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Churchfitters - Sing (Self Release)

Star rating: 

Once again adorned in the kind of colourful artwork that jumps off the shelf with the sole intention of brightening your day, the seventh album from France-based Churchfitters offers another selection of varied compositions from the atmospheric opener Knee Deep, complete with weeping musical saw and all manner of vocal shennanigans through to the delightfully whimsical My Beamish Boy, both from the pen of singer and multi instrumentalist Rosie Short. If you still think of the musical saw as a novelty item, then the opening song also employs the services of a 'bing bong machine'. It has to be said, whilst all this bing-bonging and sawing is going on, Rosie delivers one heck of an astonishing vocal, not so much in terms of the high notes, but for the steady and assured bottom end, which is no mean feat.  

Topher Loudon's Springtime provides the album with a jauntily refreshing pop song, which coupled with the hard-rocking House of Cards provides the album with that all important contemporary edge. Rosie tackles the traditional songs with an energetic vibrancy including The House Carpenter, which incorporates a scarily discomforting soundtrack from the hills of Hell towards its climax, whilst a more pastoral arrangement accompanies the gorgeous Our Captain Cried All Hands, to the memorable tune of To Be a Pilgrim, the Bunyan hymn commonly sung in school assemblies back in my day. Rosie's Sing! (For Our Time On Earth), from which the album presumably takes its title, offers an anthem to friendship, with its heartbreaking submission to mortality. Despite its inevitable message, there is also a sense of optimism at its core. 

Of the instrumentals, none of which could possibly be described as 'run of the mill', the medieval folk rock of 18 Hour/Human Engineers/Playtex contrasts with the playful TMS, which I swear almost bursts into the test cricket theme music, courtesy of Booker T and the MGs midway through. 

Siblings Rosie and Chris Short, together with Topher Loudon and Boris Lebret have now established a solid working unit, producing this their third album with this particular line up along with NEW TALES FOR OLD (2005) and AMAZING (2007). With special guest Raphael Chevalier helping out on violin and harmonium, SING once again incorporates mature musicianship, assured vocal performances together with a tangible sense of fun. What better way to soothe over the discomfort of the impending chilly season? 

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky