The Dovetail Trio is an invigorating new grouping of three proven talents, these being Matt Quinn (Newcastle Folk Degree alumnus and now veteran of all manner of outfits, working for artists from Dogan to Eliza Carthy), Rosie Hood (engaging Wiltshire singer and Fred Jordan Memorial Award winner) and Jamie Roberts (of multiple-award-winning duo Gilmore & Roberts). Between them, and wisely choosing to utilise a comparatively limited instrumental palette, they’ve managed to work miracles in terms of creating a highly distinctive style and sound. They achieve so much with just concertina and guitar and their three voices – but what capable and charismatic voices! Each of the trio takes a good number of leads as well as producing some superb three-part harmonies along the way – their rendition of the Sussex song Banks Of Mossing (collected by Bob Copper in the 50s) is absolutely excellent, and a fine example both of their vocal prowess and of the special kind of tonal balance their voices can so easily together achieve. Almost as fine is the trio’s beautifully textured rendition of Peter Bellamy’s Transports piece Sweet Loving Friendship, although this song can feel a touch too measured in its sincere effort to translate the sentiments across the ocean.
There’s a really thoughtful, imaginative quality to the trio’s fresh-hued arrangements of songs of almost exclusively traditional origin, and this gives rise to a unique richness of vision and execution. This can be heard especially on The Lady And The Soldier, where Jamie’s gently driving and wonderfully lyrical guitar traceries and Matt’s sensitive concertina chordings weave a really attractive tapestry of design around Rosie’s generous take on the song itself. Similarly with Oak Tree Carol, a real discovery that (like The Lady And The Soldier) had been collected by Alfred Williams – and what a marvellous tune the trio has managed to concoct for this one! The tragic American ballad of Frozen Girl (which the trio had first discovered, on the recommendation of Nancy Kerr, on the landmark 1995 Cordelia’s Dad album Comet), finds considerable capital in retaining a hauntingly simple accompaniment that matches the ebb and flow of the narrative. Simplicity is also the key to the backing for The Rose Of York, all the better to point out the song’s harrowing implications and imagery. Whereas the opening track, the Scottish whaling song Greenland, is ushered in over an insistent huffing, puffing mouth-music rhythm and developed with solid instrumental embellishments and storm-tossed harmonies.
Right in the centre of the disc we find a lone instrumental set, a pairing of Jamie’s own tune The Last Leg (composed while he and Katrina Gilmore were supporting Fairport Convention on their 2011 tour) and a French-Canadian fiddle tune by Eric Favreau. As with the vocal tracks, the recorded balance here is absolutely ideal (engineered by Tom Wright in Sheffield), with plenty of forward presence and recognisable identity.
Review by: David Kidman
Details of their album launch tour can be found here.
Out Now via Rootbeat Records
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