The Poozies – Punch
Schmooz Records – 18 May 2018
Punch is the first album from the all-female Scottish outfit The Poozies to feature new recruits Tia Files and Sarah McFadyen. They join Eilidh Shawe (making three fiddlers) and, the only remaining original, harpist Mary Macmaster. It’s also the first to spread the balance equally between songs and instrumentals since 2003’s Changed Days Same Roots.
Like its 2015 predecessor, Into The Well, it opens with a sprightly instrumental, the title-track a six-minute fiddle-driven medley of Shaw’s punning Punch in the Feis, the bass drum thump of Casino, written by Hannu Kelu, and the high kicking traditional Gaelic tune Dubh an Tomaich.
Sung in Gaelic by Macmaster, the first song, Ailein, is another fusion, here of two traditional numbers, Ailein Ailein with its chant-like refrain melding into the suitably Eastern European flavoured Polish instrumental Slingspolska. The instrumental thread continues to be spun with the six-minutes-plus intricate Files-penned fiddle tune Bloodknot which, in turn, and with more bass drum thumping, flows into Liz Carroll’s Form Your Own Circle.
After this you need to unwind and how better than by Soaking (in the Bathtub), a playfully mischievous but dark-veined rhythmically lurching number written and sung in her vivid Orkney accent by McFadyen. The only other number in which the group have input into the writing is Plecthumb, another fiddle dominated instrumental medley, the title of which was penned by Files and which features a woman’s scream mid-way in (presumably her own) before it segues into the bow-scraping traditional Kopanitsa and Niall Vallely’s lively After The Silence.
The first of the four ‘covers’ showcases McFadyen’s banjo work with Jim Sutherland’s Isobel, the song’s narrator fed up with her other half talking about another woman and wondering if she knows about her, the gutsy fiddle solo bridge reflecting her annoyance.
Opening with deep guitar notes and Grapelli-like fiddle, Knees Of Fire is a jazzier instrumental fusion of the Gavin Firth title number tune and Thomas Kinsella’s blazing fiddles stomp The Chase. The best-known name in the non-group writing credits will, however, be that of Anais Mitchell whose celebratory upbeat Wedding Song, off of the Hadestown album. While it is given a leafy summery atmosphere it remains slightly foreboding with the arrangement built around electro harp, fiddle and bass drum. It all ends, then, on the quiet, relaxed note of Deanie Cox’s whimsically gentle Appalachian-shaded take life as it comes waltzer Easily Led with its softly sung lead, crooning harmonies, acoustic strum and tranquil fiddle solo.
Punch comes with a variety of different meanings, but all of them have an underlying sense of drive and energy, of vim, verve and sheer pizzaz, as well as being a potent drink made up of various different flavours and spirits that coalesce into something uniquely its own. Pour yourself a glass and feel the oomph.
Order Punch here http://www.poozies.co.uk/shop/