Album review: SPIERS & BODEN – Fallow Ground

SPIERS & BODEN – Fallow Ground

Hudson Records [Release date 17.09.21]

By the time John Spiers & Jon Boden had hung up their highly regarded hats as the Spiers & Boden duo in 2014 they had earned a place in the hearts of the folk audience that few could rival. As The Guardian stated ‘the finest instrumental duo on the traditional scene’.

Spiers & Boden were also founding members of the hugely successful folk big band Bellowhead, which after that band had run its course, Jon Boden released a trio of themed solo albums plus recorded and toured solo, as well as being involved in a number of projects. John Spiers joined Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band and also continued with solo work.

‘Bluey Brink’ comes from the repertoire of Peter Bellamy and is the duo’s first foray into the world of Australian folk song. A tale of a notorious sheep shearer who drank sulphuric acid and the only ill effect from this was he burnt his beard!

‘Butter and Cheese and All’ also comes from Bellamy, one of those traditional songs that can have many meanings depending upon the level of innocence of the listener…

The duo do their own version of the folk standard ‘Reynardine’, whilst there is dancing and jigging to be had on the medley ‘The Mallard/Valentine/The Procession’.

The title track highlights what a wonderfully emotive vocal Jon Boden has. Listening this it is hard to believe it is just the two of them making the music such is the depth of the sound and arrangements.

The duo include some original tracks, including ‘The Fog’ and ‘Bailey Hill/Wittenham Clumps’ – the first tune written by Jon, the second by John. Both are about hills which mean something to them and makes for a fitting close to the album. Having walked around Wittenham Clumps a few times it is easy to visualise the scenery there to match the music.

Spiers & Boden wanted to make a joyful and uplifting album, which they certainly achieved as the listener is left with a big smile and sore feet from tapping along to the wonderful music on here. John Spiers & Jon Boden are a formidable musical duo, adept at making folk music accessible and enjoyable for all. Let’s hope we have more from Spiers & Boden soon and in the meantime enjoy this album, then go see them on tour. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

Tuesday, September 28 – St David’s Hall, Cardiff
Wednesday, September 29 – Mwldan, Cardigan
Thursday, September 30 – Redgrave Theatre, Bristol

Friday, October 1 – The Regal, Tenbury Wells
Saturday, October 2 – Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham
Sunday, October 3 – Exeter Phoenix, Exeter
Monday, October 4 – Cheese & Grain, Frome
Tuesday, October 5 – Komedia, Brighton
Wednesday, October 6 – Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
Friday, October 8 – Revelation, Ashford
Saturday, October 9 @ 11:00AM – The Spiers & Boden Festival (Full Day), Cecil Sharp House, London
Sunday, October 10 – Chipping Norton Theatre, Chipping Norton
Monday, October 11 – Nettlebed Village Club, Nr Henley on Thames
Tuesday, October 12 – The Corn Hall, Diss
Saturday, October 16 – Hartlepool Folk Festival, Hartlepool
Monday, October 18 – Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester
Tuesday, October 19 – Cambridge Junction, Cambridge
Wednesday, October 20 – Pocklington Arts Centre, Pocklington
Thursday, October 21 – Manchester Folk Festival, Manchester
Friday, October 22 – The Live Room, Saltaire
Sunday, October 24 – Music Room, Liverpool Philharmonic (Matinee & Evening Show)
Monday, October 25 – Rheolwr Neuadd Ogwen, Bethesda, Bangor
Tuesday, October 26 – Canolfan Y Celfyddydau, Aberystwyth

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