A wonderfully bright and highly original debut.
Sid Smith 2009-09-16
History and myth comprise the lifeblood coursing through folk music’s veins, and plenty of both can be found surging through this new and startling collection from The Kittiwakes.
Based in south-east England, the trio of Kate Denny (vocals and violin), Jill Cumberbatch (mandolin, violin and banjo) and Chris Harrison (accordion) have applied themselves to a song cycle composed by Denny, based upon her impressions of Norway’s Lofoten Islands
The bleak but often awesome natural beauty of the region is evoked by Denny’s blend of traditional Norwegian and British styles. On first impressions, their hale and hearty delivery is certainly pleasing enough; but then so are most acts on the scene these days.
From an instrumental viewpoint the music here has a warm lilt that would easily put a blush on the cheek of a many a céilidh-goer. However, one shouldn’t be lulled into getting all cosied-up.
As what really gives the group their power and demands attention is their hair-raising collective voice. The best example of this is the title track, featuring goose-bump-inducing three-part harmonies – it’s an extraordinary sound.
Much of the success of the album is down to its immediacy and directness. Unadorned by any studio trickery, when turned up loud (which is highly recommended) it’s almost like having the three Kittiwakes in the room with you.
The in-your-face attitude in Denny’s singing combined with some haunting and poignant writing, as well their intricate but always robust playing, makes this a wonderfully bright and highly original debut.