The Wood and the Wire - Woodworm Records - TECDO82- 2000
Musically the group appear insired and in great shape, and with the addition of Chris Leslie, the group has been giftes with a highly competent and versatile songwriter whose material fits perfectly with their sound and their strong basis in British folk music.
Leslie is credited as a songwriter or co-songwriter on more than half of the tracks and he also takes a very large portion of the lead vocals. His bright and fine voice complemented greatly though Simon Nicol deeper vocals, which helps to give the album a needed variety.
Instrumentally is the group most strongly occupied on all positions - old fans know what Pegg, Nicol and Conway stand for and Sandersí performances on the violin are nothing but impressive.
As always, Fairport Convention have included a couple of instrumentals, but otherwise itís the strong songs that make the album one of the bandís many memorable ones. "Banbury Fair", written and sung by Leslie is a great melodic number, and on the equally strong "The Dancer" Leslie shows that he can write catchy songs in a more upbeat tempo.
Vocally Nicol takes the lead strongly on great songs like "The Wood and the Wire" (Leslie / Stonier), "The Heart of the Song" (Scrowther), "The Lady Vanishes" (Leslie / Stonier) and "Western Wind" (trad). It is also Nicol who handles the vocals on the album's only real rocker "Still a Mystery" also written by Leslie and Stonier.
A great album and the first in the series from this new constellation of Fairport Convention, which over the past nearly 15 years has released several equally memorable albums.