‘Now Is The Time’, the debut album from Kentish folk-rockers Green Diesel(August 05, 2012)
There’s an old cliché on judgement concerning ‘books’ and ‘covers’. Much as I try to avoid such opinions, when I saw ‘Now Is The Time’, the debut album from Kentish folk-rockers Green Diesel, I came dangerously close. That’s because the album cover, both in colour and imagery, evokes a faint reminiscence - accidentally or deliberately - of ‘Angel Delight’ by another folk rock combo. Regardless of that initial impression I delved beyond the cover art and I’m grateful that I did. Why? Because Green Diesel deliver folk rock with a blast of creativity and originality that’s both refreshing and longed-for in a genre that has more than its fair share of ‘me-too’ content.
Naturally, all the required ingredients are here - pummelling drums, driving bass, incisive guitar breaks, cutting violin, engaging vocals and tight harmonies. However, that’s not enough to create fine folk rock – otherwise you will fall into that ‘me-too’ mould – it needs more. It requires an indefinable vibrant quality that surrounds British folk rock coupled with an in-depth understanding of folk and rock musicianship. ‘Now Is The Time’ is innovative, in the same way as the early 70’s folk rock offerings that took folk by the scruff of its neck and gave it a good shake. Green Diesel have evolved from those roots to deliver first-rate 21st century folk rock.
They open ‘Now Is The Time’ with a take on Steve Ashley’s ‘Fire & Wine’ - and if you’re going to cover a British folk legend you’d better hit it spot-on, and they do. Following with a ‘trad arr’ favourite ‘London Pride/Eliza Lee’ through a moody opening into their own folk rock style, their musical skills are evident; there’s the harmonious vocals of ‘The General’s Lament’ and the potent sorrow of ‘Unjust William’ (folk rock isn’t always played fast). For lovers of ‘narrative folk’ there are stories aplenty, from the rolling beat of ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ through ‘The Saga of John Ward’ with its great fiddle breaks, to ‘Rosemary Lane’ featuring guest-singer Imogen Dale’s evocative vocals. If instrumentals are your delight there are two enigmatic piano snippets, both called ‘Interlude’, and the formidable ‘Ray’s Presbyterian Catharsis’, which from its intriguing intro to its barrage of bass and drums will drag you from your seat. And at the close there’s ‘Hop Festival Song’ - a perfect end that leaves you wanting more.
Throughout ‘Now Is The Time’ traditional songs sit happily alongside self-penned innovative originals. And as long as young bands like Green Diesel remain among the custodians of British folk rock then it’s in good hands and assured a long and healthy future. 'Now Is The Time’ releases on 11 August 2012 and it’s available from www.greendiselfolk.com.
Green Diesel are Greg Ireland (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, harmonica, vocals) Ben Holliday (bass guitar) Matthew Fraser (piano accordion, keyboards) Ellen Care (violin, vocals, piano) Matt Dear (lead guitar, vocals) and Colin Ireland (drums, percussion). Joining them on this album are Roger Cotton (piano) Imogen Dale (vocals) and Fred Holden (violin).
Reviewer: Tim Carroll