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The Drystones - We Happy Few (Shedbuilt Records)

Six years since their first gig - an impromptu performance to fill a folk club slot at the last minute - British duo The Drystones present their third and most exciting album to date. Ford Collier (guitar and whistle) and Alex Garden (fiddle and guitar) once again manage to forge a clean and exhilarating sound on WE HAPPY FEW via the playful intertwining of strings and percussion, making occasional detours from such trad-based tunes as Green Mountain, Hole in the Wall and The Cheshire Set - which features a delicious tabla - for a handful of hauntingly sung songs such as the Elizabethan nursery rhyme Man of Words and the American folk song Katy Cruel. There's also a fiery rendition of My Son John, the opening track from The Imagined Village's Empire & Love, which benefits from its gutsy distorted guitar and a fiddle that could cut right through you, as well as a welcome appearance of Simon Jeffes' Music for a Found Harmonium during On The Dot. It's no wonder, with its inspiring mixture of nimble tunes, sincerely rendered songs and inventive use of traditional instrumentation, that Songlines magazine recommended WE HAPPY FEW as its Top of the World album in October and the accolades continue to arrive.

Liam Wilkinson
Northern Sky