Tom Kitching – Seasons Of Change: Album Review

Tom Kitching goes on an 18 month ‘busk’, now captured on an album (and book) and reflecting the changing face of England. Here’s the ‘Busk England’ musical part.

Release Date: 17th April 2020

Label: Talking Cat

Formats: CD / DL

Here’s an interesting one. Having encountered Tom Kitching in the past as part of the Stockport born folk rockers Pilgrims’ Way, he teams up with Marit Falt on a set of tunes which gives a snapshot of his busking material. A typical ‘set’ he’ll have played around the country on his search for…well, what makes England I guess.

You can read the blogs from his journey here . It includes an excellent account of his stop off in Nottingham where he attends a gig by Gong! Go Tom!! Be warned, it’s not the only mention for prog rock. And then he goes to Bolton which he finds “a tough busk”. Already I’m hooked.

However, back to the music and it’s a friendly mix of his own tunes with some traditional things and covers, all tossed in the blender to make the record. After expressing his nerves about getting back to the streets, he talks of the set as “an exploration of the fiddle and how we’ve grown together through the music of our country.” All originally played out in the streets and the concrete malls of the nation.

Recorded live, as it should have been, in Danebridge Methodist Chapel, the Nordic Mandola and cittern add a gentle accompaniment to the fiddle that traverses jigs, reels, polkas, hornpipes and morris. Eleven tracks are built up from nineteen tunes that segue marvellously, his own Belt Driven piece being a key one. It’s a lively darting, stop-start one. Rhythmic and repetitive like the machines and aided significantly by Marit, it acknowledges the industry, now a shadow of its former self, in his native North.

In-Store Bakery is another lively original Kitching piece that adds weight to the pacey sets of tunes. He lifts some music from hurdy gurdy player Nigel Eaton (who I recall playing in the Jimmy Page / Robert Plant un-ledded outfit).

Gavin Davenport’s Miss Firth’s (that’s British occultist Violet Mary Firth who led Churchill’s psychic resistance to Hitler and another intersting one to chase up) gets paired with a staple of the busking set; he admits “waltzes always seem to raise a smile” which fully merits the inclusion of the bright and breezy Eglantine.

Lamaload – the Macclesfield reservoir if you didn’t know – is one of the inclusions that offers a more relaxing interlude, inevitably combined with a morris tune that Tom perversely arranges to toss a curveball at those who might like to try to dance to it.

Tom signs off with the Harwich stop-off inspired Infinite Espresso – read the book to find out why – that’s a rather frenetic number, on an album that Tom Kitching says is about “tone, resonance and feel.” A trip around the nation playing the tunes is as good a warm-up as you can ger for capturing the music on tape.

Britain’s least eligible bachelor (so it says on his Twitter profile) has produced a lovely package. Read the book, play the soundtrack. And for the full experience, preferably on the windy corner of your local shopping centre.

Tom Kitching online: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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