Album review: PETER KNIGHT’S GIGSPANNER BIG BAND – Natural Invention


Gigspanner [Release date 10.04.20]

Beginning life as a trio – with fiddle player Peter Knight and former member of Steeleye Span, being joined by percussionist Sacha Trochet and guitarist Roger Flack – the line-up has been expanded to form the Gigspanner Big Band, with acclaimed multi-instrumental duo Edgelarks (Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin) and Bellowhead co-founder and melodeon player, John Spiers completing the line-up.

‘Awake, Awake’ is a string opener with Hannah Martin taking the lead vocals, an American folk ballad. Gigspanner’s talent is that appeal to the traditional folk fan in that their songs are drawn from the folk songbook and keep much of the original lyrics, then they ‘Gigspanner it’ for wont of a better phrase. This can be the superlative guitar playing of Roger Flack and percussion of Sacha Trochet on ‘The Star Of Munster’/’Reel du Tricentenaire’, or ‘The Snows They Melt The Soonest’, where Peter Knight’s fiddle playing is a wonder on the ears, so graceful and moving.

Proof that hearing a piece music can recall memories, ‘Daddy Fox’ is a tune my dad used to sing to me as a child accompanied by his acoustic guitar. Listening to this transported me back to that time in an instant. I am delighted to say the upbeat rendition on here is simply stunning. It takes a bluegrass pace, allowing both John Spiers and Phil Henry their chance to shine musically on the accordion and beatbox harmonica respectively.

With such a line-up of talented musicians musical expectations will naturally be high. Luckily ‘Natural Invention’ delivers, giving the listen an entertaining and delightful ride through many styles of folk music. Sure to be a contender for many a year end “Album of the Year” list. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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