Andy Cutting is much in demand, and has been for some time, even more so since he won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year award in 2008. At last, though, he’s found time to put together a CD in his own name. This first release on Lane Records from Derby is available to order online and goes on general release in August.
Melodeon player and self confessed former Morris dancer, Andy Cutting, is best known for his innovative work with Blowzabella and his collaborations with Chris Wood. He has also performed and recorded with many of today’s best known musicians on the folk scene, including Kate Rusby, John McKusker, Martin Simpson and June Tabor. Neither is Andy timid about branching out, recent work with Sting and The Who have enhanced his reputation outside the folk genre.
In his eponymously titled solo album Andy presents a collection of tunes where exuberance, humour and innovation go hand in hand with his impressive collaborative and musical skills.
In the opening two tracks, Uphill Way and Cuckoo’s Nest/Old Molly Oxford, Ian Carr’s contribution as musician and arranger is significant and provides a memorable accompaniment to Andy’s effortless playing. Whether it’s Andy’s own composition in memory of uphill struggles, or the pair’s arrangement of much loved traditional tunes, the album starts with an easy-going, natural sound and pace, inviting you to sit back and enjoy.
CeG is a tune learned by Andy from a fiddle collective, I hope that’s an apt description, from Falu in Sweden; Falu Spelmanslag. This track introduces his next collaborator on this CD, Tim Harries. Tim is a double bass player of no small reputation and his list of credits is as lengthy and varied as Andy’s. His playing adds a new dimension to the music, both melodic and percussive. The rich bass provides a contrasting backdrop to the accordions breathy tones.
Michael McGoldrick lends a hand in one of Andy’s own tunes about a place he’s never been followed by a lively toe-tapper about an uncooperative springer spaniel. A pair of sprightly and highly enjoyable waltzes, one from Andy, one from Ian Carr, follow effortlessly and take us toward Andy’s next collaboration with Tim Harries. Huw Warren’s gorgeous Still Hearing You takes us on a late night jazz journey before Terry Mann’s The Resplendent Jig picks up the tempo again, both tunes enhanced and given a new direction by messers Cutting and Harries.
The Granton Fish Bowl returns us to the folky side of the fence before Andy provides ample justification for the presence of bass notes on an accordion in a busy, fast-paced tune inspired, it would seem, by his shared diminutive stature with Kate Rusby. The pace stays lively as Andy enjoys another a pair of tunes with Ian Carr, celebrating his entertaining accent.
Old Light serves as a preface to the closing track, The Abbess; a lovely, gentle air that makes you want to lie back with the sun on your face, lose yourself in the melody and listen to the album again from the start.
I found this CD something of a challenge to listen to at first. Being from north of the Tweed I’m unfamiliar with the joys of the English melodeon. Although I’ve been aware of Andy Cutting’s talent as a collaborator with other musicians, this is my first encounter with his own music. It’s been a happy learning curve over the last few days, though.
The stand-out track on the album, for me, is CeG. On the first listening, this collaboration with Tim Harries , with its dreamy introduction, percussive bass and effortless playing by Andy, held me entranced from beginning to end.
Andy’s sense of humour shines through in both the music and his entertaining sleeve notes (his notes on Old Light remind me of an old joke about folk singers, but I’ll save that for another day). His own compositions are every bit as enjoyable as the traditional pieces he plays and his arrangements of work by other musicians are skilfully developed.
I’ll be interested to see how this album is received by those more knowledgeable about English music, ecstatically, I hope. My melodeon induction has been a most enjoyable one, thanks to Mr Cutting and friends. Who knows, I may even learn to understand Morris dancing one day.