If I am honest, I’m not generally a fan of solely instrumental albums – I often think that tunes are better when they’re live and when you can dance to them. I try my best, but often I despair that they all sound really generic – probably to a trained ear they don’t, but I can’t help suspecting that some simply do.
There are notable exceptions, of course. And then there is ‘Straight Line Talking’ by the Savage Prunes, which is simply a treat. Unique isn’t a strong enough word to describe this band. I could sit here all day trying to identify what their sound is. Is it Scottish trad, klezmer, baroque, Breton or some kind of avant-garde experimentation?
‘Straight Line Talking’ is seven tracks of virtuosity, madness, humour, playfulness and energy. It’s impossible to pick out any single track to discuss – each one is a sonic bag of pick n’ mix. But don’t conclude that what the Savage Prunes do is experimental and inaccessible – far from it. What they do shouldn’t work but it really, really does.
All of this comes from traditional fiddle player John-Francis Goodacre, classically trained Romanian cellist George Pasca and piper Callum Armstrong. They describe themselves as ‘a band without an accompanist’, and this is apt – each band member is a soloist, their three voices blending to create something truly special.
‘Straight Line Talking’ is a brilliant album and the Savage Prunes are exactly what the British folk scene needs right now. Festival organisers, book them and festival goers, look them up. As for me, I’m going to work out some unique dance moves for when I’m fortunate enough to get the chance to see them live. I may need some time…