added: 23 Oct 2012
// release date: 15 Oct 2012 // label: Proper Records
reviewer: David Spencer
Bellowhead’s now established brand of energetic folk is so full-on it is like they throw everything at it, including the kitchen sink. And you would not be surprised to read the sleevenotes and find that kitchen equipment had in fact been used, such is the sonic blast you get from the record.
Broadside continues the no holes barred feel and builds on the success of the band’s album Hedonism, which was the highest selling independently released traditional folk album of all time (quite a specific category perhaps).
Although innovation is what Bellowhead are about, they are still very traditional, with lyrical references to whiskey and ale and a general air of sawdust laden bars and pubs. There are tales of unrequited love and stories from the ocean waves and with titles like Black Beetle Pies and The Wife of Usher's Well it is very much a folk album. However, with producer John Leckie at the helm, there is a grander feel to the sound than other folk albums.
Starting with the boisterous Northumbrian mining song Byker Hill, Broadside is an extraordinary assault on the senses, with horns (particularly on the peculiar What's The Life Of A Man) and a range of percussion and fiddles (Roll The Woodpile Down) all varyingly dominant.
It provides a kind of party romp throughout, especially on the jaunty Thousands Or More (a Copper Family classic) and the sea going shanty of Ho My Way. It is all great fun, if maybe not for the faint hearted or those not so in love with folk, but Broadside offers another impressive cannon of songs to add to Bellowhead’s already hugely impressive live shows.
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