Alden, Patterson & Dashwood : Waterbound23.03.2020
Waterbound, Alden, Patterson & Dashwood's third studio album, was recorded and mixed in ten hours on a cold December day last year. The accomplishment of the music captured makes a mockery of the compressed time-frame, just as the band's innate warmth surely nullified the weather.
Since forming in 2016 Alden, Patterson & Dashwood have played more than two hundred gigs together, covering 50,000 miles to reach them - experience that has forged a fine musical unit, bound by genuine, hard-earned empathy.
Immediate, intimate and ecstatic, Waterbound is the collective's first great album, exuberantly fulfilling the burgeoning promise of the preceding two.
There are nine tracks on the new CD; three self-penned songs nest amongst traditional pieces learnt from friends or tattered old books of folksong and two vibrant instrumentals (with the dancing, light-footed energy of The Dyeing Room matching the mesmeric swoop and swoon of The Old Priory).
As with their previous releases, the songs they have written themselves shine.
Seven Years is deeply-rooted in English folk, informed by the well-covered traditional piece, The Rambling Sailor. Christina Alden's free-flowing, exquisite vocal defines the mood, abetted by her band mates' close harmonies and instrumental vim.
Winter Came shimmers and skims in celebration of freedom of movement, inspired by the plight of three house buntings trapped by glass, as Alex Patterson's fiddle conveys urgency and delight in balanced measure.
Noel Dashwood shifts his attention from dobro to vocal duties for The Broads in December - a winsome evocation of a cherished place over a gentle ripple of guitar.
The traditional arrangements, led by old-time acappella of the title track, are equally successful; the trio's skill with an existing composition is exemplified by the album closer Blow Boys Blow - a shanty with origins in the days of the West African slave trade, first recorded by Ewan MacColl. It is given a fast-paced, irrepressible reading with, as an expression of joie de vivre or just for the devilment of it, a momentary fragment of Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water added where it is least expected.
Rightly, Alden, Patterson & Dashwood sound like they deeply love what they do. Perfectly sequenced, the recordings flow with the verve and coherence of a well-rehearsed live set; Waterbound is vivid, life-enhancing, and in any rational judgement, essential contemporary folk music. An album that casts light into dark times.