Album Review

Mike Turnbull – Two Kingdoms: Album Review

The new album from Mike Turnbull is packed with folk tales each accompanied by a rich and full soundtrack.

Release date: CD  out now/digitally August 2021

LabelBandcamp

Format:  streaming/CD

We are blessed in the UK not only with the depth and quantity of talented folk artists but also with the quality and diversity of these artists. Mike Turnbull is amongst them.

On his vibrant new album, Two Kingdoms, there is a blend of all those tales we love: seafaring yarns, medieval folklore, ghostly tales, mystical mystery,  Viking sagas and, of course, lovelorn romance. All blended in foot-stomping music and ballads delivered with clear, yearning vocals.

Based in Kendal, the multi-instrumentalist (guitar, octave mandola, mandolin & banjo amongst them) Mike and his accompanying band The Safe Kings (double bass from Suzanne Ambrose & cajon from Dave Pennington ) are no strangers to the Cumbrian music scene and have earned the opportunity to support artists of the quality of Melanie C and The Magpies. Sadly Suzanne is absent due to covid restrictions but a trio of able replacements have provided the bass accompaniments.

Get your boots on immediately for some foot-stomping on the album opener Runaway Corpse arranged with an enthralling full sound. Harvest Lost tells of a seafaring tragedy dominated by acoustic strumming but in it, we hear some delicious double bass which is more accentuated later in  Reivers Steel. The maritime theme begins with the Norse tale Sails And Oars and returns with Shipwreck Rats. The romping Eagle And The Child is a pacy folk tale that leads into a track highlighting Mike’s chunky banjo skills on Ghost In The Grass which builds and builds as the story unfolds. Shuffled in between is the historical tale of Pendragon’s Hill. A slightly calmer mood is chosen to complete this rich-sounding album with Slate Blue, Slate Green.

Anyone familiar with Mike’s live performances will know he likes to introduce his songs with a short tale and he spends 5 minutes giving a fascinating insight into each song, which is well worth a listen. A brief medley of some songs from the album can be seen on Youtube too.

His love of Cumbrian legend and landscape comes through strongly and affectionately shows that there’s a lot more to Cumbria than majestic lakes and fells as he expertly embellishes each wonderfully woven tale with a warm, richly compelling, thrilling sound.

Mike Turnbull online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp

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