Earlier this year I was raving to everyone about the wonderful artist Elfin Bow, and she has been repaying that by introducing me to some other wonderful artists I would otherwise probably have never come across, and one of these is Sharon Lazibyrd who sent me this her debut album. Sharon provides vocals, ukelele, violin. viola and cowbell and she is joined by Damon Bridge (piano, accordion, percussion and radiator), Kate Bridge (violin and backing vocals), Tom Cory (bass, drums and congas) plus assorted guests who all add additional elements and facets – it has been quite a while since I have heard a hammered dulcimer. If ever a cover photograph typifies what is contained within, then it has to be this. What we have here is modern folk, with nods back in time but with a more modern singer songwriter approach, and the cover shows Sharon in a park overlooking a city. It makes me think of a modern musician who is creating an oasis within a bustling overpowering and congested world.
This is an album which has burrowed itself inside my skull, with songs such as the high octane “More For Less” being both simple and incredibly complex, yet it makes me smile with some of the lyrics (been a while I’ve heard someone not giving a toss, it’s not a term used in NZ!) and there is no effort to hide her accent which provides a real feeling of honesty and reality. The strong use of accordion is quite reminiscent at times of classic Whisky Priests, but I never heard them use a plucked violin like this. It is a very English album, modern yet timeless, full of hooks but refusing to become something commercial or sell out. This is music, which is very much of the tradition, but also very much updated and with the times. Fans of artists as diverse as Ashley Hutchings, Seth Lakeman, Elfin Bow and Gary Miller will find a great deal on here to enjoy as this is modern folk songs which are a delight from start to end, and the more times the album is played the more there is to discover.