‘Sing An Honest Song’ from Gawkey - fine English folk(August 22, 2013)
Whenever I read that a debut album was recorded ‘in a few days’ my quality radar goes onto high-gain. Perhaps it shouldn’t but it does, that’s because I’ve heard it so many times “… we just bashed it out to retain our live feel.” And all too often that’s an excuse for “… it’s rough as a badgers bum and the duff notes are there because we can’t hit the right ones.” Well it’s time to put that view aside, at least for ‘Sing An Honest Song’ from Gawkey - there's clear, expressive vocals and creative fiddle accents. Sure, it’s recorded ‘as it comes’ but that gives a dynamic edge to some fine English folk. It’s minimalist in its production but a freshness and naturalness flows through every note, and if the live performance holds the same magic then look out for Gawkey.
Gawkey are songwriter Matt Morton (guitar, vocals) and Nigel Walker (fiddle) and ‘Sing an Honest Song’ is a collection of original music and traditional tunes that reflect the heritage and provenance of English folk music. With individual pedigrees of performance at festivals and concerts the coming together of Matt and Nigel as a duo was more of a happenstance than a plan but, as they say, when they got together the magic juice just flowed and Gawkey happened. Both record immersion in traditional music from an early age and despite the odd wander into brass bands and rock music they returned to their roots and this album is the proof.
The 10 tracks (plus a couple of outtakes) cover standard folk music fare of reflection on such mysteries as life, love, death, betrayal and religion. They include the joyous ‘Watching the River Flow’ and ‘Coilsfield House/ Lady Charlotte Campbell’ the narrative of ‘Henry O’Brien’ the melody-rich, fiddle driven ‘Love’s Got All The Sweetest Tunes’ and the sombre ‘The Black Rose of Summer’.
You can find ‘Sing an Honest Song’ at iTunes: itunes.apple.com/sing-an-honest-song and you should. However, if you want a taste of two chaps enjoying themselves and chuckling over their music, visit their website - www.gawkey.co.uk - and listen to the outtakes from the album.
As my granddad (who knew a thing or two about folk music used to say): “They can write and play a fair old tune them lads.” And these lads do just that.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll