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Album review: FolkWords by Tom Franks

FolkWords Review

‘Holy Smoke’ from Steepways – stands on its own merits and does it very well

(March 21, 2017)

The rise and rise of home-grown British-Americana continues. Mixing influences from both origins, intertwining their roots and bringing out the innovations – one result of this cross-fertilisation is the debut album ‘Holy Smoke’ from Steepways (aka Blair Chadwick and Charlie Bateson). And there’s an interesting point here, their music sits in its own category, it doesn’t take all from one and ignore the other, neither does it breed a mongrel version of either – as a result, ‘Holy Smoke’ stands on its own merits and does it very well.

Their soundscape moves widely, from softly rocky roots to gently balladic country – catchy and observant ‘Everything Won’t Do’, despairing assessment through ‘Radio Silence’, sharp comment of ‘Bystander’ and the poignant ‘Hannah-Lee’ The overall feel is of a band relaxing into the accomplished delivery of some thoughtful and solid songs. The remaining track highlights are ‘Pin It On Me’, ‘The Collector’ and of course the driving ‘Chaperone’.

Blair Chadwick (lead vocals, electric guitars, Spanish guitar) Charlie Bateson (vocals, acoustic guitars, 6-string banjo) Darren Buddell (pedal steel, dobro) Jamie Shaw (drums, percussion) Chris Clarke (bass guitar) Andy Fairclough (Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, upright piano) and Siobhan Parr (vocals).

‘Holy Smoke’ releases on 1st May. Launch gig Fiddler’s Elbow, Camden 29th April.

Website: www.steepways.com

Review: Tom Franks