Review Archive

‘The Bone Orchard’ from Gavin Davenport - destined to rank among seminal English folk albums

(March 14, 2013)

The English folk tradition remains safe in many hands. With ‘The Bone Orchard’, his second solo The Bone Orchardalbum, Gavin Davenport proves that he is one of the custodians that we can trust implicitly. The Bone Orchard’ is a showcase for Gavin’s inimitable voice and song-writing skills, and includes some of the UK’s finest folk musicians among its guests. In my humble opinion it is destined to rank among seminal English folk albums combining tradition with variation, arrangement and experiment.

The album contains familiar themes, desperate tales of deportation with ‘Whitby Lad’ and ‘Jim Jones in Botany Bay’ re-telling the awfulness of exile, and a murder-revenge ballad ‘Castle by the Sea’ with its jaunty tune entirely at odds with its shocking subject. The attraction of this album lies in Gavin’s blending of tunes and narratives to create his stories and soundscapes - ‘Farewell to Yorkshire’ borrows touches from Spencer the Rover, while in another outing for Yorkshire, the self-penned ‘Wooden Swords and May Queens’ comes complete with brass-section accents.

The poacher-gamekeeper theme gets an outing with the jovial ‘Long Legged Lurcher Dog’, while the title track ‘From The Bone Orchard’, with its collection of elusive voices and ramblings behind the sombre tune, serves as Gavin’s celebration of the enduring folk tradition. There’s a somewhat creepy feel to ‘Bold Dragoon’ complete with slightly eerie hurdy-gurdy while the ever hopeful and enduringly positive ‘Hymn for The New Year’ closes proceedings.

Gavin Davenport tells engrossing folk tales old and new, which with each re-telling become more striking.

On ‘The Bone Orchard’ Gavin (vocals, guitar, citern, mandolin, Anglo and Duet concertina, five-string banjo) is joined by Tom Kitching (fiddle) Nick Cooke (melodeon) and Tim Yates (double bass, melodeon), there are guest spots from Jim Causley (vocals) Jim Molyneux (percussion) Martin Keates (hurdy gurdy) Ben Trott (slide guitar) and Aaron Stanton (percussion). He also adds a brass and string section on a couple of tracks plus no end of support on backing vocals and hand chimes ... if you’re going to recruit support you may as well go the whole hog.

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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