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(46:15; Coalshed Music)
Earlier this week I was talking to Wellington-based folk musician Nigel Parry, and he was amazed that I knew Red Jasper, and he told me he had previously recorded a song called “The Magpie” by Davey Dodds! I told him that Davey and I first came across each other in the early 90’s (at Whitchurch initially), that I had reviewed Red Jasper back in the day and not only did I introduce DC to Angel Air when they were looking to reissue the albums but had also written the booklets. After those reissues, Davey and I got in touch with each other again – he had long given up music and become an in-demand fly fisherman, guide, and author, but through a series of unplanned events he was again performing and now recording. This is his third solo album since then, one which should not have been recorded when it was as Davey was touring with Pendragon when the shows were cancelled due to COVID, and he ended up at home where he decided to sit down and finish writing a piece he had been thinking about for some time. Of course, the virus got in the way of this as well, so all participants had to record remotely and then it was all stitched together at the end. There is also a Red Jasper connection in that DC’s daughter Sohelia provides some delicious backing vocals (check out her performance on Clive Nolan’s live ‘Alchemy’ as well), and since the album came out DC has reclaimed the drum seat behind Davey once again. Musically the album was constructed using an electric octave mandolin, with other instrumentation layered on top, with the lead melodic “voice” often being a violin provided by Gillie Hotston. Daniel Billing provides the structure with a powerful melodic bass, while Tree Stewart is on keyboards, Colette DeGiovanni is also on backing vocals and Martin Solomon is on Celtic harp. But what makes this album work so very well for me is now only the musicianship and arrangements, but Davey’s vocals which are musical, gravelly, broad and as enjoyable as they have ever been. Back in the day, Davey used to describe Red Jasper as Motorhead meets Jethro Tull, an incredibly apt description if ever there was one. There is far less metal than one used to get, much more bodhran, and that ever present and wailing violin, so perhaps this is more Jethro Tull meets Whippersnapper or Albion Band? This album takes the listener through a Druidic Beltane ritual, culminating in a joyous, life-affirming celebration. It is Celtic, psychedelic, pagan and life-affirming, and I love it! Thanks to Legend I did see some interesting pagan bands back in the Nineties, and this would have fitted right in, but it is more overtly folky than any of those. Davey may have been given significant time away from music due to good behaviour, but with a third album since his return to the scene he is certainly making up for lost time and he is planning to undertake plenty of gigs with his band featuring Daniel, Gillie and DC. If I were in the UK I would definitely be attending, as if this album is anything to go by then those nights would be very special indeed. This is an album for anyone interested in folk being blended with progressive and other elements and is a delight from beginning to end.
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