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Cara Dillon – Hill of Thieves (Charcoal Records)

When I put this CD into my laptop, iTunes told me it was a pop record. I can’t really see how that applies to this album other than perhaps it might be popular amongst the folk community. I’m not really sure what the function of folk music is anymore, I think it is mainly a stylistic tag, but, I would call this album a ‘folk album’ if I had to categorize it: it sounds and feels very much ‘in the tradition.’

It’s important that this kind of music is still written and recorded because it has the echoes of our musical history and culture in it, and some people forget about our great folk past; Nick Drake is among the very few British folk artists that are still played by young listeners.

The brilliance of this album is that Cara Dillon doesn’t forget her Irish roots. But at the same time, certain tracks, such as the sublime ‘The Parting Glass’, have more modern song-writing influences, and she starts to sound like Dido – but without the pop sensibilities.

This album may be too traditional for some: it would probably be better to describe it as easy listening… that sounds more appealing than folk, these days.

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One Comment

  1. Cara’s latest album is most certainly a tradional folk album, albeit with a great deal more production quality and modern instrumentation that one might associate with the genre at its simplest. It’s also, quite simply, beautiful and something that everyone should give a listen to if they can.

    Thomas suggest that Nick Drake is “among the very few British folk artists that are still played by young listeners”. Whoa, there. If Nick Drake is folk, then so are the hundreds of MySpace acoustic singer-songwriters and the likes of Paulo Nutini (etc etc) who are much favoured by youngsters. Nick never performed or recorded any folk songs that I’m aware of. I go along with Sussex’ own Shirley Collins here (the UK’s pre-eminent spokesperson of folk, I’d suggest). Her position is clear – by definition, you cannot write a new folk song; they are passed on, by word oof mouth or in writing. They are re-worked, transformed, played around with – but they remain songs rooted in a Britain of several centuries ago. No, Nick wrote songs, not folk songs. They weren’t even in a folk style.

    The cross-over from traditional folk to contemporary music is fascinating. Just now, the music of Brighton’s Mary Hampton is a prime example – new writing coupled with fresh takes on traditional songs. And if anyone fancies seeing how that sits alongside something more tradional-based (but equally exciting), try a double-header on 8 June when mary joins Dick Gaughan at The Ravenswood, Sharpthorne (nr Haywards Heath).

    Martin

    Reply

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