Blight & Blossom Blair Dunlop Rooksmere/Plane
THE Elysian fields of the English folk scene have been replenished in recent years by a crop of fearless young innovators, yet old-guard surnames continue to resonate. Blair Dunlop is the latest chip to fly off the old block, in the wake of Eliza Carthy, Teddy Thompson, Martha Tilston, Luke Oldfield and others. While the name may not be familiar, Dunlop is also the progeny of British folk royalty. His pater, Ashley Hutchings, played a pivotal role in English folkrock in the late 1960s and early 70s with Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and the Albion Band. The doting doyen plays electric bass on one of the classiest cuts on his son’s debut album, which also contains a previously unrecorded composition donated by his bandmate of yore, the redoubtable Richard Thompson, and dobro, lap-steel, mandolin and vocal contributions from the Lovell sisters of US band Larkin Poe. For all that, Blight & Blossom belongs to 20-something Dunlop, a palpably gifted singer-songwriter and guitarist. Some of the young man’s own songs, such as Less the
Pawn and Fallout, exhibit pop sensibilities. Others, such as Secret Theatre, The Gown and
Threads, tap deeper veins. As an interpreter, Dunlop reveals inherent flair. Giving Scottish love ballad Black is the Colour a subtle and slightly sinister blues makeover took courage and conviction as well as skill. Melding bluegrass perennial Billy in the Lowground with one of his own creations was another masterstroke. The same cannot be said of Dunlop’s cover of Shawn Colvin’s Trouble, despite back-up from singer Joan Wasser (aka Joan As Policewoman) and Pete Zorn’s soprano sax.