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Assembly Lane - Northbound (Self Released)

Upon first hearing Assembly Lane's debut album NORTHBOUND, the last place that came to mind was Newcastle upon Tyne, but this is indeed the city the four members of the band, Tom Kimber, Niles Krieger, Bevan Morris and Matthew Ord chose as their base. Their fresh take on bluegrass and traditional old time folk music seamlessly intertwines with a rich and assured contemporary Americana feel, from the traditional Sir Patrick Spens and The Hills of Mexico to three rather tasty originals from the pen of singer/mandolin player Tom Kimber. For those with a lifelong love of all things Big Pink, Assembly Lane treat the best of the double negative titled songs, Ain't No More Cane, with almost reverential respect.

These musicians are no slackers when it comes to instrumentals either, with Kimber's Mind the Gap and Fivefold, both of which allow the band to stretch out. Closer to their current home, The Fair Maid of Northumberland, previously heard by both Dick Gaughan and Rachel Unthank and the Winterset on their debut record, is treated to a fine arrangement and an equally fine and convincing vocal, demonstrating that the band are just as comfortable with British folk song as they are with the American material. As I pop the proverbial needle back to the start for the umpteenth time, I can confess to really liking this album a lot. What's not to like?

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky