What does it sound like?:
I have to confess I haven’t kept up with recent manifestations of Fairport other than a few visits to Cropredy where I have always enjoyed them with the encouragement of a few pints of 6X, so I received their latest album, “50:50@50” with interest. It’s the band’s 50th anniversary, and the album is half new studio recordings and half live performances. Whilst the band’s more famous front persons are long gone, the lineup of Chris Leslie, Ric Saunders, Simon Nichol and of course Dave Pegg lack nothing in the folk chops department and sing and play to the highest standard throughout. It goes without saying that Gerry Conway in the drum department is thunderous and steady as ever. Robert Plant and Pentangle’s Jacqui McShee make guest appearances – Planty on a live version of “Jesus on the mainline” sounding like he’s having a top old time (you can hear him refer to the band as “spectacular” on the fade). The songs range from melancholy folk songs in a fairly traditional style, through to whimsical acoustic ditties (a DIY/sustaining relationships metaphor anyone?), a jaunty autobiographical song called “Our bus rolls on” which namechecks the band as “Come all ye” did decades earlier on “Liege and Lief” and some extended, more arranged, complex instrumentals showing off the band’s ability to sound like themselves no matter the material. It’s beautifully recorded and sounds fantastic even on earbuds via MP3.
What does it all *mean*?
Does the world need another Fairport album? Well, the fact that the band sound this fresh and assured after 50 years must mean something. It breaks no new ground, but hey, cut them some slack. They have been consistently honing their art for decades and if it ain’t your bag, move on. But if you like music which is folky, fairly easy on the ear, at times fun and at times slightly wistful, this album delivers perfectly.
Goes well with…
Oooh a pint of 6X or something amber and peaty I think. And a crackling fire.
Might suit people who like…
Anyone of a folky/acoustic bent will enjoy it.