Review Archive

‘Gambit’ from Ollie King - remarkable talent and essential Englishness

(September 17, 2014)

Ollie King is a melodeon player and singer – that much is true, however that simple statement misses out so much. There’s the way he handles the melodeon with a deft and sensitive touch Ollie King Gambitbreathing a vibrant, expressive life into the instrument. He has mastered music that perpetuates the magic and energy pouring through the wealth of England’s folk customs and traditional heritage. He has a distinctive style and approach to playing and singing that expresses a comprehensive understanding of the inheritance of this music, which undeniably has England’s mark stamped all over it.

 From the opening gaiety of ‘Shooting’ and the delightfully moving ‘Polperro Bay’ to the intricacy of ‘End of an Era/ Mrs Cunningham’s Magot’ and the evocative feel of ‘Signposts’ this is musician, instrument, music and tradition in flawless harmony. Add a collection of songs like ‘The Bold Archer’, the shanty ‘Round The Bay of Mexico’ complete with rousing chorus and the sombre narrative of ‘The Lakes of Cold Fen’ and you have an essential piece of English folk. There’s far more to the melodeon than accompanying Morris tunes. This album proves that. When an album moves your memory it becomes captivating. Listening to ‘Gambit’ evokes a memory of times spent walking this land, every folk custom and tradition experienced, each landmark and magical place visited along the way. Its remarkable and essential Englishness is a wonderful involvement - absorb and enjoy.   

‘Gambit’ by Ollie King (vocals, Hohner Super Erika, Hohner Erika) is recorded and produced by Andy Bell and across selected tracks features the combined talents of Sam Sweeney (viola, fiddle) Fay Hield (vocals) James Findlay (guitar, vocals) and Rosie Hood (vocals). ‘Gambit’ by Ollie King: is released on 3 November on RootBeat Records:

Reviewer: Tim Carroll 

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