Review Archive

‘Hearth & Home’ from 4Square - unafraid to experiment

(October 25, 2013)

Fusion and folk have long resided together – blending styles, mixing instruments, moving across genres - 4 Square album cover JPGbegging, borrowing or stealing. The synthesis occurs usually with deliberation or occasionally by accident and frequently with stunning results. There is within folk music's fairly loose definition, a level of freedom that allows tradition and heritage to sit more or less contentedly alongside invention and innovation. The third album from 4Square titled ‘Hearth & Home’ illustrates how effective the fusion can be. Its musicians combine elements of tradition with original tunes, unafraid to experiment and add from a wide range of genres they takes freely from whatever influences they feel the inclination to absorb.

‘Hearth & Home’ has a fascination that has you waiting for the next development. There’s a strong jazz influence that revels in unexpected twists and turns that take the tunes to unforeseen places. This creative melange is wholly evident in the unrestricted playing of Nicola Lyons, Jim Molyneux, James Meadows and Daniel Day – with this album they have stamped another indelible mark on British folk music.

Opening with the languid pulse of ‘Swings and Roundabouts’ built around a Hanneke Cassel tune embellished by Dan Day, they move into ‘My Tale and Me’ with glittering harmonies and soft lead vocals, through a couple of distinctive Jim Molyneux tunes, ‘Phil Collins’ complete with accordion wizardry and spikey percussion, and the poignant piano and fiddle of ‘Dreadless’. There’s the free-ranging ‘Pressed’ with inspired touches of Jean Luc Ponty clearly evident, augmented by James Meadows. The band also investigates the work of Radiohead with their exploration of ‘The Belly Dancer’ and a deftly effective version of ‘Hold Back The Tide’ by John Tams with Nicola Lyons excelling on lead vocal.

This album doesn’t quite throw the baby out with the bathwater but it does give the ‘folk rulebook’ (should you believe such a thing exists) a severe mauling and folk is all the better for that.

4Square are Nicola Lyons (fiddle, vocals) Jim Molyneux (piano, accordion, vocals) James Meadows (banjo, tenor guitar) and Daniel Day (percussion, vocals). And they can be found

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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