Review Archive

‘Red House’ from Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer - flawless interpretation of musical heritage

(October 10, 2013)

The measure of quality has been defined by economists, playwrights, scholars and philosophers, my RedHousedefinition is much simpler – listen to the music of Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer. Following their progress for over ten years has been a distinct pleasure. Their flawless interpretation of our musical heritage runs through their albums, across their captivating live performances, and has provided eager listeners with hours of pure quality music. Their latest album, ‘Red House’ continues the legacy.

Through a partnership that has forged an enviable reputation for instrumental excellence, spiralling harmonies, talented songwriting and captivating arrangements, Vicki and Jonny continue to write their own melodies with the same dexterity and brilliance they apply to their adaptations of traditional tunes. And their mastery of their selected instruments – from Scottish smallpipes, Swedish nyckelharpa and bagpipes, English border pipes to guitars, accordion and ‘saz-shaped bouzouki thing’ – remains dazzling.

‘Red House’ is a superb folk experience of precious substance – from the opening ‘The Rambling Shuiler’ once made famous by Planxty, now with a new arrangement that could well become ‘the standard,’ through the deliciously dreamy pipes of ‘Skomakaren’ and the iridescent pipes of ‘Stumpie’ that call you to take on a lively step, to the mournful and cautionary tale of ‘The Sheffield Apprentice’ – each one a gem and collectively a treasure hoard. The experience continues through the multifaceted majesty of ‘Red House’, a fine version of Keys to Canterbury here called ‘The Proposal (Keys of my heart)’ and the delightful vitality of‘Bolinder’ complete with two-stroke narrowboat engine providing the rhythm - nothing if not inventive!

On ‘Red House’ the honours are as follows: Vicki Swan (Scottish smallpipes, Swedish nyckelharpa, English border pipes, Swedish bagpipes, flute, double bass) Jonny Dyer (vocals, guitar, accordion, ‘saz-shaped bouzouki thing’, piano) and guest Tom Kitching (fiddle, narrowboat ‘Spey’ engine driver).

‘Red House’ will become a seminal folk album, no doubt.

You can find Vicki & Jonny and ‘Red House’ here: www.swan-dyer.co.uk

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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