Southern Tenant Folk Union – Pencaitland

Album Review by David Bowes | 02 Jun 2011
Album title: Pencaitland
Artist: Southern Tenant Folk Union
Label: Johnny Rock Records
Release date: 20 Jun

Folk music’s greatest asset is how well it translates between regions, allowing constant cross-pollination of sounds. Because of this, this Scottish septet have managed to smoothly streamline the inclusion of Celtic, English and American traditional sounds within their own, resulting in a collection of occasionally solemn and often joyous ballads.

One distinctive trait throughout is the broad scope that they achieve through a relatively minimal technical range. With few exceptions, the same sounds are heard throughout; the low cello drone, vivacious flutterings of fiddle and infectious banjo bounce, but with the slightest of variations they transform what could be a sonnet of heartbreak into a bracing ode to courage. It’s not just the instrumentation that displays this deftness; the combined vocal efforts of the band lend themselves to impressive feats of melody, combining their respective strengths in beauty, harmony and charm. [David Bowes]