Review Archive

‘Broken Down Gentlemen’ from the trio Faustus

(January 29, 2013)

Ah yes, Faustus – the collaboration between Saul Rose, Benji Kirkpatrick and Paul Sartin – a trio of Faustus ScanEnglish folk luminaries that has probably ‘played everything with everyone’. That’s the trio that flared onto the folk world only to more or less fade as a collective for nearly two years while they ‘did other things’. Well that’s all changed, with their album ‘Broken Down Gentlemen’ the trio Faustus have resurfaced as a force worth experiencing if pure-blood English folk is your pleasure. The album releases in March 2013 on Navigator Records and if that’s not enough there’s a tour coming in April 2013.

From the moment the melodeon and fiddle-driven ‘Broken Down Gentlemen’ breaks loose you know you’re on familiar ground with Faustus as you expect to hear them, delivering trad-inspired originally-arranged folk. For many this opener is a staple English folk song; complete with dissipation and ruin, rogues and thieves, abandoned wife and children, unsympathetic landlord and an unfortunate incarcerated in jail. That familiarity breeds no contempt however, as Faustus take us through the gloomy tones of ‘American Stranger’, the soft chorus-rich story of ‘Blow The Windy Morning’ with its narrative lyrics and engaging vocals, and the predictably dark, though no less enjoyable ‘murder-of-loved-one’ tale of ‘Prentice Boy’. Each song is a prize but for me the stand-out tracks are the wistful and superbly arranged ‘I Wish, I Wish’ and the thinly-veiled bawdiness of ‘Thrashing Machine’ - a more slowly delivered version in place of the oft-used frenetic pace, just for a pleasant change.

‘Broken Down Gentlemen’ serves up living tradition hand-in-hand with contemporary treatment, and there’s little doubt that once fans of Faustus-folk listen to ‘Broken Down Gentlemen’ it will stay with them. And for my money I’m willing to bet it will remain an enduring fixture in the English folk music anthology. For those that don’t know (and there can’t be many) Faustus is Benji Kirkpatrick (vocals, bouzouki, guitar) Saul Rose (vocals, melodeon) and Paul Sartin (vocals, fiddle, cor anglais, oboe).

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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