Review Archive

‘Pantomime Cannon’ from Threepenny Bit – ‘more than casual toe-tapping it’s full-on engagement'

(September 27, 2014)

There’s an oft-quoted phrase about judgement regarding ‘books and covers’ – for those that know eight-piece folk band Threepenny Bit, their latest album delivers as expected, however if Pantomime Cannon Three Penny Bityou’re new to their music then ‘Pantomime Cannon’ is a case of cover and content in perfect harmony. The album title, cover illustration and ‘Boom’ banner, sum up the vivacity, fervour, faintly-bridled lunacy and impressive flamboyance their music generates. Their sound blends traditional with self-penned into a wash of dance tunes ranging from mildly energetic through decidedly graceful to seizure-inducing fanaticism. This is far more than casual toe-tapping interest it’s full-on engagement from the outset.

There’s a wholly organic feel to this album with its assortment of morphing and evolving tunes. It radiates a sense of freedom and unrestricted revel with arrangements by Steven Troughton and Jason Beaumont taking traditional tunes on unexpected journeys. Opening with reworked ‘Arthur Muses’ and ‘The Rochdale Coconut Dance’ they move seamlessly to‘Go To Berwick Johnnie’ and the intriguingly titled and feverishly animated ‘The Unfortunate Cup Of Tea’ – remain seated through this one you will not! The frenetic energy of ‘Cabbage’ penned by Helen Gentile is only just in check always threatening to run away from the band, ‘The Travelling Lemon’ by Chris Nichols with its majestic step holds court in its own peculiar style, while ‘Bitterne Distress’ from Ruth Burrows moves effortlessly between pugnacious contention, conciliatory compliance and enigmatic happiness.

Threepenny Bit are Jason Beaumont (flute, bass guitar) Ruth Burrows (saxophone) Helen Gentile (clarinet) Hannah Gray (flute, low D whistle) Guy Moore (drums, percussion, guitar) Chris Nichols (violin, viola) Josh Robson-Hemmings (acoustic guitar) Ruth Burrows (alto saxophone) and Steven Troughton (accordion).

You can find Threepenny Bit and ‘Pantomime Cannon’ here: – beware you could become addicted.

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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