Festival Bell - Matty Groves 2011
The group's current line-up has held together since 1998, when Dave Mattacks was replaced by another veteran of Fairport environment , Gerry Conway. It is thus the longest lasting line-up in the group's colorful and fascinating history. The music of the group has always to a greater or lesser extent, been based on traditional folk music, but almost always with a large sprinkling of newly written original songs.
Ralph McTell has for many years been one of the group's favorite songwriters, and he contributes to "Festival Bell" with two fine songs; "Around the Wild Cape Horn" and "London Apprentice".
Mandolin player Chris Leslie, who in many ways fills the space Dave Swarbrick had once had in the group, both as frontman and with his fine bright vocals. He is also the group's most prolific songwriter, and he is the one behind ”Mercy Bay", " Rui 's Guitar", " Wouldn’t Say No" and "Ukulele Central". The vocals are shared with founding member Simon Nicol, who with his darker voice, is probably the group's strongest vocalist. Nicol sings with great conviction the album's possibly best track "Reunion Hill", written by Richard Shindell . As always, there are some fine instrumental tracks where the group will have the opportunity to show that also in this area they are on the level with the early days - not least by virtue of the superb violinist Ric Sanders .
Also worth noting that longtime member Dave Pegg still a big part of the group's backbone with his excellent bass-playing
A fine album highly recommended to fans of classic folk-rock; and not least to people who thought the group was only a pale reflection of its own former glory.