The Twisted Twenty The Twisted Twenty Penny Fiddle There isn’t a score of them and they’re not really warped, but the septet known as the Twisted Twenty has undoubtedly succeeded in putting a new spin on old British Isles folk songs.
On its debut album, this quasi-classical collective has imbued material collated from 18th-century collections with 21st-century freshness via the ironically novel approach of using period instruments.
With exemplary technique and dynamic orchestration the Twisted Twenty bring intensity and (assumed) authenticity to pieces oft approached with stilted reverence by contemporary musicians. An English writer has described the album as: “A hot toddy for the ears and a summer’s day for the mind.”
There’s no shortage of spirit or esprit de corps in the opening cut. Any tar worth their salt would happily hornpipe along to the fulsome sound produced by baroque violins going full bore in TTT’s take on The Ragged Sailor.
A poignant Robert Burns poem/song about marital contentment ( John Anderson My Jo), beautifully sung by Holly Harman, offers immediate contrast.
The band leader’s impeccable enunciation elevates the set’s other song, The Three Ravens.
In a classic Scottish strathspey and an air, picked and strummed guitar and cittern (lute) underpin fiddles; pounded bodhran (one-sided drum) powers another Caledonian tune.
Bowed baroque double bass gives gravitas to the group’s unexpected instrumental version of a recruiting song ( Arthur McBride) that’s been covered by the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul Brady and Martin Carthy.