Maudy Tree, the second album by Edinburgh based four piece Blue Flint, is the latest excellent contemporary folk album to find its way to us. Signed to Johnny Rock Records, who also have Southern Tenant Folk Union on their roster, the band have a traditional feel, with banjos, violin, double bass and sumptuous story-telling vocals, but remarkably for the genre do not rely on a single traditional cover.
Each song is penned by one of the three main vocalists Deborah Arnott, Clare Neilson or Roddy Neilson, which for the more traditional sounding High Country comes as a real surprise. All rivers winding through lands and images of nature. It’s classic folk fodder but remarkably penned by Clare Neilson in a 21st century era. Its my favourite on the album, timeless and perfect.
But while High Country is my standout track it is the contemporary tracks, that use traditional instruments with a modern feel that are perhaps the album’s most interesting trait. Roddy Neilson’s Bottlebank is another of these more contemporary sounding tracks, with his strong Scottish vocals reminding me of Ballboy’s Gordon McIntyre, in particular his vocal turn on Isle of Eigg from Darren Hayman’s January Songs project.
Another highpoint is Arnott’s Last Waltz, positioned towards the end of the album and sung by all three vocalists. The three modern tales of love are also worth a mention, from Arnott’s saucy Take your shoes off, to Clare Neilson’s two break up songs Missed the Boat and the comic P45, with such lines as “I’ll be the P in your P45, the dog shit on your shoes.” I guess that’s as final as a relationship can be.
By Joe Lepper