‘The Song Crowned King’ by Cath & Phil Tyler - deserves a place of recognition in folk music(March 29, 2015)
Take narrative traditions from both sides of the Atlantic, mix slender threads of instrumentation, gently ethereal vocals and you have ‘The Song Crowned King’ by Cath & Phil Taylor. Its subtle concoction of roots blends American and British folk, and Sacred Harp singing (named after an historic style of shape note notation) through a gently entrancing balance of banjo, fiddle and voices to create an unpretentious yet undeniably riveting album. There are only six tracks on ‘The Song Crowned King’,which either constitutes a mini album or a perhaps maxi-EP, call it what you will, this brief recording makes its presence felt and leaves you wishing there was more.
Despite its brevity, the scope of ‘The Song Crowned King’ covers some classic tale-telling songs and tunes. The grieving Scottish song, ‘Bonnie George Campbell’ (known by different titles depending on the protagonist’s name) - man rides out, horse returns, but he does not, cue grieving bride, mother, servants depending on the version in question. There’s also a delightful touch of American old time with ‘Boys The Buzzards Are Flying’ by the iconic fiddler Garry Harrison, and a softly engaging version of ‘Puncheon Camps’ oft-played by old-time fiddler and banjo player Clyde Davenport. Making their own mark on tradition by adding their tune to the words of English hymn writer Isaac Watts, they create a mesmeric version of ‘Broad Is The Road That Leads To Death’ and close with the entirely fitting American ballad, ‘Fathers Now Our Meeting Is Over’ customarily used to close camp meetings.
‘The Song Crowned King’ offers a snapshot on the work of two accomplished purveyors of impassioned and heritage-rich music that deserves a place of recognition in folk music. Find more about them here: cathandphiltyler.tumblr.com. The album releases on Ferric Mordant Records on 3 April 2015 and is available from: cathandphiltyler.bandcamp.com.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll