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KERFUFFLE "Not To Scale" Rootbeat records RBRCD01

When this CD arrived with me for review, my first thought was 'So this is the band I have heard so much about, but not yet seen. However, as the combined ages of all four members probably don't exceed mine: shouldn't the album go to one of their peer group for review? A reviewer with the same appetite for LIFE; the same desire to taste so much in the world that is NEW to them?'

And then I thought, no. First, I haven't got any hardening of the arteries, and I bet I am as young MENTALLY as them. And second, this astonishingly young foursome is not just after the YOUTH vote: they are after making their mark across the broad Folk spectrum.

So I did not return the CD to TLT with a request for them to reassign it. And am I glad I did not. It is almost an unalloyed delight, from start to finish.

A lot of thought has gone into the ten tracks, a blend of the contemporary and the traditional. The high spots are the sensational opening track medley, where the band show their command of DYNAMIC, and Phil Cunningham's beautiful 'Quendale Bay' (a sort of first cousin to Jay Ungar's 'Ashokan Farewell', and every bit as gorgeous).

And Hannah James does not just excel as an accordionist: she has a very pleasant voice to boot. Perhaps the youthfulness of her voice is the only thing that indicates that she is still a schoolgirl. For sure, you get no idea of the fact from her - and her colleagues' - authoritative playing. But heck, there is no crime in a schoolgirl SINGING like a schoolgirl. and a very TUNEFUL one at that. At least it is appropriate in her case, whereas one leading light on the British folk scene persists in singing like she is still in ankle socks, though truth is that she has LONG left her schooldays behind.

And there I make my only reference to the youthfulness of this band.

You see, when I set out to review this album, I determined from the outset NOT to see them as freakishly young. (Ha! Indeed, by Mozart's standards, they are late developers!) No, I knew they would want their album considered entirely on its own merits: they did not want anyone patronising them.

And by any yardstick, this album succeeds triumphantly. A candidate for one of my top 5 albums of the year.

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.