www.bigbigtrain.com [Release date 27.05.16]
Big Big Train return with their first full studio album since 2013, last year’s EP ‘Wassail’ was a nice stop gap and the title track is on this album. Also since their last album they have expanded their line-up adding two new members – Rachel Hall (violin/vocals) and Rikard Sjöblom (guitars/keys/vocals).
Opening with the album’s title track it is a statement of intent from the band, as the album is one of reflection and looking back to simpler times and ways. A good song to sum up their sound if asked really, mixing thoughtful lyrics, a classical/folk/rock musical backing and a chorus that just won’t leave your head after a couple of plays.
They do veer off on ‘London Plane’ into a little jazz rock noodling which is not my musical cup of tea, however you can still marvel at the musicianship on display here. Dave Gregory in particular has seen more emphasis on guitar solos, wistful in their sound and nature as befits the overall musical mood.
What I love about this band is their songs tell true stories and how they match the music to the theme of a song. Take ‘Brooklands’, named after the famous racing circuit in Weybridge, the song’s lyric focuses on the driver James Cobb, who broke various land an sea speed records during his lifetime. He died attempting another record at Loch Ness and the song sees him recalling his days at Brooklands, as he starts his fateful attmept to break another record.
‘Along The Ridgeway’ has some basis in a traditional folk song/story and Dave Gregory played his 1976 Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar on this. He last played this guitar on XTC’s ‘English Settlement’ album.
Not as instant as the previous two ‘English Electric’ albums, ‘Folklore’ reveals itself more slowly and as with every album by this band stands up to repeated plays. A band and album that has a wide appeal beyond the confines of progressive music and folk. ****1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
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