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Winter Wilson - Far Off on the Horizon (Self Release)
This may or may not be the right time or place to pick up on a few niggles, but there again, when is a good time and where is a good place? Recently, the British folk scene has been awash with an almost relentless parade of themed projects, recordings and shows of the Full English Elizabethan Transports of Child Migration variety (musicals basically), together with a more widespread outbreak of collaboration fever, each usually commissioned by this, that or the other festival (or a certain house in Camden) with much intermingling amongst a finite bunch of young (and old) musicians, often fresh out of folk college and each project set to meet an ambitious deadline. Although there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this - in fact they're rather popular I hear - I do have my reservations about whether the songs are sufficiently 'worn in'. Musicians who work together over longer periods of time tend to take their time in order to work up a repertoire that allows the songs to grow and develop and eventually change into something unexpected and special. Having said this, Miles Davis' modal experimentation that turned up as the seminal album Kind of Blue, was basically a jam with one or two guidelines, yet it has been for some considerable time my favourite album of all time.
The music journalist Pete Frame would have to invest in an ocean-deep inkwell to keep up with those aforementioned folk collaborationists in his detailed family trees, yet with Kip Winter and Dave Wilson, we have just the two names to consider, both of whom continue to deliver high quality material and with as little pomp and fuss as is necessary. Thoroughly content to mark their niche on the British acoustic music scene as a semi-pro duo, their trajectory was recently skewed when redundancy forced them to make unexpected and difficult decisions, which resulted in the duo establishing themselves as a fully fledged and hard working professional musical partnership.
Believe it or not, FAR OFF ON THE HORIZON is Winter Wilson's eighth studio album and once again showcases Dave's fine songwriting credentials. There can't be many around who have not heard at least one Dave Wilson song or indeed seen the duo at some point, possibly at a local folk club, or at one of our many festivals, some as far as New Zealand and Australia. Many more are about to become familiar with the duo (and their songs) as they support Fairport Convention - Mr Frame coincidentally had his work cut out on this band's extensive family tree if memory serves - on their iminent winter tour. Songs likely to prick up the ears of those attendant Fairporters, those they successfully entice from the rowdy theatre bar that is, could quite possibly be The Ship That Rocked, The Old Man Was a Sea Dog and the poignant Ghost, each of which appear on this latest release. Alluding to various hot topics such as migration, growing old and how it's possible to go from a girl to a ghost at just eighteen years of age, Kip and Dave tell stories that continue to resonate.
I've always enjoyed Dave's songs and continue to do so, especially in the way that Kip sings them, and particularly if the song calls for her to fall helplessly into that distinct soulful blues mode, exemplified here on Tried and Tested. There's passion involved, as well as a clear understanding of each of the songs. You tend to instinctively know from the start, that Kip and Dave don't have the sort of deadlines to meet as mentioned above, instead they take their time to ensure their songs are 'worn in' and ready to go.