-cycle narrative of ‘Portrait’ and the softness of memories within ‘Hour Of The Blue Snow’ and the intensely personal appeal of ‘Nova Scotia Goodbye’. They give another airing to their instrumental dexterity shining through the emotion-rich ‘Hazeldean’ and the closing trio ‘The Scribble/ An Elk Named Seamus/ Bunkbed Buddies’.
If this is the calibre of contemporary folk music currently flowing from The Bombadils and Canada then look out world it’s the start of an epidemic. The Bombadils are Sarah Frank (fiddle, banjo, vocals) Luke Fraser (guitar, mandolin, vocals) Alan Mackie (bass, vocals) and Anh Phung (flutes, harmonica, vocals). Find the band and their music here: thebombadils.com
Reviewer: Tim Carroll