LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
THE SILENT MAJORITY - GREG RUSSELL AND CIARAN ALGAR
Released: 18th March, 2016
Location: Exeter and Manchester, England
Record Label: Fellside Recordings
Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar are having an exceptional career so far, first winning the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and following that with the hotly contested BBC Radio 2 Duo award a year later. The release of their excellent third studio album 'The Silent Majority' marks another milestone for one of the most talented folk duos in the country. The album is an enhanced version of their already great live sound. It's been a very busy eighteen months since the release of their second album 'The Call' with numerous UK and European tours, festivals and a join project 'The Tweed Project' with the award-wininng Misha Macpherson and her band. 'The Silent Majority' contains a mixture of reworked and arranged traditional folk songs, self-written songs and a handful of covers sourced from contentemporary folk singer-songwriters. Greg and Ciaran are joined on the album by an impressive list of musicians including Tom Wright (percussion), Laurence Blackadder (double bass), Ali M. Levack (Highland/Boarder pipes and whistles), with Hannah Martin adding her great harmony vocals on three songs. The album cover was designed and photographed by Rob Bridge. Some of the songs are political and powerful in nature reflecting Greg's recent political degree.
The album starts with an instrumental 'Prologue' to set the mood of the album, with Ciaran's fiddle rising above the drone of the pipes. The song then exploding into a full Scottish reel. This dove-tails perfectly into the title track 'The Silent Majority' written by the late Lionel McCelland, which Greg learned from Paul McKenna. The song tells of many tragedies which have happened and echo throughout time. Tragedies which will continue to happen if the 'Silent Majority' stay silent. With it's driving rhythm from Tom Wright, it's potent and timely message this is one of our favourite songs on the album. Ali Levacks whistle weaves around Ciaran's fiddle while another award winning folk duo artist Hannah Martin adds her great harmony vocals.
'George' a song written by Findlay Napier and Nick Turner tells the true story of George, who was a man who spent most of his time in Glasgow of a Friday and Saturday night getting very drunk and causing trouble. Always a popular song live with its audience participation and great hook in the chorus. George would often be taken to the police cells, have a fried breakfast at the police station the next morning and then they would drive him home. But he turns aroung his life around and now Friday and Saturday nights are all about dancing.
'The Intruder' is a collection of the traditional tune 'Fearghal O'Gara's' leading into two of Ciaran's tunes 'Intruder' and 'Rookery Lane'. Intruder is named after a very odd man who had started to walk into the house of one of Greg and Ciaran's friends without their invitation. He didn't take anything, he just wanted to look around.
'We Must Be Contented' is a tradional song from the Harkness Balled Collection. Written in response to the 'Representation Of The People Act' in 1832' (Reform Act), which was intended to make life easier for working people. In reality, little real or lasting change was seen. The song tells of the stuggles people continue to face. They are joined once again by Hannah Martin.
'Did You Like The Battle Sir?' is a folk song origanally co-written by Bev Pegg and John Richards for Brindley Brae’s 1973 album 'Village Music'. Greg learnt the song from his father. The song is a conversation between a servant and his mortally wounded Lord after a battle, which continues the albums political and anti-war sub-theme.
'The Tide' is another tune written by Ciaran, which was his attempt at writting film music. The song was inspired by a particularly wet journey back down the M6. It pays homage to the sea, which is very important in Ciaran's home town of Stoke On Trent (see map for details)
‘Limbo’ (Roud 969) was suggested to Greg and Ciaran by Paul Adams, one of the co-founders of Fellside Records. 'Limbo' was the name given to the debtors’ prison in London. Greg and Ciaran's version is an uptempo foot-tapper with some banjo from Ciaran and Laurence’s resonate double bass.
'Brisk Young Man' (Roud 60). Comes from song that Greg found in 'The New Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs'. Greg wrote a new tune for the song and changed a few words too. The original song was collected in 1908 by Cecil Sharp in 1908.
'Swipe Right' is a collection of three instrumental tunes conceived while working with the Mischa Macpherson Trio as part of The Tweed Project. The title of the collection is a reference to the dating app 'Tinder'. The songs are The Last Pint, The Lucky Penny and Morven's.
The album closes with the Pete Coe song 'Rolling Down The Ryburn', which sums up perfectly life on the road for these two folk troubadours.