‘Cutthorpe Hill’ from David Harbottle & Freya Jonas - an absorbing, tempting edge(July 11, 2014)
New albums can be intriguing, occasionally peculiar, downright different or something of an endurance test. ‘Cutthorpe Hill’ from David Harbottle & Freya Jonas (with The Friendly Cats) falls into the ‘intriguing’ and ‘different’ category. There’s an absorbing, tempting edge, although at times it’s hard to pin down. You like what you hear, yet sometimes you’re not sure what you’re hearing. The songs ebb and flow across the album, constantly changing their approach, morphing through a faint Americana tinge, an English folk essence, veering into and out of traditional by way of contemporary and ancient. The idiosyncratic delivery contributes most to the uncertainty … yet, and here’s the crucial point, ‘Cutthorpe Hill’ is incredibly appealing.
Tracks like the opener ‘Ramble On’ and ‘Igor’s Wedding’ ripple along merrily enough, and from there, the journey takes numerous unexpected turns – ‘Malcolm’ a meaningful narrative with gentle harmonies and brass accents, the slower pace and vocal echoes of ‘Lay Down Beside Me’ mingling acoustic with electric, and ‘Lift Up Your Flag’ with powerful message, exceptional vocals and a particular panache. The spirit in these songs makes its presence felt and remains in your head - the mournful ‘Carry On You Fishermen’ with its powerful convincing vocals is a fine example, as is their rendition of the well-known ‘Spanish Ladies’ – different from any I’ve heard before.
Playing on the album are David Harbottle (acoustic guitar, vocals, banjo, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums) Freya Jonas (vocals, concertina) Rob Hoskins (accordion) Jude Wright (cello, mandolin) Matt McGrath (violin) and Andy Tyner (trumpet). And that’s it - listening to ‘Cutthorpe Hill’ is definitely worth your time and even more, it’s worth your hard-earned cash - find it here: davidharbottlemusic.co.uk
Reviewer: Charlie Elland