‘Short Stories and Tall Tales’ from Beggars Bridge - weave of tradition and edge of invention(September 24, 2015)
It seems an age, October 2012 in fact, since we reviewed the first album from Hull-based band, Beggar’s Bridge. Back then there were four of them, now they're a six-piece and deliver ‘Short Stories and Tall Tales’ - once again, a collection of folk music that could only originate in ‘England’s green and pleasant’. Although the weave of tradition threads its way pure and strong through their music, an edge of invention and contemporary influence remains intensely in evidence. And that’s part of their attraction, writing in the tradition combined with the freedom to originate their own style.
The album includes a couple of ‘trad arr’ tracks, with the rest written by the band’s songwriters Alan Catton and Mark Pollard – and a fine job they do too. They explore folk traditions with songs about people, places and histories, each with a distinct flavour of their home county. Wider experience and the increase in members increases the depth their sound, expanding their music to allow far more scope. They open with the powerful ‘Don’t Forget’, which reminds that power is only transitory, from there they pay homage to the indomitable Hannah Hauxwell with ‘Daughter of The Dales’ before the disturbing ‘Peg Fyfe’ recalls an infamous East Yorkshire witch and murderer. The album also includes a take on the familiar bawdy ‘Bonnie Black Hare’, the strange tale of ‘The Gamecock Fleet’, ‘The Devil’s Claw’ narrating the perilous life of stokers ‘below decks’, and to end the extraordinary story of ‘Charlie Peace’.
Beggar’s Bridge have with ‘Short Stories and Tall Tales’ produced a memorable piece of folk rock. The band is Alan Catton (guitars, mandolin) Mark Pollard (vocals) Sam Martyn (vocals, whistle, harmonium) Martin Hainstock (bass) Dave Watts (violin) and David ‘Spud’ Jordan (percussion) - find them here: www.beggars-bridge.co.uk
Review: Tim Carroll