The Mile Roses: The Mile Roses
Tantobie Records – 2017
Forged from a touring collaboration between Edwina Hayes, Kate Bramley and Simon Haworth, the latter two having worked together in Jez Lowe’s band as well as on individual projects, their debut album loads up 14 folk and roots tracks, of which eight are band compositions, four from Haworth, and one each from Hayes and Nashville’s Elizabeth Cook and Bramley and Lowe.
Featuring individual leads and trio harmonies with instrumentation that includes mandolin, fretless bass, fiddle and cittern it also has uillean pipes and whistles courtesy of Becky Taylor. It all gets underway in infectious form with Haworth on lead for the folksy trio-penned Come Sailing, followed by Hayes taking lead on her Cook co-write, with the cascading chords bluegrass of Dixie Moon.
Her Northern tones to the fore and with Taylor on the whistle, next up is Bramley’s contribution, Kingsmen, a song about the travelling players of the Shakespearean era. The first of Haworth’s is Neptune, a slow swaying shanty that mines familiar trad folk territory about lovers drowned at sea, the musical mood then shifting to the jazzier almost samba rhythms of the fiddle adorned, shared vocal Too Much Love. With Haworth on lead, it’s back to the folk tradition for The Whisky Song, switching style again for the strummed jaunty foot tapper Rockabilly Girls.
The Northern Lights (about the Borealis, obviously) is the second Haworth tune, reminding me somewhat of early Lindisfarne and, featuring just acoustic guitar before the fiddle makes a late entry flourish, again set at sea. A rather different influence can be heard on the mandolin-led, Hayes-sung mariachi-ish tumbling folksy pop of Late Night Lonely.
The Celtic-folk tinged title track, which also gives the trio their name, is another group composition, each taking a verse on a chorus-friendly trawl through stories about cutting away from the daily grind, here working the mines and factories, to walk a different, freer path, the line about taking up the pen and remembering how to dig again is perhaps inspired by the opening lines of Seamus Heaney’s poem Digging.
As the title suggests, the Christmas-set, slow waltzing Another Year concerns time and people passing, giving their age away with a reference to the 1987 film Harry and the Hendersons.
The last of the collaborative numbers, again featuring whistles, is Fare Thee Well, a fond parting song after a good night of fine company, fine songs, and fine beer that would have probably been better suited as the album’s last track. Instead, it’s sandwiched between the remaining two Haworth songs. Ship To Shore is, as you’ll have guessed, another with a maritime theme, here the memories of an old navy man recalling life on the waves, with the closer being Taking The Long Road Home, a celebration of the life of the travelling troubadour, with a solid singalong chorus designed to echo around the brain as audiences make their way home from the pubs and clubs after an evening in the company of “the man with his guitar in his hand.” It looks like being a good year for the Roses.
Order The Mile Roses here: www.themileroses.com