The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

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.

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