2016-10-30 ALBUM REVIEW – FOLKLAW "Smokey Joe" (2016)

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FolkLaw “Smokey Joe” Fiddle of Eigth Records FO8R01CD
Release date: June 28, 2016
Running time: 43:26, 11 tracks

FokLaw is a fiddle fronted folk rock band from the Cotswolds, England. The band was founded by Nick Gibbs and their first album “Nations Pride” was released in 2010: “Nations Pride” was a debut solo album which launched the FolkLaw project. A collection of self-penned songs from Nick on fiddle, vocals and guitar, with Gaz backing on percussion”. Both Nick Gibbs and Gaz Hunt were old members of the British fiddle folk punk band Beeding Hearts. Little by little, FolkLaw evolved into a full band and they have released another two studio albums “The Tales that They Tell” (2012) and “Smokey Joe” (2016), and a live album, “Live at TreeFest” (2013). The current line-up is Nick Gibbs (vocals, fiddle and keyboards), Bryn Williams (vocals, guitar), Martin Vogwell (vocals, bass, mandola, guitar) and Gaz Hunt (Vocals, percussion)

Although musically FolkLaw are more folk rock than folk punk, lyrically the band was “anger at the world”. However, on this new album FolkLaw show a “real passion for life in the lyrics”. I daresay that they have followed the same evolution that Oysterband did. Quite a few tracks from “Smokey Joe” have that intimate atmosphere from the Oysterband‘s last albums, particularly on my fave numbers “Waterboys of England” and “Gloucester Boys”, but also on numbers like “Forever and a Day” and “Cradle to the Grave”.

The only song where the Bleeding Hearts’ shadow could be felt would be “My Town Revisited”. This song belongs to the FolkLaw’s early years and it was already included in their debut album. The new version would be very different from the original version though.

Anyway, there are three songs with an upbeat approach that everybody will enjoy: “I Made Them”, “My Time” and “Mad Fiddler”. The last one is my favourite track on the album. When I read the title I thought that it was a sort of tribute to Mark Knight a.k.a. MadFiddler. Mark has played his fiddle with Tricks Upon Travellers, K-Passa, BlueHorses and Bleeding Hearts. That’s what the band says about this song: “Whether this song was inspired by Mad Fiddler Mark Knight or not, we’ll probably never know! He’s a mean fiddler mind you… we remember seeing him spinning round on the spot while fiddling for K-Passa in Gloucester Guild Hall, and he took over from Nick in the Bleeding Hearts in 2010… …but he’s not Scottish and he hasn’t got a sweetheart in Tiree …yet!”

The title track “Smokey Joe” is an amazing bluegrass infused number and a highlight on the album too.

Smokey Joe” has been released on the band’s own label “Fiddle of Eight” Records. It comes on a 4 panel digipack and, even if a booklet is not included, all of the lyrics and liner notes can be found at the band’s website. “Smokey Joe” was recorded and mixed by Lyndon Webb, who also recorded and produced their previous album where he played mandolin and guitars too. In fact, Lyndon usually joins FolkLaw for the big headline gigs on mandolin and guitars. Another difference with previous albums: Bryn Williams has written three songs on “Smokey Joe” (tracks 5, 10 and 11).

If you like fiddle driven bands, try FolkLaw’s latest work “Smokey Joe”.

Tracklist:

01. Smokey Joe 3:38
02. I Made Them 3:58
03. Waterways of England 4.09
04. Talk to Me 4:08
05. Gloucester Boys 4.15
06. Lorelei 4:09
07. Mad Fiddler 3:21
08. My Town Revisited 4:10
09. Forever and a Day 5:15
10. My Time 3:45
11. Cradle to the Grave 2:38

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Review by Kinksmarkham

 
 

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