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Album review: Stick In The Wheel – Follow Them True

PUBLISHED: 18:49 30 January 2018

Stick in the Wheel

Stick in the Wheel

Archant

Unlike any folk band you’ve heard before, the ‘Wheel take the genre into exciting new territories

Deconstructing the English folk we have known for centuries, this east London outfit’s second album has one foot planted firmly in masterful, finger-picked tradition, the other in exciting, cross-pollinating new ground.

Singer Nicola Kearey makes the most of her gritty, Bow Bells authenticity when it suits – be it the Dickensian, thieving japery described in White Copper Alley, laden with fiddle and flute, the story-as-song Blind Beggar Of Bethnal Green or the solo call, group-sung response of Poor Old Horse.

But peppered between these and the traditional jig of Abbots Bromley Horn Dance are the fresh shoots of a contemporary folk style not afraid to experiment or push the envelope.

Kearey’s calls are fed through Autotune to give the morose title track extra bite, or remotely-miked on 100,000 Years to impart an ominous power, amplifying its foreboding atmosphere.

Their crowning achievement here is As I Roved Out, the closing number that marries gloaming synths with rapid castanet-like claps as Kearey’s spectral voice evinces a cult ritual.

Follow Them True finds a folk band neither in thrall to, nor weighed down by, the genre’s conventions.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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