Kadia – The Outlandish Collection
Self Released – 28 April 2017
The release their debut album, East of Alexandria, in 2015, propelled Kadia to national attention, and it was included in the Telegraph’s Folk Albums of the Year. This led to gigs and festival appearances well away from their home ground of the English South Coast. When combined with being in demand for session work, it’s kept the trio pleasingly busy for the last two years, but it’s also ensured time in the studio for a follow-up album has been a scarce resource. Their live shows have always mixed traditional material with their original pieces, along with the occasional burst of Katy Perry, but we’ll gloss over that, so the band have recorded four trad songs and an instrumental set for release as an EP, The Outlandish Collection.
The collection opens with live set favourite Captain Ward, a tale of piracy and boastfulness on the high seas. The lyrics will be familiar to many, but there’s real listening pleasure to be had from the instrumental arrangement. It’s clear from the outset they’ve taken care to produce a setting that exploits the freedom and flexibility of a recording studio. On stage, percussion from David Hoyland is largely limited to cajón and stomp board as he keeps his hands free for mandolin. In the studio, he can return to his roots, a full drum kit, and, along with bowed double bass from Lee Cuff and Chris Bailey’s strummed and often chopped guitar chords, provide a varied, multi-layered rhythm track. Over this, Lee’s ever fascinating vocals, cello fills, and David’s mandolin adds up to an arrangement that pleases on every level.
The rich, full sound on this first track sets a high bar that the remaining four tracks easily match. Guitarist Chris, who was also the producer, commented “recording in a real analogue studio… …was just the best experience we have ever had as musicians.” Listening to the results on decent headphones brings a smile to my lips every time, and I can only congratulate the lads on the quality of their efforts.
The instrumental, Cricketer’s Set, is a collection of reels, the ever-popular Cooley’s Reel from Ireland coupled with St Anne’s Reel, an original piece Queen Anne’s Revenge, and finally, the hornpipe King of the Fairies.
The remaining three songs start with another piece that’s been in the Kadia live repertoire for some time, Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight. The song exists in numerous versions, the essential element being the Lady getting the better of the serial killer Knight. Next up, The Keeper is a song those of my generation are likely to know very well, how you react to it will possibly depend on who taught class singing lessons at your primary school. Those under 50 shouldn’t have that baggage and can perhaps savour all the sexual innuendos built into a hunting song that’s one long metaphor. Kadia sing it unaccompanied, all three voices taking equal part, nicely illustrating the extent to which vocal duties have become shared as the band has matured. All three voices are again in action on the final song, a capstan shanty, Randy Dandy, in an arrangement the band developed specifically for this EP. In Kadia’s hands, it’s a rather more melodious song than many a shanty with some fine mandolin adding to the voices.
As with many an EP release, The Outlandish Collection provides a snapshot of where the band are at this point. Although deliberately limited to the traditional side of their repertoire, it’s a great showcase for how their instrumental range is developing. There are accordion and ukulele in some arrangements in addition to the instruments already mentioned but of wider significance is the thoughtful way they are using all their talents, including all three voices, producing rich, textured arrangements. There’s much pleasure to be gained from listening to The Outlandish Collection and even more from anticipating how the maturing of Kadia’s musical perceptions will play out on their next album of original material.
Order it here: http://kadiaband.co.uk/the-outlandish-collection-ep/